THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
12:37 P.M. EDT
Q Do you have any announcements?
MS. MYERS: No, just a quick readout from the bipartisan leadership meeting this morning. Senator Dole spoke about the need for bipartisanship, particularly in foreign policy, and he talked specifically about the fast track vote coming up today, about Russian aid and an NAFTA generally.
Bob Michel pointed out that, and others also noted, that Speaker Foley could be particularly useful on Japan as the President heads into the summit. So he will be coming back tomorrow with a group of experts. And finally, the President thanked the group for their support and said that he looked forward to more bipartisan cooperation.
Q So what about NAFTA?
Q Speaking of NAFTA, can you tell us, what is the administration going to do now that the judge has ruled, in effect, that you cannot influence the legislation in time before the fast track expires?
MS. MYERS: Well, obviously, we just received this word. We'll be reviewing the decision. Until then we don't have any further comment.
Q Do you mean you're not going to say today that you're prepared to go to court and seek to set this aside or overturn it or stay it?
MS. MYERS: At this point -- obviously, we just found out about this a few minutes ago; we haven't had a chance to review the decision. We'll do that and let you know as soon as we have more concrete guidance.
Q Perhaps you'll have something for us later in the day.
MS. MYERS: Perhaps.
Q Will President Clinton be calling Prime Minister Campbell and President Salinas in Mexico about this?
MS. MYERS: Again, we just received this information a little while ago. We'll review it.
Q When do you think you might have something?
MS. MYERS: If we have more to say we'll put it out this afternoon.
Q How do you feel about the concept of an environmental impact statement?
MS. MYERS: Again, nothing more to say. We'll review the decision --
Q Can you bring Mr. Nussbaum in here and have a briefing on this right now? We need it.
MS. MYERS: No, he's not available right now. But again, if we have anymore details on this --
Q Haven't you opposed that idea in the past, though?
MS. MYERS: Again, we just got this. We're not prepared to comment further than that right now. If we have anything later we'll put it out.
Q Is it the President's view that he can accommodate the environmental concerns adequately with these side agreements that he has always proposed?
MS. MYERS: I don't know how many more ways I can say this. We're not prepared to comment any further at this point.
Q Dee Dee, could you put reaction on the fast track for us, please? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We'll see what we can do.
Q Didn't the President, early on in the campaign, support an environmental impact statement and then sort of stop talking about it?
MS. MYERS: Well, obviously, he's been concerned about the environmental impacts from the beginning, which is wy he made negotiating an environmental side agreement a contingency of passing NAFTA through Congress. We're working now on two side agreements dealing with labor and with the environment.
As for the specific issue, again, I'm not going to have any comment on it at this point.
Q Leaving aside this judge's ruling entirely, on NAFTA in general, you all have been saying for the last month or so that health care would have to wait until after the budget was done because it was not practical to do two major pieces such as that at the same time. Applying the same logic, is it possible to do health care and NAFTA at the same time, or would you have to wait until health care is over before you could have any hope of tackling something as large as the NAFTA agreement?
MS. MYERS: Clearly, NAFTA is large, something that is going to take a lot of energy and commitment. But the President has made clear that he wants to get it done this year. He thinks this court decision may change things, but he believed that it was possible to get it done this year and was pushing so that I think work on NAFTA would certainly proceed.
Q Let me just follow up on that.
Q So he now is believing that this may be halted because of that?
MS. MYERS: I'm leaving open the possibility -- I'm not commenting on the court decision from today.
Q The President still does, despite everything that we've gone through the budget, the President still does think it's possible to handle both NAFTA and health care simultaneously?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Did I understand you to say that NAFTA would come ahead of health care?
MS. MYERS: No. The question was, could NAFTA and health care be handled simultaneously, and the answer was yes.
Q It's the same committee, though. They're both in Ways and Means and Finance.
Q Oh, say yes and watch her fly around the room like a balloon with the air out of it. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: It's for you, Brit.
Q Why do you think that it can be done simultaneously? Have you talked to the committee chairmen? I mean, they're in the same committees.
MS. MYERS: Obviously, we're in constant contact with Congress on a number of issues including NAFTA. This is something we feel we have strong bipartisan support for. There is a lot of work that needs to done in negotiating the side agreements and other things, but the President has made very clear that he would like to see this wrapped up by the end of the year and we hope that it can move forward.
Q Any decisions this week on all the major things hanging fire -- gays in the military, timber, Sessions, travel office?
MS. MYERS: Yes. We'll take a couple of those issues one at a time. I think that there will be more to say about the forest conference and the results of that sometime in the next couple of days and we'll have an announcement on timing later this afternoon. I think it is very likely to come in the next day or two. The travel office report I think is also likely to come by the end of the week, although we don't have any firm details on the timing of that either.
Q Nuclear testing.
MS. MYERS: I think the President said he would have more to say about that sometime soon.
Q He said a couple of days, the next few days.
MS. MYERS: That's soon.
MS. MYERS: Nuclear testing. As you know the President said this morning in his photo op that he had made a decision and that he was working out the final details on it and that he would have a decision in the next couple of days.
Q Before Attorney General Reno even took office, she said that the Sessions matter would be top priority. It's been more than three months, nothing's happened, and it appears that Sessions is working out a very nice retirement for himself. Has the White House put any pressure on Justice to get this resolved?
MS. MYERS: It is something that the Attorney General has been working on. As you know, she's met with Judge Sessions a couple of times and we're still waiting for more details on that from her. But I think at this point, the Justice Department is handling it.
Q Is the search continuing for his successor within the White House?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on the specific personnel matter, other than to say that it is being handled by the Attorney General at this point and the President expects her to report to him sometime soon.
Q This week -- is that possible?
Q Is that on the list -- is Sessions one of the things that's on the list of things he'd like to get done before he goes he goes to Tokyo?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Do you anticipate the Sessions matter will be resolved before you go to Tokyo?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't expect an announcement on that this week, no.
Q Is the President aware of the FAA report that there was supposedly no runway delay while he was getting his hair cut? Is he aware of it? Does he have any reaction --
MS. MYERS: No, but that -- no, I didn't -- I've got to say, I did not expect this question. The question is, has the President been informed of news accounts, I believe, in Newsday this morning that say the FAA records indicate that no flights were delayed, no air traffic was held up while the President was sitting on the runway in Los Angeles getting his hair cut? I think that is consistent with what we were told at the time. It's consistent with what we believe the President made a point of asking in ensuring that no air traffic would be impaired if he was to remain on the runway. And we're happy that that matter has been cleared up.
Q Is he aware of it?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I'm sure -- he sees the newspapers every day and I would imagine he saw it in the clips. But I didn't talk to him about it today.
Q Dee Dee, what about those two commuter planes that I think someone from up there told us about, that they were delayed?
Q The FAA.
MS. MYERS: Yes, the FAA is now saying that they --
Q Are you sure you want to get in this swamp again?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't. (Laughter.)
Q But do you think the FAA coming out and announcing in Newsday that they have no records of any delays clears up the perception problem that the President had? (Laughter.)
Q Why don't they tell the President?
MS. MYERS: That's something that you all will have to resolve yourselves, since the misinformation was widely communicated.
Q Any decision on Chelsea going to Tokyo yet?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't think that's been resolved.
Q There's a report that it's a no go in the paper today.
MS. MYERS: I don't know that that's been finally decided.
Q Are they leaning towards not sending --
MS. MYERS: No, I think there's some difficulties with it, as I think the Carters learned when Amy Carter accompanied the President to Japan. I think that the Clintons are reviewing that. And they have not made a final decision on it.
Q How about IMF lending to Vietnam?
MS. MYERS: Obviously, we're in the process of reviewing that. I think that's in its final phases. The deadline -- the IMF board --
Q On what?
MS. MYERS: This is IMF question. The IMF board meets on July 12th, and we'll have something to say before then.
Q The story says that the administration has decided not to oppose the Japanese and French-led effort to allow them to borrow.
MS. MYERS: The President's reviewing it. He has not made a final decision, although the decision-making process is in its final phase.
Q Dee Dee, let me ask you this about all these decisions --
Q Wait a minute. No decision is final until --
MS. MYERS: Until it's announced.
Q Is there any possibility that some of these things will come out during the trip, or once we leave is it -- everything waiting until we come back?
MS. MYERS: Yes, exactly. We thought we would do it all Monday as soon as everyone was in the air. No, I don't expect that, no.
Q What don't you expect?
MS. MYERS: Announcements of some of the issues that we keep talking about every single day --
Q Even test ban?
MS. MYERS: I was referring more to things like gays in the military, stuff like that.
Q Do you think that would be delayed?
Q Is gays going to happen this week?
MS. MYERS: Unclear.
Q You don't know whether it's going to be delayed or not?
MS. MYERS: It could happen this week, it could be pushed back until after Tokyo. I just don't know. I certainly don't expect it to happen while the President's out of the country.
Q Which issue?
MS. MYERS: Gays in the military.
Q South Africa this time. At first it was expected that the President would announce the lifting of sanctions this Friday and now the word is out he won't because Mandela won't be --
MS. MYERS: I don't know that that was ever expected.
Q Do you have any expectation that the President might make a major announcement about lifting the remaining sanctions?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q What kind of group is Foley bringing over here? When you say experts are you talking about congressional experts on Japan?
MS. MYERS: I think it will be mixed. Some members of Congress, some private citizens who have expertise in Japan and Japanese issues.
Q To meet with the President?
MS. MYERS: To meet with the President. It was something we did before -- this was something we did before the Russia summit with President Yeltsin, brought in -- the President sat down with a group of experts in Russian issues.
Q Can we have a photo op of that --
MS. MYERS: Maybe, but not necessarily.
Q How about a name list?
MS. MYERS: I don't have a final list. It will be sometime tomorrow and I don't know what time. That's still being worked out.
Q What's the summit briefing schedule? Can you give us that now?
MS. MYERS: I don't have final times in front of me. I expect that we'll do one on Russia aid tomorrow and possibly on African debt, although I'm not sure about that. These will be backgrounders. On Friday morning, 10:00 a.m., Secretaries Bentsen an Christopher will do an on-the-record, for camera briefing in 450 OEOB to go through issues of the summit. And then we are still planning one other summit briefing with some of the people who have been working on the issues. That will be a background briefing and that may come Saturday.
Q Why can't we have it Friday?
Q Saturday we've got a thousand things to do.
Q We've got to pack.
Q Who's going to do it on Saturday?
Q The sherpas?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it will be the sherpas. I don't want to say their names because then they'll end up on the wire and then I'll get in trouble.
Q Why can't they do it on Friday?
Q Why can't you make it on Friday?
MS. MYERS: We can try. I don't know that we're going to have time on Friday.
Q If it is Saturday can we at least have it real early --
MS. MYERS: It would be sort of broad -- the summit generally and all the things that have gone into it, different sessions, what's going to happen specifically. Some of the background for the people who have been planning it.
Q Was this the one that was at the other press center?
MS. MYERS: I wasn't there, so I don't know. I would think it probably will be actually.
Q Do you have any more information for us, Dee Dee, on Hawaii? We've heard anywhere from one night to five nights overnight or something. Anymore clarity on that?
MS. MYERS: The current schedule has the President returning here late, around midnight, on Wednesday, July 13th. It's a long flight, so it would be -- I'm sorry, Wednesday the 14th. So it would be -- he arrives on Sunday -- Sunday, Monday, Tuesday morning -- wait a second. Is it Tuesday -- Wednesday's the 14th. He'd be back Wednesday night. So that's three days.
Q In Hawaii?
MS. MYERS: Yes. There will be -- as you know, he'll have a schedule on Sunday, at least part of Sunday. He'll visit SINCPAC and a few other things. And then the rest of it will be down time.
Q Two things. One, could you give us an update on miking the questions, you were -- see what you've done on that. And also, I have a question --
MS. MYERS: Leave Hawaii Wednesday morning. Do you know, Maura's asking about miking the questions?
Q So we don't have to keep on asking what the questions are.
Q In this room?
MR. RABINOWITZ: The problem is feedback -- that if we mike the questions it goes into a speaker and comes back through the same mike. If the mike can hear you, than it can definitely hear the speaker.
Q Why don't you use those little headphones that you use for the -- (laughter).
MR. RABINOWITZ: So you can better understand what Dee Dee says? (Laughter).
MS. MYERS: Right, exactly. We could have a -- (laughter).
Q So you're saying you cannot --
MR. RABINOWITZ: That's what WHCA's saying. I'll revisit it again. I know it's a complaint of a lot of you in the back of the room. But they keep saying that any mike that can hear your question can hear the sound that you're trying to get in the PA. You know what I mean, right? Feedback. It's just the circle --
Q If they put a mike here with a speaker back there --
Q What about rotating seats?
MR. RABINOWITZ: What about just a mike -- it's really just a problem of the back of the room hearing the front of the room?
Q He's got the best idea back there.
Q Yes, we just keep on have to asking people to repeat the question.
Q Put a speaker back there.
MR. RABINOWITZ: Can the people up front hear the questions from the back.
MR. RABINOWITZ: Okay, well, maybe we can do that, then, what Andrea's saying. A mike in the front for the people in back.
Q What was she asking? (Laughter.)
Q Is he scaling down his expectations of what he's going to get out of the G-7 given the difficulty you're having with the trade agreements, the Russian aid package? I mean, it looks like he's going to come out with a lot less than what he wants.
MS. MYERS: Well, I certainly think that the domestic political situation in Japan has sort of changed the dynamic somewhat. We're still hoping to make some good progress on issues like Russian aid, on some global growth agreements. These are obviously complicated. I don't think we expect to resolve them completely.
Q What does good progress mean?
MS. MYERS: I think beginning a good dialogue. And obviously we'll have an economic communique and a political communique, as there always is. We hope to make -- to reach some agreement on some global growth strategies. Hopefully, we'll have some agreement on Russian aid, which is important to the President. And President Yeltsin will be there. And a few other things. There's a lot of political issues that will be discussed --everything from Iraq terrorism on. So I think, obviously, the domestic political situation in Japan and a few other things do make the situation a little bit different.
Q That's different from what you were saying about a week ago. What's changed since that?
MS. MYERS: I think that they made some progress over the weekend on the framework, but it was difficult.
Q Has he resigned himself to the fact that he's not going to get a framework to announce with Miyazawa? And if so, is he looking to meeting with Miyazawa sometime in the near future to try and get something worked out?
Q It won't be Miyazawa.
Q Not Miyazawa, but the new prime minister.
MS. MYERS: Yes, it is difficult and I think now becoming more unlikely that we'll have an agreement on framework before we're at G-7. We're certainly not willing to sort of change our standards in order to get an agreement. It is something we certainly want to continue to pursue with the Japanese, and after the Japanese elections we'll certainly pick up where we left off and try to reach an accord and a framework for further negotiations.
Q Does the President want a separate statement on Iran, as has been reported, that the President and the Brits want an Iran statement, but the other allies are resisting it?
MS. MYERS: I think that that will probably be discussed in the context of the political communique.
Q And does he want a statement on Iranian terrorism in the political communique?
MS. MYERS: I think that's something that will be discussed.
Q What? What? We can't hear.
MS. MYERS: I can repeat the questions if that helps. The question is, does the President want a statement on Iran terrorism and would it be handled in the context of the political communique; and the answer is, I think that's likely.
Q And Bosnia?
MS. MYERS: That's something that may also come up in the context of the political communique. Obviously, what ends up in the communique is something that will be worked out on the site, but I think those are both issues, political issues in the environment that will come up.
Q Dee Dee, just to follow on that, usually these communiques are prewritten. In this case, is there so much disagreement that they will actually be written --
MS. MYERS: I don't think there's a lot of disagreement. I think that you always have to work out the final details, though.
Q How about the vote on the U.N. vote on Bosnia where the U.S. really didn't lift a hand to promote a --
MS. MYERS: I think the U.S. -- we've made our position abundantly clear on that issue.
Q I know you made your position -- that isn't --
MS. MYERS: Sorry. The question is what about the U.N. vote on Bosnia. "The U.S.," to quote Helen, "didn't lift a hand."
MS. MYERS: The answer is that the U.S. has made its position on that issue abundantly clear. The President has supported and continues to support lifting the arms embargo for the Bosnian government and using air strikes or the threat of air strikes in the interim while the Bosnian government rearms. That is something that the allies and other members of the Security Council clearly do not support. However, the U.S. position on it has been very clear.
Q Dee Dee, any update on the continuing standoff in Baghdad between U.N. weapons inspectors and the Iraqi government?
MS. MYERS: No. The Iraqi government has so far failed to meet the IAEA requirements in that regard and we're going to continue to insist that they live up to their international obligations.
Q Any indication that they're changing on that in the aftermath of the bombing over the weekend?
MS. MYERS: I think they sent sort of mixed signals, but the IAEA is not satisfied.
Q Dee Dee, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus is quoted in a newspaper today saying that the White House is unfriendly, almost antiblack. And he also complains that there hasn't been any outreach to the Congressional Black Caucus since the Lani Guinier nomination. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. MYERS: I think that the President's very committed to working with the Black Caucus on a number of issues. I think, as you know, we had sort of an open invitation for a meeting with them. We still expect that to happen at some time.
Q That's still open?
MS. MYERS: Sure. I think that the members of the White House staff communicate regularly with members of the Black Caucus including Congressman Mfume and will continue to reach out to them. I think the President takes their concerns very seriously.
Q He says he still hasn't heard from Clinton.
MS. MYERS: Again, the invitation for a meeting is open, has been, and we look forward to sitting down with them. I'm sure the President is willing to meet with them as soon as they think they're ready.
Q Dee Dee, to follow up on Wolf please. Will the U.S. give Iraq any deadline to start cooperating with the U.N. inspectors, and how insistent will the U.S. be? Is it likely to take unilateral action on this issue?
MS. MYERS: Obviously, we're going to continue to insist that, again, Iraq live up to its international obligations. Beyond that I don't have anything to add.
Q Is there a deadline?
Q Looking ahead on the budget for a minute, as you know, the midsession review is due out just about the same time as the budget conference will be in earnest. And I wondered if deficit projections end up being substantially lowered than you initially expected, would that lend credence to congressional objections for the need of any major investments in the President's package and the need for any energy tax to pay for unneeded investments?
MS. MYERS: Obviously, we'll wait for the mid-session review before we can make any of those decisions and see where it ends up. But I think savings and a decrease in the deficit will have a lot to do with decreased interest rates and savings on debt interest. But we'll wait to make specific decisions until we see what those numbers are.
Q As far as a mix for the final package, if those end up being lowered, then doesn't that sort of dilute your argument for the need for investments?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't think that -- absolutely not. I think that the President has proposed investments he thinks are necessary, not only to stimulate the economy in the short term, but to restructure the economy in the long term to make the country more competitive. I think that the mixed economic news in the last couple of months is an indication that this economy is not working for everybody, that we need to invest more and we need to get the President's budget package passed in order to get the economy going.
Q Back to Sessions just a minute. Has anyone here, such as Nussbaum's office, working with Justice on his departure, or is that being totally done at Justice?
MS. MYERS: I think that the White House Counsel's Office is being kept informed of what's happening there, but Janet Reno is the lead actor on that issue.
Q Dee Dee, following up, could we find out, please, what is the charge against Sessions. These reporters seem to be pushing Sessions's exit, and I'm wondering -- I understand that Sessions took his wife on some trips and she paid for those. Aspin took his girlfriend on some trips and she paid for that. But Aspin caused the taxpayers to lose money by keeping staffers waiting for him to get through with his girlfriend. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Sarah, I think that the --
Q Could you repeat the question? (Laughter.)
Q Could you find a question?
Q It's a good question.
Q give us a report on the taxpayers, losses on the Venice trip of Aspin? But it seems to be much worse than the Sessions --
MS. MYERS: I think that the allegations against Judge Sessions have been quite public, so I will leave that as it is.
Q But what are they? If they're so -- what are they? He's taken his wife a trip and she paid for it?
MS. MYERS: We can get that to you, Sarah. It's been well reported.
Q On the budget, 34 House Democrats, including some leaders such as --
MS. MYERS: Is that up from 25?
Q It will be 37 by the time we leave.
Q When it reaches 40, sell. (Laughter.)
Q They're calling for less than $500 million and they're calling for no energy tax. How does the President feel about not having an energy tax in the final agreement and having less than $500 billion in deficit reduction?
MS. MYERS: The President has made his principles exceedingly clear. He believes that a final package to the conference should contain $500 billion deficit reductions, good ratio of taxes to spending cuts, an energy tax, broad-based energy tax. I thought I'd spare you --
Q He's still committed to an energy tax?
MS. MYERS: Yes. The President's package reduces the deficit and includes money for the kinds of investment he believes are important to create jobs. He's committed to those things. As you know, he talked about that a little bit yesterday, he's talked about it throughout. He wants to see incentives for businesses maintained. He wants to see enterprise zones maintained. He wants to see the earned income tax credit maintained. His package allows for both $500 billion in deficit reduction and maintaining those investments.
Q Is the White House doing anything to prevent this situation from running away from them? Because the Speaker outside was silent on the issue of whether it still had to have an energy tax, and this thing is gaining support.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we'll continue to work with Congress. I don't think that the House Democratic Caucus has reached a consensus on this yet. Obviously, the Senate has a somewhat different view. The President will certainly continue to communicate his views on this. We'll be involved in the conference process.
Q Will you communicate from this podium that the President draws the line on no energy tax, he must have an energy tax -- because if you don't, you're doing the opposite.
MS. MYERS: I just said the President's principles have not changed, which include an energy tax.
Q So no way he's going to go for a package that doesn't have one?
MS. MYERS: The President believes that the package should contain both $500 billion in deficit reduction and an energy tax.
Q The argument, Dee Dee, from those Democrats is that the energy tax is unfair. Maybe not just to those lower, lower income earners, but some of the middle income earners, and that they'd rather see an increase, for example, in the corporate income tax. Would he be willing to accept a smaller or no energy tax, or a higher corporate income tax?
MS. MYERS: Again, the President said he wants to see $500 billion in deficit reduction and energy tax and his investments, believes that that's the best way to get the economy moving again.
What was the first part of your question?
Q The fairness issue.
MS. MYERS: Going back to that, though, I think that what the President originally proposed was progressive and what he believed was fair. He proposed the Btu tax because it met his objectives in that area. Fairness is something he's concerned about, which is why we'll continue to make the progressivity of this package a key factor. It has to be progressive.
Q Exactly. Wouldn't many middle-income Americans think that having no energy tax and raising corporate income taxes would be more fair, or does he think that raising corporate income taxes would have a negative impact on the economy?
MS. MYERS: The President proposed raising the corporate income tax rate to 36 percent in his original package. And as you know, the lion's share of new revenue comes from the wealthiest and from corporations in this package. That is something the President will continue to support. Now, as for specific compromise, again, he believes that the package should contain an energy tax.
Q Isn't it politically difficult to try to sell that to taxpayers? To push an energy tax and appear not to push a corporate income tax -- a raise in a corporate tax?
MS. MYERS: We have -- both the House and the Senate agreed to a one percent increase in the corporate income tax. If the House and Senate agreed to a two percent increase, the President would certainly support that, as was in his original package. He's raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans. As you know, the bulk of taxes come from there.
But I think one of the things that the President believes is that if the American people believe that this package will help get the economy moving, create jobs, create a more competitive environment for the future, they'll support it even if it means that they have to contribute, even if it means slightly higher taxes. I would remind you that fully phased in at its highest, the Btu tax was only about $17 a month for a middle income family, which is not -- it's not nothing, but it is a fair tax. It's something the President believes that the American people will support if they believe that this package will get the economy going again and create jobs. That's something that we're going to continue to press.
Q At the risk of prolonging this, isn't the most important thing the $500 billion, and that as long as it's fair, how you get there is less important to the President?
MS. MYERS: The $500 billion is certainly important, but the most important thing is creating a package that will get the economy moving again. That means investing in the kinds of things that create jobs as well.
Q He's been putting all his emphasis on the deficit reduction aspects of the package --
MS. MYERS: That's one very important element of it and it's the one that has already reaped benefits. But that is certainly not the only thing in the President's package.
Q Most of the investment items have been taken out.
MS. MYERS: Well, they weren't taken out of the House version, and I think the President made it pretty clear yesterday that he wants to fight to see some of it put back in the final version.
Q Would the President be willing to separate and sign the Brady Bill, separate from the crime bill? And I have a related question.
MS. MYERS: We're working with Congress on that right now.
Q You don't know whether he'd be willing to do it?
MS. MYERS: We haven't made a final decision on that.
Q And on the TV -- violence in TV, how are you --
MS. MYERS: Glad you asked that. The President is -- we'll have a letter to release later that the President has written to the presidents of the networks which will also go to Jack Valenti and to requisite members of Congress basically supporting what the networks agreed to voluntarily.
Q Will he meet with CEOs this week?
MS. MYERS: I don't think so. Do we have CEOs on the schedule this week? I'll double-check, but I don't believe so.
Q Dee Dee, what is the administration doing to get these Aristide talks moving?
MS. MYERS: Well, I mean, this is something that obviously Ambassador Caputo is working out. We'll continue to urge both parties to sit down and negotiate for a quick return.
Q Nothing more active than --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Dee Dee, what's he got on tomorrow other than the experts?
Q The CEOs.
MS. MYERS: The CEOs?
Q Wolf know the schedule.
MS. MYERS: We have a CEO lunch tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: I think that includes small business members. The process for tomorrow -- I mean, the schedule for tomorrow is still coming together. I think there may be -- there's a possibility that something could be added, so we'll get you the details as soon as we have them.
Q Like a news conference?
MS. MYERS: Yes -- I already said what it might be.
Q You said yes?
MS. MYERS: I said might be.
Q A news conference?
MS. MYERS: I said we'll have an announcement on the timing of forest later today.
Q Owls and lumber.
MS. MYERS: So, in other words, there are some details of tomorrow's schedule which could change.
Q economic conference has made a point of saying that you can't really get the deficit under control unless you get health care costs under control. Given the President's commitment also to reducing the burden on middle-income taxpayers, if it turns out that there really isn't a lot of middle-class support for an energy tax, don't you think it would make more sense to have any additional taxes go towards health care reform and nix it in a deficit package?
MS. MYERS: The President's going to continue to press for both. I mean, he would like to see his package passed as close as -- that it maintains his principles. He'll also fight for health care reform.
Q Dee Dee, on the visit of Mandela and de Klerk, just a quick question if I could. Given the state of affairs in South Africa, what does the President hope to accomplish by visiting with these two gentlemen on Friday?
MS. MYERS: I think he looks forward to meeting with them. We'll have more details on the specifics of the agenda for their discussions. They are meeting separately. But I'll get more on that for you tomorrow.
Q Well, they're having a joint photo op around the meetings.
MS. MYERS: They're meeting with the President separately.
Q What is the President's agenda for this?
MS. MYERS: I will get that for you tomorrow.
Q Let me ask you this. With respect to, I'm thinking particularly of Russia, but the President's made the point that the way he looks at foreign policy, there's a direct linkage between the domestic economy and our interest in foreign policy, generally speaking. How does that apply, or does that apply in the case of South Africa?
MS. MYERS: I don't think that every single meeting has a direct domestic economic connection. But I think promoting democracy and stability around the world is certainly in the U.S. long-term interests.
Q So I can infer that promoting democracy and stability are --
MS. MYERS: Sure. I mean, I think that the United States has an interest in promoting democracy and stability in South Africa.
Q One more follow-up on that. Was it the President's idea that they meet separately? Or would he agree to let them meet together if they want to?
MS. MYERS: I think they asked to meet separately, and he honored that.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:10 P.M. EDT