THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
1:48 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the Press Secretary has arrived for today's daily briefing. Mr. Blitzer, thank you so much for getting us underway with the first question from CNN. It's always a pleasure to see you in the Briefing Room. No, I don't have contract negotiations going on with him, that's not true. (Laughter.)
Q What do you think about this effort to strengthen the TV rating system so that networks have to tell more about the content of these programs?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President for a long time has been strongly in favor of that, as you know. When he announced the voluntary industry rating system last year, he said it was really up to parents and the industry to work together to evaluate the system that's in place, and I gather from the discussion today that there are some within the industry who feel like the parents have now spoken and that they see some inadequacies in the rating system. What we want to do is to see those who represent the needs of children, the interests of parents work closely with broadcasters to perfect and fine-tune a system -- because it's clear and it's probably common sense that a uniform system of ratings is going to be much preferable for most parents, most consumers. They're going to be able to figure out what the system is and how it works.
So we will encourage -- the President will encourage the industry to continue to work closely with those who are evaluating the rating system. But in some sense, what's happening is what we wanted to see happen, that people would evaluate the ratings in place to see if they provided enough information and that they would make any necessary changes so that people would have the kind of information that they want.
Q Are you able to say whether the President agrees with his private attorney, David Kendall, as to the very harsh things he had to say in a letter today to Kenneth Starr?
MR. MCCURRY: I am certain that Mr. Kendall discussed that letter with his clients. I think it's accurate to say Mr. Kendall was somewhat provoked by a Sunday New York Times Magazine article. I think, as his letter notes, he's had a private discussion and private correspondence underway for some time, but I think he just felt enough was enough and it was time to say some things publicly. He felt almost he had no choice but to say some things publicly. And his clients certainly agree with that judgment.
Q Was the President provoked by this article as well?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he agrees with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Kendall.
Q Is this the beginning of a new strategy?
MR. MCCURRY: This is not a strategy, it's an anxious desire to see this matter come to some kind of completion, as Mr. Kendall says in the letter.
Q Mike, along the same lines -- tactics by the President's private attorney, does he approve of the public posturing that's been going on by both sides in the Jones case? The cross-fire on the talk shows and some of the statements that lawyers on both sides are making about each other?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't agree with the characterization "public posturing." There was a lot of interest in this over the weekend. Mr. Bennett was available to answer questions about it.
Q Excuse me, but if I could follow up, it goes beyond that, Mike. You don't think -- if it's not public posturing, what is it?
MR. MCCURRY: There are interview programs that many of your news organizations run and they want guests. I mean, you can imagine that this would not have been our first choice for a subject for interviews this past Sunday, but since news organizations wanted to have questions answered, it was proper for the President's attorney to answer questions.
Q Is it right to assume that the President agrees with his attorney about that when he talks about holding up Paula Jones reputation --
MR. MCCURRY: I just don't want to get into that matter, and I think you should ask Mr. Bennett about that.
Q I'm sorry, I think the specific question is that specific constituency groups, which are of importance to the President, as well as some major news organizations in their editorials have specifically called upon the President to direct his counsel to avoid this particular tactic because of the feeling that it is inappropriate in light of the sensitivities of these groups. I believe that is the question. Can you answer that?
MR. MCCURRY: I'd like for you to direct that question to Mr. Bennett.
Q Mike, the question goes to the President.
Q Yesterday, the National Organization of Women said that they don't think women who make charges of sexual harassment should have their --
MR. MCCURRY: That's the question she just asked.
Q Right, and you can't speak just in general --
MR. MCCURRY: I just want you to direct that question to Mr. Bennett, if you would, please.
Q Mike, we're not going to get off this -- that's not a legal question, it's a political question.
MR. MCCURRY: Right, and my answer is, I want you to direct the question to Mr. Bennett.
Q Are you saying we can't assume that Bennett speaks for the President when he says that?
MR. MCCURRY: I think I want you to direct the question to Mr. Bennett. It's pretty clear.
Q Well, why do you want us to direct it to Mr. Bennett?
MR. MCCURRY: Because I want him to answer it.
Q Why would the President's private attorney answer a question about whether the President is --
MR. MCCURRY: He could answer that question for you.
Q -- he speaks for the President, reflects the President's wishes?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's certainly true that he represents the President on this matter, correct.
Q Do you know if they've spoken since the Sunday talk shows?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I can check on that.
Q Mike, is the President the only person that Mr. Bennett has discussed his legal strategy with -- the only person from the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I mean, he's said in his interview that he has discussed it with a number of people, including her representatives as well.
Q At the White House, I mean. White House staff -- has he discussed it with White House staff?
MR. MCCURRY: He may from time to time just give people a sense of what he's going to be doing publicly. And that's, you might gather, one of the reasons why I'm directing you in his direction.
Q On the subject of who discussed with whom, was it Kendall's idea to write this letter and he called the President, or was it the President's idea -- hey, I'm angry about this, write him a letter?
MR. MCCURRY: My impression from talking to Mr. Kendall was it was really -- he was provoked by this article. He's had, as he says, a lengthy private correspondence with Mr. Starr on this matter, and he felt it was time to say some things publicly in response to the Times Magazine article, by which we have no quibble with the article, it's more the way in which Mr. Starr uses the article for his own purposes.
Q Did he call the President and say, I want to write this, is it okay?
MR. MCCURRY: I assume that they had some contact within the last day or so about his desire to write this letter, yes.
Q Did the President indicate at the meeting with the House members that he would be willing to go along with some sort of pilot project for MSA -- Medical Savings Accounts -- for Medicare recipients?
MR. MCCURRY: I think they had a good discussion generally of the issue and how you would look at the question of medical savings accounts. I think it's more accurate to say that the President expressed some very real concern about the revenue drain on the trust fund of a full-scale implementation of medical savings accounts.
Q Does he feel there's any difference between the MSAs for non-Medicare recipients than MSAs for Medicare recipients?
MR. MCCURRY: Did you hear that issue addressed, Barry?
Q Are his concerns the same or does he have different kinds for offering these accounts to the --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, you would have different populations if it's a Medicaid-related or Medicare -- different needs, different situations.
MR. TOIV: Similar concerns, but, obviously, the trust fund concern is --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, the trust fund -- Barry is right -- the trust fund issue is the one the President specifically addressed. Obviously, that's Medicaid-specific.
Q So, but he's still open to a demonstration project for each population? I mean, he's already obviously approved --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we already are watching this one experiment underway. And we'll work closely with Chairman Thomas and understand his desire to look more carefully at the question of medical savings accounts, and we'll see whether we can make any progress on how you would structure any pilot or demonstration project.
Q Chairman Thomas came out of the meeting, though, and told us he had insurance that the President would not veto any demonstration program that he thought could go up to as many as 500,000 people. Is that the way --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'm not -- he's going to now be in the position to actually write the legislation. I think it would be better to see how they develop that issue. We'll continue to consult closely with them, as I said.
Q But did he understand correctly?
MR. MCCURRY: That specific point was not addressed by the President. But he will continue to have ongoing discussions with White House staff and others.
Q Representative Thomas said that he has assurance from Erskine Bowles. Maybe he did not hear it from the President, but presumably Erskine speaks for the President.
MR. MCCURRY: He will continue to have staff level discussions. And we'll watch carefully how they develop, anything related to a demonstration or pilot project. That would really be more for the Chairman to announce publicly.
Q What does the White House think of the other proposals that Representative Thomas is making today, three strikes and you're out proposal, if doctors cheat Medicare three times and they're caught, they're barred from participating in Medicare for life?
MR. MCCURRY: As a general proposition, the Attorney General and others -- the Department of Health and Human Services has been very adamant about cracking down on Medicare fraud. We've been pursuing a number of steps on our side as executive matters that deal with Medicare fraud, so we would welcome a collaborative effort, working with Congress to deal with those questions. The specific point, as far as I can tell, did not come up at the meeting.
Q What about his proposal to provide some additional preventive procedures for Medicare recipients like mammograms and vaccines and diabetes tests?
MR. MCCURRY: We have some -- remember, within our Medicare proposal, we do have exactly some of those types of expansion of coverage, and we would welcome an effort to work cooperatively with Congress in structuring those types of necessary expansions even as we're working to reduce costs of the program and extending the solvency of the fund into the next century.
Q Mike, does the President endorse Senator Lautenberg's proposal to ban smoking in private and nonresidential buildings as well as government buildings and all domestic and international flights?
MR. MCCURRY: We are looking at proposals concerning banning smoking in federal buildings. Currently, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services have got those kinds of prohibitions. There are some General Service Administration regulations, published in 1986, that already restrict tobacco use in about 10 percent of federal domestic facilities. We also have got a rule-making underway through OSHA and the Labor Department on the general subject of secondhand smoke.
So there is a regulatory process underway and that was -- yielded, I think, almost an unprecedented number of comments. So we will, through both the regulatory process and then through what GSA is doing, evaluate those proposals. I'm not aware the administration has a specific position on Senator Lautenberg's bill.
Q But they prefer then to go through this procedure before it's legislated?
MR. MCCURRY: That procedure is underway and I think we want to work with Congress and see what the applicability of that would be to federal facilities.
Q Beyond this OSHA rule-making for secondhand smoke, are you saying you've left it up to each agency to decide for themselves -- you said several agencies already have --
MR. MCCURRY: Some agencies already have -- I think they've got the capacity within their own departments to provide further restriction, and then GSA has got the general prohibitions that apply to all federal facilities. And as I say, they've been in the process of evaluating those restrictions that are already in place.
Q Did you state the White House on the Miami case, on the suit?
MR. MCCURRY: I did not get anything specifically on the Miami case. I'm sorry, we should check and see if there's anything specifically on that case -- not that I'm aware of, because I don't think the federal government's a party in that suit.
Q And also, do you have a reaction on the Canadian elections, and does the President plan to call Prime Minister Chretien?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that the President had intended -- and maybe we can get a confirmation that it has occurred, because it was supposed to happen just a short while ago -- he intended to call Prime Minister Chretien and congratulate him on his party's victory in the parliamentary election. We have very close working relationships with the government of Canada and the United States has long enjoyed very close relations with a strong and unified Canada. We will continue to pursue those issues that we work together with the government on as they relate to the matters we're dealing with currently in Europe and in this hemisphere, where we do so much work with the government of Canada.
I'll try to get a readout on the call if it occurred. We'll maybe get that before we quit.
Q Do you have any general characterization of the meeting today? The Republicans seemed happier than the Democrats coming out.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't know if that's a fair characterization. I mean, we are working -- I heard Congressman Rangel say afterward, we're working in a bipartisan way and it's going better on some of these health issues than elsewhere within the balanced budget agreement, but we are learning to live under cohabitation ourselves here. And that requires some adjustments.
Q Can you just give me a general -- was very, very happy and the Democrats were less than very, very -- just give me some general --
MR. MCCURRY: I thought the mood -- and Barry was in for most of the meeting. You'd characterize the general feel of this meeting as being warm and productive, moments of candor? (Laughter.) Moments of candor, some moments of disagreement, but generally positive working spirit as they work through these issues, moving forward -- is that an accurate characterization, Mr. Toiv?
MR. TOIV: Yes. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Do you want to offer a better one than that? Do you want to do -- does anyone need a little more?
Q I withdraw the question.
Q Well done, Barry.
MR. MCCURRY: Was that good enough for you? Do a little more specifics.
MR. TOIV: On that point, there was a lot of back and forth among Democrats and Republicans about how cooperative everybody is being in trying to put together this balanced budget package. And there really was a sense in the room that we can get this done and that we can work together despite the disagreements that do exist on some issues -- that we can get this done. And so, it was very positive, actually.
Q Can I -- on the Timothy McVeigh verdict, how is the President reacting to the verdict and the follow-up, the reaction of the survivors and the family members to the verdict?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he has followed those developments closely. He's been very measured in what he has said for the obvious reason that the jury is now entering the next phase of its deliberations with respect to the penalty assessed for the crime that they have found Mr. McVeigh -- the crimes they have found Mr. McVeigh guilty of.
The President, as you noted, did not comment specifically on the verdict yesterday, but he had some general thoughts for the people of Oklahoma City who have suffered. And those people -- the families of the victims, the community itself -- are very much in the President's mind as the nation goes together through the collective effort of understanding and dealing with the consequences of the trial.
Q Looking back on the President's participation in the memorial service two years ago after the Oklahoma City bombing, a lot of people believe that was almost like a turning point in his presidency because his approval ratings went up afterwards -- the way he responded. When you look back on that, do you think it was --
MR. MCCURRY: Wolf, I -- that was such a horrible moment in the life of this nation that I'm just -- I'm not going to put it in the context of domestic politics. It was so much more beyond that and required so much more -- so much deeper response collectively on behalf of the country and on behalf of the administration, on behalf of the President -- I'm not going to attempt to put it into some political prism for you.
Q Mike, in the days leading up to the verdict or in the hours since the verdict, has there been any stepped-up security hear at the White House or in Washington that you're aware of or that the White House has approved of?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. But as a general practice, I just don't comment on security features in and around the complex for the simple reason that that usually works against the interests of making those measures effective. But I'm not aware of anything in particular.
Q On a related issue, are you aware of any suggestion or idea being circulated for extending the closure of Pennsylvania Avenue on either end?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, unless there's something within that long-term National Capitol Planning Commission -- long-term study that has many delightful ideas, not the least of which is a gigantic briefing room right underneath that mound of dirt out there, which is safe to say, along with other ideas, will probably never see fruition at least in the lifetime of this.
Q Save the trees.
MR. MCCURRY: I thought these were killer -- once declared killer trees from this very podium.
Q Not these trees.
MR. MCCURRY: Not these trees?
Q No, that was in --
MR. MCCURRY: They're in California.
Q No, that was in Tennessee.
MR. MCCURRY: The President of United States and the Prime Minister of Canada had a warm 11-minute telephone call in which the President of the United States congratulated the Prime Minister on his coalition's victory. They discussed the upcoming agenda for Denver and Madrid. And I'll bet when we get the mem-con on that, they talked about when they might again play golf, since that's something they enjoy doing together, but won't --
Q Are the President's knees shaping up for that?
MR. MCCURRY: Things are moving along. I haven't seen -- it's been rainy, though, so he hasn't been able -- the next step along the way is chipping, and chipping was supposed to happen sometime along about the U.S. Open. But that hasn't --
Q Is he going to the U.S. Open?
Q Yes, is he?
Q Does he plan any meetings with Tiger Woods?
MR. MCCURRY: He's not going up there. They had talked about it. They had talked about it at one point, but I don't think anything has been finalized.
Q Did you ever find out if he had read Robert Reich's book? There was a question about that the other day.
MR. MCCURRY: I forgot to -- I did not ask him that. Forgot to ask him that.
Q Any more details on the press conference time?
MR. MCCURRY: No, although I'm getting shot down now on the idea of doing one in the middle of the week, but we are most likely going to do it in Denver. He is going to have a -- at the conclusion of the G-7, or G-8, Group of 8, Denver Summit of the 8, whatever we're calling it now -- Summit of the Eight --
Q So there will be two questions per leader, is that the deal?
MR. MCCURRY: No, the President will be there by himself. And I was assured --
Q So this is in lieu of something here?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
Q So no press conference on the 10th?
MR. MCCURRY: Nothing on the 10th, but on the -- whatever that day is -- what is it, the 17th -- that Sunday?
MR. MCCURRY: Twenty-second.
Q Mike, there's a month left until July 4th. What is he doing to get campaign finance legislation --
MR. MCCURRY: Some things that I -- I don't want to preempt Rahm Emmanuel's next news hit on that subject, so I can't tell you right now. But we're prepared to do some things that may happen within a matter of days.
Q -- reportedly started an interagency task force on chronic liability reform.
MR. MCCURRY: That's a great idea. I didn't know -- is that going to happen? According to your sources, Kathy is going to head that effort up? An exceptionally good choice for that, given her background.
Q Consumer groups are concerned that the President now is shifting his position away from last year when he vetoed the product liability bill to wanting to cut a deal with business groups.
MR. MCCURRY: No. In our veto message on the product liability bill, we gave a road map to how you could successfully deal with some of the tort claim issues that were embedded in that legislation. We had worked, as you know, very closely with Senator Rockefeller and others on that question and would like to see legitimate tort reform occur, but within the contours that the President embraced in that veto message. And I think that the purpose of evaluating some of the various proposals out there and looking at them from an interagency perspective is to see how that would work.
We also have a significant liability issue that exists within the tobacco industry that may or may not become a subject that the administration has to deal with at some point. By the way, initially that task force I think was seen as something to evaluate tobacco liability issues with respect to some of the tobacco talks. I checked that out last week and that's not its purpose; it's a broader-based product liability task force, as I understand it.
Q Mike, is Richardson going back to the Diplomatic Republic of the Congo this week?
MR. MCCURRY: We've said it's very likely he will go. We have not formally announced his departure and his itinerary.
Q Any run-up to the speech that he will make on race relations out in San Diego? Can we expect something later next week preceding it?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that's correct. It will be most likely next week. The President has continued to meet with some of his advisors on this issue, looking at what he might articulate as goals, as achievable and substantive outcomes of a process of having this country think about and talk about race relations and reconciliation among diverse types of Americans of many different walks of life. And he's been thinking hard about it, talking hard about it. He had a very good meeting today with the Vice President, the First Lady and others, and I think he's putting a lot of thinking time into exactly how he structures the remarks that he makes at the University of California San Diego. He wants something that is both a combination of oratory and hortatory, and also specific substantive achievements. And finding the right balance is difficult.
Q Leading up to it, or is it all going to be on Saturday?
Q What's hortatory?
MR. MCCURRY: There will be some things. There will be some things.
Q In other words, Mike, let me put it -- is there a Friday piece here?
MR. MCCURRY: More like a Saturday radio address piece, maybe.
Q Mike, what's the First Lady's role? This is the first time --
MR. MCCURRY: She's been a part of some of these discussions and was in on the meeting today and had some observations.
Q And other than who you've mentioned, who else is in that group? I know he was reaching far and wide, but --
MR. MCCURRY: He's got a number of Cabinet-level people, senior staff people at the White House, interesting people who don't normally work on maybe policy-related developments, but who are themselves interested in this issue, particularly, who have got some insight and expertise, mostly made up within the administration, although we've been reaching out to a fairly broad group of people outside the White House, as well, as we prepare the President's thoughts on the subject.
Q What Cabinet-level people?
MR. MCCURRY: We can get a list -- I mean, there's a bunch of present and former members who have participated. I had it here, I thought.
Q Slater or Alexis Herman possibly on the --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, absolutely. Although I don't think Secretary Herman was at the meeting today, although she has participated in some of the previous sessions. But Secretary Slater was there; former Secretary Cisneros has participated in some of the discussions dating back to last year, and ongoing; a lot of different folks. Probably about two dozen people, total, who have been in and around the discussions within the administration.
Q What about the more imminent commencement address at Sidwell Friends? Are we going to be able to cover that?
MR. MCCURRY: Be here Friday and the sound will materialize around you. Do not be at Sidwell Friends because you will not be allowed to attend.
Q What about video?
MR. MCCURRY: Sound.
Q What does that mean, though?
MR. MCCURRY: It means the President's remarks will be fed here to the filing center, to the Briefing Room. This is the best place to be on Friday.
Q And will there be a pool with him?
MR. MCCURRY: There will be a pool, but not attending the ceremony.
Q Will you even put that sound on the mult, or is it just for listening?
MR. MCCURRY: Once it's here, it's yours.
Q I'm sorry, the President will be in an open --a commencement ceremony --
Q And the pool will not be with him? Excuse us?
MR. MCCURRY: That is correct. You'll be right, adjacent by, and you can be -- but you will not be attending the ceremony. It's a closed event.
Q What's the logic -- what's the theory behind that?
Q What's the logic -- yes, come on.
MR. MCCURRY: The logic behind that is that the Sidwell Friends commencement exercises have traditionally been a closed event, private event, for the graduates and for their families. And the wishes of the First Family are that it remain so.
Q Doesn't that appear that by inviting the President of the United States Sidwell Friends may have elected to give up a certain degree of privacy because he is the President of the United States, more than a parent?
MR. MCCURRY: You should ask Sidwell Friends that.
Q Come on, when he goes out in public we cover him.
MR. MCCURRY: The President is going to these remarks as a proud father. He is the President, but he's attending as a proud father of one of the graduating seniors. And --
Q He's not just attending, he's speaking.
MR. MCCURRY: He's speaking, and you're going to --we're making his remarks available for coverage. His remarks are available for coverage.
Q -- proud parents will be able to bring video cameras --
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is Sidwell Friends either discourages or disallows private home videos.
Q Are they going to have guards at the gate?
MR. MCCURRY: It's an invitation only event.
Q Surely, they take still pictures and stuff.
MR. MCCURRY: I think they will release some type of still photo.
Q This sounds like a job for hat-cam. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: I am merely respecting the wishes of the First Family and communicating them to you. And I'm sure that you will all, understanding their feelings, will want to cooperate both with Sidwell Friends and with their wishes. And we have gone to some considerable length to make the remarks available here in the Briefing Room for you.
Q Is it their wishes because they want to accommodate the school, or is it --
MR. MCCURRY: They want to respect the tradition of Sidwell Friends.
Q So if the school said it was okay to be open, they wouldn't have a problem with it?
MR. MCCURRY: The tradition at Sidwell Friends is that it's a private event and they would like to respect that tradition.
Q Mike, this is it, we're not going to get any more than this, the negotiations are over?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'm sure there will be a way -- I'll still try to provide some sense of color from the event so that you can -- those of you who have to write about it can write about it.
Q What about those of us who have to talk about it on TV? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: You all do a very good job standing in front of cameras and talking.
Q Mike, when was the last time the President of the United States made a public speech that we could not cover?
MR. MCCURRY: It's not a public speech, it's a private ceremony, Bill. And I think I've made that clear, and don't press the point any further.
Q Why not? Wait a minute. Why not?
MR. MCCURRY: Because I told you what I'm going to tell you. I mean, I've taken my position and I'm not going to change it here for you.
Q Just because we continue to press the point doesn't mean you have to change it.
MR. MCCURRY: If you want to beat me up, you can beat me up privately after the briefing is over.
Okay, anything else? All right, thank you.
Q The San Diego speech, Mike, since that's going to be a major speech and also on the West Coast --
MR. MCCURRY: It will be available for coverage.
Q That will be open? (Laughter.)
Q On timing, is that a morning speech or --
MR. MCCURRY: Look, it's a California speech on a Saturday, so one way or another, my guess is we'll find some clever way to get most of the news out before then.
Q On TV ratings, would the White House support any legislative efforts to force the networks to --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we are supportive of the process the FCC has underway already. They've got a rule-making underway on that already -- right? Yes. They're holding hearings later this month on TV ratings. Under the 1996 telecommunications law, the law requires the FCC to convene an advisory committee after one year if the industry has not developed an acceptable rating system.
So what we're doing now is encouraging the industry to work with parents groups and work with other users and consumers of the rating system to really design and implement that acceptable system. Our preference is, obviously, that it be a uniform system so that it really be understood and used and embraced by parents and by broadcasters and by creators of programming.
They could -- at the end of that period, they could either mandate a system or made recommendations back to the industry for further -- so, in a sense, the 1996 telecommunications law already addressed the issue.
Q And the other question is, outside we were told that there was some talk about -- for health insurance for children, using some kind of tax cuts and tax credits. Is that acceptable to the administration?
MR. TOIV: That is -- those were not the methods that the President discussed today.
MR. MCCURRY: Those were not the methods the President discussed in the meeting today.
Q What were those methods?
Q What were the methods the President discussed in the meeting? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Barry Toiv. Well, they would be consistent with what we've done in our budget submission. We've got a -- we have FY '98 budget proposal that is accommodated within the bipartisan balanced budget agreement. And we proposed some specific means of coverage there, although we held open consultation with Congress in designing the exact financing mechanism.
Q That was a proposal by the Republicans. Did the President oppose it, and will he oppose it?
MR. MCCURRY: He embraced the proposals the administration had put forward as a better way of achieving that coverage. In the President's view, it's something that would require less expense.
Anything you want to add to that?
Q Tomorrow? What's happening.
Q Don't stop thinking about it. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Tomorrow, we are just -- we have already done the -- we're doing the bill signing on the Individual Disabilities Education Act.
Q The what?
MR. MCCURRY: Individuals with -- it is the federal law, the reauthorization of the federal law that provides for appropriate and accessible public education settings for children with disabilities. It's been enormously important in the lives of millions of Americans in making appropriate educational opportunities available to those that in the past were shut out from those opportunities. And this is a reauthorization bill that we'll sign tomorrow.
And then the President has -- tomorrow evening has dinner at a local restaurant with the Chancellor of Germany and we'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
Q Any bilat or anything?
Q Just dinner?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I think. In part because we will see the Chancellor very soon -- just did see him in Europe and will see him again very soon in Denver.
Q Can you compare the size of menu to the past? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: No, no, no, no -- I've said because the President is following his strict dietary regimen and the Chancellor is seeking reelection. So I think they are --
Q Why is the Chancellor here? What's the purpose of his --
MR. MCCURRY: Private visit.
Q Are they going to a vegetarian restaurant, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: No, they're making a return to Filomena's, but they are eating from the children's menu. (Laughter.)
Q Mike, does the President know that D.C. schools have not one school that conforms to disability rules for access?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, this is not -- the purpose of the act that's being reauthorized tomorrow, first of all, is not an accessibility; it is the design and the availability in educational settings of educational opportunities for children. Disabled access is, I think, Section 503 of the Rehab Act and also the Americans with Disabilities Act. But as to the local compliances within the District system, I'd have to check with other authorities on that.
Q I'm sorry, I didn't understand you. The act that he's reauthorizing tomorrow does not require --
MR. MCCURRY: It doesn't deal with the physical plants in which education is provided; it mandates the provision of educational settings and appropriate instruction for children with disabilities. It's an education bill more than a physical facilities measure -- although there may be some overlap on that. We should probably check. I think the mandated physical accessibility at federally funded institutions is a Section 503 issue.
Q Do you know whether the President supports extending the Iraqi oil for aid deal for another year?
MR. MCCURRY: It comes up usually for a six-month rolling reauthorization. This is under the U.N. Security Council Resolution 986 oil sales, which we are supportive of. We've been supportive of the regimen that provides very strict supervision of the sales and the distribution of the proceeds of the sales so that they achieve only the humanitarian purposes that they are designed to accomplish, and we have been supportive of rolling reauthorizations of UNSCR 986.
It must be coming up again -- coming up in a couple of days. It comes up about -- I think it's usually six-month reauthorizations. It comes up every six months. And I assume we'll be supportive of it, although we continue to monitor very closely the implementation of those oil sales through the UN Sanctions Commission regime in New York.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
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