THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY WITH CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS The Oval Office
9:47 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. The Vice President and I have just finished a good meeting with Senator Daschle and Congressman Gephardt. We all agree that the message from the American people in the last election is clear -- that they want us to pursue progress over partisanship and to find unity over division.
And we talked about how best to start that process. We believe the best way to start is by taking up the patients' bill of rights -- the legislation that would guarantee quality health care to Americans without regard to whether they are in managed care plans or not and would assure that medical decisions are made by doctors, not by accountants.
In the last session of Congress that bill lost by only five votes in the House, and we now have five more Democrats coming to the House. It came very close to passing in the United States Senate. It need not be a partisan issue, indeed, a cosponsor of the patients' bill of rights in the House is Congressman Greg Ganske from Iowa, a Republican physician who has spoken very eloquently about the need for this legislation.
So what we want to do is to reach out to like minded people in the other party to try to heed the admonition of the American people and the direction that we certainly agree we ought to take and get to work together. We're looking forward to it and this is where we think we should begin.
Q Congressman Gephardt, what do you think this does to the impeachment hearings? Does it wipe them out, diminish them, slow them down or what?
CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT: First, I want to agree with the President on the patients' bill of rights. I feel very strongly that we can get this done. If you have a sick family member you want it done now, so we're going to work very hard to see if we can get it done in the early part of this next year.
I don't know what is happening on Mr. Hyde's statement -- if they are moving in our direction, we wanted them to some weeks ago and they're going to get this over with in a fair and expeditious way, that's good.
Q Mr. President, do you anticipate that your lawyers will vigorously attack the Starr report in the committee? And is there any testimony in that report, sir, that you dispute?
THE PRESIDENT: I have nothing to say about that. I want these hearings to be constitutional, fair and expeditious. At the appropriate time in the appropriate way, we will say whatever we intend to say. But I have nothing to say about it.
I think the important thing is that we've got to go back to doing the people's business. The American people sent us a message that would break the eardrums of anyone who was listening. They want their business tended to. They are tired of seeing Washington focused on politics and personalities. They want the people and their issues and their future taken care of, and that's what we're here to do.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If I could say a brief word. Before you all came in here we had a long meeting, this subject never even came up. We heard what the American people said, and what they said was turn to the people's business. And that's what this whole meeting has been about.
Q Mr. President, are you still in jeopardy, sir? Do you believe you're still in jeopardy?
THE PRESIDENT: That's out of my hands. That's up to the American people and the Congress. All I know is I've got a day here an I want to make the most of it.
Q Mr. President, are you concerned at all about the apparent lack of support among the Persian Gulf allies for a tougher action against Iraq at this point?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, actually, my information is that Secretary Cohen had a good trip and we believe we'll have the support that we need for whatever decisions we ultimately make.
Q Including military action?
THE PRESIDENT: We believe we'll have the support we need and all options are on the table.
END 9:51 A.M. EST