THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT CONGRESSIONAL MEETING The Cabinet Room
12:52 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I hope -- as you see, we're running a little behind today, so I hope you'll forgive us if we don't do a lot of questions; we have a lot of work to do. But let me just say from my point of view, I am pleased that our representatives met yesterday. They did make some progress. Obviously, a lot of the biggest issues remain. But the process seems to be working and I'm encouraged, and I want to continue to do it until we reach agreement on a balanced budget. That's what I think clearly we all want.
I would say here that two days before Christmas I hope some way can be found to get the check for the three and a half million veterans and the aid to the 8 million children who need it just to exist. And there are almost half a million federal workers who have been working who won't get their paychecks today that they would otherwise get. So I think those problems need to be addressed.
But on the other issue, I at least believe that we made some good progress yesterday and I'm looking forward to the report today and continuing this process until we succeed, until we get this job done.
Q Can we ask the leaders, Mr. President, if they will get the checks out and --
Q Do you think the Congress should go home when millions are denied subsistence checks over Christmas?
SPEAKER GINGRICH: Well, let me just say, if I could for a second, Mr. President, I think both the House and Senate hope to get those bills down here today so that the -- the AFTC and the -- as the President mentioned the other day on television.
Q What are the chances of reopening the government, Mr. Speaker?
SPEAKER GINGRICH: I think we're going to talk about that now.
Q Mr. Speaker, do you feel like a dog being wagged by its tail? (Laughter.)
SPEAKER GINGRICH: It's amazing you guys get paid for some of these questions, on the eve of Christmas. Merry Christmas.
Q No, it's not my expression, it's the President's analysis.
THE PRESIDENT: I never called the Speaker a dog. (Laughter.)
Q No, I know you didn't.
SPEAKER GINGRICH: And I'm deeply grateful. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, do you think you can get a framework of a deal by Christmas?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm prepared to -- let me just say, I'm prepared to just keep working. I think all of us want to have Christmas with our families, but beyond that, I'm prepared to keep working, and I'm going to do everything I can to succeed, and that's what we're going to talk about.
Q Mr. Speaker --
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. We really need to go to work.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:54 P.M. EST