THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITH SENATOR JAMES JEFFORDS
1:54 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello.
SENATOR JEFFORDS: Hello, Jim Jeffords here.
THE PRESIDENT: Hi, Senator. I just wanted to thank you for your help yesterday and for your leadership on the health care bill, and to say especially how much I appreciate the work you did to get the WIC program fully funded. I know how much it means to you and how much it's going to do for the children of this country.
SENATOR JEFFORDS: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I deeply appreciate that. And I want to thank you for your leadership. You got us going on this road, and I think with Senator Kennedy's help, we took a big step yesterday to getting our health care bill that we all want.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I really appreciate the fact that you were willing to work with us and to vote for it. I know that some other Republicans offered some amendments and voted for some of the provisions of the health care bill in the committee, and I hope that by the time we get around to voting on the floor we'll have a bill that can get some more bipartisan support. I know they're under a lot of pressure not to vote for anything, but I know that you have some colleagues who agree with you and who will eventually put the interests of the country first just as you have done.
I'm just honored to be in this fight with you, and I think we have to keep working and reaching out to others and trying to broaden the base. And I know that's what you want to do, too.
SENATOR JEFFORDS: I certainly do, and we made a big step in that direction yesterday. And Nancy Kassebaum and also Dave Durenberger, with me, put an amendment in, and I think if we'd been able to pass it, it probably would have gotten on board. And --
THE PRESIDENT: What was the amendment?
SENATOR JEFFORDS: -- it gave me confidence that we're going to be able to do it on the floor. And I've talked to a number of others. I'm confident that, again, when we get on the Senate floor and with a little more tinkering, we'll be able to get a good bipartisan bill for you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm ready to work with you. We can do it. We can do it. Thanks to you, and I'll never forget it. And let's just keep working at it.
SENATOR JEFFORDS: Okay, thank you. And I thank the First Lady for her call this morning. I deeply appreciated that, and it's been great working with her and Ira Magaziner. They're two wonderful people.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. Have a good day.
END1:56 P.M. EDT