THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
1:36 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to today's daily briefing at the White House.
Q Good tie.
MR. MCCURRY: You like that? It's spring, springtime. Chris Jennings is graciously here to brief you before he briefs the President for the upcoming event. Anyone want to get into the health care commission subject before you get going?
Q Yeah, what's wrong with it?
MR. MCCURRY: What's wrong with health care? Nothing. We want to make sure it's high quality health care as we see the transformation occurring in America's health care industry as we move towards more managed care arrangements, and this commission will take a broad look at those and related issues.
And further on this subject, it's my pleasure to introduce Chris Jennings, the President's senior health care adviser.
Q There is a lot of dissatisfaction with managed care, isn't there?
MR. MCCURRY: Have you been having some trouble getting your bills paid? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Just wondered.
Q I've been hearing a lot of stories.
MR. MCCURRY: That's how I used to get -- back long, long ago when I worked in the U.S. Senate, I was trying to get people interested in pension reform. And the way to do it was always to get reporters to start looking at the lousy pension arrangements that a lot of their news organizations have.
Q I'm a little more esoteric than that. (Laughter.)
Q She has a world view.
MR. MCCURRY: Chris. Chris Jennings from the Domestic Policy Council, deputy assistant to the President, health care expert extraordinaire, to tell you more about the commission the President will announce in a few short minutes.
MR. JENNINGS: Hi, Helen. Well, the President, I think it's about 2:15 p.m. or thereabouts, will be announcing the commission members on the Advisory Commission on Consumer Rights and Quality in the Health Care Industry. It is something that people have been waiting for a little while. The President has announced his intentions to appoint this commission late in 1996. We have had more interest in this commission than in any other commission we've ever appointed. We've had almost 1,000 nominations for it. We had to go through an extraordinary clearance process.
The President was firmly committed to making sure that it was broadly representative of all the health care interests and players in this country. As such, you will note, and some of you will have in your packets, if you don't have it already, the representatives and where they come from -- they're all over the country, but they also represent business, labor, health insurers, health plans, certainly consumers in a wide variety of capacities, state and local interests, quality experts, labor interests, as well -- every area -- which helps explain why we now have 32 members of this commission rather than the initial executive order which did outline 20 members.
We had so much interest and the President was so committed to have a broad-based representation that we had to add 12 more members.
Q Is this a lesson from the health care plan, where you had it so narrowly defined and --
MR. JENNINGS: Well, we think that certainly the President, when he did the health security act did reach out in a very, very broad way to all interests. And he is doing it in this way. This commission happens to represent a much smaller group of people. I think that the lessons learned in the health security act and with the whole congressional Republican agenda in the last Congress was that we need to reach out across bipartisan -- in a bipartisan way to all interested parties to move any type of health care agenda forward. We saw when we did that we got the Kassebaum-Kennedy legislation enacted into law. We think this creates the type of environment in which we can push forward on significant health care quality improvements in this country.
I would like to say for the record that one of the -- the commission will be co-chaired by Secretary Shalala and Secretary-designee Alexis Herman, assuming she is confirmed which, of course, we assume she will be. Secretary Shalala has been involved in the Medicare and Medicaid programs of really pushing this quality agenda. Even in the absence of private interventions in Medicare and Medicaid, you've seen us pass -- or, not pass, implement provisions on anti-gag legislation, mastectomy coverage language and a whole host of other areas.
And you will continue to see us in this area push the Medicare programs and the Medicaid programs to really lead the way in terms of where we should be going in quality assurance in this country.
With that, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have beyond --
Q What is the agenda for this commission?
MR. JENNINGS: The agenda is to focus on how does one define quality. That's a very, very real issue that people don't completely agree on. And then once you define quality, how do you enforce quality. And once you decide how you enforce quality, who is the person -- or who are groups of people who should be enforcing quality initiatives.
For example, should the government be involved. Should it be federal government. Should it be state and local. Should it be private sector. Should it be private standards with some government oversight.
We are not explicitly telling the commission where they should come out on this. We want them to come to us with explicit recommendations. We do feel very, very strongly, however, that we do need to move in this area, because there is a great deal of concern about the rapid change in the health care delivery systems and what is happening relative to quality assurance.
One last thing that I'd like to point out, too. A lot of people want to make this into HMO bashing or managed care bashing. That is not the intent. The President believes very, very strongly that good managed care can actually not only be cost effective but actually improve health care outcomes. We've seen that in a variety of different ways across the country. And our focus here is to make sure that, whether it's managed care or traditional health insurance, that we ensure that we have a very, very high quality health care in this country.
Q When you talk about a bill of rights, though, it almost suggests that you're talking about some kind of legislation package.
MR. JENNINGS: That's right.
Q I mean, what exactly is a bill of rights in this context?
MR. JENNINGS: Well, actually, if you look across the states and the private sector, there's a lot of people who do have patient bill of rights, consumer bill of rights that aren't legislative at all. Private sector entities and managed care plans have been implementing patient bills of rights, as have state legislatures through the legislative front.
I don't disagree with you that when you say patient bill of rights, people think "bill" and "legislation." That is not the intent of that. It is the intent, though, that we are committed to moving in this area to have very, very high, strong standards, wherever or however they're enforced.
Q Congress doesn't seem particularly interested in waiting for the results of this kind of commission, whether it's the gag rule or drive-by deliveries or mastectomies. The President and Congress have worked rather quickly to try to address concerns in managed care. How would that interface with this commission that supposedly isn't going to do a report for, what, 18 months?
MR. JENNINGS: No, the report will -- the preliminary report will be due in January and the final report in March of next year. The President believes very strongly that where there is consensus -- and there has been a good deal of consensus between Republicans and Democrats in various areas. One area might be the anti-gag legislative areas. Another might be the mastectomy legislation, as well. We'll have to see where that comes down.
But we don't believe this is in any way in competition with these legislative initiatives on Capitol Hill. In fact, we believe that they are complementary to them. This commission can provide very realistic guidance to the Hill and to the administration as to how best these and other type of legislative remedies should be pursued and written. And, moreover, where there is not consensus, it can help build broader consensus as we go through this process. So we actually feel it's very, very complementary to what's going on on Capitol Hill.
Q You're going to set the standards, right? I mean the commission will?
MR. JENNINGS: The quality commission will make recommendations and the President will review them.
In your press that you will get, there is an extraordinarily impressive array of groups from consumers to insurers to physicians to nurses to business to labor who have written in the last one and two days endorsing this commission in very, very strong ways to just illustrate the real concerns people have about what's happening in the health care delivery system, but also the broad-based support the President has.
MR. MCCURRY: Just two quick questions here.
Q Is Mrs. Clinton on this commission? And if not, what will her role be?
MR. JENNINGS: No, the First Lady is not on this commission. She continues to have a very active interest in health care, in quality, children's coverage. And she will continue to have that interest and be involved.
Q What is the budget for the commission and how often will it meet?
MR. JENNINGS: The budget is, I think, about $1.8 million or $1.5 million, it comes from the Secretary of Health -- it comes from the Health and Human Services. It will be administered out of an office in HHS. They will determine how frequent they meet after they have their first meeting, which has yet to occur. This is just the announcement of who they are.
MR. MCCURRY: Thanks, Chris.
MR. JENNINGS: Thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: I promised Chris I'd let him go, since he's got to brief the President, and I'll continue my effort to delegate and to avoid any heavy lifting. Dr. David Johnson, from the National Security Council, Deputy White House Press Secretary, will give you a read-out of the meeting that the President had with Alija Izetbegovic, the President of the Bosnian Federation -- Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency.
Q Not Billy Crystal.
MR. MCCURRY: I know. I was maybe watching too much of the Academy Awards the other night. But I don't have any good one-liners -- someone said he didn't either. (Laughter.)
MR. JOHNSON: The President met for about 45 minutes this morning with President Izetbegovic. You all were there for about the first 15 minutes.
The half hour that -- see, I had a good one-liner. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: That's when they did the real work.
MR. JOHNSON: The half hour that was there -- some of it was consecutive translation, but some was not. It was a good opportunity, I think, for President Izetbegovic to lay out his concerns and discuss them with the President. It's a very tough set of issues we're dealing with in Bosnia, and a useful opportunity. As some of you might recall, the last time the President met with President Izetbegovic was in January of '96, when the President visited Tuzla.
President Izetbegovic started out, I think, setting the tone for the discussion by recalling a trip that he had had yesterday to Arlington Cemetery and paraphrasing some words that he saw at the tomb of John Kennedy, from his Inaugural Address. And President Izetbegovic talked about the need for Bosnians not so much to ask what America could do for them, but to ask what they could do for themselves.
President Izetbegovic thanked the President and the American people for the sacrifice and the contribution that many Americans have made to Bosnia, for the troops that have been deployed there for over more than a year now, for the diplomats who have been engaged in trying to help them find a peaceful solution to their problems.
He told the President he understood the need to stand up promptly, the Federation institutions, especially the Central Bank and the Central Currency, and invited the President to send a United States representative to the April 15 ceremonies which would launch the Federation Police Force. He asked for help in continuing to speed up the equip and train program, while expressing thanks to the President for all the effort that had already been expended there.
He did urge the President to engage in further efforts to help on apprehension of war criminals and resettlement of refugees. He expressed the hope for a firm stand in the implementation of the Brcko arbitration decision. And, as he talked to some of you about on the lawn out front, he requested support for Bosnia's participation in the Partnership for Peace.
The President did say that the United States would support Bosnian participation in the Partnership for Peace, but that had to be on the basis of the Federation working together and on greater cooperation between the Federation and the Bosnian Serbs -- something which doesn't currently hold.
The President, as I think he made clear to you while you were in the room, made clear to President Izetbegovic that we didn't need to concentrate our efforts and our thoughts on when the stabilization force troops might be leaving, but on all the work that had to be done each and every day between now and when they left in June of '98.
Q Sounds like he's pulling away from that.
MR. JOHNSON: Not at all. But what he does believe is that we need to do everyday work on creating a civil society, on economic reconstruction, because that's the type of effort which will allow -- when the escort troops do leave, will allow a peaceful Bosnia to continue on the work of putting the state back together.
He encouraged President Izetbegovic to create a Federation that fully includes representatives from both Muslim and Croat sides, and urged more concentrated effort on the Federation's part on economic reconstruction.
He told President Izetbegovic that refugee return was a priority for the United States, and we needed to work together on that to have a planned and orderly program that takes place under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The President noted that apprehension of war criminals is a source of frustration not just for the Bosnians but also for the United States; and that while the stabilization force couldn't be a police force to apprehend these individuals, we were continuing to work on other methods where we might be bring these people to justice.
The President reassured President Izetbegovic that the United States planned to fulfill all of its equip and train commitment, that we had made much progress, and he reminded President Izetbegovic of the legal requirement in our law that the military and operational and intelligence links that may have once existed between Bosnia and Iran had to remain cut.
I think the President closed by reemphasizing the importance of using the time between now and SFOR's withdrawal to get the economic reconstruction part of this done. He reassured President Izetbegovic that we would do our part and that it was up to the parties to Dayton, including the Bosnians, to do theirs as well.
And as President Izetbegovic noted for you out on the lawn, he told the President when he departed that he hoped that he could find time and an opportunity to visit Sarajevo, something he had been unable to do in the past.
Q What did Clinton mean by other methods to apprehend war criminals?
MR. JOHNSON: I think we have said in the past that we are looking at some other options. We're trying to consider ways where we could assist the parties in fulfilling their commitment to turn over these war criminals to the war crimes tribunal. It's something that remains under very careful review. At this time I think that's about all I could say about it constructively.
Q Has the President progressed in his decision-making about whether there should be a police force attached to the war crimes tribunal?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't know that we've progressed particularly in that direction. We're looking at a variety of options. But the focus is on something which would be effective and would allow us to help move some of these people out of the area where they continue to pose a problem.
Q David, for all of Izetbegovic's talk about self-reliance, he seemed to be implying that a whole series of conditions needed to be met before foreign troops could safely leave his country. Did the President make it clear to him that June of '98 is a drop-dead date, that that's a very firm date in the U.S. mind?
MR. JOHNSON: We fully expect to leave then. And, as the President said, what he wants to concentrate on is using each and every day between now and then to get the job done, not --
Q Is June of '98 the final date, regardless of what --
MR. JOHNSON: I think the Secretary of Defense has spoken to that quite clearly during his confirmation hearings on the Hill.
MR. MCCURRY: And recently.
Q The warning on Iran, was that occasioned by anything? Was there any reason to believe that they were starting to re-establish ties?
MR. JOHNSON: No, it's just that I think the President wanted to make clear that it was an element of our law and something that we felt very strongly about. There was no --
Q Are they still getting arms?
MR. JOHNSON: Not that we're aware of. They have, as far as we know, cut those ties and we just want to make sure that they remain cut.
Q Was President Izetbegovic satisfied with the pace of the economic reconstruction? It seems to have been going very slowly and even Richard Sklar, who was sent by the President, was not quite happy with the pace of events. Has that improved or is there any improvement in sight?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't think any of us are satisfied with the pace, and that's something where we plan to do a lot more work, but it's up to the parties to do that work as well. It's not so much an absence of funding, but an absence of application here.
MR. MCCURRY: Thanks, David. In exchange for that I promised David that I would tell you that Mr. Berger, Samuel R. Berger, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, will deliver remarks on Thursday, entitled "Strategic Objectives: President Clinton's Second Term Foreign Policy Agenda" at 11:00 a.m. before the Center for Strategic and International Studies Statesmen's Forum. And we can give you the address if you are so interested.
MR. MCCURRY: That's tomorrow. He will reiterate those six strategic priorities the President has addressed in the past, and the news will be the power of the presentation related to the six strategic objectives that you have heard before.
Q Are there going to take questions --
MR. MCCURRY: Is he taking Q&A on it?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
MR. MCCURRY: Q&A, yes. And I think, also, I wanted to just make sure you knew that the administration has had, since January, Cabinet-level review of issues related to Iraq. Those are being discussed now in a speech that Secretary Albright is delivering at Georgetown at a previously scheduled forum on policy towards Iraq.
Q Why? What's happened lately?
MR. MCCURRY: As the Secretary says in her remarks, at the beginning of the second term she felt it was important, and the President agreed, to review our long-standing policy related to the international community's effort to suppress and contain any potential aggression by Saddam Hussein, to make clear our insistence on full compliance with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and to continue our efforts to make sure that the people of Iraq, for whom we care a great deal, don't suffer at the hands of Saddam Hussein, who seems not to care one whit.
Q Is there some impetus for this all of a sudden?
MR. MCCURRY: Not specifically, just a desire at the beginning of the second term, as we had been reassessing our strategic goals around the world and identifying them and now articulating them -- we also take a look at policy in that region and the efforts we had made there to thwart any aggressive moves by Saddam.
Q Mike, during the Q&A, the President seemed to suggest that he had asked or someone here had asked Janet Reno to take a look at whether the FBI had appropriately supplied information to the White House.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, several people were of that impression, and I wanted to make sure you understood that the President was referring retrospectively to the request we had made to the Justice Department for information that would help in the preparation of Secretary Albright's trip to China. He has not asked her to initiate any review. It's, as he said, one of the obligations of the Attorney General to sort out the conflicting needs that the government might have from time to time with respect to foreign policy or law enforcement and make judgments accordingly.
Q Did somebody discuss this with her or --
Q So where he said at the end of it -- he said, we've asked the Attorney General to look into that, that was just a mistake or --
MR. MCCURRY: No, he said that we've raised this matter with the Attorney General, and we believe that she'll do the best to make the right decision. I mean, this is a situation that we don't -- we encounter from time to time when there are national security needs and also ongoing criminal investigations that need to be protected simultaneously. We've very sensitive to that.
In fact, as you know from the letter that the White House Legal Counsel sent to the Justice Department on this very issue, we were sensitive to that question in our initial request. And the President was merely saying that he understands that the Attorney General will sort those issues out and act responsibly and appropriately.
Q Is there anything that he wants her to do now in the aftermath of the Ruff letter and the reply or non-reply?
MR. MCCURRY: Continue to exercise that judgment as she has been doing.
Q Well, he says he doesn't know whether he's being denied information. Isn't there any way the President of the United States can find out?
MR. MCCURRY: You can't -- I mean, you can't prove a negative.
Q No, you can't --
MR. MCCURRY: He's saying, we have asked --
Q -- but he can call the Attorney General then.
MR. MCCURRY: We've asked for the information we need to conduct foreign policy, to protect this nation's national security interests. And we assume that the Attorney General is assuring that the President has access to that information.
Q Why do you assume it? I mean, why don't you just talk to her?
MR. MCCURRY: It's her job.
Q Mike, did the Vice President seek any update? He left a couple of weeks after Ms. Albright did, if I'm not mistaken. Did he seek any update of information pertaining to China from the different intelligence agencies or the Justice Department?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to go into the preparation that the Vice President made for his trip, but he obviously would have been in a position to handle any issues that he needed to address. And he has now spoken publicly in Beijing on those subjects he did address.
Q Did you guys go back to Justice at all to see if there way anything, or you only did that in the context of the Albright trip?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware that there was any additional information provided by the Department beyond that which they provided in response to Mr. Ruff's letter initially -- prior to Secretary Albright's visit to Beijing.
Q Mike, the President's comment on Louis Freeh are something less than ringing overwhelming affirmation. He said, on the basis of this incident, I don't have any information at this time which would call into question his confidence in Freeh. Yesterday, you were pretty terse about his confidence in Freeh as well. What's going on?
MR. MCCURRY: It's self-evident.
Q Well, for those of us who are not bright enough this morning, perhaps you would care to -- I mean, does the President have full confidence in the --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to -- I think the President's statements are pretty straightforward.
Q Mike, it's still unclear to me as to what right decision Janet Reno has to make at this point, regarding this incident.
MR. MCCURRY: It's not complicated. It's that the President obviously needs to be in a position to appropriately conduct this nation's diplomacy. At the same time, we have to properly protect any ongoing criminal investigation. And you know that the Justice Department does have one underway and you have to assure that any information provided outside law enforcement channels is provided in a way that doesn't impede criminal investigations. I don't know that it's that hard to understand.
Q Well, yes, but wait a minute, excuse me, but then you said that she is not looking into this incident. So what is the decision she has to make?
MR. MCCURRY: The Attorney General knows that we have very active diplomacy underway with respect to the People's Republic of China. I'm sure she knows that the Vice President is there at this moment. And she knows that part of the responsibility that she has is to assure that information that needs to be available to the White House for the conduct of foreign policy is here.
Q Are you saying -- wait, are you saying she needs a review --
Q Wait a minute, let me follow up. Is she making that decision? Is she looking at this information to determine that he has sufficient information --
MR. MCCURRY: I think the decision -- the decision was made and there was a story about it earlier in the week, as I recall. Material was provided to the White House. It was used in connection with the diplomatic presentation that the Secretary of State made in Beijing. It has now, as you know from the Vice President, also been raised by the Vice President. That's where the matters stand.
Q But, Mike, is the White House trying to send a signal to the Justice Department that you ought to take a second look at this to make sure that if you didn't the first time give us everything we need that we now get it?
MR. MCCURRY: We don't think we need to send a signal of that nature. That's part of what they would already understand. I'm sure that's what the Attorney General would already understand her responsibilities to be.
Q When you said the President raised this with her, how does he raise this with her? Does he, like, call her? Does he --
MR. MCCURRY: No. The White House raised it with her directly in the letter that was sent by the Legal Counsel to the Department.
Q So nothing beyond that?
MR. MCCURRY: Nothing that I am aware of. I think most of the contact that I'm aware of has been between Mr. Ruff, the Deputy Attorney General and the Attorney General.
Q So, Mike, if the statement on Freeh is self-evident, then what's self-evident to me is that he's trying to keep some distance between himself and Freeh. Am I wrong to think that?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, the President said what he said and you can report it as you see fit.
Q In other words, you're not going to say that's he's --
Q Does he feel the same way about Attorney General Reno?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not analyzing, you know, psychoanalyzing the comment. I mean, the comment is the comment; you report it as you see fit.
Q At what point does this -- what seems to us, at least, to be some disconnect or tension between the White House and the FBI -- begin to impact on the President's ability to conduct foreign policy and national security?
MR. MCCURRY: If I'm not mistaken, the President went out of his way to talk about how we work cooperatively with the Bureau on a range of things. We have good working relationships with the Bureau at a variety of levels. So I take some issue with the question.
Q But if the White House has any beef with Louis Freeh and the FBI, doesn't he have that same beef with Attorney General Reno, because she was also involved in that decision?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, you're doing random permutations of the hypothetical here and I'm not going to get into that.
Q Well, you yourself said it was self-evident, Mike, that his remarks were --
MR. MCCURRY: All I said was I wasn't going to elaborate on what the President said. He said what he said; you report it. You know, you'll do just fine.
Q Mike, on the taken questions, on the question about whether Bruce Lindsey was aware of whether anyone else in the White House knew about Lippo's payments to Mr. Hubbell, the answer is that he did not know if anyone else in the White House was aware of it. Now, without getting overly concerned with verbal tense but so I understand, is the meaning of that response that, at the time he learned it he was not aware, or that he is not aware that anytime up to the press reports anyone else in the White House knew?
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding -- let me try this, and correct me if you think -- it was a tortured question to begin with, but the issue was, when he learned of this in the fall of 1994, was he aware of whether -- did he have any knowledge of whether anyone else had any knowledge of -- and the answer is no.
Q Actually, the original question was simply, did he ever know of anyone else knowing in the White House, and the answer seems to deal --
MR. MCCURRY: We dealt with the question at the time, and obviously once the matter became public knowledge, a great deal of people -- can we just have one conversation at a time? At the time the matter became public, and eventually quite a number of people knew here. So we went back in time and looked at the time that he first learned of it, which would have been fall of 1994, he wasn't aware of anyone else having any knowledge of the matter.
Q Does the response cover the period from 1994 to 1996?
MR. MCCURRY: No, it covers what he knew at the point that he first learned of the information.
Q Because the question -- my original --
MR. MCCURRY: If there was a reason why -- if I could understand the relevance of the question, maybe we could try to do a better job of answering.
Q The relevance of the question is simply, we know that Mr. Lindsey knew --
MR. MCCURRY: Right.
Q -- and we're trying to sort out who else might have known, and the assumption is that other people might have known, might have talked to Mr. Lindsey. Let me ask the question the way I think --
MR. MCCURRY: Deborah, it would be an exhausting exercise to try to go back and find out what everyone at the White House knew about the hiring of Web Hubbell by Lippo.
Q All I'm trying to find out is whether --
MR. MCCURRY: It's a little bit ad absurdum.
Q Well, that's not the question. The original question was meant to deal with Mr. Lindsey's knowledge of anyone else knowing between '94 and '96.
MR. MCCURRY: Right. So we went back and said what did -- did you know if anyone else knew in '94 and he said, not to my knowledge.
Q How about between '94 and '96?
MR. MCCURRY: All right. We'll make an effort at it. But there's a point at which patience wears thin.
Q Mike, one that you can help us out quickly on is yesterday in talking about the phone calls, you all went over the DNC call lists and saw that the President hadn't made any of those calls. Can we see those call lists?
MR. MCCURRY: They're DNC documents, but I'll check and see with them -- see if they have any objection to it. I assume they may, in fact, have been produced. And, if so, maybe they'll be willing to provide them.
Q No, Mike, actually they did have an objection to them. Could you ask them to release them?
MR. MCCURRY: I will talk to them about what's going on.
Q Mike, there was also a report yesterday that you guys are about ready with the Air Force I list as well. Do you know where that matter stands?
MR. MCCURRY: It's news to me. I would hope so, but that's news to me.
Q Yes, the reports out of Beijing indicated that Vice President Gore was a little discomforted by the champagne toast -- that he was taken aback by it. Does the White House share that same sort of concern with the images of that champagne toast?
MR. MCCURRY: We've been delighted with the success the Vice President's had on his trip, happy to see that the efforts to promote commercial engagement with the People's Republic are bearing some important fruit that will be significant to American workers. And he's doing a good job on his trip.
Q When you inquire with the DNC, Mike, would you also ask them about the Vice President's call list as well as the President's call list?
MR. MCCURRY: I will just see where they are on those matters. I'm not making promises I can't fulfill, obviously.
Anything else? Yes?
Q On the Burton investigation, do you know anything about where it stands right now as far as subpoenas sent and issued? Is the White House still trying to collect information to send over to that committee?
MR. MCCURRY: That's correct. They've got very broad-ranging requests for information and we're working very hard to respond. And they've got -- I think they are preparing materials that will eventually go to that committee and also to Senator Thompson's committee.
Q Do you know when that will be finished?
MR. MCCURRY: Probably never, at the rate we're going. (Laughter.)
Q The President said before, when he talked about the budget and the ongoing work that would occur during the recess. Can you give us an idea of what, if anything, is going on in --
MR. MCCURRY: There have been some good staff-to-staff contacts. Congress is in recess, so it's mostly staffers who are available. But those staff-level discussions have been ongoing and they've been productive and there will be good foundation laid for work that the leaders can do upon their return after the recess.
Q Mike, do you have any idea of any kinds of problems that have been solved or any --
MR. MCCURRY: They have been addressing all the appropriate issues.
Q Do you know the subjects? Can you describe the subjects they tackled --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to attempt to, no. I think they've been working quietly and that's probably the best way for them to work.
Q Mike, on the look that Ruff and Berger are doing at the NSC, when they get done with that, if they make any change in procedures, will you be telling us? Will there be a report that would be public or --
MR. MCCURRY: It won't be a report, but if we make any changes in procedure, I'll let you know.
Q When will the membership of the health quality commission be complete? Three more members of the health quality commission, when will they be named?
MR. MCCURRY: I think they were filling the last remaining vacancies and we expect to be done in a matter of days with that.
Q Mike, on another subject of a Presidential commission, there was this Presidential commission on critical technology, which was appointed -- General Marsh, I believe, was in charge of setting this up. But the President still has to appoint the actual members of the commission and he hasn't done so yet. Do you have any idea of when that would occur?
MR. MCCURRY: I draw a blank on that one. I'll have to check into that, don't know. All right. See you tomorrow.
END 2:11 P.M. EST