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Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers

July 27, 1993

The Briefing Room

1:20 P.M. EDT

MS. MYERS: I have no announcements, so if you all have -- on the unlikely chance you have questions.

Q: David Boren today on the floor of the Senate called for a budget summit. He called for the President to invite Republicans to sit down for a budget summit. Has there been any consideration of that? Would the White House consider a summit?

MS. MYERS: I think summits have been tried in the past six times; and five out of those six times, the deficit went up, not down. We're in the midst of a process, I think making good progress, working out the final details of the budget package, and we expect to continue with that process.

Q: Making progress without Republicans?

MS. MYERS: Making progress without Republicans. I think the President would welcome support from any Republicans. I don't know that that's likely at this time, but we'd certainly welcome the support.

I mean, I think that the idea of a budget summit in some ways ignores the partisan nature of some of the Republican opposition to this budget bill. This, again, is similar to some of the packages that they've supported in the past. In 1990 there were certain similarities, although this package definitely goes farther, and the Republicans found a way to support that. So I think a lot of their arguments are partisan in this instance, and I'm not sure that a budget summit would resolve them. I think the President's been open to input from Republicans throughout this process. I think he'd still like to see Republicans support this; that may not happen.

Q: What is the reason for Christopher's returning? Can you explain what can be accomplished in a meeting in Washington that couldn't be accomplished by communicating by phone?

MS. MYERS: As you know, the President and Secretary Christopher spoke yesterday evening, and I think decided that it would be best if Christopher came back here in order to be closer to his team, in order to monitor some of the developments in the Middle East and to discuss a number of issues around the world. But I think he felt that he could monitor the situation more effectively, prepare for his trip there if he was here with his team, and the President supported him in that.

Q: How serious is the concern, the level of concern about the current outbreak and the possibility of escalation -- further escalation?

MS. MYERS: Obviously it's something that we're concerned about, and we're urging all the parties to show restraint. So far, they seem to have done that. We will be -- I think Secretary Christopher and others will be in contact with the governments of Syria, Lebanon and Israel over the course of the next couple of days, and I think we're hopeful that the violence will stop.

Q: Is there any contact with the government of Iran since Secretary Djerejian testified today that he holds Iran responsible for the Hezbollah --

MS. MYERS: No, but Iran and Hezbollah are responsible. I think they clearly instigated this. Hezbollah has the backing of the Iranian government, and they are enemies of the peace process. I think this administration; the President, Secretary Christopher, and others are committed to not letting enemies of the peace process disrupt or interrupt or dismantle it in any way. So we're going to continue to push forward.

Q: Is there any feeling though that they could operate as freely as they have operated in Southern Lebanon without this sanction and protection of Syria? Is Syria opposed to the peace process?

MS. MYERS: Syria has been a party to the peace process and has not signaled any intention to change their participation. Obviously, we have urged the Syrians to take more aggressive action against Hezbollah and hope that they will do that. But at this point, we're committed to making sure the peace process goes forward.

Q: Is that Secretary Christopher's mission, to make sure that the peace process doesn't collapse? Or will he also be trying to end the hostilities?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think the fundamental mission of the peace process is to address the underlying problems that lead to these hostilities. The best solution to the problems that we're currently seeing would be a negotiated settlement in the Middle East. That's what we're going to continue to push for.

Q: But the acute situation right now between Israel and --

MS. MYERS: I think that obviously you want to do both. You'd like to stop the violence in the short term. We've called for an end to the violence, but continue to press forward on the peace process and make sure it stays on track. And all of our expectations at this point is that it will.

Q: How concerned is the White House that the group of members that Congressman Stenholm speaks for may not vote for this package in the end if the kinds of changes he was talking about here today are not made?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think obviously we are going to do everything we can to make sure that this package gets passed. We'll work with Congressman Stenholm and others. We're obviously concerned about all the elements of the package and maintaining the support we need to ultimately get it passed. That's what the negotiations are about.

Q: Well, they talked about the difficulty of trying to get done the things they want to get done when they're going to get no Republican support, which I take it has something to do with what Mr. Boren is trying to achieve as well. Is the White House still determined to put a package through that will be supported only by Democrats?

MS. MYERS: I think we'd like -- clearly, the President has said time and time again that he would welcome support from Republicans of this package, and there are certainly enough elements in it that the Republicans ought to be able to support it.

Q: But you're not -- the question is whether you were going to change it in such a way that you will be able to count on public support; that's what I'm asking.

MS. MYERS: I think if there was a way we could change it to count on Republican support we'd be interested in doing that. But I'm not sure that that's possible. I think that a lot of their -- the questions that they raised about it are fairly straightforwardly partisan. I think the President made that point yesterday. He'd like to see the package passed with as much support from as many elements of Congress as possible.

But I think the most important thing to do is to get this package passed, to get it done, to keep it on track. And I think we're in good shape to do that. It won't be easy over the course of the next week or two, but I think our expectation is that we can get it done.

Q: How serious, Dee Dee --

Q: On the Perot idea of completely starting from scratch and instead going with a --

MS. MYERS: That's just not our position.

Q: So are you at all taking it seriously or --

MS. MYERS: No, we've been taking the process seriously for the last six months, which is why we've --

Q: No, his proposal. Are you taking his proposal seriously?

MS. MYERS: No. My answer is that we have taken this process seriously for the last six months, which is why we've carefully put together a package that does all the wonderful things that you all know about. And to do it at the 11th hour, to try to say that there's some easy answer and some way to start from scratch to build a better package I think is just not consistent with reality.

Q: Dee Dee, how serious is the National Service legislation? Is it in deep trouble right now because of the threatened filibuster?

MS. MYERS: Well, we'll see. We're still hopeful. We believe that that legislation has the support of a majority of members, that should it be allowed to come to a vote that it would pass. Hopefully the Republicans will end their filibuster. The American people support this program. It was something that the President ran and is very committed to, something that engendered tremendous bipartisan support around the country and has bipartisan support of Congress. So we'll see, but we're hopeful that with a few perhaps minor changes, nothing that would sort of affect the major thrust of the bill, that we can get it done.

Q: support of consumer confidence numbers today are again way down. How do you read that?

MS. MYERS: I think that the economy isn't working for everybody, that I think people are concerned about the lack of job growth and the lack of income growth, problems that have plagued this economy for the last several years. There are some indications that things are getting better, but it is not working for everybody and I think that that's one of the reasons the President would like to see this package passed. I think, should a serious deficit reduction effort get through Congress, that will help keep interest rates low, it will help get the economy back on track, stimulate job and income growth.

Obviously, it's always discouraging -- somewhat discouraging when you see numbers like that, but it reflects, I think, people's uncertainty about the economy, and that's something that this package is designed to address.

Q: Could you comment on the Newsweek report that President Clinton spoke to Vince Foster on Sunday? A, is it true? B, do you know whether what he said to him -- why the President didn't mention it when he was asked about it --

MS. MYERS: I think it is something that we've said before.

Q: No. Trust me.

MS. MYERS: No? I don't think there was any -- he did speak to him on Sunday. He called him, as he often did. Vince Foster was somebody that the President spoke to frequently.

Q: Did he call him to "buck him up," as Newsweek suggested?

MS. MYERS: He called to talk to him, I think -- a number of things. I think that he knew, as a number of people did, that Vince was having a rough time.

Q: Wait a minute. That's the first time you've said that from this platform.

MS. MYERS: No, it's not. I think what we have said in the past was that people have their ups and downs and that --

Q: Well, you've acted like this was just --

MS. MYERS: No, that's not true, Brit.

Q: Yes, it is true, Dee Dee.

MS. MYERS: No, it's not.

Q: It is true, Dee Dee.

Q: Your tone has completely changed.

MS. MYERS: Okay, I apologize. I'm sorry. It is not. Okay. Let me just try to say what I think -- what I said certainly on Thursday, which was that people -- there was absolutely no reason to believe that Vince was despondent, that he was in any way considering doing what happened. Nobody believed that. At the same time, I think that the Counsel's Office had had its trials and tribulations. And I think a number of people in this White House have gone through -- have had good weeks and bad weeks. The communication department certainly hasn't been immune from that, and people have had troubles and had bad weeks.

I think that was the sense of what we thought was happening. There was absolutely no reason to think that Vince was despondent. Nobody believed that.

Q: Questions were asked, though, to you, I believe, about whether he was depressed, whether there was indications of that --

Q: We can't hear what he's saying.

MS. MYERS: He's saying we were asked whether Vince was depressed.

Q: And the answers all were, well, he had his ups and downs, everybody has their ups and downs. There was no indication that there was a widespread awareness at the high levels of the White House that this man was going through a particularly rough patch.

MS. MYERS: And I don't mean to change that impression.

Q: What prompted the call?

MS. MYERS: He talked to him regularly about things.

Q: Dee Dee, you said he was having his ups and downs. What were his downs?

Q: He called trying to cheer him up, because he was aware of his --

MS. MYERS: I think that would be an oversimplification of his -- I think that would perhaps be evaluating his motive in hindsight. I think --

Q: a rough time. The President knew he was having a rough time?

MS. MYERS: In the broad context that the Counsel's Office was -- had gone through the trials and tribulations, as had a number of departments in this administration. And --

Q: But it was Vince Foster-specific as opposed to -- how did that --

MS. MYERS: I don't think it was anything outside of the broader context of ups and downs that have certainly been part of the first six months in this White House.

Q: Did he call Nussbaum?

MS. MYERS: Pardon?

Q: Why on Sunday? What had --

MS. MYERS: Because the President -- Vince Foster was somebody that he had known 25 years. As you all know, the President tends to pick up the phone and call --

Q: This is in the context of a weekend in which it is said, at least, that friends -- or after friends had taken him or his family had taken him to the beach and that there had been some concerted effort among those close to him who cared about him to try to give him a lift to try to get his mind off the things that might have been troubling him and so on -- so what's evident in all this scheme of events as described is signs of a man who was worried and troubled. No indication that what happened was going to happen, but a widespread recognition among those close to him that he was going through a particularly bad patch, and perhaps an effort on the part of the President to give him a lift. And you seem unwilling to acknowledge that.

MS. MYERS: No. What I'm trying to steer away from here is somehow to change the evaluation of this in hindsight. That's what --

Q: Does it have to be in hindsight? Could you ask the President why he called?

MS. MYERS: I've talked to him about this and he --

Q: And he said?

MS. MYERS: He called him for a number of reasons, and -- because he called him frequently and he wanted to see how he was, among other things, because, as was well known and documented, they had -- they, the Counsel's Office, had had a rough go of it.

Q: A rough go in what respect?

Q: What specific -- I mean --

MS. MYERS: There have been a number of editorials and other things quite recently, Andrea, and I don't -- the President obviously was close to Vince. It was somebody that he talked to regularly, somebody that he cared a lot about, and somebody who -- he checks in on people regularly. That's not to say that the President was oblivious to what might have been going on, but nobody, including the President, expected that to happen.

Q: We understand that. No one is saying that.

MS. MYERS: So all I'm trying to do is stay away from this notion that somehow --

Q: You knew.

MS. MYERS: -- that things were different than what we've thought they were last week.

Q: Did Foster's wife --


Q: somebody such as Mack went to the President and said, you know, Vince really seems down -- or Bernie -- and give him a call?

Q: Did Foster's wife call the President?

MS. MYERS: No. There was -- and to my knowledge -- and I will double-check this -- nobody asked the President to call him. There was no specific precipitating factor. And I -- we've discussed this --

Q: Was he aware of the weekend and the effort to give him a lift about that?

MS. MYERS: I don't know if he knew that Vince -- I think he knew that he had gone to the shore. I don't know if there were any other circumstances that were -- the President was aware of if there were, in fact, any.

Q: Did he know why or what was the hoped-for outcome of that?

MS. MYERS: No. I think that he -- the President believed that they were -- Webb Hubbell and his wife and the Fosters had gone because they needed -- it was a much-needed break. And I think that that didn't seem unusual to anybody who's been working here.

Q: What did he tell him?

MS. MYERS: They had a conversation. I don't know the contents. It was a personal conversation.

Q: Was there any outstanding appointment? In other words, did he call at least with a pretext of, let's talk about this latest screw-up in the -- I don't mean to sound pejorative.

MS. MYERS: I don't know what the top order of business was. As you know, again, the President frequently calls people with whom he deals regularly -- people like Vince, people who have both personal and professional contacts -- do business with. And he did call him on Sunday.

Q: Dee Dee, you said that the President went -- I've been trying to get this in for a long time, but get interrupted. You've been saying that he was up and down. Would you please tell us what were the downs?

MS. MYERS: I think they've been well documented, Sarah. I think that the --

Q: No, they have not.

MS. MYERS: Yeah, I believe --

Q: They have not.

MS. MYERS: Sarah, they have been well documented.

Q: Would you run them down now, as you know them?

MS. MYERS: I'm not going to go -- no, I won't.

Q: This is the first time that you have told us that he had ups and downs.

MS. MYERS: The Counsel's Office had ups and downs, Sarah. And I think they have been well documented. I don't think we need to go through them here.

Q: Well, he wouldn't kill himself over this travel business. He wouldn't kill himself over The Wall Street Journal trying to get his picture.

MS. MYERS: I would certainly never intimate that he would. There's no way we'll ever know why.

Q: Are you aware of his rough patch being related to anything other than work?

MS. MYERS: No. I mean, I think what we were aware of was that the Counsel's Office, like a lot of other offices in this administration have had good weeks and bad weeks, and the Counsel had had their share of tough times.

Q: Are you saying that Vince Foster did not appear to the President or anyone in the high command here to be in any worse shape in terms of his mood and spirits than anybody else in the Counsel's Office?

MS. MYERS: Did not appear to be in any worse shape in terms of his mood and spirit than other people have been as they've gone thorough difficult times in their jobs. Yes, that's what I'm saying.

Q: Was there any one of these issues that has affected the Counsel's Office that hit him particularly hard?

MS. MYERS: Not that I know of, and I'm certainly not in the position to speculate about that.

Q: Dee Dee, when he left at 1:00 p.m. and didn't return, there seemed to be a question of, did he periodically do this, and at the time we were told it was not atypical for him to sometimes leave without an explanation. And several people here are wondering, did he have a pattern of leaving for period of time for unexplainable reasons?

MS. MYERS: No, but he had a lot of meetings in the OEOB, and the executive residence and other offices around the West Wing, and it was not at all unusual for him to go to a meeting which would lead to another meeting, which might take a couple of hours. He always carried a beeper with him, which he had with him on Tuesday, and his secretary and support staff and colleagues always knew that if they needed him, they could reach him by beeper. And so his being gone for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon didn't strike anybody as particularly strange.

Q: What have you learned about whether he brought the gun into the White House?

MS. MYERS: I don't know anything about that. You'd have to check with the investigating agency -- I guess the Park Service.

Q: To follow up, if an individual like that wanted to bring a gun into the White House, would he be stopped, or would he, by virtue of his pin or pass, be waved on through the security?

MS. MYERS: You'd have to check with the Secret Service about exactly what precautions they take. I don't drive in.

Q: It doesn't go through security, correct?


Q: Dee Dee, has it been determined that the gun actually belonged to him?

MS. MYERS: I don't know. I haven't gotten any more word on that. You can check with the Park Police, but I don't know that they've made a conclusion.

Q: I was gone last week, but this notion that there was a newspaper that was looking into some aspect of this --

MS. MYERS: The Washington Times completely and thoroughly shot that down.

Q: Dee Dee, did the President call any other members of the Counsel's Office on Sunday or over the weekend?

MS. MYERS: I don't know.

Q: If there --

MS. MYERS: He didn't know --

Q: If it was the Counsel's Office that was having the rough patch --

MS. MYERS: That's an oversimplification. He talked to a number of -- he didn't talk to everybody, every day, every time he thought that things were -- Vince Foster was somebody he'd known for 42 years.

Q: was this call one in a sequence of calls perhaps to buck up or find information, or --

MS. MYERS: He calls people regularly. The President calls people on his staff, particularly people with whom he is personally close regularly.

Q: Other people in the Counsel's Office?

MS. MYERS: He doesn't have the same relationship with other people in the Counsel's Office. It's apples and oranges. But, yes, he calls Bernie Nussbaum regularly -- at home, in the office, when he has questions, he calls people --

Q: But not over the weekend, as far as you know?

MS. MYERS: I don't know who else he called that weekend; I didn't ask.

Q: Do you know when he made this call? Was he still in Arkansas, or was it in the evening after he had come back?

MS. MYERS: I don't know what time it was.

Q: Dee Dee, one of the things we've read is that he was here all day long, like a lot of people, like yourself, and that these very long hours and weekends helped add up to the stress. Has there been any change in the policy about how much time you guys put in and whether -- has Clinton as the administrator of this building, said in some way you should cool it down, change your habits?

MS. MYERS: I think he said that -- I think we provided the transcript that he said last Wednesday and again to you all on Wednesday afternoon that people need to take a little more time for their families and their friends and themselves, and that work shouldn't be everything in one's life.

Q: I was on vacation last week, but are you guys -- is that, in fact, happening? Is there a change?

MS. MYERS: I haven't gone around, office to office, but I think this kind of event always gives people pause and makes them reevaluate a few things about their own lives.

Q: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MS. MYERS: A little before you guys did, I think.

Q: Yes, but you have the Dodgers.

MS. MYERS: That's true. And they won 15-1 yesterday, I might point out. (Laughter.)'

Q: Has the President been questioned by the Park Police?


Q: Dee Dee, has the Park Police determined --

MS. MYERS: I don't believe they've asked. I think, in fact, I read a comment from one of their spokesmen in the paper said that they didn't think that would be necessary, but you might check with them.

Q: If the Park Service finds that in fact it was -- there was no foul play other than it was a suicide, does the White House believe that should be the end of it, or should there be some further analysis or inquiry or investigation to seek to determine what caused this close aide and friend of the President to commit suicide?

MS. MYERS: Well, obviously there are a number of independent agencies who can make their own determinations as to whether or not to investigate.

Q: Would the White House support that?

MS. MYERS: I think we'll cooperate to the best of our ability, given certain privileges and things that exist with any investigations that other federal agencies choose to conduct. I think it is important to confirm, obviously, that this was a suicide and there are a number of things that would certainly -- had there been a suicide note or were one to be turned up, something like that that would confirm that. But I don't think that it is particularly useful to try to piece together the broader aspects of his life to try to ascribe some motive to something that we can never know.

Q: But you will not actively for some sort of further investigation than the Park Service?

MS. MYERS: No. The Park Service police is the lead agency. They're doing the investigation. If other federal agencies choose to investigate, we will do what we can to cooperate.

Q: Dee Dee, it's been determined by -- why is it -- what you just said that's necessary to confirm that it was suicide? Why is it necessary to confirm it was suicide? Most of the -- I bet most of the people in the United States, from what I hear, don't think it was a suicide. Why don't we all -- why don't you all go further into the proposition that it might not have been a suicide?

MS. MYERS: Every -- all indicators are, and I think most people believe that it was a suicide. But he was a high federal official and it's important to rule out --

Q: Most people believe it was not a suicide.

MS. MYERS: I disagree with that premise, Sarah. Most people believe that it was.

Q: Dee Dee, what's the Justice Department's mandate in this? I mean, last week the Justice Department was saying that they were going to look for -- try to establish a motive to, among other things, for public confidence, to clear the air. This week they're saying they're not. I don't understand what their mandate was when the White House approached them to get involved.

MS. MYERS: We asked them to serve as a point of contact for other federal agencies. Decisions they make -- and they've done that, by the way. Any decision that they make to pursue an investigation beyond that is their decision and you'd have to check with them.

Q: What's behind the change of heart? They said one thing last week and something --

MS. MYERS: Again, that's something you'd have to check with them about.

Q: They weren't contacted by the White House?


Q: Dee Dee, change of subject -- NAFTA coordinator this week?

MS. MYERS: Perhaps, but not necessarily. We'll have one at some point, but I don't have any concrete plans at this point.

Q: To follow on NAFTA -- a bunch of members on the Hill this morning, led by David Bonior, said that while he read the letter in The Post this morning, that they're claiming that if you bring up NAFTA now it could derail health care reform.

MS. MYERS: Yes. NAFTA and health care are proceeding on separate tracks. There's been no change in our timetable on NAFTA. The President still feels we can conclude it by the end of this year. We're going to wait until after reconciliation to make final decisions on the timing of health care and NAFTA, but we expect both to move forward.

Q: They contend that Congress cannot handle both at the same time.

MS. MYERS: I think that there are a lot of people who believe that those are proceeding on separate tracks and that there's no reason to link them. And, again, we'll make a final decision as to timing after reconciliation. But there's been no change in our plans at this point.

Q: Can I go back to Foster, please? The way that you, the President and McLarty spoke last Wednesday about this was it was an unexplained mystery, there was no reason to go beyond the evidence that it was a suicide. And there seemed to be, given the characterization you're providing today that he was obviously troubled, you were widely aware that he was having difficulty. There seems to be a sense at the time that the President didn't say I was trying to help my friend and it failed. Instead of that, he said, I accept this as an unexplained mystery and there's no need to go into it. Why did he portray it that way when obviously he was trying and his friends were trying to bring this fellow some hope?

MS. MYERS: That is way too dramatic a reading. There was no reason to believe that it was anything other than the kinds of ups and downs that people have gone through in this White House. And I don't mean to suggest that there was any -- that any of that has changed. There was just no reason to believe -- and I think Mack has said so and the President has said so and I have certainly said so -- that this was anything other than the routine ups and downs of what can be a very demanding job in this White House.

Q: But why you believe otherwise -- today's -- some of your answers indicate that you all have basically come to a conclusion that the job got him down and could have led to it.

MS. MYERS: I don't mean to say that I have any answers, or to suggest that I have any answers to it.

Q: But this is the overriding theme, that he was depressed and despondent.

MS. MYERS: No, that he was suffering -- I don't even want to say "suffering" -- you guys are reading too much into it -- that he was going through the kinds of ups and downs that people in the White House often do, that people in any kind of a demanding and visible job often do.

Q: (Inaudible.)

MS. MYERS: I don't mean to suggest that there has been any further evidence to suggest that it was anything other than that. People that knew him well did not --

Q: Would it be fair to say that everyone who knew him well here thought he was discouraged, but no one thought he was suicidal?

MS. MYERS: Absolutely.

Q: Does the President routinely people who are going through professional --

MS. MYERS: He routinely calls people with whom he's been friends for 42 years.

Q: Did he say at any point I wish I had done more or I could have done more? I missed a signal or anything like that?

MS. MYERS: I won't even -- I just don't have anything more on this, you guys.

Q: I'd like to ask a tough, probing, insightful question about the jogging track.

MS. MYERS: Well, under the circumstances --

Q: Seriously. Over by the Southwest Gate --seriously, the jogging track is all ripped to hell. There are holes in it, it's buckled in places. Can you take that and find out what's the problem there and how it will be repaired?

Q: Are they repairing it at their expense -- the company?

MS. MYERS: I don't know. There was a -- as you know, we raised a little more money than it cost to install, and that money is kept in a fund for maintenance. So it is entirely possible that the maintenance fund may be used for the repairs.

Q: Can I return to the Middle East for just a moment? You said the main reason that Christopher was coming back -- cited that he wanted to meet with his team and have his team with him. Is his team not with him? I thought Ross and most of the --

MS. MYERS: I believe they were here. You'd have to double-check the State Department. I was under the impression that they were here. For example, Djerejian's testifying here today and Ross is also here, yes. Yes, I think he just thought there was a number of issues that he could deal with better from Washington.

Q: Dee Dee, another question on that issue. Another question on the Middle East. You've described Iran's Hezbollah as enemies of the peace process. Do you mean by that to give Israel a green light in Lebanon? That's certainly how your remarks could be interpreted.

MS. MYERS: No. I think we've urged restraint from all parties and have been in touch with Israel, Syria, Lebanon on this and would like to see an end to the hostilities as soon as possible. At the same time -- but I think there's more that Syria can do, visa -vis Hezbollah, and the most important thing is to keep the peace process on track.

Q: Going back to the NAFTA thing for a minute. You said you were going to wait until after reconciliation to make final decisions on timing on this thing. How big is the scope or the range of options that are being considered for timing? Is it possible that because of the court ruling last month and everything else that after reconciliation the President might decide, well, we've got to put this thing off for several months, or is it just a question of which week in a fairly small window?

MS. MYERS: For health care?

Q: Well, for both.

MS. MYERS: For both? No, I think that it is our expectation that we will proceed with both. That's been -- but, again, the final decisions as to timing will have to wait. The President has said repeatedly that he'd like to finish NAFTA by the end of the year. I think people have said, including the First Lady, that we expect health care to start sooner rather than later. And I don't think there's been any change in that.

Q: I guess my question is when you're looking at the decision on timing, are you looking at a window that is five weeks long, and you're trying to decide which of those five weeks; or are you looking at window that's three months long, and you're trying to decide which of 15 weeks; or are you looking at window that goes to the '94 elections and --

MS. MYERS: I think we've been -- already been far more sort of specific than that. The President has said he'd like to see NAFTA completed by the end of the year. I mean, I think that necessitates that you have to make progress on it fairly quickly. And I think Mrs. Clinton has said that she expects health care -- and the specific details and timing just aren't -- they just don't exist. But she expects action to start on that relatively soon.

Q: Well, in Hawaii she had said in September.

MS. MYERS: Right.

Q: And I'm just wondering whether anything has changed --

MS. MYERS: No, I mean, my point is that -- nothing has changed.

Q: And you will send up legislation in September, not just speak about it or talk about a framework -- when you say both proceed at the same time, you mean legislatively you want Congress to pick up the legislation and proceed on both of them in the fall?

MS. MYERS: That's our expectation, and I just don't want to say any more about the specific timing, because the final decisions just haven't been made as to what exact dates.

Q: Did the President take to heart Rostenkowskis' accusation that he's meddling?

MS. MYERS: I think the President has made it clear throughout this process that he expects to be quite involved in the conference process. I think he's done that, although he's certainly left Congress a lot of room to work the details out among themselves.

Q: Is he seeing more senators today?

MS. MYERS: More House members. I don't know about Senators. I'd have to -- I don't think any are scheduled.

Q: What is he prepared to do? Let's say the conference concludes this week and you're starting to move toward floor action next week, which was the hope for a schedule -- an address to the nation? Are there other things that he can do? What should we expect next week?

MS. MYERS: I certainly wouldn't rule out an address to the nation. It's something we always said we would do in the context of this process. We don't have any specific plans for it at this time.

Q: Advance text?

MS. MYERS: Advanced text will be available today and I guarantee he'll use three words of it -- the, and, and if.

Q: Schedule tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: Schedule tomorrow: Tomorrow would be Wednesday. He's got a large CEO lunch at noon. It will probably be closer to 40 or 50 CEOs than the usual --

Q: It's not just big CEOs --

MS. MYERS: It's big CEOs -- many big CEOs.

Q: Big CEOs.

MS. MYERS: Yes. Big.

And then he's -- may meet -- I believe he's going to meet with the Democratic Study Group perhaps on the Hill. And then he has a dinner with House members tomorrow night.

Q: What is he doing on the Hill?

MS. MYERS: DSG perhaps on the Hill. And a dinner with House members -- and I'm not sure where it is. I think it's off campus. I think it's at the House Gym.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END1:50 P.M. EDT

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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