THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
1:32 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: I have a brief statement. President Clinton held a cordial and constructive meeting this morning with President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. This was their first meeting since the signing of the socalled Governor's Island Accord on July 3rd, although they spoke by phone on July 4th.
The President commended President Aristide on his signing of the agreement, which establishes a sound timetable for the restoration of democracy and for President Aristide to return to Haiti on October 30th, just 100 days from now.
The President described the agreement as an historic step forward for democracy, economic prosperity and freedom for all Haiti. He reaffirmed that the United States will continue to play a leadership with the international community and help fostering a better life for the Haitian people.
The President and President Aristide discussed the steps that need to be taken to fulfill the terms of the agreement, including naming a new prime minister by President Aristide in consultation with members of the Haitian parliament.
Q How do you distinguish a sound timetable from an unsound one? What does that mean?
MS. MYERS: One that is specific and will be implemented.
Q Realistic, you mean?
MS. MYERS: Realistic, solid.
Q And he agreed to all this?
MS. MYERS: Yes -- as he did when he signed the Governor's Island Accord on July 3rd.
Q Can you tell us if a search has been conducted in Vince's office and if anything was found, and whether the President got some rest last night? How is he feeling today?
MS. MYERS: I'll take the second part of that first. He seems to be feeling fine. I think, of course, these things take a while. However, he started his schedule early this morning and will conduct it in full. And I think he's going about business sort of professionally as possible. I think he's doing fine.
As for the second part, the Park Service Police were in this morning. They've interviewed a number of staff members about Vince's last day, and will be sort of, I think, finishing up with their look at it today here in terms of Vince's office. They're simply trying to confirm their preliminary notion that it was, in fact, a suicide.
Q Did they find any, or take any paper with them or find any note?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. When I last checked they weren't done.
Q Has a note been found to the best of your knowledge?
MS. MYERS: To the best of my knowledge no note has been found. That's sort of what they're looking for just to determine -- just to confirm their observation that this was, in fact, a suicide.
Q Is the President getting any routine briefing on this from them? One would think that he would be, you know, wanting to monitor this very closely in terms of whether there was anything here that happened that could have in any way contributed.
MS. MYERS: Well, just to be clear, what they're really looking for is just anything that would confirm that it was a suicide, such as a note. I think the President is certainly being kept abreast of what's happening, although there hasn't been a whole lot of movement today. The Park Service has talked to a number of people, but simply to determine his schedule on Tuesday.
Q Any new developments today? And can you give his itinerary for tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: No, new developments today. His schedule is as released. And I actually do have the details of tomorrow's schedule. He'll leave here at 8:15 a.m. It's a family pool. At 11:00 a.m. he'll attend the funeral service at St. Andrew's Catholic Cathedral. Then he'll go to Hope for the burial; I believe a reception at the Foster's house. And this is all fairly open-ended. I think they'll do these things when they get there. He will return to Washington tomorrow night and proceed with his Saturday schedule as previously announced.
Q Tomorrow night?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Spend the night in Washington. So, Saturday morning, he'll do the radio address live at 10:06 a.m. and then have the reception with Boy's Nation in the Rose Garden after that. I think it's after.
Q Does he feel that there's any progress being made at all on the budget. Can you tell us of his meetings this morning?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I think that the general attitude is that I think people are fairly optimistic. They think that the members of Congress are fairly upbeat about this; that there's a real willingness to get it done and that progress is being made.
Q Is it a five or six cent a gallon --
MS. MYERS: They haven't -- obviously, the conferees are working out the specific details of the energy tax, but I think that there's -- by all accounts, there's a real willingness and a desire to get this done, to move forward, to make progress. And I think members are pretty upbeat.
Q But you never answered the question.
MS. MYERS: As far as I know, it's not resolved.
Q No, I mean, do you know what he wants, what he'll go for?
MS. MYERS: He's made it clear what his priorities are. The conferees will have to work out the specific details about how many cents.
Q Just a couple more questions on the Vince Foster thing. Have they gotten an ID on the gun ownership yet? And you spoke about the President's mood. Could you give us a feeling for the mood in the White House in general?
MS. MYERS: As far as I know, ATF has not communicated to us if they've made a positive ID on who owned the gun. According to their folks, it is a little more difficult since it was an old weapon and didn't have a serial number.
The mood in the White House -- I think people have gotten back to business today. I think there's always a lingering sadness when you lose a friend, particularly in such a tragic way. But I think people are pretty much back to business and focused on the tasks at hand. I think it will take a while for people to fully get over the circumstances of Vince Foster's death, but we're doing pretty well.
Q How many members of the staff will be going out to Little Rock?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I haven't seen the manifest. I think there will be a fair number who will travel down there. As you know, a number of people here have known Vince for a long time and will certainly go to pay their last respects.
Q Two questions. Can you tell us who the Park Police interviewed and was the President among those that were interviewed?
MS. MYERS: No, the President was not among those. I don't have a list, but it was primarily people -- or perhaps completely people on the staff on the Counsel's Office staff, people who had contact with him on Tuesday.
Q The other question is, the President yesterday in the Rose Garden said he was urging his staff to perhaps slow down and pay more attention to family and friends. He made that comment yesterday. Are people following up on that? Is there any recognition of a need to concerning recognition of a need to -- not to work so hard, not to put in long hours?
MS. MYERS: I think the President has always urged balance between -- in work, and particularly here in Washington. I think people will certainly take it to heart. I don't know what people's specific plans are for the weekend, but I think something like this always gives you a little pause, and I think it's good if people spend -- you know, take a little time just to make sure that they think this through. But I don't know if it's made any specific change in people's plans.
Q Dee Dee, back on the Vince Foster story. Lawyers for the seven employees fired in the Travel Office suggested to the FBI and to the public integrity section of the Justice Department that the investigation be expanded to include officials who were involved in the dismissal of those seven employees. Had Vince Foster, anybody in the White House Counsel's Office, or anybody else in the White House staff received a call from the Justice Department public integrity section or the FBI asking for cooperation in an expanded inquiry?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. I'll take it, but --
Q Would you know?
MS. MYERS: I think so, but I'd be happy to take it.
Q Are you sure you're confident you can answer it if you do take it?
MS. MYERS: No. I just --
Q What I'm saying is are you willing to go to Justice and ask any contact or -- is that what you're prepared to do?
MS. MYERS: What I think I can do is find out the status of the Justice Department's review, which I think is complete. If there were another inquiry, I'm not sure that I -- that's a good question; I don't know if I would be in a position to know, given my relationship with previous investigations, I think.
Q Complete on the travel -- you mean, the FBI investigation is over?
MS. MYERS: No, no. Justice Department --
Q Oh, of the death.
MS. MYERS: I just don't know.
Q We asked Janet Reno that yesterday.
MS. MYERS: And what did she say?
Q It's not complete. Today it's gotten complete?
MS. MYERS: Well, it was in its final phases a few days ago, I was told, and I certainly --
Q We asked her Monday.
MS. MYERS: You asked her Monday -- this is now Thursday.
Q It just feels like yesterday.
MS. MYERS: Yes. So, anyway, I will take that question and provide what information I can.
Q Two questions on loose ends. Have any of his friends or family confirmed that he actually owned a revolver? And have any friends or family filled in any of those five hours? Did anybody hear from him?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. And I don't know about whether he owned -- what his gun -- again, we'll wait for the results of the ATF investigation as to the ownership of the gun.
Q So negative on both questions?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Do you know who in the White House staff is going back with the body today?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't.
Q Do you know if anybody is?
Q Can you repeat the question?
MS. MYERS: Who on the White House staff is going back with the body today. And the answer is, I don't know that anybody is. I'm happy to take that. I think, certainly, the family.
Q The family is traveling today?
MS. MYERS: I believe that was the original plan. As of yesterday, but I haven't confirmed to see if that was -
Q How will members of the White House who go to the funeral go?
MS. MYERS: Some will travel with the President, and others may go on their own. I don't know.
Q Do you know whether he was undergoing any sort of psychiatric care, or was any --
MS. MYERS: Not that we know of.
Q Is the President providing transportation for the family?
MS. MYERS: That's a good question. I don't know.
Q What was the question?
MS. MYERS: Is the President providing transportation for members of the Foster family back to Arkansas.
Q Dee Dee, is there a policy concerning firearms that would apply to Vince or you, or any other member of the White House staff on bringing them in in your automobiles, or bringing them into your office, or anything else within the White House compound?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe that that's allowable, but I would refer you to the Secret Service on that, since they're the ones that enforce those rules.
Q You haven't been told or that wasn't part of when you came on board whether you weren't supposed to have firearms in your car?
MS. MYERS: It is my belief that you're not allowed to bring firearms on campus. But, again, I would refer you to the Secret Service.
Q Did he park on West Executive?
MS. MYERS: Yes, he usually does. That's where his spot is.
Q What specifically did the Park police do besides interviewing people who talked to Vince on Tuesday?
MS. MYERS: That's all they had done as of half an hour ago.
Q Did they check through his office at all?
MS. MYERS: As of a little while ago, I don't believe that they had, but I think they expected to go in and look for signs of a note or some other evidence that he might have taken his own life.
Q How does the President's attorney-client relationship protected when they do that phase of the investigation?
MS. MYERS: Again, the Park police are simply trying to establish that this was, in fact, a suicide. It is a fairly limited investigation.
Q I mean, do they go through computer files or does someone else --
MS. MYERS: I think they may go through -- they may take a look to see if there's a note, something that is specifically a suicide note. I don't think they have any intention of evaluating the contents of the other documents.
Q Did they interview his secretary?
Q Is the Justice Department doing some broader investigation?
MS. MYERS: No, the Justice Department is simply serving as a point of contact at this point for the Park Service and others. The reason being is that normally the White House Counsel's Office would serve as a point of contact for investigating agencies and we didn't think under the circumstances that that would work.
Q So, what you're essentially saying is that the only thing being looked into is whether or not there was like a suicide note, something that would confirm this. Not whether or not there was some other reason unknown by anybody at the White House now that might be evident in papers or computers or any other --
MS. MYERS: Yes. At this point the Park Service is just looking into -- again to establish -- to confirm what they believe was a suicide.
Q Dee Dee, is anybody doing --
Q Is it correct, though, that there were supposed to be members of the Counsel's Office involved in the investigation physically when the Park Police go into his office in order to take care of what Gene is talking about -- the client relationship with the President?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I would imagine that there will be somebody from the -- I don't know exactly how that's -- and I can certainly get back to you on exactly physically how that works. But I think that there will be somebody from the Counsel's Office there just to help to assist with that. Actually, I should take that question, because I'm not sure how it's going to work.
Q We were told yesterday that it would be somebody from the Justice Department monitoring to preserve the executive privilege?
MS. MYERS: Yes, and let me take that question and see how that's going to work in practice.
Q Is there any inquiry beyond the Park Police to try to determine why he died, as opposed to just whether it was a suicide or not?
MS. MYERS: No, not at this time. And I'm not sure any investigation could ever determine why. These things are mysteries.
Q Dee Dee, you mentioned that he had lunch alone and just had a sandwich at his desk. Is there any way of checking the phone log during that period of time when he was alone to see who might have called him and perhaps might have called him away?
MS. MYERS: At this point, I don't know that there's any move afoot to do that. Again, the Park Service Police's role in this is the cause of death.
Q Did he have an assistant, a secretary anywhere?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure what her name is.
Q Could you get it?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q Again, about the President's words about work not being everything. That's a very desirable goal, but is it a realistic goal? Take yourself and your people, for example. Is there any way you can lighten the work load on people or do you have plans to do that, or on yourself?
MS. MYERS: I think we try. I think all White Houses work very hard. It's part of the nature of the beast. It's something that you do once in your life and it's something that I think people are fairly dedicated to and care a great deal about.
At the same time, I think most people in the White House -- and I know my shop, the press office -- we try to rotate and make sure that people have days off and that people don't certainly work all weekend and that they get out of here in good -- and I think that's important. It's something that the President has emphasized. The President, himself, has said he tries never to work more than 12 hours which, by his standards, is sort of a half day.
Q Since when?
MS. MYERS: It's true.
Q Considering Mr. Foster's position and his status, isn't it reasonable to assume that law enforcement agencies are at least going to make some attempt to determine a motive here? For example, if you don't do that, you'll leave open wild possibilities, such as that he may have been being blackmailed or anything like that -- just to rule those things out? Don't you think it's reasonable that a law enforcement agency will attempt to establish a motive?
MS. MYERS: My only point is that at this point, the Park Service Police is the only agency that's investigating, and that the objective of their search is simply to determine that it was a suicide. There's no other federal agencies that are investigating at this point, but --
Q But that means there will be no attempt -- are you saying that the Park Service was making no attempt --
MS. MYERS: I don't think that that's within their purview. I mean, this is --
Q They're clearly the investigating agency, aren't they?
MS. MYERS: I don't think that they haven't been here, but they would again contact the Justice Department if they wanted to come here for some reason. I don't believe that they are involved.
Q Let's assume that the Park Service Police determine to its satisfaction that, in fact, this was, as everyone thinks, a suicide. From the White House perspective, does this simply end there in terms of further examining what the circumstances might have been, or whether this was related to work or whatever? Does that --
MS. MYERS: I think it's been our position that it's impossible to know what --
Q the President -- this is one of his closest friends from boyhood --
MS. MYERS: It is a mystery, and I think the President made that very clear yesterday. It is a mystery. It is one of the things -- you can take -- you can create a whole set of objective reasons why it may have happened. But no one will ever know. And I --
Q I don't mean mushy little reasons --
MS. MYERS: But how can you know? How can you know? Even if you come up with --
Q All I was trying to ask was whether or not, beyond establishing whether it was a suicide, whether an effort would be made to go further than that to see if there was any evidence to indicate why -- not trying to get back into somebody's mind to know how they were feeling, but --
MS. MYERS: That's what you have to do.
Q Yes, but, Dee Dee, suicide is always to some extent kind of in inexplicable act.
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q Nonetheless, in many, many cases, one can understand at least the chain of events that could have driven someone to that level of despair. In this particular instance, no one can offer any reason why this man, at the prime of his life, the seeming pinnacle of his career, would do this. This is, I think everyone would agree, a particularly mysterious set of circumstances that raises potentially troubling questions, or maybe it doesn't. But all the questions here are focused on is trying to find out if anybody in the government, at this level or anywhere else, is trying to see if there were any circumstances that could at least explain how he became at least deeply troubled. Obviously, it's inexplicable that anyone would go that far.
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q But it does leave that question open, and all I can say to you is, this is a question that is going to be asked, and is going to be asked again and again. And from what you are saying, I take it, no one is trying to answer it.
MS. MYERS: All I've said and what I'll say again is, at this point, there are no other investigations.
Q How about his phone logs?
MS. MYERS: At this point, there are no other investigations.
Q Have his phone calls been checked?
MS. MYERS: At this point, there are no other investigations.
Q But that would be included in the Park Service's look at the office, et cetera, wouldn't it?
MS. MYERS: I don't know what the details of their investigation are. They don't necessarily have to tell us what --
Q When you say the Justice Department is coordinating the investigation, is there anyone who would make a decision to go further than this Park Service? The Park Police have to wrap up their case.
MS. MYERS: Not at the Park Service.
Q Yes, but, say, once they're done, whose responsibility is that to --
MS. MYERS: There are a whole slew of federal agencies that can make a decision to investigate or not to investigate.
Q What about within the White House?
MS. MYERS: There is not an investigative agency within the White House.
Q But is there any desire to learn? I guess that's the bottom line here.
MS. MYERS: At this point, all I can tell you is there are no other -- the Park Service is doing its thing. There are no other investigations.
Q Nobody has any question that this might have been foul play?
MS. MYERS: I don't think there's any evidence to suggest foul play. Obviously, the Park Service is going to finish up its investigation to determine exactly that. I think they will give a final -- their final cause of death when they finish this investigation. I don't think there's any evidence -- at this point there's no evidence to suggest anything other than suicide.
Q You're convinced there was a reason, aren't you? A reason you don't know?
MS. MYERS: Oh, of course. There's always a reason I would think.
Q There is a tendency, though, for the various agencies which could take an interest in this not to want to upset anybody at the White House. And they may in fact stay out -- if they are in anyway encouraged. So all I'm asking in a mild way is wouldn't it be worth the effort to have someone with a practiced eye to go over phone logs, correspondence and recent contacts, looking for anything that might have contributed?
MS. MYERS: All I can is what I've already said. I don't know where this is going to go.
Q Has the family asked that this kind of investigation not be undertaken?
MS. MYERS: No, no.
Q Dee Dee, it seemed from yours and other peoples comments yesterday in terms of this is a mystery, it's ultimately unknowable that you've already decided that further investigations are not necessary?
MS. MYERS: No, I think yesterday's comments were dedicated to the larger spiritual questions: people ask you, do you know why, and I think everybody -- there's nobody in the White House that pretends to know why or would presume to know why.
Q What I'm asking is --
MS. MYERS: You're asking the same question that's been asked 20 times. I don't have any more to say about it.
Q On Somalia, there is this growing disagreement between Italy and the United Nations, especially on the use of force. The Italians think that the use of force has been a total failure. They think that puts a risk on the peacekeepers. Have you a comment? What is your position?
MS. MYERS: We continue to support the U.N. effort in Somalia. We think it's been, overall, rather successful and continue to support the objectives of that, which are to continue to provide humanitarian aid and the ultimate restoration of civil order. We've made dramatic progress, both the U.S. and the U.N. operation, and we're going to continue in our effort there.
Q But the failure of the use of force.
MS. MYERS: Again, I don't believe that there has been a failure of the use of force. It's part of an overall activity dedicated to reducing the threat of people who would disrupt civil order, including some of the warlords, or one in particular. And we'll continue to pursue that operation.
Q Can you tell us when the deputies might be meeting on Bosnia? Did they meet yesterday, are they meeting today? When will these options be discussed?
MS. MYERS: I assume you're referring to the President's comments. We've had a number of dicussions with Europeans about things that are ongoing.
Q But aren't there some NSC generated meetings about to take place?
MS. MYERS: Well, the NSC meets on -- I mean, discusses Bosnia on a regular basis, but what we've discussed with the Europeans are ways to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid, how to protect UNPROFOR forces in the safe havens, continuing to enforce the no-fly zone, and to monitor sanctions.
Q Are you suggesting that there's not some internal review that's taking place as we speak?
MS. MYERS: I think there's an ongoing -- I just got a couple of questions about the President's comment earlier which I was sort of reading into your question. But there's an ongoing discussion about Bosnia. I think the Secretary of State spoke to that yesterday. There's certainly been no change in our position as to the use of force.
Q Is there a deputies meeting today?
MS. MYERS: Not -- I don't know.
Q But the Secretary basically wrote off Bosnia yesterday.
MS. MYERS: No, he didn't.
Q If you read the stories, basically -- this was the interpretation. And the President did contradict that.
MS. MYERS: No -- and I think the people who spoke after the Secretary made clear that we have not written off Bosnia. We're continuing on a number of fronts, including delivery of additional humanitarian aid and ways to protect the UNPROFOR forces in the safe havens. We have not -- and the President made that very clear today -- we have not written off Bosnia. It is a thorny, complicated problem, but --
Q Do you think that he was misinterpreted? Christopher I mean.
MS. MYERS: Yes, and the President said so. He thought there were a couple of sentences in there that were misinterpreted.
Q the other day went through a whole laundry list of things the United States is not doing, including no participation in the peace talks, Bartholomew has not been in the region or talked to anybody about it in months --
MS. MYERS: We continue to encourage the parties to participate in the peace talks and have said repeatedly that if the parties reach a good-faith agreement, we will help to implement and enforce it.
Q Other than delivering humanitarian aid, which you've been doing all along --
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q what, if anything, is the administration doing to help bring this process -- bring peace to the region or bring this process to an end?
MS. MYERS: I'm happy to go through the litany with you. I mean, we've --
Q So far you've done nothing but talk about PR stuff that you're doing.
MS. MYERS: It's not PR stuff. We've delivered literally hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance. We've enforced stricter sanctions against Serbia, which have had some effect. We continue to enforce the no-fly zone. There have been no fixed aircraft wing bombings in Bosnia.
Q There weren't any before.
MS. MYERS: I think we've done a number of things that move this policy forward. And as the President made very clear today, the President --
Q How have you moved the policy forward?
MS. MYERS: Well, from where we started six months ago, enforcing the no-fly zone, stricter sanctions, safe havens, which we've presented a plan to the U.N. which they're going to start to enforce. We have moved forward on this and the progress has been made because of U.S. leadership.
Q What progress? The country is falling apart.
Q Will he save Sarajevo from falling?
MS. MYERS: It is a very difficult problem. No one is suggesting that it's easy. But to suggest that we haven't done -- I mean, the President made it very clear and continues to make clear what his preferred option would be. The allies rejected that. He believes that we should have lifted the arms embargo.
Q You're talking about what you would have done, which helps no one.
MS. MYERS: Well, we've talked both about what we would have done because it is relevant when you say that we've done nothing, and we talk about what we have done, which is also relevant because it has not been meaningless. Now, it is a difficult situation and we have said that all along. It is the most difficult foreign policy problem we face. It does not have an easy solution. But the President has made clear we are not talking about injecting ground troops into that theatre.
Q How close does the U.S. believe that Sarajevo is to falling? And apparently, there's a State Department reports saying that -- suggesting that the U.S. secure some of the utilities for the city. Does the White House think that that would be a good idea?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to characterize how close Sarajevo is to falling. Again, the only thing I would say is that we're not going to send ground forces in there.
Q Jay Stephens said the other night that the administration had sought to delay -- impose upon him to delay the indictment of Postmaster Rota. Do you have any response to that?
MS. MYERS: I think the facts in this case speak for themselves.
Q Well, wait a minute, Dee Dee. What facts? There are a lot of facts --
Q He said he was prepared to proceed for indictment prior to his removal in April and was told not to. That's a statement that he made on Nightline the other night.
Q He didn't say that.
MS. MYERS: The Postmaster has been indicted, and I think the process moved forward under the new or the acting U.S. Attorney in Washington.
Q Can you represent to us today that the administration in no way will make any effort to discourage that inquiry or anything that might come out?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely not. That is proceeding exactly as it was.
Q You mean absolutely yes, don't you?
Q pending the budget or anything like that --
MS. MYERS: Absolutely that we will not do anything to delay the -- be clear.
Q Can you tell me where the Elders hearings are and what the White House expects to happen?
MS. MYERS: As you know, they will take place tomorrow. Senator Kennedy spoke about that a little bit today. The hearing will be held publicly and it will be one hearing. And we expect that the hearing will go forward and that Dr. Elders will be confirmed.
Q To sew up one more loose end on the Foster thing, did the President have any contact with him on Tuesday, and did he speak to the Park Police today?
MS. MYERS: The answer to both questions is no.
Q Back on Bosnia. You seemed to suggest that there was something constructive or positive going on with regard to safe havens. The Secretary said yesterday that with regard to some of the safe havens, the policy has not been effective.
MS. MYERS: My comments were in reference to the U.N. resolution to protect UNPROFOR forces in the safe haven which are now with the Secretary General of the U.N. and we expect to have his approval of that some time soon, in the next day or so.
Q Let me just ask you a broader question. With regard to Christopher's press conference yesterday, is the White House taking issue with anything the Secretary said, or are you simply taking issue with media reports about what he said?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think the President took issue this morning with the way some of the reports characterized the Secretary's comments and made it clear that the administration has not in any way written off Bosnia.
Q But was there anything in what he said that the White House would like to clarify?
MS. MYERS: I think only in the interpretation which is that, again, the administration has not written off Bosnia.
Q Do you have a week ahead, since I assume there will be no briefing tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Do you have any sense of what is after Monday?
MS. MYERS: I don't have it with me. Maybe we can try to post some of the details at least for Monday later today.
Q A NAFTA czar?
MS. MYERS: Monday's Chicago. We do have Monday, actually, which is Chicago.
MS. MYERS: I don't have a time line on it. Sometime soon.
Q Might it happen in Chicago?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q On NAFTA if I could, Congressman Matsui from California told a trade group earlier this week that the administration's on the verge of loosing NAFTA, as he put it. He gave a head count. Is that the administration's assessment?
MS. MYERS: No. Our assessment continues to be it's difficult, it won't be easy, but that we would like to see it wrapped up this year, and we think we can get it passed.
Q Dee Dee, if I could follow on that. Legislative initiatives, once the budget is done, will NAFTA be the next initiative or will it be health care or something else?
MS. MYERS: How to proceed after the budget is something that's being discussed now. I think it is not inconceivable that you can do more than one thing at one time.
Q Is the U.S. prepared to do anything to prevent the fall of Sarajevo?
MS. MYERS: I think we're continuing to do things and one of the things we're going to do is to implement the U.N. resolution protecting the safe havens.
MS. MYERS: The Secretary General, again, has the NATO plan and we expect that it will be approved soon -- in the next day or so.
Q Dee Dee, the House killed the rule on flood aid and a lot of people are objecting to the fact that it's deemed emergency spending. And I'm wondering if there's any fallback plan to include it in the budget if they can't get it passed as emergency spending.
MS. MYERS: The President proposed the emergency relief outside of the budget caps, as was made possible by the 1990 Budget Act and continues to believe that that is the best approach. The deficit is somewhat lower this year than anticipated for reasons that we talked about earlier. He continues to believe that's the best approach. We'll see what Congress can work out.
Q What happens now? If the rule went down --
MS. MYERS: I think they're reviewing what their options are at this point. I'm not sure what the next step is.
Q Will the President speak at the funeral service tomorrow? Is he offering a eulogy either at this funeral or at the burial service?
MS. MYERS: I believe he will speak tomorrow. And in terms of how we're going to handle that from a press perspective, we're discussing that later today.
Q Which event will he speak at?
MS. MYERS: He's speaking at the funeral. I don't know about the burial.
Q Will you post that today so we'll know before he leaves tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: Sure -- what the arrangements --
Q On Friday, will the President oppose the idea of coming up with cuts to correspond to the aid if this is --
MS. MYERS: Again, he's favored a different approach, and we'll see what gets worked out. But at this point, he continues to believe that the approach that he proposed is the best approach.
Q Dee Dee, on the energy tax, Director Panetta yesterday said that you would need about $30 billion to $32 billion in a final package in order to meet your $500-billion deficit reduction goal. Is it accurate to say, then, that if you have that amount, that that would translate into upwards of five cents a gallon and no more?
MS. MYERS: The specific numbers are being worked out, but we've said consistently this week that we're moving closer to the Senate number. We believe it'll be less than half of what was originally proposed somewhere in that ballpark. But in terms of the exact numbers, the House and Senate conferees are still working that out.
Q The President also, a few days ago, said he wanted to hold this energy component to no more than a dollar a week. And my understanding from Director Panetta is, that would translate into about a $28-billion, perhaps a little more, package. So are you working with at most $32 billion --
MS. MYERS: Again, we've I think said all we're going to say about the size of the energy tax. It's going to be significantly less than it was in the House version, and we're moving toward working that out now.
Q What's the coverage of the New York-New Jersey --
Q flood bill that somehow ends up loaded with nongermane items? Is he prepared to veto that?
MS. MYERS: That's a hypothetical. There is no flood bill loaded up with nongermane items at this point.
Q Does the White House have any ethical qualms about the President attending a $5,000-per-person fundraiser in Chicago hosted by Mr. Daley, who they're also negotiating with to be the NAFTA czar?
MS. MYERS: It's a DNC event, I believe organized and coordinated by the DNC, if I'm not mistaken.
Q Actually, the cocktail party ahead of time for $5,000 for corporate contributors is organized by Mr. Daley. The letter inviting -- But have you looked at that at all? I mean --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q some of the corporations that he sent the letter to are heavily affected by NAFTA and its outcome.
MS. MYERS: No. I think that this is a fundraiser organized according to existing laws, and the President is going to attend. I think it's fine.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:18 P.M. EDT