THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
2:57 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: Okay, a couple of quick caveats. We have no reliable scheduling information yet for the weekend, although it does look like the President will travel on Sunday and/or Monday. But we don't have any firm --
Q Not Saturday?
MS. MYERS: Probably not, but it's unclear. He could leave Saturday night, but it's unclear. So as soon as we have those details, which will hopefully be by tomorrow, we'll let you know so you can make arrangements.
The second caveat is that I will do my best to answer these questions. I'm not completely up to speed on everything, so --
Q What's the travel Friday?
MS. MYERS: Friday is School to Work event in Delaware. Somewhere near Dover. I believe the town is Georgetown. It will be in the late morning, up and back on Friday.
Q What time do we come back?
MS. MYERS: Probably early afternoon.
Q What does that mean, School to Work, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: School to Work? It's some of the programs for apprenticeship in schools to help facilitate the transition into the workplace.
Q Does that mean that he has something on Saturday, which was previously --
MS. MYERS: Well, he has some stuff here in the morning -- the radio address, things like that. It's possible he could leave Saturday and maybe take some down time on the road, although I think it's more likely that he'll stay until Sunday.
Q What's School to Work part of? Is that part of welfare reform?
MS. MYERS: It's part -- in the original Clinton plan?
Q Yes, I mean --
MS. MYERS: I can't remember which --
Q what category does it fall into?
MS. MYERS: -- heading it falls under. It's broader job creation initiatives.
Q What's he doing this week? I mean, we're not seeing a whole lot of him except for a few ceremonial events each day. Is he making the final decisions on health care?
MS. MYERS: Yes. He had a health care meeting yesterday, and he is about to begin another one that will last a couple hours this afternoon. We're making the final decisions on the health care plan. He's also just sort of getting up to speed, having meetings, making final decisions about scheduling over the course of the next couple of weeks. As you know, we have three major initiatives that are coming down the pipe -- RIGO, health care, NAFTA. And he's spending some time on that as well as the usual -- tend to the usual business of the President.
Q There's letter from former Prime Minister Thatcher, former Secretary of State Shultz, calling for the President, calling on him to reject the Bosnian partition plan calling for immediate U.S.-led air strikes and an end to the arms embargo to the Bosnian muslims. Has the President seen that letter, and how does he respond?
MS. MYERS: I don't know whether he's seen it yet. I think we've been made aware of accounts of it, and I expect we'll have it if we don't already have it. I have not seen it. However, as you know, our original and best option was to lift the arms embargo. We could not get the allies to go along with that.
Our current plan has air strikes very much an option, very much alive if the siege of Sarajevo were to continue or resume, if there are unacceptable disruptions with humanitarian relief. Those continue to be options. This is obviously a very difficult problem, and one that we're continuing to work to solve.
Q What does the President think about these suggestions as they come from this list of people who have signed --
Q And the Dole letter, too, Dee Dee.
MS. MYERS: Well, obviously we'll review it. Again, I've only been briefed as to the contents. I haven't seen it. I don't know whether the President's seen it. I think he's aware of its existence. I'm sure he's been made aware of it. I don't know whether he's had the chance to review it.
Obviously it's something that we'll take a look at, but I want to emphasize that because of U.S. leadership, air strikes are very much an option. The ultimate goal here is to get the best and most equitable negotiated settlement we can -- something agreed to by the parties. That process is ongoing in Geneva, or appears to be --
Q failed --
MS. MYERS: Well, we'll see what the actual status of that is. There have obviously been some disruptions in that throughout the process. We continue to believe that the only longterm solution to the problem in Bosnia is a negotiated settlement, something agreed to by the parties. We'll continue to press for that. In the meantime, air strikes remain an option. We'll continue to enforce the no-fly zone. We'll continue to try to provide humanitarian relief.
Q The letter also says you should renounce the current Owen Plan because all it does is give up -- dissolve Bosnia, and it makes a very point where you should come out right now and say, this plan that's under consideration is no good. Would the President consider that?
MS. MYERS: Well, our position -- and again, without having seen the letter -- our position has been that the parties themselves have to reach agreement. We don't have a preferred option. If the parties can reach an equitable agreement, we would support that and help to enforce it. The President spoke to that on Monday. And our position has not changed.
Q Dee Dee, what are the options for getting all of the former presidents here to push NAFTA?
MS. MYERS: I would say that that's something that's been considered. No invitations have gone out. We're looking toward having more to say about kicking off NAFTA not next week but the following week. And plans are still far from finalized on that.
Q But it is a possibility?
MS. MYERS: It's something that's been discussed, but it has -- again, no invitations have gone out, contrary to news accounts I think from today.
Q Dee Dee, on next week, what is the plan, if any, on promoting the recommendations of the national performance review?
MS. MYERS: There will be an unveiling on Tuesday here in Washington, followed by travel. And we're in the process of nailing down the details. We ought to have a schedule by the end of the week -- by Thursday or Friday.
Q How much travel do you think?
MS. MYERS: I think it's midmorning. I haven't seen the final.
Q Do you know where?
MS. MYERS: It's still being finalized, but it will be out in the country -- probably something in the Midwest and maybe a stop in the south or southwest.
Q one day, two days?
MS. MYERS: Two days probably -- at least.
Q Is there any chance --
MS. MYERS: This is after the unveiling.
Q Does he still plan to sign an executive order on regulatory review and -- all that stuff before he comes out with the national performance review?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure. I'll have to take that.
Q How about executive orders right after the review? The review suggests executive orders --
MS. MYERS: Right. I'm not sure. I'm just not briefed on the exact details of how this thing's going to unfold on Tuesday.
Q Is there any chance briefing here on Monday on that, just for planning purposes?
MS. MYERS: On Monday, Labor Day?
Q I'm not asking, believe me --
MS. MYERS: I think -- we could probably do it on Tuesday, either before or -- probably after the unveiling which we -- I think that's a reasonable suggestion. But Tuesday as opposed to Monday, because Monday we'll be on the road for Labor Day.
Q Right, I'm not interested --
MS. MYERS: And you're talking about for RIGO. I think that's entirely possible. Some people that have been involved in actual -- the actual review and recommendations.
Q But it will happen here, won't it?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it will happen in Washington. We'll do it here before we leave -- and I don't think we'll leave until Wednesday.
Q What is the Labor Day event, do you know yet?
MS. MYERS: We're still working on it, but something labor-oriented. (Laughter.) Hey, that rules out a lot of questions, let me tell you.
Q possible he'll travel either Saturday night and stay somewhere Sunday and then also go Monday?
MS. MYERS: Right, it's possible that he would have events on Sunday. I can't rule that out. I think there's a lot of options that are currently still in play. Hopefully we'll have it worked out by tomorrow morning.
Q Who's he meeting with today on the health care plan? Who's in these meetings?
MS. MYERS: It's a broad range of people. I think -- I don't have a full list, but it's all the senior -- senior economic people, the senior domestic policy people, the usual sort of cast. I think it's a -- it's a fairly limited meeting, maybe 15 people.
Q Any outsiders --
MS. MYERS: No, I think this is all -- this is all administration officials.
Q Mrs. Clinton, too?
MS. MYERS: I'm sure she'll be there, yes.
Q Have they nailed down an address to Congress and a date for that on health care?
MS. MYERS: We're still working on it, looking at the week of the 21st or 20th, whatever that week is.
Q Dee Dee, is Mr. Daley going to be working out of the White House? Is he going to have an office as czar of NAFTA? Where's he going to be --
MS. MYERS: Yes, I believe it will be in the OEOB, but it will be out of this complex. I'm not sure exactly what space has been settled on.
Q Does he work for Mickey?
MS. MYERS: Well, he works for the White House. He'll work closely with Mickey, but he'll work as part of the White House.
Q Who does he report to?
MS. MYERS: I would assume Mack, but I'll have to double-check that.
Q Health care, is this all about set now, isn't it?
MS. MYERS: We're in the process of making the final decisions. It's getting close, but it's not completely done. It won't probably be for another week or 10 days.
Q What's Bill Frenzel's title?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. Do you know what his title is? (Laughter.)
Q As the co-czar NAFTA czar or --
MS. MYERS: Co-czar, czarette? (Laughter.) I don't know.
Q Deputy czar.
MS. MYERS: Well, yes. What is it? Sort of -- I don't know.
Q And what's happening tomorrow? Is this the Russian --
MS. MYERS: The President will meet with Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, and beyond that, we're still working --
Q What time?
MS. MYERS: I don't have the time. Do you guys know what time he meets with Chernomyrdin tomorrow? Noonish?
Q That's tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: Tomorrow.
Q signing of the agreements --
Q In the morning.
Q After the signing?
Q What day is it? (Laughter.)
Q Will he be in the press conference? Dee Dee, will -- be in the press conference?
MS. MYERS: I don't know -- no, he's not supposed to be. He'll meet with him after that's completed.
Q After the press conference, which is around 12:15 p.m. or so.
MS. MYERS: Is it? So it's probably right after that.
Q Dee Dee, do you have any reaction to the shake-up in Russia -- the power struggle?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Will that figure in their talks?
MS. MYERS: Oh, I'm sure they'll discuss it, sure. I mean, the President is always, as you know, very interested in the domestic occurrences, particularly in Russia and other major strategic countries.
Q Was he notified ahead of time that any of this was going to take place?
MS. MYERS: I don't know whether he was officially notified or whether we had some semblance of it. I just don't know. I'll have to take that.
Q Can you clarify what this press conference is for? Is that --
MS. MYERS: The Vice President and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin are signing some agreements relating to space and energy.
Q the President at the press conference?
MS. MYERS: The President is not scheduled to attend, no.
Q There is no presidential --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q What's up for tomorrow besides that meeting?
MS. MYERS: As of right now, that's it.
Q Vice Presidential lunch?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Usually on Thursdays they have lunch together.
Q Dee Dee, Secretary Aspin today unveiled a new defense spending plan for the next several years. It will cost about $14 billion to $20 billion more than is allotted in the President's five-year spending plan. Any idea how much it is exactly and where the money will come from?
MS. MYERS: No. I think that Secretary Aspin made it clear that he was going to meet the spending targets laid out by the President. And I don't know whether he addressed that. I didn't see all of his press conference this morning. But I think that the President is comfortable with the bottom-up review and thinks that DOD will meet the projections.
Q Dee Dee, does the administration want to shut down Selective Service?
MS. MYERS: I don't know what the President's position is on that.
Q Could you take it?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q Dee Dee, on the ex-presidents -- of the NAFTA thing -- although it's being discussed, we are talking of the five presidents that have been mentioned -- or five ex-presidents?
MS. MYERS: What was written about today was that the five former presidents had been invited. That's incorrect, although there have been some discussion about whether or not there might be some way for them to participate now. I think that, given prior scheduling commitments, that they may not all be able to make it. I think that some of them -- or at least one or two of them would most definitely not be able to attend any kind of event. So I just -- that's something that we haven't made a final decision on, although I think even if we were to invite them, that they all wouldn't be able to come. So --
Q Dee Dee, on Monday the President in front of 110 Christian and Jewish religious leaders said he supported something called the restoration of religious freedoms act. I had a question -- three days on that. I didn't know if religious freedoms needed to be restored. Is there anybody here other than the President who knows what that is about?
MS. MYERS: No, but I'll take it and see if I can find out.
Q That's what I get for missing church on Sunday --
MS. MYERS: You shouldn't do that, Richard. Restoration of religious freedom act?
Q Yes. They all cheered --
Q He asked about it three days ago.
MS. MYERS: He didn't ask me, though. (Laughter.)
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:10 P.M. EDT