E X E C U T I V E O F F I C E O F T H E P R E S I D E N T
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
6:00 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: A couple of quick items of business. In the lunch with President Mitterrand and President Clinton, they discussed a number of things including GATT and trade generally, Haiti, Africa, and Iraq.
Q And what was said?
MS. MYERS: All kinds of interesting things.
Q Somebody had to do it.
MS. MYERS: He's currently continuing his meeting with members of the Senate including Senators Mitchell, Boren, Breaux, Campbell, Conrad, Exon, Feingold, Heflin, Hollings, Bennett Johnston, Bob Kerrey, Kohl, Shelby, Bryan, Graham, Robb.
Q Is this the Budget Committee plus leaders, or what?
MS. MYERS: No, it's various members of the Senate.
Q Will you flip back to that first announcement and tell us if they decided anything or had any conclusions on any of those subjects?
MS. MYERS: On GATT, they both agreed to press forward for a conclusion to the Uruguay Round.
Q Do you realize how many times we've heard that from this podium about any combination of leaders?
MS. MYERS: This has been going on for how many years?
Q A long time.
MS. MYERS: Eight years.
Q Why should we believe now --
Q Anything specific on Haiti?
MS. MYERS: No, nothing specific on Haiti, other than their continuing commitment to --
Q Democracy. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: -- in restoring democratic government and the return of President Aristide. A number of things on Africa and --
Q What are they committed to there? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: They're committed to peace and prosperity in Africa. (Laughter.)
Q How about Iraq?
MS. MYERS: Iraq. Continued commitment to --
Q A tree, a river. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Right. We had a poetry recital. (Laughter.) That was good. That was very good.
Q Do you know that's what happened with the person who was signing.
MS. MYERS: Oh, no.
Q Yes, they said "a rock," right, and they did the Saddam thing. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I'm about to do the Saddam thing.
Okay. Tomorrow's schedule -- and then I'll come back to questions. This is the exciting weekly lunch in the Oval Office with Vice President Gore.
Q That's nice. He looks forward to it.
Q What did he say -- do I have to? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: No, it's nice. He does. They have very good food.
At 1:30 p.m. the President will make remarks in the East Room to a group of small business people to talk about his policy to alleviate the credit crunch. Again that's 1:30 p.m.
Q Advanced text?
MS. MYERS: I think we'll have some kind of backgrounder to hand out. I don't know if it will be a text.
And then at 2:45 p.m. he will drop by the State Dining Room to address the California State Legislature, and that will be a pooled op.
Q And that will be on what?
Q Base closings?
MS. MYERS: I think it's going to be general state of the California economy. Probably, as you may not know, the California State Legislature is in Washington today, tomorrow -- and I believe yesterday as well. It's part of their annual pilgrimage here.
Q The whole legislature?
MS. MYERS: Yes. They do it annually.
Q Is the President likely to respond to the calls from both California senators to basically drop some of the base closings that were planned for California?
MS. MYERS: As you know, the Secretary of Defense makes recommendations on Friday to the commission. The commission then reviews them, holds a series of hearings and submits them to the President July 1st. So the President isn't involved in that process until July 1st.
Q So he has no --
MS. MYERS: In the near future. He doesn't even see the final list until July 1st.
Q Coverage on the East Room event?
MS. MYERS: It's pool. Pool spray at the top of the meeting.
Q And who are these people --
MS. MYERS: Just random people that have been invited from --
Q Are we to expect a speech -- I mean, you said pool spray. Does he not have remarks?
MS. MYERS: Pool spray for the meeting with California legislators. The East Room event is the credit crunch. That's open.
Q Open coverage?
MS. MYERS: Open coverage. The State Dining Room with the California State Legislature is pool.
Q Can you give us a bit about the credit crunch? Can you give us any information on that about --
MS. MYERS: Well, other than to say he'll talk about changes in regulations that don't require legislative action, that will ease the credit crunch particularly for small businesses.
Q You say he'll talk about them. Will he announce --
MS. MYERS: He'll announce a policy of steps that he'll take, that the administration can take unilaterally again without legislation to ease the credit crunch, particularly to provide more money for small businesses to expand.
Q Will that include a change in reserve requirements - - loan reserve requirements?
MS. MYERS: You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the specifics.
Q When you say regulations, you mean banking regulations?
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q Anything else on the schedule tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: Just those things. The rest of it is all private meetings.
Q Are you likely to have a date for the timber summit tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: I think it will happen soon. I can't say for sure that it will be tomorrow. But I think in the near future, within the next few days.
Q The environmental groups are saying it's April 2nd. Can you tell us if that's not the case, as in on the way to Vancouver?
MS. MYERS: I can only say that we'll have a confirmation on it soon.
Q You wouldn't rule that out, though, would you?
MS. MYERS: I wouldn't rule it out.
Q Are we in the right forest?
MS. MYERS: The question was, environmental groups are saying that the timber summit will be April 2nd.
Q On defense conversion, the Friday trip, there's a Thursday speech as well?
MS. MYERS: Correct. Thursday, the President will talk about defense conversion and we'll have more details on exactly what forum. And then, Friday, as you know, to the Theodore Roosevelt.
Q The explanation -- the program is outlined on Thursday, correct?
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q What's the purpose of Friday?
MS. MYERS: The purpose of Friday is to just have an opportunity to address members of the military. He hasn't done that yet as Commander-in-Chief. Obviously, the base closings and defense conversion issues in general are on the minds of many people in the military, but it's also an opportunity for the President just to meet with the people on the ship, the sailors, the members of the Navy and the Marines, whoever is on that ship, on their way to the Mediterranean.
Q It's limited to that ship, right?
MS. MYERS: Yes. We're just going to fly onto the ship, stay there for a couple of hours, fly back here.
Q His draft records -- he'll be bringing those with him Friday?
MS. MYERS: There's a wise guy in every crowd.
Q It's limited to the ship. In other words, it can't be broadcast live off the ship. Is that correct?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q I mean, your address to members of the military is basically only the folks on that ship?
MS. MYERS: No, well, the media will be -- I don't mean to imply that the press won't be invited; you all are invited. It
will be a day trip onto the ship, and then back here.
Q No filing from the ship?
MS. MYERS: No filing from the ship. There will be a flight out earlier to take tape or film if people need to do that.
Q Is that going to come back here, is that going to go to Norfolk, or what are you going to do with that?
MS. MYERS: Whatever Anne Edwards works out. Whatever you guys want.
Q Is it going to be subsequently broadcast on Armed Forces Radio? I guess that's what Wendell wants to know.
Q I'm looking for the -- yes.
Q The deeper nuance here.
Q Is the rest of the military going to get it through what -- AFRTS?
Q They're going to get it, all right.
MS. MYERS: I don't know exactly what arrangements are being made now for further broadcast of the event. It's an opportunity for the President as Commander-in-Chief to talk to the Armed Forces about a number of things, including defense conversion issues, which he'll have had an opportunity to outline his plan the day before.
Q Am I missing something? When you say further broadcast of the event --
MS. MYERS: You guys, I'm only saying that based on your question.
Q Yes, because when he does it live it's only the ship, right? I mean, it doesn't get off the ship?
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q And consequently, any further broadcast is delayed and until --
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q certainly that evening or the next day.
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q And you all have made no arrangements for that that I'm aware of, is that correct?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of at this point, but it's Tuesday. We have until Friday.
Q Can we expect some --
Q Jeff Eller is on the case. They'll get it in Malta.
MS. MYERS: Precisely.
Q Can we expect some logistical guidance from you all as to what else you can tell us about the technical arrangements on
MS. MYERS: Sure. We'll have more before we head out on Friday.
Q How much gear we can carry on this aircraft and that sort of thing.
MS. MYERS: Yes. No problem.
Q Do you know a rough schedule -- what time he goes, when he gets back?
MS. MYERS: They're still negotiating about specific times. It will be roughly leave here sort of mid-morning and return by late afternoon, early evening. It's roughly an hour-and-a-half flight each way.
Q Why are these senators here?
MS. MYERS: Talking about the economic package.
Q Who are they seeing?
MS. MYERS: The President.
Q You seem to have assembled a lot who have expressed some concerns about it. I gather that's what this is all about.
MS. MYERS: Yes --
Q Are these wavering -- is it fair to say these are waverers at this point?
MS. MYERS: I think they are people who have questions and the President's intent on answering those questions. I think the support for the general package is pretty broad. As you know, there are certain elements of it that are being discussed -- very broad.
Q They're all Democrats, though, aren't they?
MS. MYERS: Yes, they're all Democrats.
Q What about the Republicans who have questions --does he plan to address those somehow?
MS. MYERS: No specific plans at this point, but we've met with Republicans many times
Q At least twice.
MS. MYERS: At least.
Q Again and again and again.
MS. MYERS: More than twice. At least three times.
Q Does that include Strom Thurmond tonight? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We're going to see him tonight.
Q Is the President going to stay for James Brown?
MS. MYERS: No, he's just going for the reception part. So poolers will be back here early.
Q Is he bringing a present?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. That's a good question.
Q What do you give a 90-year-old man? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think we have to nail down his age before we're sure what the appropriate gift is.
Q Dee Dee, during the campaign the President was very critical of the Bush administration's policy of lowering the tariff on imported minivans, primarily German and Japanese products. Promised a review of it with Treasury. What's happened to that? Has there been a review? Will there be a review?
MS. MYERS: Ongoing. We're reviewing it now.
Q It's ongoing? Is the feeling that it would be wiser or fairer to have Congress decide the matter rather than the executive branch unilaterally?
MS. MYERS: At this point it's still being reviewed, and I don't have anything other to add to that at this point.
Q Do you have any idea on when that might be completed?
MS. MYERS: No. No time line.
Q What about the bonuses?
MS. MYERS: Ongoing.
Q Dee Dee, is there any question about the -- whether or not these parameters might change as a result of this meeting that's going on now?
MS. MYERS: Well, ultimately that's up to the House and Senate Budget Committees, but I think that there's -- obviously the vote on the House Budget Committee last night was unanimous. There seems to be great support for the Senate's plan. They'll have to work it out in conference.
Q Are these questions not the kind of questions the President anticipates will lead to any substantive changes in what would --
MS. MYERS: At some point they may very well lead to substantive changes, but -- we'll have to see what they work out. I think Senator Mitchell will probably have something to say when he walks out.
Q On the meeting with the Black Caucus last night, Dee Dee, how many members of the Black Caucus showed up for that?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I don't have a list. I can get you a list if you'd like.
Q Was it close to a majority or --
MS. MYERS: I believe so. I believe most of the members, if not all of the members where here.
Q Not all because the senior member of the Caucus, Congressman Conyers stayed in Michigan to conduct some more town meetings on the President's economic package because of the significant unhappiness, as he put it, with that package in his
district. Has the --
MS. MYERS: That's interesting.
Q Is that news to you?
MS. MYERS: That is news to me.
Q Is there any other indication -- was there any other indication of any other members of the Caucus that --unhappiness, significant or otherwise was --
MS. MYERS: No, I think generally what we're seeing is that the American people support this plan. They support the direction the President has taken.
Q I meant with specific reference to the Black Caucus, Dee Dee, yesterday.
MS. MYERS: No, did any of them express grave concerns? Not that I know of. I mean, they have specific individual concerns, but I don't think it's that their constituents don't support the package. I mean, there's broad support out there for the package, And I'm sure the additional spending cuts will also be received well.
Q Broad support in the constituencies of the Black Caucus members?
MS. MYERS: Across the board, among the American people. It's pretty much across the board.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END6:12 P.M. EST