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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 11, 1997
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                       IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY WITH
                     President's Bill Signing Room                   
                            The U.S. Capitol                                 

11:10 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: First, I want to thank Senator Lott for hosting this. I thank the Speaker and Senator Lott and the leadership for inviting us to come down here and meet with the bipartisan leadership today. I think it's a very important first step after the State of the Union address. It indicates we want to work together.

We'll discuss a lot of issues, I'm sure. I just want to emphasize, too, I think it's imperative that we pass a bipartisan balanced budget this year. And I think it's imperative that we find a way to work together on education reform, and we'll be talking about how we can do that. There are many other things, but I want to emphasize those two, above all.

The reception that I received in Maryland yesterday was a reception for the importance of education standards and educational opportunity in America, as we move into this new century. And so I'm optimistic, I'm hopeful, and I'm gratified to be invited to be here.

SPEAKER GINGRICH: Let me just say, I think we are delighted the President would come up -- this is an historic room and we think it's a chance for us to have a real dialogue. And I think the word he used is a key -- if we could have a bipartisan agreement on the budget, a bipartisan effort on education reform, I think we could get a great deal done for the American people this year. And I think that that's the spirit in which we enter into these discussion, and hopefully from them will come many discussions at many levels, getting a lot of different things done for the American people.

SENATOR LOTT: Just briefly, we appreciate the President coming to the Capitol to meet with us in the President's Room, his room. The idea really germinated from a conversation that we had with Tom Daschle a couple, three weeks ago in which we identified several areas where we're both making proposals and we believe there is some commonality. We think, obviously, we're all committed to trying to come to agreement on a balanced budget. We both have proposals in the tax relief area; we think that's very important for the American people. And we also all have on our agenda ways to deal with quality education and safer education and drug-free education. And we all have proposals in the drug and crime area, and also in areas affecting the environment.

So rather than come together and argue over the things we can disagree on, we thought that an opportunity to begin to identify issues where we could work together and begin those meetings would be very positive. So we appreciate the meeting.

END 11:14 A.M. EST