THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
9:43 A.M. EST
MS. MYERS: Today's schedule. At 10:00 a.m., the President will meet with a group of Democratic senators to discuss the economic plan, largely to thank them for their support of the plan so far and to continue to urge them to support the stimulus package. At 11:00 a.m. --
MS. MYERS: No coverage.
Q Who are they?
MS. MYERS: It's a group of Democratic senators.
MS. MYERS: I don't have a full list.
Q Do you have any names?
MS. MYERS: Feinstein, Boxer -- a little parochial interest there.
Q Just bringing them here to thank them?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe so. He's bringing them here to meet with them, to talk to them about -- thank them for their support of the economic plan so far, but also to continue to urge them to support -- or to talk to them about the stimulus package and other things.
Q Shelby's head of the --
MS. MYERS: I don't believe he's in this group.
Q Are any of these people that he's having trouble with --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q as far as the economic stimulus package --
MS. MYERS: No, it's just a group of about 15 senators.
Q Does he plan to bring down any of those -- is having difficulty --
MS. MYERS: Not today. There's nothing on the schedule. I wouldn't rule it out indefinitely, but obviously as this plan works its way through Congress, both the House and Senate, he'll continue to meet with different congressional members, to make phone calls, to do what he needs to do to help make sure his program gets passed.
Then at 11:10 a.m., the President heads to the Treasury. He'll tour part of the department, and then he'll address employees at 11:30 a.m. That will be an expanded pool.
Q Dee Dee, does that mean -- expanded pool, meaning that we, as the people who are not in the tight pool, can go over and participate, right? Because it was a little unclear on the schedule.
MS. MYERS: Expanded pool is -- Jeremy.
MR. GAINES: Is the travel pool. It's -- do you have a question on the --
Q Besides travel pool, people who --
MR. GAINES: No additional correspondents.
Q No additional correspondents.
MR. GAINES: No, just additional crews.
Q I'm sorry, correspondents cannot go over to the Treasury and cover this?
MS. MYERS: It's a pooled event.
MR. GAINES: It's a very small room, is what I've heard. Very, very, very small.
Q Okay, so then this 14th Street entrance is for additional crews only and not correspondents.
MR. GAINES: Correct.
MS. MYERS: Okay, 12:20 p.m. he has lunch --
Q Can we go back to the Treasury thing and ask what the subject is?
MS. MYERS: Of, I'm sorry -- of the Treasury thing? Sure. He will just thank the Treasury employees for the fine work they've done on everything from helping produce the economic plan to the credit crunch issue, to just generally helping out in the first weeks of this administration. He'll talk again about the need for a continued investment and stimulus.
Q Tell them to get busy printing more money? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: They're very busy over there.
At 12:20 p.m., lunch with the Vice President. At 2:45 p.m. he'll be in the State Dining Room for a meeting of the Black Publishers Association.
Q Is he taking questions --
MS. MYERS: He's going to make remarks. He may take a few questions. There's no Q&A session formally scheduled, but these things tend to be rather informal; so if somebody has a question --
Q What will the topic be, his message?
MS. MYERS: With Black Publishers? I think it's just an opportunity -- he'll probably talk about the economic plan, about his plans generally. They're here, I believe, for a conference and will come in as part of that. And it's traditional for the President to meet with them. It's a group of about 30 from around the country.
Q Will it be multed, piped in?
MS. MYERS: No, it's a pool op only.
Q He's going to take Q&A, but we're not going to be able to --
MS. MYERS: It's a meeting with the Black Publishers. We do this regularly, where we let you in at the top of the meeting and then the rest of the meeting is private.
Q I'm sorry, that's at what time?
MS. MYERS: That is at 2:45 p.m.
Q Same time as Stephanopoulos?
MS. MYERS: No, I believe George is at 12:30 p.m.
Q No, it's 12:45 p.m.
MS. MYERS: 12:45 p.m. The incredible moving briefing.
Q Well, if you'd let us go up to the Press Secretary's office, you might not be so --
MS. MYERS: I don't think that would have any impact on the incredible moving briefing, Helen.
Q I do.
MS. MYERS: Maybe you can explain that, the connection later. I'm a little slow. (Laughter.)
Q I'd like to.
MS. MYERS: Yes, I'm sure you would. (Laughter.)
Q Up in the office.
MS. MYERS: Right, in the office.
AT 4:30 p.m., he will meet with Jacques Delors. That is a brief meeting, around 20 minutes. They'll discuss a variety of issues of common concern. I'm sure trade will come up. Again, it's only about a 20-minute meeting. It is closed.
Q There's not a photo op at the top?
MS. MYERS: No, no photo op.
Q These people are very angry. These people are -- was this a rush meeting, an emergency meeting?
MS. MYERS: No, and I don't believe that they're very angry. Commissioner Delors asked for a courtesy call, to come by. We granted that. They'll meet for about 20 minutes.
Q Is he in the country for something else?
MS. MYERS: I believe he is, yes.
Q But didn't you mention yesterday that there would be a photo op at the beginning of, at the start of the meeting?
MS. MYERS: I made a mistake.
Q Was it canceled?
MS. MYERS: No. I made a mistake. I mean, I am sure if you all want to catch Commissioner Delors, you will probably be able to do that. I mean, you'll have to talk to him about that.
Q So the schedule's wrong, Dee Dee --
MS. MYERS: Check with Marsha. It's not on the President's schedule.
Q Dee Dee, could we request for a photo to be added -- in the meeting?
MS. MYERS: You can request it. Request taken.
Q I want to make sure this is not a second thought.
MS. MYERS: This is a not a second thought. This is a -- Commissioner Delors asked for the courtesy call to come by and meet with the President. He's been granted that. He's coming by for 20 minutes. It's an introductory meeting. I'm sure that a number of issues will come up. It was not hastily scheduled. It is not in reaction to anything. Now you have to check with Delors office to find out what the rest of his schedule is while he's here.
Q You're telling us you were wrong yesterday about the photo op and the schedule's obviously wrong about the photo op. And I want to ask again, you have all have not had second thoughts and dropped a planned photo op?
MS. MYERS: I just answered that question. I just answered that question. I'll be happy to answer it again if I was unclear.
Q Dee Dee, a photo op would seem to be the least we can expect.
MS. MYERS: There is no photo op.
Q Why are you mad at Jacques Delors? (Laughter.)
Q You personally.
MS. MYERS: Right, it's a personal vendetta. (Laughter.)
Q Dee Dee, have they ever met before?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe so.
Q Is the jogging track completed?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure. If it's not completed, it's close.
Q Is there going to be a formal opening?
MS. MYERS: None is scheduled.
Q Do you have all the money for it?
MS. MYERS: Oh, yes, we had the money for it awhile ago. Q Does he plan to watch television this afternoon? MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. Q For what? Q The Arkansas Razorbacks are playing basketball this
afternoon on television.
Q There's was a story in the Washington Post today about the President's going to be meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister next week and the Secretary of State's going to be making a major speech in Chicago. Can you tell us about that?
MS. MYERS: You'll have to check with the State Department about the specifics of Christopher's schedule. I believe he is making a speech in Chicago generally about policy towards Russia. The President, I believe, will meet with Kozyrev, although there is no specific -- we haven't nailed down the specific details of when. I'm sure it will be here, it will be next week.
Q You say you believe he will, but will he -- I mean, yes, he will, does he intend to --
MS. MYERS: Again, we're working -- trying to work it out. There has been no scheduled meeting -- no meeting has been specifically scheduled but we're trying to work it out. So I believe the answer is yes. We intend to, but it has not officially been scheduled.
Q And the reason for that, Dee Dee, does he intend to keep on speaking about the need to assist Yeltsin? Will this be the topic?
MS. MYERS: Well, absolutely. I mean, that's something that he speaks out about regularly. The President obviously is interested in moving forward with aid to Russia.
Q How about a G-7 meeting of the minister?
Q He apparently talked to Mitterrand about this last night.
MS. MYERS: No, he didn't speak to him. I don't believe he spoke to him yesterday.
Q They did.
MS. MYERS: They were supposed to -- maybe there was a report -- he was supposed to and then the phone call got postponed. So they may have done it last night. I'll have to double-check and get back to you. There are a number of proposals on the table for an early G-7 meeting, including one that obviously came out of Japan yesterday or this morning. Nothing has --
Q Meeting of the leaders?
MS. MYERS: No, the Japanese proposal was for foreign ministers, finance ministers.
Q Did he talk to Mr. Mitterrand about a meeting of the leaders before Tokyo?
MS. MYERS: Again, I'll have to get back to you. I didn't -- I don't know if that call took place.
Q Does the President support the ministerial meeting?
MS. MYERS: He is -- we're looking at a variety of proposals. No decisions have been made. As you know, there are a number of different ideas out there, and we will continue to work with members of the G-7 to come to some conclusion on that.
Q Dee Dee, do you expect to be able to make a decision by sometime next week? I mean, the summit's only, I think, a couple of weeks off. And at some point --
MS. MYERS: We'll make a decision as soon as we have reached agreement with the other members of the G-7.
Q communication now between all of them?
MS. MYERS: Yes, the discussions are ongoing.
Q Dee Dee, can you confirm, at least in general terms, whether the President will be lobbying a lot with the American public to push aid to Russia?
MS. MYERS: I don't -- I mean, there's no formal campaign underway. I mean, he'll continue to talk about it. Obviously, he believes it's important, and he's said that a number of times.
Q But will there be any upcoming events that you could tell us in general terms about?
MS. MYERS: No, no.
Q Can I follow that by asking if you think it's necessary? Some people -- Michel, outside the other day, suggested that it would be difficult to get more money for Russia because the American people are very focused on the domestic economy right now. Do you think that you'll have a public relations problem?
MS. MYERS: I don't expect a public relations problem. Obviously, we're working on the details of the aid package now, and as decisions are reached and the President makes final decisions about what the aid package will look like he'll communicate that with the American people. Obviously, the President believes this is important.
Q Do you think the American people believe it's important?
MS. MYERS: I do think the American people -- the American people believe it's important. I mean, obviously we will work to communicate the details of the specific package with them once those decisions have been made. And as we walk up to the summit, I'm sure the President will continue to talk about it, there are no specific events scheduled now to do what we've done. For example, on the economic plan I wouldn't look for that. That's not being planned.
Q Dee Dee, is there a sense of urgency here, though, about Yeltsin's future? You keep saying it's important that we stress -- that we support him. But he's actually calling out for help now --
MS. MYERS: And I think the President's made clear that he intends to try to move forward with that quickly. I think the fact that there will be some meeting of the G-7 before the Tokyo summit -- the President -- the upcoming summit between Yeltsin and Clinton -- are all indications that we do think that this is important, and we're going to move forward very quickly to reach final decisions on it.
Q Dee Dee, the White House has indicated that aid to Russia -- the new plans for aid to Russia -- would be kind of revolutionary, a different approach. Can you, at least in general terms, tell us what is the idea behind that? What would make this aid different from aid that has gone before?
MS. MYERS: The President has said he's looking for innovative ways and new ideas. He's continuing to look over options, and as soon as decisions are made, I can talk more about that.
Q Any reaction to the Washington Post story today about the northern Virginia Republican Party last week, in which many disparaging remarks toward the President were made?
MS. MYERS: It's unfortunate. I mean, it's -- I think intolerance -- it wasn't just disparaging remarks about the President that were made. And I think all forms of intolerance are unacceptable.
Q Does that mean that the President's going to order the Justice Department to look into the case of Sergeant Pete(?), who is serving a six-year term for griping about conditions at Fort Hood during the Persian Gulf War?
MS. MYERS: I don't know -- I'll have to get back to you on that.
Q The Louisiana National Guard case where the whites were allowed to go free and the blacks were sent to jail?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to get back to you on that.
Q What is the status of the William Sessions review?
MS. MYERS: Attorney General Reno is reviewing it. As you know, White House counsel has reviewed it. As soon as we have more details on that, we'll get back to you. There's no --
Q Has the White House Counsel made a recommendation?
MS. MYERS: Not yet. We're waiting until the new Attorney General has a chance to review it. She's moving forward on it. I think she wants to move forward fairly quickly.
Q Is she reviewing it now?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Have you made a decision on the Oregon rationing health plan?
MS. MYERS: We expect a decision on that tomorrow.
Q What? I'm sorry?
MS. MYERS: The Oregon health rationing waiver.
Q Where will that -- will that come out of HHS or -- MS. MYERS: Yes. Q Can you describe what, if anything, he's doing
today lobbying House members? Does he even feel it's necessary? They seemed to have greased the skids pretty well.
MS. MYERS: He's going to continue to work on it. As I mentioned, he made some calls on it yesterday. He may make some more calls on it today. But he's working on it, keeping a close watch on it. We're optimistic, but I think the President's going to work hard to make sure that both the budget resolution and the stimulus package get through. It could be a long night up on the Hill.
Q How's his relationship with those who would cut the stimulus package, like Stenholm? Stenholm reportedly had been trying to maintain contact with the White House as he does this. Is that correct?
MS. MYERS: I think we're working to maintain contact with him.
Q phone call?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it was the phone call. President Clinton did speak with President Mitterrand last night. They spoke about issues, including aid to Russia and the situation in Bosnia. Do you know how long it lasted?
Q Did they have a good phone call?
MR. CLARK: About 15 minutes.
MS. MYERS: Fifteen minutes.
Q Fifteen minutes? That was just one --
Q Short call.
Q That was just Mitterrand's opening remarks. (Laughter.)
Q Without the translation. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I can see NBC was tapping the line again.
Q Did the President call him or did Mitterrand call?
MS. MYERS: I don't know who called who. I believe Mitterrand requested the call.
Q Are you saying that there would be a pretty quick decision on Sessions? And you are aware of the paper saying -- the Post saying that the --
MS. MYERS: I saw the story this morning. Yes, I think the new Attorney General has said that she wants to move forward rather quickly on this. There's no specific timetable, but she's working on it.
Q Did anything come out of that phone call except that they talked?
MS. MYERS: That's all that I have at this point.
Q Could you clarify one thing about the Bosnia plan? If all the sides agree and there is some type of peace agreement, it's the -- my understanding has been that the peacekeeping troops would go in almost immediately, perhaps within 72 hours. It seems that Aspin has been indicating that they would want to make sure that the peace is established, that there's some type of -- that the peace is holding before U.S. troops would go in. What's the final verdict on that? When would U.S. troops -- if an agreement is reached -- would go in?
MS. MYERS: Right. Those are details that are being worked out now with NATO and the U.S. and others. They're working on the details of a plan. No final decisions have been reached. And the President has been fairly clear that he sees U.S. -- that the U.S. be willing to participate with its allies in a multinational effort to keep the peace once all sides have agreed to the -- the specifics about how many troops, about timing, things like that, are being discussed. No final decisions have been made.
Q But once they've agreed to it -- is the term that you're referring to -- in other words, once they've agreed to it, the troops could go in?
MS. MYERS: Again, the specific details about -- yes. I mean, that is obviously a precondition for any U.S. participation in a peacekeeping effort is that all the parties would have to agree to the terms of whatever agreement they reach. Those are the things that are being discussed now in New York. And there are simultaneous conversations going on in Europe with NATO and the U.S. and others about specifically how that would happen -- if the parties reached an agreement, when troops would go in, who, how many, how the force would be structured. And no final decisions have been made about that.
Q The drift out of here seems to be that we would go in as soon as it was safe. (Laughter.) After -- there was no shooting or no fighting, then we would go in.
MS. MYERS: Again, I think the details of that kind of an agreement are fairly complicated, and they're being discussed.
Q What do you hear about Aspin's condition?
MS. MYERS: He began surgery this morning at 8:00 a.m. He's still in surgery. His doctors have scheduled a briefing at 10:30 a.m. at Georgetown Medical Center.
Q Was this under local?
MS. MYERS: It was supposed to be. I believe -- I don't know what happened at 8:00 a.m.
Q During the campaign, the President endorsed the so called motor-voter registration bill. The Senate version has removed a couple of key provisions from the House version, including registration of welfare and unemployment insurance centers. Does the President still intend to sign a bill that has those provisions removed?
MS. MYERS: The President obviously supports the motorvoter. The Senate version left it up to states to decide about welfare agencies and some other agencies. Now it needs to go to conference committee. We'll see what comes out of conference committee. But the President supports the bill, and I think believes that when it comes out of conference it will be something he can sign.
Q Supports the bill in its present form or supports the concept of it?
MS. MYERS: Well, we'll see what the final form of the bill is. I think he supports -- may be somewhat weakened, but I think he still supports that it still will make registration easier, access to registration easier, and we believe it will be something that the President can sign. We're very optimistic about it.
Q Does he prefer the idea of the original bill with registration at welfare and unemployment insurance centers?
MS. MYERS: We'll let Congress work out the details. I think he supported a bill in a form that would allow the best and most access to registration. But, again, Congress will work out the details. We'll see what comes out of the conference committee, and believe it's something that the President will be able to support.
Q What's the reason behind providing for voter registration in unemployment lines and at welfare centers? What's the rationale behind that?
MS. MYERS: I think whatever point you can provide people a simpler access to registration is preferable. And the more options you can give people to tie registration to other activities that they -- other contact they have with the government, that facilitates registration. A lot of people don't vote because they're not registered. To the degree that you can integrate registration and access to registration into people's day-to-day lives, we believe that that will facilitate registration and increase voter turnout.
Q Do you have any more logistical details on the trip tomorrow -- who the audience is, the topic?
MS. MYERS: The first one was --
Q What time is the departure, do you know?
MS. MYERS: The President leaves about 9:30 a.m. I don't have the specifics on the press departure. He goes to -- I don't have the details in front of me, but he goes to a child development center first. It's a consortium that was put together with three or four different local companies and federal aid. From there, he goes to -- I can't remember where -- someplace where he'll address business leaders.
Q The Apparel Mart?
MS. MYERS: The Apparel Mart.
Q press schedule.
MS. MYERS: Oh, good.
Q Dee Dee, is he focusing on any -- plan when he makes his remarks to the business community in Atlanta tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: Any particular aspect of --
Q Of his economic package?
MS. MYERS: I think he's going to talk about the investment portion, so things like immunization, Head Start, other investments that will make us stronger.
Q President Bush and Ross Perot are both in Washington today. Any plans for President Clinton to meet with either or both?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Any reason why?
MS. MYERS: No meeting was requested.
Q Dee Dee, the wires say that the Democratic leaders in the House are now willing to cut about $100 million off the stimulus package, some of those programs that opponents raise objections to. Is that all right with the White House?
MS. MYERS: We're going to continue to work with Congress to get the stimulus package passed in its current form. We're optimistic. There may be some changes that are necessary. I think the President would like to see it passed as is, and will continue to work for that. But we'll see what happens throughout the course of the day.
Q fight for the fish atlas funding?
Q Why would he care about that?
MS. MYERS: We put together a package that the President believes will help create jobs, get the economy moving again, provides for important investment.
Q Are you saying those programs were proposed by the White House? The fish atlas program?
MS. MYERS: Some of the specific details have been worked out subsequently, but the President supports the stimulus package in its current form. We will work with Congress to get it passed, and as -- there may have to be some changes made. We'll see what happens today.
Q Do you want to be politically tied to the fish atlas program? I mean, do you want to defend that as a part of the program the President wants passed?
Q Stinking in the sun. (Laughter.)
Q Mackerel in the moonlight.
Q That's a straight question, Dee Dee. Do you want to be tied -- does the White House want to be tied to that?
MS. MYERS: The President supports the stimulus package in its current form.
This late-breaking bulletin. Update on the color of my dress. It's reddish; therefore, there will be a briefing on the details later. (Laughter.)
Q Photo Op?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END10:05 A.M. EST