THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
9:25 A.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: Good morning. As you know, the President is at the Pentagon where he met this morning with the Joint Chiefs and with Secretary Aspin. He'll return here and leave here at 10:00 a.m. en route to Little Rock. There are no firm details for memorial services, but it looks like there will be something in Little Rock tomorrow and something in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. We'll release more details as they become available.
It is not clear when they'll be returning to Washington, although it could be Saturday or Sunday.
Q The burial will be in Scranton, is that right?
MS. MYERS: The burial will be in Scranton.
Q And that's probably Saturday?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it looks like it. Again, we'll have more -- this is more for guidance, but we'll have details as they become available. Hopefully sometime today we'll be able to say when the Little Rock memorial service is going to be and when the burial in Scranton is going to be, and maybe even when they'll return to Washington.
Q In reading the budget, I noticed that it contains at least two abortion prohibitions are still in there.
MS. MYERS: Where?
Q One's on appendix, page 270, and it's the Agency for International Development -- I believe it's their budget -- but it prohibits the expenditures of certain foreign aid funds for any population control program that encourages abortion. I think this is the same one that was fought over endlessly in the Bush and Reagan era. And I was -- you led us to believe that all the budget prohibitions on abortion would be removed.
MS. MYERS: I'll have to double-check and see where those are, but you believe there are two -- one in foreign aid for family planning.
Q I'll go back and give you the pages on the -- I spent the whole night reading the budget --
MS. MYERS: You have an exciting life, Ann. The movie's better than the book. (Laughter.)
Q I hope so.
MS. MYERS: I think Panetta may be able to answer that question at 10:00 a.m. That briefing is going ahead as planned. I believe Vice President Gore will give the top of the briefing and then followed up by Panetta, Tyson and Bentsen.
Q You'll have briefings here today and tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: I believe George will brief later than usual -- 1:30 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. And tomorrow, I think we'll stick to the same briefing schedule. At least there will be a morning briefing.
We'll have details of that later.
Q What was the purpose for the President's trip to the Pentagon today --
MS. MYERS: It's part of an ongoing plan to visit the various agencies and departments, an opportunity for him to meet again with the Joint Chiefs and to talk with Secretary Aspin about the bottom-up review and other defense-related issues.
Q How many other agencies has he visited?
MS. MYERS: Treasury, OMB.
Q But did he pick today for the Pentagon because they're really taking the biggest visible hit in the budget?
MS. MYERS: No -- it just happened -- it was a stop that was added yesterday and then moved up. It was going to be later this afternoon and moved up this morning because of Mr. Rodham's passing away. But it's just part of an ongoing process.
Q Is he attempting to signal continued support for the military? Was there any symbolism in this?
MS. MYERS: I think continued support for the military is implied. I mean, he's obviously the Commander-in-Chief, and he will continue to meet with the Joint Chiefs. This is, I believe, the second meeting since he's been President with Chiefs. He meets and confers regularly with General Powell and with Secretary Aspin. He's involved in the budget process at the Pentagon as he is in all the agencies and departments.
Q So that was the only item on the agenda -- the agenda -- the reinventing government idea, or were there other -- was he going to discuss other issues?
MS. MYERS: With the Chiefs?
Q With the Chiefs, yes.
MS. MYERS: He was going to discuss a number of security issues -- a regular meeting. The meeting was scheduled to last about 45 minutes and cover a range of topics.
Q To the average person, how can they tell this is a Clinton budget rather than a Bush budget?
MS. MYERS: Because it contains -- it contains billions of dollars in new investment. I don't have the exact figure. And it is part of a five-year package that is the biggest deficit reduction package in history. But it does more than just reduce the deficit, it invests in new priorities and changes basically the direction of the federal government.
Q From what to what?
MS. MYERS: From a short-term consumption budget to more of a long-term investment budget. And this is a budget that will try to invest in things like worker training, Head Start, and a variety of other programs -- education, infrastructure -- that are long-term investments in economic growth.
Q Dee Dee, the President, I think it was yesterday, he said now we're up to 200 spending cuts.
MS. MYERS: That's correct.
Q Where do the other 50 suddenly come from?
MS. MYERS: They came through the consultation process with the Congress. We originally proposed 150. As you know, Congress went beyond where the President went, and the number of specific cuts is up to 200 -- over 200.
Q But isn't the total of deficit reduction less than it was in the original presentation?
MS. MYERS: It's actually a little bit more. It depends on -- if you consider the OMB reestimate, I believe it's $3 billion over five years. You could check that with Panetta, but I think went from 492 or something like that.
Q I'm talking about net reduction.
MS. MYERS: Net reduction over five years is actually more, even with the OMB reestimate.
Q Dee Dee, is the President refusing to meet with the President of the Ukraine until there's some action on --
MS. MYERS: Well, as you know, the President's already met with the President of -- spoken with Kravchuk a couple of times and met with Foreign Minister Zlenko of the Ukraine. Obviously, he's very interested in seeing that the Ukraine sign, ratify SALT II and sign onto the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and we'll continue to press for that.
Q Is that a precondition for meeting with him?
MS. MYERS: We'd like to see it happen.
Q I hate bring up this ugly subject, but the White House staff numbers don't seem to -- and totals in the budget don't seem to match your briefing here. Who -- is there someone who can explain --
MS. MYERS: Yes, I mean, Mark is the person who knows the details of that budget. What a surprise, Ann, that you went and checked that this morning. (Laughter.)
Q And it's only 9:00 a.m. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I tell you. I will check with Mark and have him get back to you on that.
Q Can you confirm reports that the United States has some new requests for Israel to recognize a new leader of the Palestinian delegation to try to break through the logjam on the talks?
MS. MYERS: Well, as you know, Secretary of State Christopher met with the Palestinian delegation last week. They talked about a number of things, presented them with the package, which he presented to Mubarak earlier this week. Mubarak was satisfied with it. We're satisfied with the Israeli approach to this and to the approach to returning the deportees. I'm not going to talk about the specific details of our discussions with the Palestinians, but we think that the package will allow the Palestinians to come back to the table. And we're satisfied that the Israelis will find it acceptable as well.
Q Would you guide us away from the details as reported in the New York Times today?
MS. MYERS: Well, I don't want to talk about the specific details of the discussions with the Palestinians. But, again, we think we have a package that addresses a lot of the concerns and allows the peace process to move forward.
Q Has the President spoken to Byrd, Mitchell or any Republicans on the budget thing in the last couple days?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe so.
Q We hear that Bentsen's meeting with Dole today. Is that -- that's what Dole said to us yesterday.
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I can check, or you can ask him yourself at 10:00 a.m.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END9:35 A.M. EDT