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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 24, 1993
                            PRESS BRIEFING
                           BY DEE DEE MYERS

The Briefing Room

9:40 A.M. EST

MS. MYERS: As you know, the President will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev at 1:00 p.m. in the Oval Office. There will be a photo op at the top of that meeting. George will brief at 2:15 p.m. this afternoon.

Q Dee Dee, where will Kozyrev enter the White House -- in here, up there, or --

MS. MYERS: I don't know. Generally, I think probably through the front entrance.

Q Through here.

MS. MYERS: Probably. That's where he has entered in the past when -- or other foreign minister-type people have entered through the front entrance.

Q How long is the meeting scheduled?

MS. MYERS: Forty-five minutes. It may go longer. And then at 3:15 p.m., he is meeting with the Council of Churches in the State Dining Room, and there will be a pool spray at the top of that meeting as well. And that is it for his public schedule.

Q What happened to the governor --

MS. MYERS: He is meeting with him, but there's not op. That meeting is at 3:50 p.m. It's a brief meeting. The governor's actually here to meet with Bob Rubin. That's about a 10-minute meeting.

Q Has the President gotten any hint of a compromise in the works, where Yeltsin could survive?

MS. MYERS: Pardon me?

Q A compromise in the works in Moscow. Has Kozyrev indicated that?

MS. MYERS: I don't think it's clear at this point. And I don't want to comment on the internal machinations in Russia. As you know, Foreign Minister Kozyrev will be here today and will discuss a wide range of issues with the President.

Q At what point was the President aware that this -- at least was going to be taking place between Yeltsin and his rivals?

MS. MYERS: Well, I don't want to comment on specifically when he might have known. I mean, he is keeping on top of the situation. News accounts suggested it happened sometime this morning, and that the meeting, I suppose, is going on right now.

Q Kozyrev said yesterday outside the State Department that as far as Russia's concerned the summit is still on for Vancouver. Is that the official position that he presented in the administration?

MS. MYERS: Yes. And we're moving forward with plans. Both sides have agreed. As far as we're concerned, the summit will be next weekend -- or April 3rd and 4th in Vancouver.

Q Dee Dee, what can you tell us about last night's Russian aid meeting here?

MS. MYERS: The President met with a number of his advisers to discuss a range of issues regarding Russia. The meeting lasted a couple of hours. And obviously the President will continue his dialogue today with Foreign Minister Kozyrev.

Q Who was at this meeting?

MS. MYERS: I don't have an exact list -- Tony Lake and other national security advisers.

Q Where did it take place?

MS. MYERS: It was in the Roosevelt Room.

Q Is he ready to lay out the plan today to Kozyrev?

MS. MYERS: No. They'll continue to discuss it, but the President will outline the plan in Vancouver.

Q What is the hope to do with Kozyrev, then, to kind of feel him out on some points? How would you describe that?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think to discuss a number of issues about Russia, including what he sees as necessary. But I think they'll discuss a range of issues. And we'll have more to say about that after the meeting.

Q This will be a set-up and preview, if you will, of the meeting between Clinton and Yeltsin; I mean, so that there are no surprises, right? Are they going to -- any new ground?

MS. MYERS: The summit will be on the agenda. They'll talk about a number of issues. I'm sure that they'll talk about a number of things, as Kozyrev indicated yesterday, about how -- specifically how the summit will be structured. There's been ongoing conversations between the two sides about that.

Q What else is on the agenda?

MS. MYERS: Well, there's not a formal agenda. I mean, they'll talk about generally the situation in Russia and about the summit.

Q Dee Dee, did the President decide to have a press conference yesterday to -- as a way to talk about the Yeltsin situation? Was that part of the --

MS. MYERS: Certainly knew that that would come up, and he began the press conference yesterday with a statement about Russia. It also, I think, was an opportunity for him, after having been in Little Rock for the previous two days, to come back and talk about a number of issues, I think, that were on the table.

Q Dee Dee, could you get back to what happened today in Moscow. Is there a sense of relief following Yeltsin's move to try -- to diffuse -- differences, or how do you see it?

MS. MYERS: I don't think it's appropriate for us to comment on the day-to-day happenings in Russia. The President continues to support President Yeltsin as the best hope for reform in that country, and we'll continue to support him.

Q The summit meeting will be two days?

MS. MYERS: Correct -- Saturday and Sunday.

Q Meetings both days?

MS. MYERS: We don't have the exact schedule yet, but there will be meetings both on Saturday and Sunday -- a number of different meetings.

Q So the President will not be previewing his aggressive package of aid this afternoon, this is all going to be saved until Vancouver?

MS. MYERS: They may discuss some elements of it, but again I don't have a specific agenda for the meeting. And I think we probably won't talk specifically about what is discussed in the meeting until the President's ready to make his announcement about what exactly will be in that aid package.

Q Dee Dee, will Vancouver be the first place where the American people get the details of his package?

MS. MYERS: I think that's likely.

Q How firm is the package? Is it pretty well in shape or --

MS. MYERS: It's still being discussed. We're working through it. There are a number of decisions that have yet to be made. The President's continuing to discuss that with a number of his advisers and others, and we'll have more to say about it later.

Q Dee Dee, what's the President going to do to make sure that he has congressional support and public support before he goes and lays out this plan to Yeltsin?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think he'll continue to work with Congress on this and a number of issues. Obviously it's something that Congress would have to approve. But in terms of public support, I think he will certainly let the American people know what's in the package and continue to say, as he did yesterday, and as spokespeople have said throughout the last several days, that he supports President Yeltsin, that he believes it's necessary that Russia needs to continue to move toward democracy and economic reform. That is in the country's best interest, and I think we'll continue to press that case. Secretary Christopher made a speech on Monday in Chicago. The President talked about it yesterday. And I think you can expect that that dialogue will be ongoing.

Q Is he going to lay this -- all the details, the minute details of this plan out for the appropriate congressional chairmen and so forth before he goes to Vancouver?

MS. MYERS: I don't know that all the details of exactly how those conversations will take place have been decided yet. We'll continue to work through it.

Q? Why would he go to Vancouver with this package and give it to Yeltsin first before he runs it past anybody here in this country?

Q I'm not suggesting that that's what he's going to do. I'm not at all suggesting that that's what he's going to do.

Q I'm sorry, I thought that was exactly what you were going to do.

MS. MYERS: No, I said that he would continue to have conversations with members of Congress, but I didn't have a specific timeline or schedule of meetings. And I don't expect that I'll be talking about that in the next day or so.

Q I'm sorry, I thought you said he would not be laying out the details at this thing for congressional leaders.

MS. MYERS: No, I did not say that. I said exactly the opposite.

Q I thought that's what you just said to Peter.

MS. MYERS: No. If that is what was communicated, I apologize. What I thought I said was, that he'll continue to talk with members of Congress, that this package would ultimately have to pass Congress, and that he'll continue to work with members. But I don't have a specific schedule for how those meeting will take place at this point.

Q But he has no intention to seek any sort of public support before he gives the package to Yeltsin.

MS. MYERS: And what I said about that was that the President will continue his dialogue with the American people and other administration officials will continue their dialogue with the American people about the need for support. In terms of exactly how the plan will be unveiled and when, I don't have the details on.

Q What's the latest word on Hugh Rodham and the possibility that the President may return to Little Rock anytime soon?

MS. MYERS: There's been no change in Mr. Rodham's condition.

Q When did Russia become a democracy?

Q And no idea that the President's going to return to Little Rock anytime soon?

MS. MYERS: No. There's nothing scheduled but that could obviously change.

Q Is the First Lady still there?


Q Dee Dee, when did Russia become a democracy?

MS. MYERS: I think Russia ia an emerging democracy. They had their first free elections of a president and vice president in a thousand years. They are an emerging democracy.

Q The President said yesterday Russia is and must remain a democracy.

MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on the specific timeline of that, but they had their first free and open elections in more than a thousand years of their history. President Yeltsin is honoring civil liberties, is continuing to move toward market and economic reform. I don't think that there's a specific date that you can always tie something like that to, but clearly Russia is an emerging democracy, and we'll continue to support that path.

Q Dee Dee, is the President looking for Kozyrev's input on the structure of the aid package, or has there been other efforts to get Russian input on the aid package?

MS. MYERS: Well, Secretary of State Christopher met with Kozyrev yesterday. Obviously the President will meet with him today. They'll talk about a range of issues.

Q Well, but you listed some of the issues. I mean, is the structure of the aid package something they're looking at for his views on?

MS. MYERS: I'm sure that that will be discussed.

Q Dee Dee, what role did the White House play in the decision to fire all of the U.S. attorneys?

MS. MYERS: The White House consulted with the Attorney General on it. It's fairly pro forma. The U.S. attorneys are Republican appointees. I believe 17 of them have already offered their resignation. And they were notified that would be receiving a letter asking for their resignations, and that eventually all of them would be replaced. But there's no specific timeline on that. But the White House consulted with the Justice Department about it.

Q The impression that Janet Reno left yesterday was that all of them had to clear out their desks and get out immediately.

MS. MYERS: That is not true. That is not -- I don't think that's the impression that she left. That was the impression that some of the U.S. attorneys may have unfortunately taken away, but that was not what she intended to convey and that is certainly not Justice's position.

Q So you assume that the replacement of these U.S. attorneys will take place roughly the same as it has in past administration changeovers -- that as the months go by, various ones will be replaced?

MS. MYERS: Correct, depending on the circumstances.

Q Not a wholesale immediate --

MS. MYERS: Some will be leaving more quickly than others and in the interim will be replaced mostly with career attorneys -- professionals.

Q Do you any specific idea of a timetable for the departure of Jay Stephens?

MS. MYERS: No. I think Attorney General Reno made it clear yesterday that she didn't want to disrupt any ongoing investigations. However, there are investigations going on across the board. I think Justice will work carefully through that process.

Q This is a particularly sensitive investigation.

MS. MYERS: I understand that.

Q Would you say that it would be all right for him to at least see through the decision on whether or not to seek an indictment?

MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on the timing of that. The Attorney General will work through that with the various U.S. attorneys, but I think she made it clear, one, that she did not issue some edict to clear out their desks in 10 days. That's just not true; and second of all, that she doesn't want to disrupt ongoing investigations. She wants those to be able to proceed.

Q What's the status of the administration's deliberations on using a value-added tax to pay for the health care reforms?

MS. MYERS: I saw the news report today suggesting that that had been reraised. I think the President ruled that out fairly clearly a couple of weeks ago.

Q What did he mean, though, yesterday when he said that those in the industry who make the money off health care reform, he's going to make sure that they pay first? What was he referring to there specifically?

MS. MYERS: I think that what he just wanted to convey was that health care will be paid for in a way that's fair; that if certain segments of the health industry stand to gain or profit excessively from health care reform measures, that he'll work to make sure that they contribute in a way that's fair; that no one group profits excessively at the expense of any other groups.

Q What kind of justification is that for increased taxes, though? I mean, it's apples and oranges, isn't it?

MS. MYERS: No, it's not apples and oranges. It's the same principle that guided the development of the economic plan -- that overall the package will have to be fair and that people who -- what he said about the economic plan was that people who gained the most would have to pay the most. I think that's clearly the practical effect of the economic plan. The same is true with health care -- that if certain -- that he wants to make sure that no one group gains at the expense of others; that the cost of health care reform is borne fairly across-the-board, and that big corporations or certain sections of the health industry wouldn't benefit excessively while the burden was picked up by the middle class who need health care.

Q Can you give us an idea as to who might benefit excessively or unfairly as a result of health care reform?

MS. MYERS: I don't want to go beyond that, other than the President's point was that the cost of health care reform will be paid for in a way that is fair.

Q Was it not more of an attempt just to soften the blow of more increase in taxes?

MS. MYERS: I don't think any decisions have been made about that, so I'm not going to say that other than I think what he certainly made a top priority in economic reform was fairness and that in health reform that same principle will apply.

Q Did the President misspeak on the question of gays in the military and being -- in terms of deployment? Wouldn't he, in fact, -- wouldn't that lead to another form of discrimination?

MS. MYERS: No, I think what the President -- what he has said repeatedly throughout this process, or at least on several instances, was that that could be considered, that there might be as part of a compromise a way to distinguish in terms of deployment. And I think he sort of made a philosophical comment about the courts and their -- and I don't want to comment too much on the law, because that's not my field of expertise -- but that they've given the military some latitude on those kinds of issues in the past. He certainly hasn't made any decisions about that. As you know, Secretary Aspin is scheduled to report to the President on July 15th, and no final decisions will be made before that. But this is clearly an issue that will come up throughout the -- Senator Nunn's hearings; Senator Nunn has said that; and throughout the Pentagon and RAND studies. So I think all the President said was that this is something that will be looked at.

Q But doesn't that really -- but he indicated that -- the possibility of going that route. And wouldn't that perpetuate discrimination?

MS. MYERS: No. I think what the President has said is that people who want to serve their country ought not to be discriminated against on the basis of status, that they ought to be in the armed services. He's moving forward with that, he's committed to that.

Q But didn't he say he wanted them fully integrated into the military?

MS. MYERS: I think, again, no final decisions have been made. I think the President's position is clear, that he believes that people ought not to be discriminated against on the basis of status, only on the basis of conduct; but that as we move through this process a number of options are going to be considered and that's one of them, that there might be some distinction.

Q But, Dee Dee, women, for instance who are kept off submarines -- women who are kept off submarines or fighter planes that fly onto aircraft carriers feel discriminated against because they can't get the billets that lead to being admiral, for instance. This sounds like the same thing.

MS. MYERS: Well, again, it's something that's going to be considered throughout this process. That is clear. I mean, again, the Pentagon has said it's an issue that needs to be explored. Senator Nunn has said that he will take a look at it throughout the hearing process. It's something that's going to be explored. And I think what the President indicated was that he's open to hearing a discussion about it, that he's opened-minded about this; and as this process goes forward that is certainly something that will be debated at length.

Q How are limitations --

MS. MYERS: Again, no decisions have been made.

Q How are limitations on assignments any different than discrimination on the basis of status?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think, again, that what the President indicated yesterday was that the court has in the past given the military a fairly wide latitude on issues of deployment so that it, in fact, it may be constitutional; that what he wants to do is lift the ban on people serving in the armed forces solely on the basis of status. He's moving forward towards that, he's committed to that. In terms of exactly how that gets worked out, that's what this process is about.

Q Dee, given your immediate negative reaction from almost all quarters -- Congress, the Pentagon, the services, and gay rights organizations -- has anybody here at the White House said in the past 12 hours, that sounds like a lousy idea?

MS. MYERS: I don't think that there's been universal condemnation of that idea. I think it's something that the Pentagon and others have said needs to be looked at. Certainly, members of Congress -- some members of Congress said this needs to be looked at. The Pentagon, clearly, has said this needs to be looked at. I think and others believe that this is an issue that must be explored. You can't just sweep it under the carpet and pretend it doesn't need to be looked at; it does -- along with a number of other things. If you look at whether or not it can be done you're going to look at the reasons why it shouldn't be done. The President has indicated that it's going to be looked at, that he hasn't made a decision about it, but it's something that must be explored.

Q But the services and Pentagon officials think that they're not offering this as a compromise, and they say it would be an administrative nightmare.

MS. MYERS: I think there are -- they have raised a lot of those concerns about a number of issues. And so, again, without going into any detail before the process is fully underway it's something that is clearly going to be looked at.

Q Dee, the problem though is that you've already decided that you're not going to ask anyone about their sexual orientation when they join the U.S. military.

MS. MYERS: Correct.

Q So how do you then decide that you're going to start asking people, well, you can't --

MS. MYERS: No, no one's suggesting that they be asked.

Q Well, then how do you decide who's not going to be able to serve on various ships or whatever?

MS. MYERS: If people volunteer their status -- this is clearly what the issue is. I mean, I'm not making that up. But, again, this is why we've established this process, which is scheduled to extend until July 15. These issues clearly need to be discussed and explored, and we fully expect that they will be.

Q So, Dee Dee, you want people to continue to hide their status.


Q How is that an improvement over what the situation is before the --

MS. MYERS: We have a process before us, it's intended to look at these issues, the process is going forward. And I think the President has made his position clear.

Q What would the rationale be to discriminate against gays?

MS. MYERS: At this point, it's something that's going to be discussed. There are a number of concerns on a number of levels. They're going to get looked at. No decisions have been made.

Q But what kind of message is the White House even sending out --

MS. MYERS: We're not sending any messages right now. We're saying that this is a process that's ongoing and we're going to look at a number of issues, including that one. And we'll have more to say about it when Secretary Aspin makes his presentation.

Q By saying you're considering discriminating against gays, you're sending a message.

MS. MYERS: We haven't said we're considering discriminating against gays. We've said, we're committed to looking at a number of issues and exploring them fully. It's going to happen. Senator Nunn's already made clear that that's going to be part of his hearing process. It's clearly something that is going to come up in the Pentagon study and the RAND study. It's out there and the President has said it will be looked at.

Q Dee Dee, what is a gay person who's in the military to discern from what the President said yesterday if they want to be considered for --

MS. MYERS: They should wait until we make some decisions about this before they make any -- draw any conclusions; and I would urge the rest of you to do the same.

Q So he did misspeak.

MS. MYERS: He did not misspeak.

Q Dee Dee, did Senator Nunn --

Q What about the task force?

MS. MYERS: The Pentagon study group? There is some work being done in the Pentagon now. The study group will be -- I guess begin its full exercises sometime in April. I would refer you to Vernon or somebody over at the Pentagon for more details.

Q Did Senator Nunn throw this process off from the White House standpoint by going ahead and having his hearings?

MS. MYERS: He said from the beginning he expected to have hearings in March.

Q Would you have preferred them to be at another time?

MS. MYERS: No, I think that was always factored into this process. Senator Nunn said from the beginning that he would have -- hold hearings on this; that he expected to start those hearings in March. It's now the end of March, and he's going to move forward with that. We always factored that into the process.

Q Dee Dee, speaking of the process, is there any resentment here at the White House over the way that the Navy and some of the other branches of the military are lobbying on this issue?

MS. MYERS: No, we'll continue to work with all the branches of the military and the Pentagon on this. They have an interest in it and we expect to hear from them.

Q Dee Dee, back to Russia. What members of Congress is the President consulting with, both on the aid package and just the general situation?

MS. MYERS: I don't have a schedule who he's talked to or who he's talking to on that.

Q Could we get one?

Q Has he been on the phone talking to people on the --

MS. MYERS: Not about Russia.

Q Dee Dee, the Senate's supposed to start the Social Security tax increase deliberations today. I think it's supposed to come to a vote by tonight. Is the President doing anything special to talk to various Senators? Has he spoke -- called anybody lately? Is he meeting with any of them? Is he concerned that this Social Security provision may not be passed?

MS. MYERS: He's obviously looking at the range, both on the stimulus package and the budget resolution. He's called a couple of senators yesterday, and he'll continue to make calls as he believes it's necessary. But we think we're making good progress in the Senate on both the stimulus package and the budget resolution and actually have a vote sometime late tonight on the budget resolution. So obviously we're continuing to watch it real close.

Q In answer to Sarah McClendon's question, the President whipped out the Leon Panetta letter and said it wasn't part of his proposal, but it's part of a proposal.

MS. MYERS: Not exactly.

Q Did he mean to say that he would not sign a stimulus package that included fish atlases and all these other Christmas tree items that were --

MS. MYERS: There are a list of projects that are ready to go. All of those projects will not be funded through the stimulus, and I think there was an intent -- a sort of a blatant attempt to sort of subvert the stimulus package by saying it will be loaded up with pork. What the President said yesterday was that he was not going to let that happen.

Q How is he not going to let that happen?

MS. MYERS: He's going to work with Congress to make sure that that doesn't happen.

Q strike those programs from the stimulus package?

MS. MYERS: He's going to work with Congress to make sure that they're not in there, yes. He's not going to let that happen.

Q Is he going therefore through the list and choosing those items that he thinks should be included and taken out?

MS. MYERS: He's going to work with them to make sure that the stimulus package does not get loaded up with pork.

Q But was that a deal-breaker? Would he veto his own stimulus bill if there was these provisions in it?

MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on hypotheticals or what he would veto and what he wouldn't veto.

Q Does the President or perhaps Leon Panetta think that some of the agencies, some of his own departments, sort of lost the spirit of what the stimulus package is about, and that the President was a little -- maybe perhaps sandbagged by his own people for throwing in these Christmas tree pork barrel projects?

MS. MYERS: No, nobody's thrown anything in yet. There are a list of ready-to-go projects at different agencies and departments. The overall effect and intent of the stimulus package is clear. It's to create jobs and make sure that the economy doesn't slide into recession again. The President believes that if his stimulus package is passed as he proposes, that it will have that effect. That it will create 500,000 jobs and perhaps more through the private sector over the next year-and-a-half. He's committed to it, he expects that it will pass the Senate.

Q Did anybody go to the woodshed over this? I understand Panetta, at least, said -- asked a question, why did these people throw these items into this package, and was looking for answers. Was the President --

MS. MYERS: No, I don't think anybody's gone to the woodshed over it, but I think the President has made clear that he's not going to let the stimulus package get loaded up with pork, and that he's going to work to make sure that its job-creating effects are protected.

Q I'm confused. How did he arrive at the amount of money he wanted to put into the stimulus package? And how do you arrive at the results of the stimulus package -- the 500,000 new jobs you say will be created -- if you don't know how the money is going to be spent?

MS. MYERS: We know in broad categories how it's going to be spent. A certain amount will be spent on extending unemployment benefits, a certain amount will be spent on highway projects, a certain amount will be spent on Head Start, a certain amount will be spent on community development block grants.

Q A certain amount is being spent on fish atlases. Would you say --

MS. MYERS: There is no -- find in writing -- I challenge any of you to find in writing a proposal that says money will be spent on fish atlases. I challenge you, Mike. I mean, come to us at the noon briefing with the fish atlas proposal, and I'll be happy to discuss it. It just doesn't exist. There is no proposal.

Q Or the -- White House drawing proposal.

MS. MYERS: Now, to answer your other question about how this was arrived at --

Q I mean, was there a certain amount of money he just threw in there and said we'll figure out how to spend it later?

MS. MYERS: No. But a certain amount of it is -- it's allocated toward broad goals, which is then -- we believe that the local communities, in some cases, the departments in some cases, are best equipped to decide exactly how that money will be spent. The intention of the money is clear: When you allocate X-amount of money for community development block grants, the money is then distributed and local communities get to decide exactly how it's spent. The President thinks that's wise, that they have a better idea about how to create jobs and restore infrastructure and train people, whatever, in their communities, and the federal government does. That's why that money was put in there.

Now, the exact -- then you can make an overall gauge of how many jobs you think that's going to create. The President's economic advisers worked long and hard on the economic plan and the stimulus package to find something that was balanced, that was fair, that he believed would meet its objectives.

Q not one of these horrible examples is actually in that legislation?

MS. MYERS: I challenge you to find it. It is not in there.

Q proposals that are ending in various departments and agencies?

MS. MYERS: Correct.

Q And could be implemented, or could not be implemented?

MS. MYERS: I guess you could allegedly implement something -- it's the kind of thing that's ready to go. That doesn't mean that's how the money will be spent.

Q And the President is saying to his servants in the agencies that you will not do this. Is that what --

MS. MYERS: He's saying the money will not be spent on pork projects, correct.

Q What's Judy Collins doing here?

MS. MYERS: I believe she went jogging with the President this morning. She's, as you know, a friend of his, and I think she's in town performing.

Q Is Hillary in town?

MS. MYERS: No, she is in Little Rock.

Q Is she returning at all this week?

MS. MYERS: Unclear.

Q Dee Dee, just to go back to Stephens for a second, I understand that today he made the suggestion that the timing was motivated by the investigation of Rostenkowski.

MS. MYERS: I think he may have backed away from that a little bit. That's just not true. Absolutely not true.

Q Dee Dee, what about any travel plans? Any outsidethe -Beltway tours?

MS. MYERS: Nothing this week. No, I don't think we'll go anywhere until we leave for Portland.

Q Any announcements tomorrow on anything in particular? Any important things being released -- campaign finance reform --

MS. MYERS: No. I don't expect that for a couple of weeks.

Q Dee Dee, a quick logistical request. Since George's readout on the President's meeting with foreign ministers is going to be our first look at that, and such an important visitor, could we have a little bit longer than the usual rigid five minutes for TV and radio taping at the top? Can you take that into consideration?

MS. MYERS: I'll take that into consideration, yes.

Q Anything new on Pickering?


Q When did that meeting happen?

MS. MYERS: Yesterday. Which meeting?

Q Yesterday you talked about a meeting --

MS. MYERS: I don't know that it's happened yet. It's supposed to happen sometime this week.

Q Is he going to attend it?

MS. MYERS: The President? No.

Q Pickering.


Q Is he going to be interrogated or --

MS. MYERS: No, I don't believe -- I don't believe he's going to be there. I'll double-check. It's White House and other officials.

Q But his nomination has been sent to the Senate?

MS. MYERS: No. The President has announced his intention to nominate, but he has not sent it up yet.

Q And when will he do that -- if he does it?

MS. MYERS: Expect him to do it as soon as possible. He's working -- the White House is working through some issues.

Q On health care, would one way of reining in excessive profits be some form of temporary price controls --

MS. MYERS: I can't comment on the specific decisions that might be made.

Q Do you know yet how much time --

MS. MYERS: We're exempting the news media from health care coverage. (Laughter.) A big cost savings measure.

Q Dee Dee, when you say the White House is working through some issues on the Pickering nomination, can you enlighten us?


Q Do you know yet how much time the President will spend in Portland and what is part will be in the Forest Conference?

MS. MYERS: We should have sort of an outline on that fairly soon on what the day is going to look like and what issues he hopes to take up. He will be there -- it's probably start late morning on Friday or something like that and go on through the day. So it's a little less than a full day.

Q on Saturday?

MS. MYERS: It's unclear, but probably.

Q Where would he spend Friday night?

MS. MYERS: Portland.

Q Will he stay through the entire conference?


Q No, not through the entire conference. The conference is several days.

MS. MYERS: Oh, it is? (Laughter.) He'll be there one day. The President's portion of the conference is one day, and he'll stay through his entire part. (Laughter.)

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END10:08 A.M. EST