THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room
1:10 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: I'll get to the schedule in a minute. Let me just fill you in on some of the things the President -- the President had a rather busy night last night, calling many, many happy Democrats around the country, as we had a very positive day on the electoral front as far as Democrats are concerned.
He called Governor Patton; Lt. Governor Musgrove in Mississippi; Mayor-elect Bart Peterson in Indianapolis; Mayor Woodrow Stanley in Flint, Michigan; Mayor-elect Michael Coleman in Columbus, Ohio; Ed Rendell, the DNC Chairman; Mayor-elect John Street in Philadelphia. And he called BJ Thornberry who is the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association, to congratulate her on her very positive work.
As far as today's schedule, the President will have a private meeting with the Saudi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Prince Sultan, and then will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the residence with Senator George Mitchell. I expect at about 3:15 p.m., the President will come out and make a public statement on the budget, the appropriations process and what we hope to get accomplished in these last days of this congressional session.
Q Does he have any new bills to veto or sign?
MR. LOCKHART: He does, he does. We have received the Labor-H bill and he will veto it, and articulate why he has vetoed it, because of its lack of investment in teachers, in prioritizing school programs, and in holding schools accountable.
Q Will veto that today?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q And Interior, did he get that?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm sorry, I got the time wrong. It's at 3:50 p.m., not 3:15 p.m. We haven't received Interior yet, right?
MR. TOIV: No, we haven't received it.
MR. LOCKHART: We have not received it. Still looking for it. We have centered our search now on the basement of the Capitol. We have a few good leads and, given the fact that we have some extra tugboats at our disposal now, I think we'll find it soon. (Laughter.) The tugboats were never lost. (Laughter.)
Q You're not going to brief about the New Markets tour, is that correct? There's not going to be a separate briefing about that?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Could I ask you -- when you guys laid out your programs, one piece of it was this APIC funding that's been appropriated, but not authorized, and certainly won't be this year. The other piece was the billion-dollar tax credit that hasn't gone anywhere on the Hill. I'm just wondering whether you think these --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, let me broaden that out. We certainly believe the New Markets -- that Congress has their role to play in the President's New Markets Initiative. But that's not the only role. I think the private sector has really stepped up to the plate. We talked about that a little bit on the last New Markets tour. We'll talk about it over the next two days, Thursday and Friday, as far as companies that are going into markets because they believe they can make a profit. And we'll spend the next couple of days talking about how they're doing that, whether it be sports franchises or Fortune 500 companies or communities that come together in agriculture areas to find a way.
Now, we've had mixed success with Congress, but we're going to continue to push them on playing their role. But I think it would be shortsighted to look at this as something that we need congressional approval on. They have a role to play, but as with many issues, if they are determined to block progress on it we're going to find a way to get it done.
Q Well, their version of the tax credit, which I think is called the American Community Renewal Act, they included in the big tax bill that Clinton vetoed, and now they're trying to attach it to the minimum wage bill, which you also are going to veto. Are you amenable to some form of their tax credit?
MR. LOCKHART: We've had very good discussions with Republican leaders on this and I think we can work something out. We are not going to, obviously, reverse our position on an $800-billion unpaid-for tax cut that puts Social Security at risk. And on minimum wage we are not going to support a minimum wage bill that, rather than helping people, goes to give large tax breaks -- unfunded tax breaks -- to special interests that gears the tax relief away from those who need it the most to those who need it the least; and, that ultimately, are not paid for and go into the Social Security trust fund as far as using the surpluses.
I mean, if you're not going to pay for a tax cut and it's going to be unfunded, then you violate the President's pledge that we need to reserve that until we get a long-term fix for Social Security and Medicare.
Q How high a priority are the New Market tax credits?
MR. LOCKHART: I think given the fact that this is the second trip that we've taken in the last several months, it indicates how high a priority the overall initiative is to the President -- certainly the congressional part of it is a priority. But it is not something that we're going to be willing to abandon our fiscal discipline in other areas of tax breaks that aren't necessary.
Q Can you give us any kind of detail on where the budget talks are at now, whether there have been any successes you could point to and what the focus is right now?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think they're continuing to go through some bills. The appropriators and our OMB team have had some good discussions. I can't point to results yet, that will take some more time. I don't expect them to get together today. We put some ideas on the table yesterday, they need some time to look at them.
I think it's important that we continue to work in good faith, though. There have been a number of steps by the leadership as far as putting down new bills and sending down bills that are even worse than the ones we vetoed that I think violate the principle of working in good faith. And we're going to continue to work with the appropriators and we hope that they will.
I understand there is a congressional view that they want to get this done and go home, and we very much would like to get it done and allow them to go home. But the President has principles that he's defending here and we're going to be here. And we can do this quickly or it can take a long time.
Q So Lew is not going to the Hill today, they're not going to meet today?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Can you say anything about the new ideas that you put on the table today?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm going to leave those discussions -- I think they talked yesterday. I mean, it's nothing that we haven't said before, as far as working on some particular bills. But I think we left them with those yesterday, looking for some reaction and they're looking at that today and they'll probably get back together again tomorrow.
Q Joe, what documents are you sending up on Moseley-Braun today to Helms? His people say they are expecting something from you today.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, we've been working with the committee staff for some days now, and we're working to get a series of documents up to them as soon as possible. It could be today, it could slip --
Q Might not be today?
MR. LOCKHART: It could be today. We'll let you know once they're going out.
Q What changed? Because at first you said that was a totally unreasonable request that wouldn't be honored and --
MR. LOCKHART: The original request was unreasonable, but we worked with the committee to find areas of documents we could provide that are appropriate and have worked closely with the staff over the last five or six days to come to some agreement on what we can provide. And we hope that they'll have those documents very soon.
Q Joe, on that same issue, given the calendar, can we expect a large number of recess appointments of ambassadorial choices?
MR. LOCKHART: Obviously, the Senate has a constitutional responsibility to move on ambassadorial nominations, on judicial nominations. As you well know, there are ambassadorial nominations that have been held up for many months; there are judicial nominations that have been held up for many years. They have, frankly, a very sorry record over the last few years of fulfilling their constitutional responsibility. Because we haven't been able to reach an agreement on an overall budget, they have some extra time; they should use it wisely.
Q Are you suggesting there might be recess judicial appointments?
MR. LOCKHART: I think I went to great lengths to suggest that Congress has plenty of time to get their work done, they ought to get it done.
Q Joe, do you feel now that Helms is making a good-faith effort on the Moseley-Braun nomination?
MR. LOCKHART: I think we've had productive and constructive conversations with the Foreign Relations staff. We will be providing very soon documents that we view as appropriate and the committee has made it very clear they plan to hold a hearing soon.
Q Joe, it's been over a month since the Senate confirmed the nomination of Ted Stewart to be a federal district judge in Utah. The President has not yet signed the commission that would allow him to take the bench. Is he being delayed for some reason?
MR. LOCKHART: The paperwork is, I'm certain, somewhere in the process. These things take some time and I think -- they take some reasonable amount of time. I think, I have no reason to believe that at some point the paperwork won't be complete. I will say, though, what is unreasonable is the way the Senate has dealt with many of the judicial nominees. We have a candidate who has been waiting four years for a vote. We have others that have been waiting two and three years for a vote. The Senate has the constitutional responsibility. They've treated these people very badly. The treatment of Ronnie White and his nomination I think is one of the worst marks against the Senate in recent history and one that they will regret for years to come. And they've got some time now to get a lot of work done; they should get it done.
Q Well, is this delay meant to send a message?
MR. LOCKHART: I think there is a lot of paperwork that is involved and they shouldn't read too much into it.
Q Joe, on George Mitchell tonight with the President, I assume it's about Northern Ireland. Is the President prepared to take a personal role again and try to break the deadlock in Belfast? And given his recent comments in Ottawa about the peace process in Ireland, has he given up hope that the Good Friday Agreement will be implemented?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I don't think so. I think that the President -- and I think his comments in Ottawa should not have been interpreted as giving up on the process. One of the reasons that Senator Mitchell is there is because of our commitment to the process. And I think the fact that the discussions are ongoing demonstrates a commitment from many sides to this process.
I think the purpose of the meeting is the discussions have been -- he's been involved in these discussions now for two months or so; they broke yesterday, I believe. Senator Mitchell wanted a chance to brief the Capitol. The President is very much looking forward to getting a firsthand account from Senator Mitchell about where the talks are and where they're going.
Q Joe, on the budget, it's been rumored that Senator Domenici has been working on a piece of legislation that would be Gramm-Rudman-like in that spending cuts would automatically kick in if it did, down the path, appear that you were, indeed, getting into the Social Security surplus. How does the White House view that possibility?
MR. LOCKHART: First off, they know what our position is on across-the-board tax cuts. Secondly, there's not many people who legislate -- who go forward with legislation saying we know we're going to fail. It sounds to me like the discussions of this bill are an acknowledgement that CBO is right and that every other independent commentator who has looked at it is right, that they have not been able to work within the limits and have put forward a budget that spends the Social Security surplus. Otherwise, why would they need a piece of legislation about how to fix the problem that they know they've created?
Q Joe, is the President going to meet with Ricky Martin on the Vieques thing in Puerto Rico?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Joe, the Speaker of the House receives a report on North Korea today from the North Korea advisory group that he set up. He summarized the report as confirming the unfortunate reality that U.S. policy towards North Korea is deeply flawed. How do you respond?
MR. LOCKHART: First off, we haven't seen the report. I know it's been made available to some journalists, but when the report is made available to us we will review both the general findings and the specifics. I, as a general point, will say that we have made progress as far as our relations with North Korea, as far as stopping the production of plutonium, as far as the missile moratorium that exists now. But this is an area where more work needs to be done.
I think Dr. Perry's report was very important and I suggest to those who have differences that they should come forward with constructive ideas. We know that there's a threat. We have been dealing openly and aggressively with that threat for many years now. And we believe that the agreed framework is the proper way to do that and is the most effective way to do that.
And what I haven't seen from any of these reports are any specific ideas or alternatives to the current approach we've taken.
Q Joe, just to follow up on that, the report says that there is significant evidence that North Korea is continuing to develop its missile program and that it has not terminated or frozen its nuclear weapons program; this shows the failure of the agreed framework in the Perry report.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I would say that I would like to see the report in its entirety before I make other comments, beyond saying that we've worked very aggressively on dealing with this threat. We have made progress. And I think moving forward in the framework of the report that came from Dr. Perry will allow us to do that.
Q On Serbia, how concerned is the President about the humanitarian situation there? Is that why the administration is considering lifting sanctions, even if it means that we could be supporting Milosevic's regime after an election?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, those are two separate questions. Obviously, we are always concerned with humanitarian situations, no matter where it is in the world. We've been working closing with the EU and others on how to deal with the humanitarian situation in a way that doesn't bolster the Milosevic regime.
On the second question, our view --and I think the Secretary of State is articulating this, or has within the last few minutes at the State Department -- is we want to do everything we can to support the Democratic opposition, free and fair elections and support a change in Serbia. And we believe that given the chance for Serbians to go to the polls they would oust Milosevic and support the opposition groups. And we believe it's an important boost to the Serbian opposition to make the pledge that we would, once certifying free and fair elections -- that elections were free and fair, that we would lift sanctions.
Q But, Joe, when did the President change his mind on this? I mean, you are now gambling -- you're saying, no matter what the outcome is, if they're free and fair you'll lift the sanctions afterwards, even if Milosevic is in power. I mean, it seems like -- the President used to say he was against fuel oil going there, he was against lifting the sanctions -- you've switched on both --
MR. LOCKHART: Our view is that it's important to support the Serbian opposition. We're confident on the outcome of a free and fair elections. And as the Secretary of State has articulated today, if we can certify they were free and fair elections we would support lifting some sanctions.
Q When you say you're confident on the outcome, I mean, that's the kind of statement you'd never make about any U.S. election. You're saying --
MR. LOCKHART: I think comparing the situation here with the situation in Serbia is perilous, at best.
Q Well, I know. Then why are you confident about the outcome of the Serbian elections? Do you know what's going to happen?
MR. LOCKHART: I wouldn't compare the democracy here with the authoritarian regime. And if there were free and fair elections, we're confident that President Milosevic would have very little support.
Q What you're saying is any election that keeps him in power is not free and fair?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not saying that. I'm saying that we're confident of how that would turn out.
Q Given the track record of Serbian opposition, it is a possibility Milosevic remains in power.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think it's important that we provide the kind of support that we can for opposition groups, and this is one area where we can.
Oh, I'm sorry. In addition to the Secretary of State, there are some Serbian opposition leaders who are here today to meet with the President and the National Security Advisor around 2:30 p.m.
Q Naomi Wolf is reportedly advising the Vice President to shed his beta male image and take on the alpha male of the White House, which is President Clinton. Now, will President Clinton defend his position as the alpha male? (Laughter.) Doesn't the contradict his goal to see Vice President Gore elected?
MR. LOCKHART: Say that again? (Laughter.) Just a little more slowly.
Q Would President Clinton defend his role as the alpha male? (Laughter.) And, if so, doesn't that run counter to his goal to see Vice President Gore elected?
MR. LOCKHART: Are you enjoying this? (Laughter.) Would you enjoy it if he repeated it again? (Laughter.)
Let me just leave it as, I know you're all having a lot of fun with that, but the President is going to do whatever he can to help the Vice President get elected as the next President and is confident he'll do so.
Q So he'll be the beta male, then. (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: Who?
Q The President.
MR. LOCKHART: What comes after beta? (Laughter.) What? Zappa? (Laughter.) The zappa male. (Laughter.) Okay.
Q With only a few weeks left in sessions of Congress this year, how does the White House see the chances of getting enhancement on the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the African Trade --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, we see yesterday's vote as a very important step. I think the Senate moved in the right direction with the cloture vote yesterday and we hope -- this is a very important piece of legislation for both the Caribbean Basin and Africa, very important and very beneficial to the American public that we move forward? And we hope the Senate will vote on this very soon.
Q Will the President be making calls on that?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, the President was actually quite involved in trying to untie the knot on this bill. I think if you talk to the Republicans and the Democrats on the Hill, he played a very productive role in this and he will remain engaged as they move forward.
Q Back to Senator Mitchell's visit for a minute. I mean, the talks broke yesterday with, really, basically nothing having happened. Is Senator Mitchell going to make any recommendations to the President about this?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into the substance of the talks. I think, again, many of -- we say on a number of fronts, negotiations are often better done in private than in public. I think he's going to come back here and brief the President on where he believes the talks stand and in anticipation of resuming next week, and the President is very much looking forward to that.
Q How about the Saudi meeting -- is that going to deal with the bombing of the barracks -- military barracks?
MR. LOCKHART: I believe -- I don't expect that to be a main topic. I think it's more our bilateral relationship and the cooperation we have on a number of fronts.
Q Joe, some of the objections that have been raised on Capitol Hill on things like Wye River and Carol Moseley-Braun do seem to be resolving themselves in a positive way, according to things we see in the last couple of days. Do you see a more willing nature to deal with them on Capitol Hill?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, let me say that we don't bank anything on "seems." Neither one of those issues is resolved, so I don't want to make any judgment about whether they will be resolved. Good intentions do not make for good legislation. And we've found time and time again how the political wing of the congressional Republicans has sought to sabotage what we think is ground where we can find agreement. So we look forward to continuing to talk to them on a wide range of issues -- not just budget issues, not just nominations.
We've got a situation now where the House has sent a very strong message to their conferees on patients' bill of rights to negotiate a piece of legislation that has the strong patient protections in it, like the House bill. But we hear from all sides from House Republicans that they're going to appoint conferees that are opposed to the bill in an attempt to sabotage this effort. It's important that the good intentions are translated into action and that the will of the House and the will of the Senate on issues from patients' bill of rights, guns, the balanced budget, Medicare, give-back issues, the tax incentives -- this all gets translated into real work and legislation.
Q Joe, earlier today in New York, Mrs. Clinton said that she is planning to establish residency and pay taxes in New York, but she has no idea whether the President will and hasn't even discussed it with him. Can you tell us whether the President is planning to establish residency in New York and whether it seems a normal way to go about things for the wife to announce it without even discussing it with her husband?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. I'd suggest you talk to Mr. Kennedy on that.
Q Will the President sign a fourth temporary spending bill Friday? He wasn't happy about signing the third.
MR. LOCKHART: He wasn't happy about signing the first, second, or third. There is a benefit to having many of these members leave here and go home to their districts and hear from their constituents. I think -- let me go on a different area, but one of the interesting things about the very positive elections for the Democrats yesterday were the issues. In the few places where Republicans made gains, the Republicans who won made gains by campaigning on education, on patients' bill of rights, on sensible gun control legislation.
So the President's agenda, actually, out there is receiving -- is being received very positively by the public. I mean, that's an important sub-point as you look at what went on yesterday.
Q Joe, rather than continuing to sign all these short-term spending -- or stop-gap measures, does it ever get to the point where it would be better for Congress and the White House to agree to a four-year --
MR. LOCKHART: No. I think, again, that's kind of a variation on across-the-board cuts. I mean, governing and budgeting is about priorities. It's about trying to get the most cost-effective ways to spend your money and do it in a way that has maximum benefit. To just go off and say, I think we'll take a pass on it this year, isn't the proper way to do it. Again, in all things, we don't know where we'll be on Christmas Eve, if we're still here talking about it. But there's a lot of work that still needs to be done. The President thinks we can get this done and we're just going to have to stay here in town until it gets done.
Q If both sides have agreed not to dip into Social Security -- seems willing to agree to each other's offsets, why wouldn't it be better to agree to current year spending --
MR. LOCKHART: I think you can look at a negotiation at any time, at all negotiations, and say at certain point, I don't see how you can get to the end, until you get to the end. And I think there are certainly, there are ways to do this, and we want to get to work to get it done.
Q Joe, just one more question about this trip the President is going to take. This is the second New Markets tour. What does he hope to accomplish this time that he didn't accomplish the first time?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the primary focus of the first trip was to really turn the spotlight on some of these markets as far as the opportunity that existed for financial institutions, for those who had capital who were looking for new markets. I think he'll certainly spend some time talking about this in the next two days, but this will be a more practical "how to," highlighting areas, initiatives, ideas from companies, from communities, from a sports franchise, which he'll talk about tomorrow of how you actually do this, and looking at success stories as a way of creating a model that can be replicated around the country.
Q Is Jesse Jackson going on the whole trip again?
MR. LOCKHART: Don't know, I'll look.
Q Do you have any reaction to Charlene Barshefsky's yesterday one of the reasons that China/WTO deal has been held up is because men don't ask directions and the embassy got bombed?
MR. LOCKHART: Say again?
Q In testimony before Congress, Charlene Barshefsky said that one of the reasons the China/WTO deal has been held up is men don't ask directions and the Chinese embassy got bombed.
MR. LOCKHART: On the second on, I mean, obviously, the tragic incident with the bombing caused a setback in U.S.-Chinese relations on a broad array of issues -- issues that both the United States and the Chinese have worked hard to put back on track.
On the first one, if someone could tell me where her office is and give me directions, I'll go over and talk to her about it personally. (Laughter.)
Q Joe, are you trying to get a deal by the end of the month -- are you trying to get a WTO deal with China?
MR. LOCKHART: Sure. We've always said that we believe it's in our interest and the American interest and the Chinese interest for China to enter WTO on commercially viable terms. Again, we've always thought that the most effective way to do that was before the WTO meeting. But that doesn't mean that somehow the WTO meeting is an artificial deadline. We're going to continue working until we get the kind of deal that we think the American public will support.
Q Has the President made a new offer to the Chinese?
MR. LOCKHART: I think we have consistently said from when these talks re-started, I guess when we were in Auckland, where that commitment was made, that we see no purpose in discussing publicly the status of the negotiations, the substance of the negotiations and that won't change.
Q Joe, could you confirm reports that the President would agree to a WTO deal similar to the one that they had worked out in the spring?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I can't confirm that and I don't see any reason to discuss the details of it.
Q Well, I mean, that's an important -- he walked away from one in April. I mean, can we assume that he's insisting on a better one than that?
MR. LOCKHART: There are a number of issues that were outstanding then. There are still a number of issues. And I'm just not going to allow the characterization of those who like to write about this to determine what my answers here are.
Q Is he really deeply disappointed that he did not accept that deal --
MR. LOCKHART: Again, I'm not going to allow the characterizations or the anonymous quotes of some who may or may not be in a position to know what the President feels to get in the way here.
Q Reuters quotes the President this morning as saying, "The U.S. Agriculture Department will conduct a three-year study to determine if kids who eat breakfast do better in school." Don't we know that already or have we been lying to our kids all these years -- (laughter) -- and our parents lying to us? And how much is this going to cost?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, first off, I don't know how it costs. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I've had that conversation -- with your kids. (Laughter.) So let me take this opportunity to the Palmer children --
Q But a three-year study to see if breakfast helps a kid to learn?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I don't know the details of the study. Let me look into it. Maybe we'll go down to Pascagoula, we'll have a little seminar on top of the boat we don't need about this study or something else that someone else thinks is wasteful spending.
Q Joe, since you've been analyzing the Democratic victories yesterday, what's the White House take on what happened in Virginia with the legislature?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think obviously there was a swing of, I think, two seats, so that the Republicans have a majority now. And that's -- it's clearly a disappointment to Virginia Democrats and to Democrats. I think what's interesting there is if you look at the people who have won, they didn't win on the Gingrich revolution, or the hard-right rhetoric that comes out of congressional Republicans. They won by promoting investment in education, patients' bill of rights, health care, things that have been traditional Democratic messages.
But I think if you look overall, I mean, there was just absolutely outstanding news for Democrats yesterday. We have -- and if you look at it in the context of 1998-1999 -- in 1998, congressionally, Democrats had a historic year, as far as the trends in the sixth year, the off-year of a two-term President. You also have had significant gains at the statehouse, particularly in the South. If you look in 1998 and 1999, you have Kentucky, the first reelected governor. We are moving towards a positive result in Mississippi. You have Georgia held, -- Alabama, South Carolina going into the Democratic column. And if you look at yesterday's results, you see very significant gains in the Midwest.
You have Indianapolis and Columbus, neither of which have had a Democratic mayor in 25 years, who both elected Democratic mayors. You had
an outstanding last four or five-day campaign by John Street in Philadelphia to pull out an important victory. So I think it's good news all around.
Q Joe, but the moderates, not the hard-rights, won. Doesn't that bode well for George W. Bush, though?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know about that. I mean, if he changes his position on guns, maybe. If he changes his position on patients' bill of rights, maybe. If he changes his position on vouchers, maybe. If he does all those things, maybe it will bode well for him.
Q Wait a second. George W. Bush -- there's a law in Texas that allows patients the right to sue their HMO.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, yes, and let's look at this. Let's look at George W. Bush's leadership on that. He took a pass. That was a bill that he said --
Q He let it become law. He could have vetoed it.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, go back and look at the details of how he did that, and I think you'll be surprised.
Q I know he didn't sign it, but the point is he didn't veto it.
MR. LOCKHART: And he didn't sign it, either. And we know where he is on a patients' bill of rights.
Let me put it this way -- this is a good debate -- if Governor Bush wants to shed the image of having it both ways on this issue, he can pick up the phone today, call Speaker Hastert and say, I join the Democrats in saying appoint conferees to the patients' bill of rights conference that support the bill we passed and don't oppose it. Otherwise it's hard for him to beat that image.
Q Is there anything new from the White House perspective on Flight 990?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me see. I know the most frustrating thing for those working on it has been the weather. You know, they have a number -- they've got a number of ships there, including the Grapple, that's there, ready, but can't go out in the 18- to 24-foot seas that they're dealing with today. And I think the weather looks like it's a problem -- it may be a problem for some time. So there's no search activity to speak of today.
There's a number of things going on to try to keep the families informed of the process. I think there's been excellent cooperation between the agencies. But I think the major frustration today is something that the Navy, the Coast Guard and others have no control over.
Q Any further contact with the Egyptians on this?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I -- I know that we have been keeping a line of communication open to them. I don't know the specifics of that.
Q Has the White House seen any credible threats, terrorist threats before this crash?
MR. LOCKHART: We have seen none, to date.
Q Joe, can you outline the President's recent work on the race report and tell me whether he's satisfied with the product he has at this point?
MR. LOCKHART: He's not satisfied yet. He believes that more work needs to be done. He's finding time whenever he can to work on it. He will continue working on it until he is satisfied. This is something that's very important to him personally and I think he sees this document as something that can have life well beyond the initiative and his term, and wants to take the time to get it right.
Q Was this the report that he was supposed to have ready in January?
MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.
Q Joe, on Monday, the deadline expired for the President to send a list to Congress with names of the countries that he's going to submit to the certification process. When is he going to send the list?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that we've got a recommendation from the Secretary of State yet. We'll await the recommendation of the Secretary of State, as is required by the statute, and the President will make a decision on that sometime before the deadline.
Q The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, will be at the White House tomorrow evening, I think, to see Mr. Steinberg. Is there a possibility the President might drop by and talk to him, in view of Senator Mitchell's visit?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have that on his schedule now. He will be in Hartford tomorrow and I think spend the night in Arkansas. So the fact that he won't be here I don't think should be read as any kind of demonstration of his not wanting to see him. I think that the schedule works against it, but I think, as we've said all along, he'll remain engaged as appropriate and as effective.
Q Thank you.
END 2:47 P.M. EST