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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 15, 1997
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                             MIKE MCCURRY

The Briefing Room

3:20 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: All right, ladies and gentlemen, today's delayed version of the White House daily mishmash. Mr. Hunt, would you like to start the questions? Let me tell you a little bit about next week. We're going to do two things for next week -- then we can do the budget.

First of all, on Tuesday next week, the President is going to host an event here related to our effort to remove people from welfare to work. He's following up on something he talked about in the State of the Union address, getting private corporations involved in making pledges to make employment opportunities available to those who are moving into the work force. And that is then followed two days later next week by the education town hall that we will do at the Robert Byrd, Jr. High School in Clarksburg, West Virginia. So in a very real sense next week, we're talking about making those changes that as we prepare for a more competitive America in the 21st century, lifting people out of welfare dependency and poverty, and preparing the next generations of Americans for the challenges they will face in the work force. Exciting week.

But by saying that, we can now put out the advisory for all the West Virginia folks who have been asking for it.

Q What time is that meeting, the town hall meeting?

MR. MCCURRY: It's going to be around 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. That's next Thursday -- 1:00 p.m. It will be televised locally up there and he'll probably have some other event, community event for a larger audience while he's there, too.

Q Is that going to be just a day trip?

MR. MCCURRY: That's a day trip, yes. No overnights. I can arrange that. (Laughter.)

Q The Tuesday event, is it a large eastern crowd, or who will you be inviting in?

MR. MCCURRY: It will be CEOs of five major companies that have taken it on themselves to organize the welfare to work partnership. And then they'll be talking about what they're going to do to elicit additional private sector assistance, in response to the President's admonishment to the private sector that they need to be a part of the effort to successfully implement welfare reform.

MR. TOIV: And a considerable number of other --

MR. MCCURRY: Those are the five organizers of this partnership and there will be a large number of other businesses represented. Barry can tell you more about who all is participating.

Q The organizers are at which companies?

MR. MCCURRY: The five that will be sort of spearheading the group are Burger King, United Airlines, Monsanto, Sprint and UPS. There will be a number of other representatives as well.

Now, budget update. Here's the latest from the front, from one of our key participants. He says that our team from the White House, led by Erskine Bowles, met with Speaker Gingrich, Majority Leader Lott this morning. They then took a break and our folks caucused with Democrats -- I think House and Senate Democrats. Maybe just Senate Democrats -- House and Senate? I forgot to ask.

Anyhow, we had a little caucus with our own, and then Mr. Bowles and company went back to work with the Speaker and the Majority Leader a short while ago. They're getting ready to probably be -- just a few moments ago and they expect they will be working a number of hours more today.

Q Are there still 12 contentious issues or have they been reduced?

MR. MCCURRY: No, the list has been reduced. They're working their way through some of the outstanding issues and it's going swimmingly.

             Q  In retrospect, does the President think perhaps --
             MR. MCCURRY:  Which means they're in deep water.


Q In retrospect, does the President think perhaps it might have been ready to get a written agreement before he came out and declared victory?

MR. MCCURRY: Absolutely not. It was important to get -- they had good understandings, confirmed by all of these leaders in good faith, based on their conversations. And then, as with any framework for a budget agreement, they're now doing the hard work of codifying it. The next step, obviously, is a set of written understandings that will make it possible for the House and Senate budget committees to draft a budget resolution which Congress has to act upon.

And, of course, following that, there will be all the work that the authorizing and appropriating committees do to write legislation. There will be fights back and forth and disagreements and haggling over wording all the way up to the completion of the budget process. Some of this is the normal part of the budget process, but it's considerably easier when you start with a verbal agreement from the leadership and the President, translate that into written understanding, and then move on to a budget resolution and the necessary budget legislation, which is what they're doing.

Q Mike, when your budget team stood before us that day that they announced the deal, Gene Sperling said that the bulk of the tax cuts would go to the middle class. Dick Gephardt this morning said, au contrare, the bulk of the tax cuts go to the top income earners in the country, as things now stand, and that there's going to be very disproportionate tax cuts. How do you reconcile those?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, what they call the distribution tables won't be done by the Treasury Department until they have actually got some specific legislative language that they're looking at, so I don't know that anyone, including Mr. Gephardt, are in a position at this point to understand what the distributional impact of any tax code changes would be.

We know what we have in our agreement. We've got those things that target tax incentives and tax credits to middle income families, and we're very confident that that is an important part of the package. Now, how it breaks out versus some of the things the Republicans want to put in related to capital gains and others, I just -- I don't know. I'm not -- substantively, I don't know that they are at the point where they've agreed on those particulars yet.

Q That's not what Rubin said. He didn't talk about his own -- the budget you proposed, he said the deal that you made would show that the bulk of the tax cuts go to the middle class.

MR. MCCURRY: And I think that remains true. That is what the agreement that they reached May 2nd requires, and they're trying to codify that now in a way that they can demonstrate through the analysis the Treasury would do how it would affect people in different income groups.

Q So Gephardt is wrong?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think he's in a position to know what the distributional impact is.

Q But you're not even in a position to know because you said you don't know.

MR. MCCURRY: Look, we know what we shook hands on, and that's ultimately going to have to be in the agreement.

Q Can this deal still fall apart?

MR. MCCURRY: Only if people act in bad faith, and right now everyone's acting in good faith.

Q Is it the White House understanding that whatever the tax package will be, it will be handled as separate legislation?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that's one of the elements that they're discussing, so I don't want to comment on that while they're most likely actively considering that issue.

Q Can you tell us what the understanding was when they shook hands?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think as to how they would structure the legislation and when it would be presented to Congress for votes, I don't think that was part of the agreement. It was more what would be contained within the final structure of the agreement. But the sequencing of votes or how you would break up the bills I don't think is something that they addressed. They may have talked about it, but I don't think that they tried to finalize any arrangements on that, partly because, obviously, some committee chairs on the Republican side felt that they have some prerogatives at stake on that question.

Q Well, are they going down to the wire now since they have several more hours of --

MR. MCCURRY: They're already beyond the wire because they've passed the deadline, but they're working and hope to resolve this soon.

Q Do Erskine Bowles and the others have direct contact today with Archer?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. My understanding was that they saw the Speaker and the Majority Leader and presumably some of the other Budget Committee folks that they've dealt with. I don't know that they've dealt with any of the tax-writing chairs.

Q Can they start the markup before this deal is codified?

MR. MCCURRY: They've indicated that they won't. I think the Republican leadership has said that they want to wait until they've got this in hand before they try to write the resolution, but there's been, I think, enough contact back and forth that they could move fairly swiftly to markup once they reach the agreements they're attempting to reach now.

Q Mike, on the Hill today they're reviewing ValuJet and fire suppression devices. There seems to be a variety of viewpoints as to when these devices need to go into aircraft -- not just new, but refitting old aircraft. And yet, the FAA is trying to make a rule where you have -- with three versus five years. Passenger safety groups want it done yesterday. Where does the White House stand on when they want these devices in?

MR. MCCURRY: I think we are pretty much leaving that up to the FAA to address, and they've done so. They've provided -- Secretary Slater said that he understands that the FAA is moving expeditiously to address the requirements that they've got for airline safety. We have followed that because of the Vice President's role in airline safety questions, so we have had some contact both with Transportation, with FAA directly. But they've got the lead on dealing with it.

Q But the passenger safety groups don't seem to be satisfied with the timetable. Are you prepared to adjust it and speed it up?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure the FAA will hear out their concerns and act appropriately.

Q Well, will the White House push the FAA?

MR. MCCURRY: We will follow their work, but we're satisfied that it's being treated with a sufficient degree of urgency by Secretary Slater.

Q How do you feel about the closing down of the Washington Grand Jury on Whitewater?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any particular reaction to that. I don't know what it means, doesn't mean, or on what basis there would be any useful comment I could make.

Q Has it closed down?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't even know that that's true. You would have to ask others who know.

Q I'm a little confused on the new Brady forum that the President talked about today in his speech. He said if you don't have proof of residence then you can't make a purchase. But your fact sheet suggests that all you have to do is just make an affirmative statement that you live in a state. So all you have to do is just say, I live here.

MR. MCCURRY: Come on, Barry. Barry told me he left it this way. I'm trying to find the paper -- want me to get the cheat sheet for you? Mr. Toiv.

MR. TOIV: They've promulgated regulations that authorize licensed gun dealers to require specific proof of residency, like a driver's license or utility bill, something like that to prove that you've been living in a particular place for 90 days.

Q The fact sheet says it's different for non-citizens and citizens, and suggests non-citizens have to show -- citizens, all they have to do is just make an affirmative statement. You're saying it's actually --

MR. TOIV: Well, citizens fill out a form as well and say they are residents. But there's a stronger requirement for non-citizens.

Q But the citizens have to provide proof, or can they just walk in, say I live here, give me a gun?

MR. TOIV: Citizens have to show their residency, they have to show and ID.

Q Like a driver's license.

MR. TOIV: Like a driver's license, yes.

MR. MCCURRY: Not just a library card.

Q Also a question on the President's financial statement that you released today -- all those gifts that he received, does he keep those gifts, or does -- I thought if the gift was over a certain amount of money he had to give it away or he couldn't keep it.

MR. MCCURRY: No, no, he can keep them, and the purpose of the disclosure is anything that he then accepts as a gift is then publicly disclosed. The only restrictions exist on gifts that are given by foreign governments if they are in excess of value of $245, they have to be accepted on behalf of the U.S. government and they get put into the National Archives as a gift to the people of the United States.

Q Well, all those gifts, including the golf clubs from Greg Norman, he keeps that stuff?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Those are things that he elects to take personal possession of and he can do that; it just has to be properly disclosed. These are not deemed to be income. They fall within the gift provisions of the tax code.

Q How much more is he worth now than when he became President?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, if you consider net worth and look at the line that says, "liabilities," considerably less than when he arrived.

Q Let's take away the legal debts. How --

MR. MCCURRY: I would have to go back and look. His range -- you can't get an exact valuation on the value of his assets by looking at this -- these disclosure statements are a little bit insufficient because they're not the same as a net worth statement. So you can't describe this as net worth. But the range of assets that he reports for himself, for Mrs. Clinton and for Chelsea in '96 ranges between $760,000 or $1.7 million. So it's a large distance there in the valuation categories, and whether that's up or down, I presume because of performance of the market and a strong economy and the growth in asset portfolios the President has enjoyed, it's probably somewhat up. But I can't calculate for you by what amount without looking at previous years.

Q Is the First Lady's money that is listed there still going to charity, she's not retaining that?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes -- well, we -- to get a better and more thorough understanding of the Clintons' finances I suggest you go back and look at their tax returns that we released last month, because that gives you exact dollar amounts for things like her royalty income, which are only reported here in broad categories. So this doesn't help you nearly as much as the public release of the tax return, which we did last month.

Q Do you know the story behind the $4,000 statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, and then the bust of Franklin Roosevelt?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't except what is indicated there in the report, that they were given, I think in one case, by the foundation up in Hyde Park.

Q The Eleanor Roosevelt Monument Fund that gave the $4,000 statue --


Q Was that at some ceremony or was it sent here?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it was sent here and is on display here. One of the -- the Franklin Roosevelt bust is the one that is in the Oval that you guys see when you're in the Oval.

Q And you're not aware of where the Eleanor Roosevelt statue is?

MR. MCCURRY: I can check on that.

Q -- Roosevelt Room --

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think so. Ann thinks it's in the Roosevelt Room. I don't think so, I think it's in the residence.

Q These are things they intend to keep when they leave the White House?

MR. MCCURRY: These are things they've taken personal possession of. They could donate them back at some point if they wish to.

Q He receives many more gifts -- these are the only gifts he wants to keep personally.

MR. MCCURRY: Correct. This is a fraction of those things that are reported at the Gifts Unit. People send stuff to the White House all the time for the President; those get properly cataloged and sent off to the Gifts Unit. A lot of them get put into displays at the Smithsonian.

Q The gift from Mr. and Mrs. Greg Norman, was that given at the time of his knee? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: No, that was given -- because that happened in '97. This is calendar year '96. This was when they were in Australia.

Q So he's actually used these clubs?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. He got them in advance. He got them prior to going and he took them down there when he played with "the Shark."

Q What's the deal with the commemorative watches, the $10 commemorative watches?

MR. MCCURRY: They are premium items. (Laughter.) There's a watch that apparently has a lovely photo of the First Couple on the face of the watch, and they are described as being ultimately tacko. (Laughter.)

Q Does the President describe them that way?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know if he describes them, or not. He loves them and they like to give them away to friends for fun.

Q Can we buy some?

Q If you get a Wolf Blitzer pen -- (laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: I have a Wolf Blitzer pen.

Q Can you trade a Wolf Blitzer pen for a First Couple watch?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I'll talk to the big guys. (Laughter.)

Q Because I might like to work that out.

MR. MCCURRY: You're willing to trade your Wolf Blitzer pen for a --

Q I might, I might.

Q No way.

Q Ultimately wacko. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: For one of those watches?

Q I might. You never know. I'd like to know what my options are.

Q Please, you're embarrassing me. (Laughter.)

Q Did the President wear that watch?

Q How about the Baby Bell stock? Shouldn't that be tucked into the blind trust?

MR. MCCURRY: No, these are Chelsea's stocks that she inherited from her grandfather. For sentimental reasons she has elected to keep them in her possession. Lawyers have looked at that and they don't see any conflict issues that arise from that. She just wanted to keep them mostly for her own personal reasons.

Q Under the law her assets have to be reported jointly with her parents. Is that --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Her assets, Mrs. Clinton's assets and the President's assets are all deemed reportable on the form.

Q And is there an age cutoff? I mean, if she --

MR. MCCURRY: I think she has to report because she's a dependent child. I think when she's no longer a dependent child or so claimed on, presumably, their tax return, she falls outside the reporting as such, I think. I'd have to double-check that.

Q Mike, what are the little initials, JSDC?

MR. MCCURRY: J is joint asset, S is a spousal asset, DC is a dependent child asset.

Q Mike, on the payments to Williams and Connolly, it says between $1 million and $5 million. Do you know whether it's more towards the $1 million side or the $5 million side?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, those are all -- if you go back -- we did not attach to the disclosure to -- the actual document that was filed had two lengthy, lengthy attachments. They are the reports of the presidential legal expense trust, which we've already released to you and the exact dollar evaluation of the liabilities for their legal bills are there, so don't rely on these categories. Again, we've already publicly released exact dollar amounts on those.

Q The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis memorabilia?

MR. MCCURRY: That -- apparently -- is it books -- books that were purchased at the Jackie Kennedy Onassis auction -- estate sale auction that was held, what, several months ago.

Q Do you know what kind of books?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't. I think they were books that had been in her personal library. I don't know the title of the books.

Q They were purchased and given to the Clintons, or the Clintons purchased them?

MR. MCCURRY: Given to the Clintons. Actually, I believe they were ultimately destined for Chelsea. Some of these --by the way, her gifts have to be reported here, too, so some of these are gift items given to her.

Q Mr. Kuchma's coming by tomorrow. What's he going to talk about?

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't seen the work-up on that. We're talking about -- we obviously are going to give the government of Ukraine, since they'll be intensely interested, our understanding and our views on the concluded document, Founding Act, between NATO and the Russian Federation. That's of keen interest to the government of Ukraine. They will explore other issues related to environmental safety and nuclear safety that will presumably be part of the agenda of the Denver Summit of the Eight. That has been an ongoing issue before the leaders at the summit, and also economic and trade liberalization issues.

Those are the general categories. I'll try to get something a little more specific.

Q What do you think of the incredible difference between Yeltsin's interpretation of what was signed and what you all said here yesterday?

MR. MCCURRY: I'd say that there is a vibrant and dynamic political culture in Russia that President Yeltsin must carefully navigate.

Q Including, like, misrepresenting what was in the Founding Act?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't --

Q Because he was flatly contradicting what people said at that podium yesterday.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the Founding Act is the Founding Act, and upon approval by the North Atlantic Council as early as tomorrow, it'll be plain for people to see in black and white.

Q Is the President ready to cut some of the aid to Israel in order to get more aid for Jordan?

MR. MCCURRY: There's a long and a short answer to that. We have for some time been talking with King Hussein ways in which we can deepen and nurture the peace process that he has so ably advanced. He has, in the opinion of the United States government, taken genuine risks in support of peace and has made some requests that are related to the risks he has taken for peace.

We've been looking at ways that we might do that. We haven't made any final decisions on that, but we will continue to consult closely with the government of Israel and others in the region about how to be supportive of some of the things that the King specifically has requested.

Q Is he going to do it?

MR. MCCURRY: That was a pretty broad hint, but we don't have a specific answer to it.

Q Why don't you just say it?

MR. MCCURRY: Because I don't think it's been decided. I can't tell you something that hasn't been decided.

Q But what you seem to be implying is that that trade-off would be with the approval of Israel -- Israel would sign off on the U.S. --

MR. MCCURRY: We would consult very closely with the government of Israel on something like that.

Q Is that why the Foreign Minister, David Levy of Israel, is coming here to talk about that issue right now?

MR. MCCURRY: The State Department already said that they anticipated a visit by him and it has a wide-ranging agenda, but that may be one of many items on the agenda.

Q Can you give us a sense of -- since you have thrown out this broad -- of the type of exchange or the type of aid that would be forthcoming toward Jordan and perhaps taken away from Israel?

MR. MCCURRY: Not specifically, no. I mean, they've got -- the largest dollar volume of assistance is obviously for security purposes, but there is also economic development assistance that's providing a variety of ways in addition. But as most people know, the largest bulk of our government-to-government assistance in that region is related to military security.

Q Mike, looking ahead to tomorrow's --

MR. MCCURRY: And obviously $50 million -- that's the reported amount -- is something of a fraction of the total aid.

Q Mike, looking ahead to tomorrow's Tuskegee syphilis apology -- experiment apology, is the President or Dr. Satcher going to propose a boost in STD prevention monies, which a lot of public health groups seem to be criticizing, if there's not enough to go around?

MR. MCCURRY: He will have some specific ideas tomorrow on things that we can do to address in general the question of proper funding and proper accountability for federally funded medical research, but not specifically in that direction.

Q Will that include an aid package to boost the money?

MR. MCCURRY: Not beyond what's already contained in our budget.

Q Is it the kickoff of the President's effort to talk about race relations?

MR. MCCURRY: The President has been doing a number of things to kind of talk about diversity and talk about healing and talk about reconciliation. And I think this fits into a pattern of things that the President has pursued this year that really talk about how we can come together as a very diverse country that should celebrate its racial ethnic diversity and use that as an element of our strength as we think ahead of the world we live in.

We live in a very diverse, multicultural world in which we need to compete effectively, and we do so best when we come together as one country and set aside our differences, whether they're gender-based, racial-based, based on ethnicity and use that as a way to advance the idea of one America. And I think this event tomorrow is part of that.

Certainly, the President, in a sense, was celebrating that when we talked about the race barrier being broken in major league baseball, he'll be talking about that next month when he speaks at the University of California at San Diego and really lays out in a broader way the way in which we can advance the kind of dialogue between races that will break down some of the prejudices that still exist in our society.

Q Has he seen the figures?

Q Mike, to follow up on Wolf's question, you talk about reconciliation, this was a hell of a breach of trust. How do you -- does an apology get it tomorrow? How do you --

MR. MCCURRY: Look, this was an extraordinary episode in the history of our country and a real blight on the record of the United States government. It has been dealt with in the technical legal sense that there have been compensation or recompense for those who were victims. But there's never been the formal apology that the President believes is deserved in this case. And it's something that the victims and their families and the residents of Macon County, Alabama will appreciate and have indeed sought, and the President thinks it's most warranted to give it.

Q But, Mike, many still think that it's a slap in the face that the President didn't go to Alabama especially since these gentlemen are so old.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know -- if you will talk to some of those who will be here -- I think four or five of the eight surviving members will be here. One of them lives in Massachusetts and wouldn't have been able to go to either location because he's unable to travel. And the remaining folks who are in the area around Tuskegee would not likely have been able to travel even to an event that would have been there.

So we are satelliting the event there. I think the President thought it was proper and dignified to use the seat of our government and the White House itself as a place to render the apology. And we've heard nothing but gratitude expressed by the families and the representatives that we've dealt with. Maybe you're hearing something from somewhere else, but we've been in very close contact with the families.

Q Mike, once again, a Cuban-American flotilla will leave Florida on Saturday to demonstrate in front of international waters near Cuba. Is the White House taking any steps to make sure no incidents occur?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we, through both the Coast Guard and then their overflights indicated through the FAA, monitor very carefully those flotilla activities. We have had contact with the Cuban Foreign Ministry through our interest section in Havana to talk about that flotilla. We've received some assurances that they will take a proper posture with respect to the flotilla.

But at the same time, we strongly urge those who participate not to conduct any unnecessarily provocative actions, so that they protect their own safety and the safety of others who want to commemorate the events that tragically resulted in the death of innocent airmen over international waters.

Q Mike, does the President think that the failure of the cloture vote on the comp time bill opens the door to maybe getting a bill that he can sign now?

MR. MCCURRY: He sure hopes so. I mean, we've got -- we have to get -- we need to get a bill that preserves flexibility for employees. This debate is real simple. It's about people should have the choice of getting paid overtime if they want overtime, or getting the compensating time in hours off.

And the problem with the Ashcroft bill is it removed that flexibility. The employer could make the decision. And there are an awful lot of people in this country who need to work overtime and need that extra income to make ends meet. And they ought to have that choice and that flexibility. And that's what they get under the President's bill. They would not have gotten that under the Senate bill which is why we indicated we would veto it.

And now I think they will go back to looking at the President's proposal which is a reasonable one and a good one and which is the only bill that really preserves the kind of flexibility for employees themselves that really would make the idea of comp time a genuine one for millions of American workers.

Q Who did you say was warned against provocative actions -- on the Cuba question?

MR. MCCURRY: Some of those who were -- not warned -- but they were -- we advised them that they have to respect international boundaries, international territorial waters and that they have to organize these commemorative events in ways that are not unnecessarily provocative.

And we work -- you know, we've actually had good liaison with these groups through various federal offices down in south Florida. So we work with them and try to understand what routes are going to be followed and how certain events will unfold. We've got the Coast Guard in a position to be cooperative. I think there are other Defense Department folks who get involved in monitoring some of that.

So I think we've had successful commemorative flotillas, and that's what we want to see happen. We don't want to see anyone unnecessarily endanger themselves.

Q On the welfare initiative, how much progress has been made since the CEOs met with the President in January, and what are you going to ask them to do now, what's next?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we are -- we have asked them to be a part of the extraordinary commitment that the President sought from the private sector, to move a million people from welfare dependency into work situations. And the response has been very, very gratifying. The President, tomorrow, wants to applaud the CEOs who have taken it on themselves to organize the effort to make this happen, to get others in the private sector committed to hiring off the welfare rolls. And tomorrow will be, in part, the celebration for some good work that's been done in the private sector --

Q You mean Tuesday.

MR. MCCURRY: Next Tuesday, I'm mixing my days up. Next Tuesday will be, in part, a celebration of the good work that's been done since the President put that challenge before the private business community in the State of the Union address.

Q Does this mean the White House is actually keeping track of how many people each one of these businesses have hired from the welfare rolls?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that we're doing it here, but I think there are some folks who are working with this group that are going to try to track those commitments, yes.

Q The First Lady of Panama is coming here tomorrow to meet with Hillary Clinton, the First Lady. Do you know about that meeting?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't. I'll have to check into that. Maybe get you some more on it.

Q To go back to the welfare. When you say, who are going to try to track those commitments, do you know whether any of these groups have already hired welfare recipients?

MR. MCCURRY: Some of them have. I think some of the companies have previously announced some of their own initiatives. There will be others that will be indicating their own intent. And we're beginning to build some momentum now for the effort in the private sector to hire people off of welfare and into work.

Q You mean someone outside of the White House is keeping track of these commitments?

MR. MCCURRY: I think they're actually going to announce the formation of an outside entity that will do some of that work. And that will be staffed -- a partnership, probably a nonprofit partnership that will help coordinate the work of these private sector interests.

Q Mike, related to Tuskegee, there's an interest group that called on the President today to acknowledge or make some apology for the anonymous CDC approved screening of babies for HIV, babies that were never treated for HIV after 1988. Is the President going to say anything about that or broadly talk about that at Morgan State?

MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to look into that. I'm not familiar enough with that to have an answer.

Q Can you talk a little more about the Morgan State address Sunday?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll do that tomorrow. We'll set that up tomorrow. Anything else?

Q If the budget talks are expected to last for several hours, is it likely then that the documents codifying this agreement won't be finalized until tomorrow and that the mark-ups won't be until tomorrow?

MR. MCCURRY: Let's hope so, then we can all go home.

Q No, but you're not expecting them today, or --

MR. MCCURRY: I wouldn't, you know -- it's almost 4:00 p.m. -- I'm sort of, let's wait and not put the lid on the idea that they're going to do something today for a couple more hours.

Q Mike, has the President outright said that he would veto the crime bill if it comes to him as it was passed last week?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, we put a veto --

Q You said he would veto it for sure?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I think we did. We put a specific veto threat against the House-passed bill.

Q The House-passed bill, the thing he was criticizing today, but he will veto it if it comes --

MR. MCCURRY: Right. In that form. Although, we've indicated we'd like to try to see changes made as it works its way through the Senate. Anything else today? Very good. Goodbye.

END 3:55 P.M. EDT