THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
2:17 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: No announcements, so -- Andrea, do you have a question? (Laughter.)
Q Is there a procedure for the FAA, if they were to pick something up on radar, to notify the White House?
MS. MYERS: I have to refer you to the FAA on that. As you know, there is an ongoing investigation. It's an interagency process.
Q I'm not asking you about what happened yesterday, I'm asking you about the procedure in general.
MS. MYERS: Then I would refer you to the Secret Service or to the FAA to discuss procedures.
Q Neither of them are discussing this.
MS. MYERS: Then I think it's something that's not being discussed. (Laughter.) Again, I mean, it's not for the White House to --
Q Would the White House --
MS. MYERS: -- to determine procedures between the White House and the Secret Service. That is something for the Secret Service and the FAA to work out.
Q Would the White House and the President expect that if something showed up on the radar, it would be brought to the attention of the people guarding this building and this President and his family?
MS. MYERS: First of all, I'm unfamiliar with the procedures that have been worked out between the FAA and the Secret Service. And if I did know, I probably wouldn't be able to comment on it. I think, again, the President has great confidence in the Secret Service, in their ability to protect him and his family and the White House grounds generally. There is an investigation looking into yesterday's incident; that will go forward.
As you know, the Secretary of the Treasury has asked that it be completed within 90 days. The results will be given to the Chief of Staff and to the Secretary of the Treasury. So we'll await the outcome of that process.
Q Does he have great confidence in the air controllers, who were supposed to be watching their radar screens?
MS. MYERS: I think I do not have enough information to comment on that, and the President will certainly look at the recommendations put forward by the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Treasury after they have had a chance to review the results of the investigation.
Q Dee Dee, the President now has a pretty large military operation at least in the preparation stages underway toward Haiti. When might we expect the President to explain what this mission is about to the public and in what forum was that likely to come?
MS. MYERS: Well, the President has continually tried to talk about what U.S. interests are in Haiti, as have other members of his administration. That's something, certainly, that he'll continue to do. Yesterday --
Q We haven't heard anything -- we haven't heard much --
MS. MYERS: -- the National Security Advisor gave a speech. The Secretary of State also talked about U.S. interests in Haiti. Certainly, the President will continue to talk about that. And at some point, I think, you can expect him to talk in more detail about what U.S. interests are there.
Q Do you have any sense of when that's likely to come?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to get into specific scheduling decisions, but I think sometime in the fairly near future. The President will have more to say about the situation in Haiti.
Q Are we talking about a national address of some kind, do you believe?
MS. MYERS: I think we're looking at a number of options. Decisions have not been made on that score, but I do think you can expect the President will certainly keep the American people apprised of his plans and of his belief of what U.S. interests in Haiti are. And again, it's something that other officials have been talking about consistently.
Q Well, that's true, but we haven't heard the President explain since subordinate officials have begun saying that a force will land. I don't believe we've heard the President on the subject of why a force will land yet.
MS. MYERS: Again, I think the President has talked consistently about what our interests are. And as I just said, I think you can expect the President to have more to say about this. I don't have any specific scheduling announcements to make for you today, but I do think you can expect sometime in the not-too-distant future that the President will have more to say about this.
Q Dee Dee, there's a ground swell on Capitol Hill. Foley indicated today after meeting with the President that there may be a House vote on whether an invasion should have the approval of the Congress, or whether they're willing to approve it. And there's a letter in the making -- some 86 Democrats have signed so far, and more than 50 Republicans are urging the President to submit the whole question to a vote on the Hill.
MS. MYERS: First of all, as you know, the President and the White House have consulted continually with Congress on this issue. More broadly, I think there have been a number of similar police activities over the course of the last few years involving presidents of both parties, where congressional authorization has not been obtained. Most recently, I think with President Reagan in Grenada, President Bush in Panama. Certainly, there's a lot of historical precedent for this.
Q Are you using those as a precedent for President Clinton's actions?
MS. MYERS: I'm pointing out historical precedent, similar actions taken around the world, and Congress's response to those.
Q So what is your answer to him submitting to a vote?
MS. MYERS: My answer is the same as it has been consistently for the last several months. We'll continue to consult with Congress on this. As you know, they voted several times on various amendments regarding Haiti. There has been ample congressional debate on this issue, and I'm sure that will continue. There is an ongoing -- and there has been for a long time -- difference of opinion between the administrative and legislative branches about what's required. The President believes he has the authority to conduct this.
Q During the campaign, he certainly thought that the congressional approval was required on the Gulf War and so --
MS. MYERS: I don't believe that the President had -- then governor -- had an opinion on whether it was required. He, as you know, supported then President Bush's action and said were he in Congress, he would have voted in favor of it. I think President Bush --
Q Are you saying that he is not -- well, can you say flatly whether --
MS. MYERS: But, that's a different incident, anyway. I didn't cite that as an example of precedent.
Q he's going to ask Congress for approval.
MS. MYERS: I think we've said consistently --
Q That you're not going to --
MS. MYERS: -- that we would welcome -- the President has said consistently that he would welcome Congress' approval on this. He's going to consult with Congress, but that it's not required by the Constitution. He has said continually that he'll act consistent with the War Powers Act.
Q Can he really withstand congressional pressure to that extent and the people's -- the polls show they're not supporting this at all?
MS. MYERS: Again -- well, I think that the American people have a great tradition of rallying around their President in times where U.S. troops are involved.
Q On a fait accompli, you mean?
MS. MYERS: And I think there is a long precedent of that. I would just point out that in the case of the Gulf War that involved a well-armed opponent with half a million troops and an international effort -- a slightly different case, actually a quite different case than, say, Grenada where U.S. forces faced a less organized and poorly-armed and equipped foe. In both cases of Grenada and Panama, Congress was not asked to approve the action ahead of time, and I think there was great support from members of Congress for those actions after the fact.
Q Well there was a lot of unhappiness, too. I can assure you of that.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think there's always a debate about this, Helen. I don't think that's going to change.
Q So, he's not going to change on the questions?
MS. MYERS: I think our position on this has been consistent. I don't think there's been any change in it.
Q Dee Dee, surely the President isn't taking as a precedent the actions of Bush and Reagan as his guidance for action in this office, is he?
MS. MYERS: I think that we are just looking at what's happened over the course of the years between Congress and the Executive Branch.
Q What did you say? (Laughter.)
Q How dare you talk when she's interrupting.
MS. MYERS: I said simply I was pointing to the historical precedent where Congress has not approved actions taken by the President.
Q Did the President meet with his national security advisors today on Haiti?
MS. MYERS: He had a discussion with some of his --it wasn't a formal principals' meeting, but he did sit down with his top national security advisors to discuss the situation in Haiti.
Q Who was there?
Q All the principals?
MS. MYERS: Secretaries Christopher, Perry, General Shalikashvili, Tony Lake, Sandy Berger, and I believe there were a few other individuals who were key --
Q About how long did the meeting last?
MS. MYERS: Less than about an hour.
Q Can you explain why Secretary Perry was still in the building very recently? His office was saying that he's still over here. About an hour and a half after this meeting supposedly ended.
MS. MYERS: I don't know. He has lunch with Tony Lake about once a week. He may have been doing that; I'm not sure.
Q Yes, but he cancelled his speech in order --because --
MS. MYERS: The meeting started late. It was scheduled for 11:15 a.m. As you know, the President was still at the crime event. I think it started closer to noon, maybe 11:50 a.m., and I think Secretary Perry unfortunately was unable to make the speech which was scheduled for noon.
Q Did the President ask him to cancel that speech, thinking it was important for him to be here?
MS. MYERS: I think it was important for Secretary Perry to be there, but I don't think the President was aware of Secretary Perry's schedule.
Q Did they make any decisions today?
MS. MYERS: No decisions were taken at the meeting. I think they discussed the state of play in Haiti.
Q Wait a minute. Are you saying that the President kept the Secretary of Defense waiting for a meeting on possible military action on Haiti while he glad-handed on the South Lawn after the signing of the Crime Bill?
MS. MYERS: I said the President was involved in an event for the signing of the Crime Bill. It was something he worked very hard for. It was a terrific event, and the President went from there to a meeting with his national security advisors.
Q Dee Dee, I understand the United States has lined up 17 countries to help with the Haitians. Are any of them going to intervene in the military aspects or afterwards in the policing or stabilizing or whatever?
MS. MYERS: They have all committed -- the 17 countries that were announced yesterday have committed to participate in the multinational force, which would go in, in the first phase to create a permissive environment. I don't think it's envisioned that most of these troops will participate in an actual invasion, but they would be there afterwards to help create a permissive environment in advance of U.N. peacekeepers.
Q In light of reports, can you explain how it might be that the President might have to call up Reserves to do anything he might want to do in Haiti?
MS. MYERS: I don't think I understand the question.
Q Haiti, being one of these less well armed and poorly organized countries like Panama and Grenada, how could it be we might need to call up Reserves?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that the specific troop requirements, the equipment requirements are something that's designed by the Pentagon. I would refer you to them for precedent on calling up the Reserves. I think that that is also a tradition of using overwhelming force when the United States takes on a military objective. Certainly, Pentagon planning is consistent with that, but the President has not yet made a decision about whether that's necessary, and I would again refer you to the Department of Defense for any precedent on what exactly Reserves are used for and how they're deployed.
Q Dee Dee, after a meeting today with the President and before the Crime Bill, Speaker Foley, on the way out of the White House said that he believes that the President would sign an interim health care bill that would be far less than the comprehensive requirement the President has pushed for. How does that square with the President's veto threat that he would veto anything less than universal coverage and all of the other goals that he originally laid out?
MS. MYERS: I haven't seen the Speaker's remarks to that effect. I think certainly the President and the Democratic leaders talked about health care today. I don't think there's any conclusion. The Mitchell-Chafee process is still ongoing. I think we'll see what happens over the course of the next week or so.
Q To follow up, then, Foley said in the driveway that in his view, the comprehensive reform that's been talked about much of the year is dead at least for this year, and the best that might come out of it is some interim bill, would the President sign such an interim bill that perhaps only had insurance reforms and other smallscale reforms?
MS. MYERS: It's all hypothetical at this point. It's all hypothetical. We'll have to see what the congressional process produces, and the President will look at what it is and see if it meets his criteria, and I think we're clear on what the criteria --
Q Well, what is the President's current criteria, then?
MS. MYERS: They're the same as his criteria have been throughout this process. There's been no change in the President's criteria. He wants a bill that covers everybody, and that works.
Q Dee Dee, would you explain what you mean by creating a permissive environment?
MS. MYERS: A peacekeeping force is envisioned to go in at a time when there's a fairly orderly civil environment. I think even if the military leaders should leave voluntarily, there are armed attaches, the military is not particularly cohesive. I think that it would require a multinational force again made up of the United States plus these 17 other countries, to go in there and to establish order, and to keep the order in order for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be broader to come in.
Q The President was awful nice to Republicans today in his remarks on the South Lawn. I wonder if you can tell us what's going on. Why is he being so kind to Republicans?
MS. MYERS: I think he was kind to certainly the individual Republicans who helped pass the Crime Bill, who worked for it, who voted for it. The President always said he wanted to make that in particular a bipartisan measure. He's also looked to make other issues such as health care bipartisan. I think this is a President who wants to work with both sides of the aisle in Congress. And I think he wanted to thank the members who helped. At the same time, I think he pointed out that there were those in Washington who were trying to stop the Crime Bill simply for political reasons just to stop progress from being made.
Q Why didn't he invite Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich to the signing ceremony?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe either Bob Dole or Newt Gingrich voted for the Crime Bill.
Q So you only invite people who voted for it?
MS. MYERS: I think generally there's sort of a tradition of inviting people there that worked for it, that voted for it, that supported it. We don't generally invite people who don't support legislation to ceremonies where those pieces of legislation are signed.
Q Does the President expect to have work with more Republicans after the midterm elections?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think he hopes to work with Republicans next year as he did this year to make progress on things like NAFTA and the Crime Bill. I think we're optimistic that we're going to win a lot of elections in November.
Q I'm confused on terminology in Haiti. You talked about an invasion and Pentagon planning consistent with traditional use of overwhelming force. This morning on Good Morning America, Mr. Panetta talked about a minor police action is all that would be necessary in Haiti. Which is it?
MS. MYERS: Force to overwhelm the opponent, which is certainly minor compared to what was needed in Desert Storm, for example.
Q But I guess my question -- many people here use the term "invasion," and Mr. Panetta said a minor police action would not require the approval of Congress.
MS. MYERS: Again, this is consistent with what we've seen in previous administrations in Grenada and Panama, in 1965 with the Dominican Republic. I think there's a number of incidents where there have been smaller forces that have gone in to various countries and have not -- and the President has not requested congressional action. I think there's a lot of precedence for that. That's my point. This is certainly not Desert Storm.
Again, I would remind you Saddam Hussein had 500,000 troops at least. He was well-armed, well-equipped, and wellorganized. And this -- I think this is a very different situation that we face in Haiti where they have an army that is poorly trained and poorly equipped, and has about 7,000 people.
Q Dee Dee, you understand the reason for these questions is to get some idea of the scale of the military action that is, according to some members of the administration, now inevitable. And in Panama and in Grenada, we did not see activation of Reserves, and what I'm trying to get a handle on now is whether the force structure has changed, or whether we're dealing with --
MS. MYERS: Again, I would refer you to -- clearly the force structure has changed, but I refer you to the Pentagon because this is not something that the White House deals with. The Pentagon is the appropriate place to talk about force structure, to talk about a precedent for Reserves, to talk about what Reserves come up to do. I don't think that's an appropriate topic for the White House, which is why I referred you to the Pentagon.
Q On that aspect I'll grant you, but you can also give us an idea of the scale of the undertaking that is --
MS. MYERS: But I'm not going to give you an idea of the scale. That's something that's still being discussed, and it is not appropriate for me to tell you now what the troop requirements are. Again, that's not something that is decided here. We don't decide -- the White House does not decide, the President does not decide. It is not appropriate for the President to decide exactly what the troop structure is going to look like. That's why he looks to the Pentagon. That's the appropriate place for those decisions to be made.
Q Dee Dee, I think we all understand why you are using Grenada and Panama as a precedent rather than Desert Storm. But my question is, what's the constitutional argument for -- there's nowhere in the Constitution where it says a small war you have to go to Congress, and a big war the President can do himself, or viceversa. The requirement is in Congress -- now, the War Powers Act we can talk about all day long, but you keep making this differentiation, and I understand why. But that's not a constitutional argument -- why the President doesn't have to seek approval of Congress.
MS. MYERS: The Constitution gives the President authority, and I can cite for you, if you're interested, what the specific chapter and verse is in the Constitution.
Commander-In-Chief, under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution -- the authority includes broad power to deploy the Armed Forces, including situations involving potential hostilities without specific congressional authorization. That's again, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. So it is our view that the President has that authority under the Constitution, and he will act consistent with his responsibilities under the Constitution and consistent with the War Powers Act.
Q Why don't you read the other part of the Constitution that says that Congress is the one to declare war?
Q Thank you.
MS. MYERS: And we certainly expect that that's what they'll do under appropriate circumstances.
Q I think that you should know -- the White House should know that Lee Hamilton, who's Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has been the spokesman on this Haitian situation, he keeps saying that it's a cloudy situation with the War Powers Act. We don't know -- we've never really tested this constitutional declaring war. But he also says that the Congress is afraid that the people will not like it if they approve of us invading Haiti, but that they want the President to do it because they want the President to get the blame if it goes wrong. That's what Lee Hamilton's office is putting out.
MS. MYERS: Well, he's a very smart man.
Q Why --
MS. MYERS: I will certainly let Congressman Hamilton's statements stand for themselves. As Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I think he -- the Foreign Affairs Committee, I think he has tremendous perspective on that and has been in Congress for quite a while.
Q Can you tell us how and when the United States would disengage from Haiti? Does the President have an exit strategy already?
MS. MYERS: The scope of the U.S. forces' activity would be limited to creating -- to removing the dictators from power and then working with the rest of the multinational force there to create a secure environment in advance of the peacekeepers. It is not envisioned, and will not be at any time, a nation-building exercise.
Q Do you have any estimate on how long that would be and what the criteria are for a secure environment?
MS. MYERS: Those are all part of contingency plans that I'm not going to discuss.
Q Will the President tell the American people the answers to those questions when he either makes his --
MS. MYERS: Those are not the kind of details that the President is going to get into discussing. What he will discuss with the American people is what U.S. interests are in Haiti, and why it is important for us to have worked very hard over the last 20 months to try to restore democracy to that country.
For years, the Haitian people fought to be free. They finally had fair and free elections with the help of the United States and the international community, only to see democracy stolen by a bunch of dictators. Now, for the last 20 months this administration has worked very hard to restore democracy and a president who was elected with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
That's what the President is going to talk to. We see massive human rights abuses going on today. And over at the State Department, Assistant Secretary Shattuck today released a third interim report on human rights abuses in Haiti, which I would refer you to. Certainly, we have an interest in protecting democracy in our hemisphere. Certainly, we have an interest in stopping the migration of potentially thousands or tens of thousands of Haitian refugees. Those are the kinds of things that the President is going to talk about. He's not going to get into specific plans, and I think you all know that.
Q Specific plans. But other presidents --
Q Dee Dee, is it fair to say restoration of democracy is a goal of the force when it goes in, whether it goes in with Cedras there or not?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely.
Q But if somewhere -- so you're willing to go to restore democracy, but no nation-building. Is that correct?
MS. MYERS: That's correct. To give -- to install a democratically-elected government and give the Haitian people a chance to move forward.
Q But where do you draw the line on nation-building? Where does this -- how do you make that distinction?
MS. MYERS: Well, again, our objective is to see those dictators leave power.
Q Well, I understand that.
MS. MYERS: Then the multinational force will work to create a secure environment and to train civilian security force. And then the peacekeepers will come in, and much the same thing -- to try to train the military, to train the police force, to separate those two agencies and to begin the work of creating a stable, civil environment where business can thrive, people can go about their business.
Q You're going to create an atmosphere in which business is thriving, democracy is restored. Why is that not -- that sounds like a nation to me. Is that not a nation? Is not that the very fundamentals of nation-building?
MS. MYERS: That is not the objective of the U.S. forces. The U.S. forces will go to create an environment where the Haitian people can move forward setting forth, creating their own future. That's -- that is the objective. That is something that is outlined not only by the U.S. but it was part of the U.N.'s mandate as well.
Q What is nation-building if that's not it?
MS. MYERS: Nation-building -- I'm not going to get into this debate from the podium.
Q Dee Dee, for how long after --
Q Can you think of somewhere else I can ask that question?
MS. MYERS: Brit, if you want to have a civil conversation about this, I'm happy to see you in my office.
Q Well, I'm just asking the questions. So we do --
Q For how long after the invasion would the U.S. and/or the United Nations be responsible for Aristide's safety? In other words, for how long would we guarantee it?
MS. MYERS: Until his term expires.
Q So in other words, we'd be there to protect him from assassination attempts, et cetera, until he --
MS. MYERS: We the international community; that's correct.
Q What about protecting Haitians from retribution when he comes back? Would that be a U.S. responsibility, too?
MS. MYERS: Protecting which Haitians from retribution from who?
Q His opponents.
Q Collaborators with the dictator.
Q From retribution from the Aristide --
MS. MYERS: It is our objective to -- one of the things that the multinational force will do, and the peacekeepers, is to help train a civilian police force, to separate the police and the military so that there is some sense of civil order there, and that there is a well-trained force to keep that order. It will be up to the Aristide government, which was democratically elected, which has embraced democratic principles, which has said that it seeks no retribution, to then move forward and decide how to handle people who might be arrested.
Q What if he changes his mind and seeks retribution on this?
MS. MYERS: We don't -- he has said that he doesn't -- that that's not his intention, and we're going to go forward. He's kept his word in all of our dealings with him, he kept his word throughout the Governors Island Accord, unlike the dictators who broke their word at every opportunity. Again, he's made clear what his intentions are, and the international community supports him in that.
Q You don't mean to then be responsible for arranging the elections that work would have to begin on --
MS. MYERS: The Haitian government will arrange the elections, as they did in 1990 when President Aristide was elected.
Q Under the current timetable, this would have to begin fairly soon after the invasion at a time when we would still presumably be in the process of creating a secure environment.
MS. MYERS: I think this is sort of silly for us to sit here and speculate about what might happen, when the next steps are not yet clear and have not happened.
Q But we're trying to get an idea of U.S. involvement over what is really a fairly brief time period over the next, say, six to eight months during which we would both have to remove the people in power, create a secure environment and then arrange for elections because Aristide's term expires about a year from now.
MS. MYERS: That's correct. Elections will be scheduled for the winter of 1995, under the Haitian Constitution. I believe that's correct. And that is something -- the Haitian government will come in and begin to work toward establishing those kinds of processes. What the international community will do is to help create a secure environment so that can move forward. It is the responsibility of the Haitian government to create the institutions and to move forward with those institutions --
Q The Haitian government doesn't exist.
MS. MYERS: There was a president and a parliament elected by the people until they were thrown out and democracy was stolen by a bunch of dictators. The Haitian government did exist and will exist again once the dictators were thrown out.
Q Dee Dee, there's been some criticism of the idea of talking about an imminent invasion and then giving them time, no matter how inept, to increase defenses that could result in the lives of American service people being lost. How do you answer that? Why are you talking so much about an invasion before --
MS. MYERS: I think we've made it very clear that we've exhausted diplomacy. We've tried negotiating, we've tried sanctions, we're continuing to give sanctions a chance to work, but we've made it clear that where diplomacy fails, there is force to back it up.
Now, I think the dictators still have time to step aside. We're hopeful that they will. Sanctions continue to be in place. They know what the consequences will be if they don't. But we're moving forward. They should make no mistake about it. The clock is ticking. Time is running out.
Q That point has been made. But they also have time to increase their defenses which could result in the loss of life to American service personnel. Why do you continue talking? Why not do it? We had a force down there one time. Why are we not acting rather than talking?
MS. MYERS: I think we'll act when we think the time is appropriate. At this point, we've made clear that time is running out. We haven't set a deadline. No final decisions have been made, but it's very clear that time is running out. The international community's patience is wearing thin and the dictators ought to know that we are very serious about this.
Q You've talked about the President communicating his objectives and interests and so on. Given the state of the current polls, though, does the President accept that he has not made his case to the electorate?
MS. MYERS: I think the President will continue to make his case. I think he's worked hard to do that, and he'll continue to do that.
Q Does he accept, however, that so far --
MS. MYERS: No, he believes that he has work to do and he'll continue to work to do it.
Q Can the Haitian generals expect the definitive final ultimatum before that force that you've been referring to is used?
MS. MYERS: We will see how events proceed.
Q On Saturday, the President --
Q Did you mean to answer Mara by giving the impression that U.S. troops might be physically in Haiti throughout the remainder of Aristide's term, should he be reinstalled?
MS. MYERS: No. The international community would have a presence. The U.S. troops will be there only as long as it takes to remove the dictators and establish a secure environment.
Q We'll be the dominant forces in that international --
MS. MYERS: Well, the multinational force, but --
Q The multinational force will be predominantly American.
MS. MYERS: That's correct, and then the peacekeepers will be -- there are 17 other countries now participating in a peacekeeping force. There are obviously plans for the multinational force, which I think -- I can't speak to how many troops will be there throughout the creation of a secure environment.
Q Seventeen countries producing 1,500 troops, according to Mr. Christopher.
MS. MYERS: I understand that.
Q But thousands others will be -- it's something like 10 to one American.
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to get into discussing the logistics of plans, because as you know, different phases of plans require different troop commitments. And I think you have to factor that in, in your thinking.
Q But Christopher said on Sunday -- correct me, Andrea, if I'm wrong -- that even after there is a secure environment, permissive environment, and Aristide is in power, there will be an international peacekeeping presence there to help out; and that perhaps as many as half of those troops would still be U.S. troops.
Q Through '96.
MS. MYERS: Correct, as part of the peacekeeping force.
Q So there will be U.S. troops there for the indefinite future.
MS. MYERS: The question was, how long were we going to protect President Aristide? And the answer was, through the reelection. But as long as there's a peacekeeping force there, I think you can expect some American participation.
Q So, at every stage, at every different phase, there will be U.S. troops.
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q Dee Dee, has the President asked Speaker Foley to not schedule a vote on this matter next week?
MS. MYERS: Has the President asked Speaker Foley to not schedule a vote on -- the congressional leaders will decide, based on what they think is necessary and required, what the voting schedule is. Certainly, the President has discussed Haiti with the congressional leaders, which he'll continue to do.
Q But has he asked Speaker Foley not to do it?
MS. MYERS: They've discussed it and, again, those are decisions for Speaker Foley to make. I've given the answers. The President doesn't make those decisions, the Speaker makes those decisions.
Q I know, but that doesn't mean the President can't ask the Speaker to make the decision --
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to get into the specific contents of their discussion and I wouldn't read anything into that one way or another, but it's up to the Speaker to make those decisions.
Q But, Dee Dee, isn't the President concerned that this kind of debate and vote in the Congress could send the wrong signals to those in Port au Prince who want to stay on?
MS. MYERS: Certainly. That is always a concern of presidents who want to go in there and present a United States front when they take action like that. I think that is something that presidents have talked about for a long time.
Q So he would presumably have asked, don't do it, you're going to undermine my negotiating position?
MS. MYERS: The Speaker will make a decision about what votes are taken. The President has certainly talked to congressional leaders about this. There have been already seven votes on Haiti, there has been ample discussion in both the House and the Senate about this; I think the members have had an opportunity to air their views. It will be up to the leadership to determine what happens next.
Q You can't tell us what the President asked the legislation --
MS. MYERS: No. I'm not going to get into the specifics
Q You often do. You often give us a readout.
MS. MYERS: I sometimes do but I don't get into the details of specific discussions on a regular basis.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END2:52 P.M. EDT