THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
12:58 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: We will start this today with a statement on Ukraine -- exciting stuff.
Yesterday, Supreme Rada of Ukraine voted almost unanimously, 260 to 3, to recognize the steps taken by the United States and Russia in the January 14th trilateral statement to rescind the conditions the Rada had previously imposed on their approval of the START I Treaty and the Lisbon Protocol and to authorize the government of Ukraine to exchange instruments of ratification of Start I. By approving the Lisbon Protocol, Ukraine has committed to accede to the Nonproliferation Treaty in the shortest possible time. This represents a major victory for President Kravchuk who personally lead the efforts to secure approval of Start I.
The trilateral statement signed January 14th in Moscow by President Clinton, President Yeltsin and President Kravchuk was crucial in opening the way for this positive action by Ukraine. The trilateral statement provides security assurances for Ukraine, compensation for the value of highly-enriched uranium and nuclear warheads, and technical and financial assistance for dismantling nuclear forces. The United States will be providing substantial assistance to Ukraine under the Nunn-Lugar program to help dismantle strategic forces and we will work closely with Ukraine to help overcome their serious economic problems.
This unconditional ratification of Start I and the Lisbon Protocol advances the security interest of both the United States and Ukraine and represents a major nonproliferation achievement.
Q What is the White House response to Park Police suggestions that the White House may have hampered the investigation into the Vince Foster suicide?
MS. MYERS: That's all being looked into by the special counsel and we'll have no comment on it.
Q Does the President still have complete confidence in Bernie Nussbaum?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely.
Q Can you give us anything on the private messages between the President and Kim Il-song that were conveyed by Billy Graham?
MS. MYERS: The President's message was an oral message carried by Billy Graham just generally about the importance of nonproliferation in nuclear agreements. The President -- actually
Billy Graham's representative delivered a message here today which was written. And I don't have anything for you on the contents of that at this time.
MS. MYERS: It was a message back.
Q From Kim Il-song?
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q Can you get back to us on that?
MS. MYERS: I can take it and see what we'll have to say about the contents. But it was received this morning by Tony Lake.
Q If you can't comment on the contents at this point, Dee Dee, what do you know about the tone?
MS. MYERS: I just don't have anything at all on the content at this point.
Q But the tone?
MS. MYERS: Again, I don't have anything at all on the content.
Q And who delivered it?
MS. MYERS: A representative of Billy Graham, I don't have a name, but to Tony.
Q For those of us who didn't know he was going there, when was he there? When did he deliver this --
Q He didn't call you?
MS. MYERS: He was there, I believe it was last week. He's been in Asia for about a week or so.
Thank you. (Laughter.)
Q At Kramer Junior High, the President said that AIDS is spread primarily in two ways: through unsafe -- using unsafe needles and through unsafe sex, primarily homosexual sex. AIDS groups today have attacked the President as spreading homophobia, and claim that that is -- that they say that AIDS is not -- not HIV, but AIDS is not spread through homosexual sex. Did the President say the right thing, and do you have any reaction to their claims that he's now spreading homophobia?
MS. MYERS: I think clearly the President is not spreading homophobia. I think he was having a very frank conversation with young students at Kramer Junior High about personal responsibility -- whether is was having children out of wedlock, which he discouraged them no to do; about having children while they're still children; or taking responsibility for not spreading diseases like AIDS, I think the message was one of personal responsibility and taking charge of their futures. That was the message he was trying to convey. I mean, clearly the President has been a strong supporter of doing more to fight AIDS and to fight the misperceptions about AIDS and to fight the fear about AIDS. And he'll continue to do that. That's why he appointed an AIDS Czar in Kristine Gebbie and taken a number of other steps, including full funding of Ryan White. He'll continue to fight the disease and work with the AIDS groups to do so.
Q I'm wondering about what he said, though, that they were upset about? Did he get it wrong? Is that what happened, or what?
MS. MYERS: I think, again, he was having a frank conversation. I'm not sure if they're making a technical distinction between --
Q I'm not sure either --
MS. MYERS: So, I --
Q Dee Dee, how hard is the President going to fight for budget cuts against congressional committees that are going to be very loathe to cut some of these programs?
MS. MYERS: I think he's going to fight very hard for his budget. The question was, how hard is the President going to fight for budget cuts?
Q Give me a break.
MS. MYERS: And the answer is, as we --
Q over, right?
MS. MYERS: Right. (Laughter.) Wow. This must be Friday.
As the President -- as we've previewed, there are serious cuts in this budget, in the budget that will be unveiled on Monday. It includes the elimination of more than 100 programs, cuts in more than 300 programs. The President believes those cuts are important in order to make the investments in the kinds of things that will make the economy grow, create the jobs of the future and help secure Americans economically into the coming decade.
Q To follow, Dee Dee, just today we had several Cabinet secretaries talking about making public housing safer. Public housing is going to be cut under this new budget. How do you reconcile those two approaches?
MS. MYERS: Well, certain programs within HUD are going to be cut, other programs within HUD are going to be enhanced. And there's a lot of money in the HUD pipeline for public housing that won't be affected by the President's upcoming budget. I think the bottom line is that we're going to continue to cut money from the programs that we feel are less effective, that the President believes are less effective, and reinvest it in programs that we believe will help -- that are investment-type programs -- whether it's infrastructure to aid transportation or education programs that we think will help children make that transition into the future, or longer-term programs throughout the economy that we think will have a dramatic positive impact.
Q Is the President going to grant Section 409 relief to honeybee producers?
MS. MYERS: What's Section 409 relief?
Q Well, now that the honeybee subsidies are gone, the honeybee producers are claiming that the foreign producers are dumping on the market. So they want tariffs imposed on foreign honeybee producers, which would have the same effect as subsidizing American honeybee producers raising prices.
MS. MYERS: We have a honeybee expert. (Laughter.) I'll take that question. I'm just not sure what the status of that is.
Q hold him to this promise. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: It was a major fight. It took us about a year to get it done, but we finally did eliminate the honeybee subsidies.
Q But the point is you could still lose on that issue, proving how hard it is to cut government programs.
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q Could you do a week-ahead, please?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q But before you go to the week-ahead, what is he doing today?
MS. MYERS: The President has the day off today. Largely it's an opportunity for him to spend some time reading, thinking, resting. He's working parts of both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I think he thought it was important that he take a day down.
Q Where is he?
MS. MYERS: He's been in the Residence all morning. He went jogging this morning, went back to the Residence and has been there ever since.
Q Has he finished those five books yet?
MS. MYERS: I think he's pretty much done with them.
Q reaction to the shouts and signs he encountered this morning at the Vietnam Memorial?
MS. MYERS: I haven't spoken to him. I don't know.
MS. MYERS: Okay, we'll do a week-ahead and then we'll come back.
Sunday, we'll start with -- well, tomorrow he does the live radio address at 10:06 a.m.
MS. MYERS: The subject will probably be the economy, jobs, looking a little bit forward to the budget. And then he'll have a meeting on health care here, and then he'll have the afternoon down.
Q What kind of meeting?
MS. MYERS: Staff level health care meeting, just to discuss the status of the health care plan.
Q Will Gergen be at that meeting?
MS. MYERS: I don't know, but I would imagine.
Q What's the purpose of that meeting?
MS. MYERS: Just a general update on health care.
Q Is he trying to figure out a strategy after the setbacks of the week?
MS. MYERS: I think we have a strategy. No, there's been no change in our strategy. The President's plan is in the committees. We'll continue to work with Congress to get a health care plan passed that includes guaranteed private insurance for every American. There's been no change in our strategy as far as that goes. But, obviously this is something that we're going to continue to work on very intensely over the course of the next several months as it works its way through Congress.
Q Was this meeting scheduled because of concern about the business --
MS. MYERS: No, it's a periodic meeting where the President meets regularly with advisors on health care to discuss a number of issues, both substantive and legislative.
Q Why is he doing it on Saturday -- because Mrs. Clinton is traveling today? Is that the reason?
MS. MYERS: I think because originally -- it just worked out that way. I don't know whether it had to do with Mrs. Clinton's schedule or not, but there was a number of things that were shifting around during the course of the week. He often has meetings on Saturdays.
Q What time is that meeting?
MS. MYERS: It's in the morning. It's about 10:30 a.m. After the radio address, so whenever that gets done and he'll get started.
Sunday, he'll leave the White House about 3:30 p.m., fly to Houston. At 6:15 p.m., he will drop by the American Cancer Society children's party. That will be a pool event. It is at the Four Seasons Hotel. From there he goes to the Wortham Center for the DNC fundraiser. He's scheduled to speak at about -- I guess it's about 8:20 p.m. His remarks will be open to pool press -- just the remarks portion of the fundraiser.
Q Any particular subject?
MS. MYERS: No, I think it will be general -- not intended to make news.
Q Pool press, you mean we won't be able to hear it in the filing center?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. No, meaning that only the pool will be allowed into the event itself. I don't know what arrangements have been made for the filing center.
MR. GAINES: You'll be able to hear it in the filing center.
MS. MYERS: You won't want to miss it.
Q What is the ticket price of this event?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I think it's $1,000, but I'll have to take that and get back.
Monday, then he's down for the rest of the evening. Monday morning, he will meet with various supporters in Houston. That'll be a closed event. At that same time, Director Panetta will be briefing here on the budget. We are going to pipe that into the filing center in Houston because you won't want to miss those juicy budget details.
Q What time is that?
MS. MYERS: Leon is scheduled to brief at 11:00 Eastern, which 10:00 a.m. Central. Then at noon, the President will be at the Hyatt Regency where he will address a Houston business group called -- I think it's the Greater Houston Partnership.
Q The subject?
MS. MYERS: The subject will be the budget. And again, he'll emphasize how -- the cuts in investments and how that's building on the progress we made from last year's budget. From there, he'll go to -- is this ready?
Q Why don't you give us some guidance.
MS. MYERS: There will be another event in Houston.
Q What's the subject?
MS. MYERS: It's not health care. It's not crime.
Q Is it budget?
MS. MYERS: No, it's not budget. It's regional.
MS. MYERS: It's regional. No, it's regional. It's regional something --
Q George Bush.
MS. MYERS: No, it's not George Bush. (Laughter.)
Q It's really far out.
MS. MYERS: Okay.
Q I mean after cutting -- after cutting the NASA budget --
MS. MYERS: I loved that piece. (Laughter.) Okay from there -- he'll do this regional -- far out regional event, and then he will fly to Louisiana, to -- where are we going? Shreveport. On arrival, he'll do -- an event on arrival, meet and greet with some supporters there. And then he'll be down fairly early that evening, which is the good news.
The following day he will be in Shreveport -- he's doing a health care event at the General Motors plant. And there he will emphasize that his health care plan is good for American workers and good for American business. Owen Bieber will be there and Jack Smith -- is Owen Bieber in Detroit or is he -- no, I think Owen Bieber's in Louisiana and Jack Smith will be via satellite from Detroit. So it'll be business and labor working together for health care reform. Then he will do some local interviews and return to Washington -- supposed to arrive back at the White House at 5:00 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. he'll have the congressional crime meeting that was postponed this week because of votes up on the Hill.
Q Are those local interviews tv or print?
MS. MYERS: Combination.
Q Local, meaning Shreveport or --
MS. MYERS: Local, meaning actually Detroit. (Laughter.)
Q They were in the neighborhood, so you invited them to drop in? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Absolutely. We are talking about something of interest to them.
Q This really is the satellite age. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Yes. (Laughter.) Wednesday the -- the President will have meetings in the morning, then he will go to the Correctional Center in Prince George's County to announce the new drug strategy with Dr. Brown. That's the major event for that day. There will probably also be a congressional meeting on Wednesday, the follow-up, that he asked the members to come back, the leadership to come back, to talk about the Europe trip.
Q Is that meeting in the morning?
MS. MYERS: What?
Q Is that what it's called --
MS. MYERS: I think it's called the Prince George's County -- well, it's listed here as the Prince George's County Correction Center.
Q Upper Marlboro?
MS. MYERS: It doesn't -- beyond my depth, my regional knowledge.
Q Would that congressional meeting, Dee Dee, be in the morning?
MS. MYERS: No, it would be in the late afternoon, evening -- 6:00 p.m. Thursday -- I think we better check that. Thursday and Friday are still -- Thursday's still coming together. Friday, Prime Minister Hosokawa's scheduled to be here.
Q What about the week after, is he traveling the week after, do you know?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q Could we stay on -- for a second? What level -- is that a working visit? Is that a state visit?
MS. MYERS: It's a working visit. And it has the sort of the regular working schedule, which is a couple of meetings in the Oval Office, followed by a working lunch, followed by a press conference in the East Room.
Q You're not going to Filomena's.
MS. MYERS: Currently not scheduled to go to Filomena's, but --
Q Thursday -- that be a travel day?
MS. MYERS: No, not scheduled to be a travel day. And then -- good point. We can certainly -- will there be Hosokawa briefings on Thursday. And the answer is, I think, that would probably be useful, so --
Q What are you looking at for Thursday --
MS. MYERS: Oh, it's no big deal.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
Q President Reagan -- what he said last night that the President was -- the President not only committed imitation but committed grand larceny on his techniques and his themes and issues?
MS. MYERS: I think that President Clinton's record speaks for itself. He's been working on these issues for years, and he addressed it yesterday.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:14 P.M. EST