Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
1:40 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: A couple of quick things. As you know, the Goals 2000 Educate America Act will be taken up by the full House today. The Senate should take up the legislation in a couple of weeks.
The Goals 2000 represents a major and innovative departure from the way the federal government has traditionally dealt with education. In it the government would support states and communities in their efforts to raise standards, improve teacher training and encourage parents to get more involved in their students' -- children's education. It's something the President supports and hopes the Congress will act swiftly on.
Second thing, before you get ahead of yourself, Mike, as you may have known, out at the stakeout today a couple of members came out of the NAFTA meeting and endorsed the package, which is very encouraging -- Scotty Baesler from Kentucky, and Debbie Pryce, a Republican from Ohio. So good news on the NAFTA front.
Q: What is the White House position on the Byrd proposal? Has the President or his advisors seen it yet, and are you fighting against it?
MS. MYERS: We're currently working with Senator Mitchell, Senator Dole and the others who are developing an initiative of an amendment that we believe supports the President's position. We're very encouraged by the progress we've made today that's been made on that. We're -- the President's talked with Senator Byrd, but the President remains committed to the program he outlined last week, and again, we're encouraged by progress we've made toward that this morning.
Q: So he remains committed to a March 31st date?
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q: What is he going to ask for --
Q: So he would not accept the Byrd amendment? The Byrd amendment is unacceptable?
MS. MYERS: Right now we are working with the leadership on an amendment that supports the President's goal. We've made good progress on that today. As you know, he does not support some of the measures that Senator Byrd talked about. But he has talked with Senator Byrd and we are working with the Senate leadership, Republicans and Democrats.
Q: How would an amendment support the President's policy? I mean, what kinds of things are you looking for?
MS. MYERS: Well, the President outlined his policy. He talked about in terms of what the mission was there, to support U.S. troops --
Q: Yes, but in terms of legislation. What kinds of things are you looking for in legislation to support the President's --
MS. MYERS: Well, the President laid out what his policy is on Somalia last week. What we're looking for is an amendment that supports the general direction of that policy, which includes the troops will stay there in order to protect the safety of other Americans on the ground, to keep open the lines of communications, the roads, and other things to -- and to keep in check people who disrupted the process of humanitarian assistance. That was the President's policy. He said he was sending additional reinforcements there --1,700 additional troops to Somalia, with another contingent offshore to support there as a rapid response type of operation. And finally that the troops would be removed by March 31st with the exception of a couple hundred support troops.
Q: Why do you feel you need any legislation?
MS. MYERS: I think the Senate wants to codify that. You have to -- we're working with them now to make sure that we're working in conjunction with Congress on this. This is the President's policy. We'd like the support of the Senate on that. And we think we've made good progress toward that today.
Q: Can you describe what's in the report that the President is sending up to Congress today, give us a --
MS. MYERS: It's about a 30-page document, which we hope to put out a little bit later today. It's gone up to the Hill. And this is what it looks like -- A Report to Congress on U.S. Policy in Somalia.
Q: Has it gone already?
MS. MYERS: It's gone. I think it's mostly up there now. And a little bit later this afternoon after the members have had a chance to look at it, we will make it available to you. It just describes U.S. policy --
Q: Anything new?
MS. MYERS: No, it's an expansion on what the President talked about last week.
Q: Was the President able -- is he the one or did --
Q: What's it called again, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: Report to the Congress on U.S. policy in Somalia. And it's dated October 13th.
Q: Did he talk Senator Byrd into a two-month reprieve from December 1 to February 1?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think --
Q: I mean, in their conversation, can you tell us anything about the byplay, because he planned to go for December 1 and then he moved it --
MS. MYERS: To January and then I understand to February. They discussed a little bit about -- they discussed the contents of Senator Byrd's amendment. There are some things in there that the President doesn't support. He is talking and working with the leadership, though, bipartisan leaders -- Senator Dole, Senator Mitchell and others; Senator Nunn, Senator Warner -- on an amendment that does support the general direction of the President's policy.
Q: Does he object to any kind of deadline -- congressional deadline because of the precedent that would establish of Congress dictating to the administration?
MS. MYERS: I think it's a question of what the President supports. The President outlined his policy, which included a March 31 deadline. He believed we needed roughly six months in order to achieve our objectives there, which is to create a secure environment and to get the political process moving forward in such a way that we could withdraw our troops without jeopardizing the progress that's been made. I think what we've seen over the last few days since the President announced his policy has been very encouraging. The President was encouraged by what Ambassador Oakley had to say today, that he's been meeting with both the African leaders and leaders from the various clans to discuss the situation there. The talks have been productive and we feel we're making progress.
Q: to a deadline sooner than March 31?
MS. MYERS: The President believes it will take until March 31. He'd like to have that much time in order for us to meet our objectives. I think it's possible some folks could come home before March 31. But the President said he would like six months to make sure the policy works.
Q: What are the provisions of the Byrd amendment that the President doesn't like?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think it's more a question about an amendment that the President's working with other Senate leaders on -- again, Dole, Mitchell, Warner, Nunn, among others -- that I think is more supportive of the President's general direction.
Q: Can you itemize what's in the amendment that you don't like?
MS. MYERS: No. It's a question of working an amendment that does support the President's policy. And, again, we've made good progress on that.
Q: Can I have one last second on the tape to ask the question about a report from Somalia from the radio pool that 3,600 Marines stationed offshore are going to be going on shore as early as Sunday for what's described as training maneuvers and to familiarize themselves with the area? Do you know about that?
MS. MYERS: I don't. I'd have to refer you to DOD for those kind of tactical questions.
Q: Could that be seen by the Somalis as an escalation?
MS. MYERS: Again, I don't know about the tactical plans of the troops there. You'd have to talk to the DOD, folks.
Q: What about General Hoar's comments that January 1st might be a workable deadline, too, under some optimistic scenarios?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think the President, again, is committed to making sure that we make progress on the political track, that we create an environment that will allow the Somalis and the African leaders in the region to make progress toward a longerterm solution. We don't expect all the problems to be solved by any means. But the President believes that six months is a reasonable amount of time in order to make progress toward that goal.
Q: Is that what Hoar told the President, that January 1st was reasonable, in their meetings leading up to this policy?
MS. MYERS: Well, I'm not going to comment on specifically who said what at those meetings, other than that the President asked for a variety of options. He listened to those options, discussed them with his advisers, both military and civilian, and made a decision, which he outlined last week.
Q: Dee Dee, why with all the media minders that the Pentagon has over in Somalia, why do you find it necessary to dispatch Jeff Eller over there?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that the DOD --
Q: Couldn't find anyplace any further. (laughter).
MS. MYERS: First of all, Jeff is very capable. He has a great deal of technical expertise, among other things. We wanted to try to facilitate the pool's trip over there to make sure that they were -- got access that they needed and the kind of technical assistance they needed. There are people in the Department of Defense who routinely do this on sort of military measures, but what they focus on is the military aspects of operations.
There are clearly two tracks here; one is military, one is political. I think what Jeff is doing is working with DOD, the State Department and the White House to make sure that there is access both to the details of the military operation as well as the details of the political operation. And I would just point out that Ambassador Oakley briefed the pool this morning, which was something that Jeff helped coordinate. It's those kinds of things that he's there to facilitate, as well as some of the technical questions.
Q: Did the President t speak to Ambassador Oakley himself today?
Q: Could I follow up on my own question? Is this to make sure that the White House spin is put on this story?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely not. It's to make sure that the press has access to events in Somalia. I think that this was -- DOD actually requested that somebody from the State Department go. The State Department couldn't send anybody there quickly enough, and so it was decided that Jeff would go. It is simply an --
Q: Who decided?
MS. MYERS: I think -- it was a number of people I think were involved in the decision, Mark and David Gergen, among others.
Q: Will he be there the full six months?
MS. MYERS: No, actually, he may leave as soon as tomorrow. He'll probably come back either tomorrow or Friday.
Q: Who does he report to?
MS. MYERS: He reports -- he doesn't report to anybody necessarily in this particular mission. At the White House he reports to Mark Gearan. But he's talked to people at the Defense Department, at the State Department and at the White House. He's there simply to facilitate coverage.
Q: Who does he work for over there?
MS. MYERS: He works for the White House. And that's -- there's been no change in his status. He's not been deployed to the Pentagon, although he is working real closely with the folks there.
Q: Has there been any suggestion to swap him -- (laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I can't confirm or deny that Jeff Eller will be traded for Michael Durant. (Laughter.)
Q: You mentioned that the President was enthusiastic about Oakley. Did the President speak to Ambassador Oakley himself today?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to take that. Oakley technically works for the State Department, although he's certainly in close coordination with the White House, the State Department and the Defense Department. I don't believe the President -- let me take that, though, I want to make sure before I answer that.
Q: Does Oakley talk to Tony Lake? Does he talk to Warren Christopher?
MS. MYERS: He has. He talks to people at the State Department, including Secretary Christopher. I think he also talks to some other people there.
Q: Dee Dee, on Senator Byrd's proposal, is there any difference between the Senator and the administration on anything other than the date?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure what all the provisions -- I think he's still working out some of the provisions of his amendment. I think the President's position is that he supports the amendment being worked out by the leadership.
Q: I understand that. I'm just trying to understand areas of difference. Are you aware of any areas of difference other than the date?
MS. MYERS: There are some specific areas. Again, Senator Byrd is still working on his particular amendment. I'm not sure he's worked out all the details.
Q: Did the President call him?
MS. MYERS: He did -- yes, the President spoke to Senator --
Q: The President called Byrd?
MS. MYERS: They exchanged calls. I think Senator Byrd initiated the original call. But when they spoke I'm not sure who actually did the dialing. I'm not going to get into the specifics of what the President supports or doesn't support in Senator Byrd's bill, other than to say there are some provisions in it which he does not support and the leadership's amendment more closely reflects the President's position.
Q: What would happen if the authorization goes through for cutting the military in this operation? What would you do?
MS. MYERS: You mean in terms of a time line where support for Somalia expires? Well, we're working to avoid that situation. We think we'll get an amendment that supports the President's position.
Q: That's what we hear, that they're working on that.
MS. MYERS: We don't think that will happen. We think we can work with the Congress to avoid that.
Q: Is your expectation that if you work out an amendment with Mitchell and Dole and Nunn and the rest of them that Senator Byrd would not offer a separate amendment? Do you have any understanding with Byrd about that or is he working on a separate track from the leadership?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I don't think we have any assurances that he won't introduce an amendment.
Q: Is it your hope to develop an amendment with the leadership that would lead Senator Byrd to decide that he doesn't have to introduce his own?
MS. MYERS: I think it would be our hope that we could work something out that Senator Byrd would support. But we certainly don't have any guarantees of that. Again, there are some differences between his position and the President's at this point and he may very well introduce an amendment. It would be our hope that we could introduce an amendment that all the members could support, including Senator Byrd.
Q: The President talked to Senator Byrd before Senator Byrd decided to move the deadline on his amendment to February or did that change come after their conversation?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure -- the date was discussed in their phone call, but I'm not sure if it was a product of or something that Senator Byrd told him he'd already decided.
Q: What is the administration's stand now on the higher minimum wage increase, as well as on extending unemployment benefits that expired in early October?
MS. MYERS: On the minimum wage, as you know, the President said throughout the campaign that he supported initiatives to reward work, including increasing the minimum wage and things like the earned income tax credit. Secretary Reich is going to report to the President with a recommendation. He has not done that yet. We're waiting for that. But generally the President supports an increase in the minimum wage.
Q: Will he do that today?
MS. MYERS: I don't know the time line. I don't believe we expect it today.
Q: And as far as the unemployment benefits extension?
MS. MYERS: We're working with Congress on that.
Q: Are you in favor of a full extension or something less than that to incorporate with your ideas for reemployment?
MS. MYERS: We're still working that out with the Congress right now.
Q: Dee Dee, the merger between Bell Atlantic and TCI that was announced today raises some public policy issues. Is anyone in the administration taking a look at that with regard to possible antitrust problems? More generally, is the administration concerned about the trend toward consolidation in the telecommunications industry?
MS. MYERS: As you know, one of the great champions of consumer rights in the cable industry in the Senate was Senator Albert Gore, Jr. And I think he pays close attention to these issues. I don't know that we've taken a position. I'll take that part of the question. But certainly the Vice President's office and others --
What was that?
Q: And his brother ran away --
MS. MYERS: I missed that, but I'm going to find out what you said.
Anyway, and I'll take the other part to see if there's a concern about the trend. He's certainly -- yes, he's very knowledgeable on this issue. He follows issues with regard to cable closely, as do members of his staff. And certainly other people, too, -- the National Economic Council and others pay attention to these issues.
Q: Can you give us a status report on Haiti?
Q: Why can't you be some help to us on what the objections the President might have to it in some of the Byrd language? What in the Byrd resolution do you not like -- the Byrd amendment?
MS. MYERS: I just don't want to get into that. I mean, we're not -- this is not -- the President is not in a debate with Senator Byrd. He's trying to work with Congress to support --
Q: But there are specific elements that you don't like.
MS. MYERS: At this point we're working with Congress to try to create a resolution that all the members can support, one that reflects the President's policy. And, again, all I will say is that we've made good progress toward that today.
Q: Can you give us a status report on Haiti?
Q: Before you go -- no. (Laughter).
MS. MYERS: There's not much change in the situation. The Harlan County is now back in Guantanamo. The U.N. will meet -- the Security Council meets today starting at 3:30 p.m. I think it's likely that they'll take up a resolution to reimpose sanctions. It would be sanctions very close to the same bill, I think it was 841, that imposed sanctions in late June; include sanctions on transfers of military technology, oil and oil products, with some exemptions for things like home heating oil, and finally freezing foreign assets abroad.
Q: Can you give us an assessment of whether or not the U.S. believes that it had significant and full intelligence on what would happen in Haiti and why the U.S. seemed so unprepared for what actually happened, once they got there?
MS. MYERS: I think we were at all unprepared for what happened when we got there. There had been -- certainly been disturbances in Haiti for a number of weeks. But we agreed to a time line outlined in the Governors Island Accord. We went to Haiti with the intention of complying by those deadlines. We gave the Haitians full amount of time to comply, as well. When we got to -- when the ship got to Port au Prince, the Haitians had not met the conditions outlined in the agreement. So the decision was made that we would pressure them to live by the agreement that they made.
Q: So someone in the White House, someone in the Pentagon knew that there was a crowd of Haitians on the pier, that there was another ship docked in the place where the American ship was supposed to have been, and they said, well this is all happening and they said, we'll come on down anyway?
MS. MYERS: Well, no I'm not sure you can know exactly what the situation on the dock with a relatively small group of protestors is going to be. However, there had been a number of incidents in Haiti for several weeks leading up to the time the Harlan County arrived in Port au Prince. It was our expectation and it's still our expectation that the military will work to secure the environment. Instead they stood by and allowed the demonstrators to demonstrate and kept the embassy personnel from reaching the docks.
Q: And there's nothing new on the diplomatic front?
MS. MYERS: What we're doing is -- I think we've been working on the diplomatic track for months and I think one of the results of that was Governors Island.
Q: No, I mean now.
MS. MYERS: But again, we've been working on the diplomatic track for months. What we're doing now is asking the U.N. the reimpose sanctions. We expect that that will happen today or tomorrow.
Q: So there's no break in that from yesterday in terms of --
MS. MYERS: No. There may be a few days between the time it passes and the time it's actually imposed.
Q: Is the administration now having any second thoughts about the long-term possibility, even if this regime down there does yield and say it will honor the agreement, of what will happen when and if American advisors, or whatever -- trainers -- are on shore there if trouble breaks out again, and whether, in light of what has happened, it's even possible or worth the risk of trying to establish or help establish democracy in such a place?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that there's no question, given the initiatives undertaken by this administration, that it is worth the risk to try to establish democracy in Haiti. We have an interest in that country. It's right off of our shore. There are certainly all kinds of regional immigration issues to be concerned about.
Q: Well, I understand that, but we decided it wasn't worth the risk of possible loss of life or mayhem of one kind or another to land those forces. If these people agree, will the next set of forces that go in there be sidearms only, or will we take additional military precautions? Has that been thought through?
MR. MYERS: I think at this point the President has said that he will not send any Americans into Haiti unless they're fully able to protect themselves, armed in such a way that they can protect themselves.
Q: When did he say that?
Q: In the piece of paper yesterday.
MR. MYERS: Yes, in the piece of paper yesterday and certainly, I think -- yes, he said it out there. He said it repeatedly throughout the day to advisors. And other people have repeated it as well.
The original agreement was that they would carry sidearms and then have some additional weapons, which DOD can tell you about specifically what that agreement was. At the time, that was determined to be adequate to protect the forces once they got there. Now, if the situation changes, that may be reassessed. At this point, we still expect the military to create a permissive environment. The troops there will not be engaged in peacekeeping. They will not be trying to arrest people who have taken on peacekeepers. It's a much different mission than the mission in Somalia.
Q: Will he take Cedras' word again?
MR. MYERS: I think we will judge General Cedras by his actions, as we have throughout this process.
Q: Dee Dee, based on what happened, you don't think it's necessary now to reassess this resolution to reinforce the protection of these advisors?
MR. MYERS: I think we're reassessing a number of things right now. And we'll see how things evolve over the next few days. And we're currently --
Q: Have you approached the Security Council in that regard to --
MR. MYERS: Pardon me?
Q: Have you approached the U.N. with regard to ask for a new resolution reinforcing the means of protection of these advisors?
MR. MYERS: There are a number of conversations going on right now. What the U.N. is focused on today is the sanctions resolution. And again, we'll continue to assess the situation as time unfolds.
Q: Can you clarify something on Somalia? Does the administration support the leadership amendment as a substitute for Byrd? Or suppose Byrd decides to fold his tent, do you still want Congress to codify the President's policy?
MR. MYERS: I think Congress wants to vote on the President's Somalia policy one way or another, and I think the President expects that, and we're going to work with the Senate.
Q: Does the President favor that?
MR. MYERS: I think he expects that and is completely comfortable with that.
Q: Well, is he going to do the same thing with Haiti if he were to try again to introduce troops -- give Congress a say beforehand?
MR. MYERS: At this point, there's no plans to do that. If Congress wants to take it up, I would refer you to them. If they want to introduce an amendment that discusses the Haiti policy, we'll certainly work with them.
Q: If it's okay with the President for Congress to enact policy in Somalia, why wouldn't it be okay with the President to enact --
MR. MYERS: I simply said that it's up to Congress. The President is not going to tell Congress one way or another. If they took up a resolution on Somalia, we're working with them on that. If they want to take up a resolution to discuss the policy in Haiti, we'll work with them on that.
Q: In the situation back on Haiti again, doesn't what's happening now seem to indicate that the Governors Island agreement has failed?
MR. MYERS: I think the Governors Island agreement had a number of steps. We got about half way through them and now we've reached what's clearly an obstacle. But I think the President is still hopeful that we can get that diplomatic process back on track.
Q: What makes him hopeful?
MR. MYERS: Well, the last time we imposed sanctions -- these same sanctions, Resolution 841 -- General Cedras came to the negotiating table and signed the Governors Island Accord. There were a number of steps in that, including Aristide had to grant amnesty to some of the leaders down there. That happened. Parliament had to choose another -- or Aristide had to choose another Prime Minister and be ratified by Parliament. That happened. Those are important steps. There is genuine progress being made there, and I think the President is hopeful --
Q: But there's action on his part.
MS. MYERS: It's action --
Q: On Aristide's part, not --
MS. MYERS: It's action on both Aristide and Cedras' part.
Q: What is Cedras following through on?
MS. MYERS: Not disrupting the process as it was unfolding.
Q: He's not disrupting the process?
MS. MYERS: No, up to this point. And so the President is hopeful that we can overcome some of these obstacles. Now, we're not just going to wait for things to get better there. We're taking direct action, and very specific action that the last time we imposed these same sanctions it had an immediate effect. We're hopeful that these sanctions will also get the attention of General Cedras and others and get them back into the process.
Q: What is your analysis of why Cedras behaved the way he did? Do you think he's taking a strategic decision to abandon the Governors Island? Do you think it was a tactical move, bad communication, somebody didn't get the word?
MS. MYERS: I certainly am in no position to assign motives to him.
Q: No, no, but what was your -- I understand that, but what is your analysis of what's going on there right now? What prompted him to allow this? Or what is -- somebody down there must be explaining back here, here's what we think happened.
MS. MYERS: Well, as you know, the next step in the process after our forces were to land was for General Cedras to resign. I don't think people necessarily give up power very easily, and perhaps he's having second thoughts. But I think clearly this is an attempt to buy them -- to avoid the next step. We'll have to see how things unfold.
Q: Has there been any communication between Cedras and the embassy there -- American embassy?
MS. MYERS: There have been some conversations in Haiti with Cedras.
Q: With Huddleston, with Caputo, what --
MS. MYERS: Both.
Q: Has he revealed anything, I mean, in terms of what's on his mind these days?
MS. MYERS: I have to refer you to the State Department for specific --
Q: He has refused to give protection to the American forces, has he not?
MS. MYERS: Well, they're -- I don't feel like they made a lot of progress in that meeting.
Q: Has he said whether or not he would step down tomorrow, on schedule?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe he said so. But again, I'd refer you to them for the specifics on those conversations.
Q: He didn't say one way or another?
MS. MYERS: Yes, he didn't say one way or another what his plans were.
Q: Was he asked?
MS. MYERS: Pardon me?
Q: Was he asked?
MS. MYERS: I can't say for sure. I imagine that they discussed it somehow. But again, I would just refer you to the State Department for more on that.
Q: Is the U.S. confident that in a best-case scenario, all these processes happen and Aristide returns to power, is the U.S. confident that Aristide is capable of taking power as a mandate?
MS. MYERS: He was the duly-elected leader, and we have confidence that he can fill that post, sure.
Q: Dee Dee, given what's happened, don't you think there's a little prospect for some violence if Aristide assumes power at the end of the month?
MS. MYERS: It's a difficult situation. I think, clearly, there have been a number of incidents throughout the years. This was never something that we thought was going to be easy. But it's worthwhile to try to pursue the transition to democracy and to take the steps necessary to achieve it. I don't think we ever had any expectations that this would come easily or without some obstacles along the way. There have been many throughout the years.
Q: But now are you preparing for a more large-scale kind of scenario that might involve some more violence in Haiti if Aristide does --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think our hope that was by sending this international force down there to work with the military, to work with the police force, to professionalize it, to depoliticize it, that then the military and police forces would be responsible for keeping the peace. That's always been part of the plan. Obviously, we've hit a snag in that process since the trainers haven't been able to land. But that's -- our hope is that if we can take the military out of the political process, take the police force out of the process, pass the resolution through the parliament that separates the two forces, that that would be a giant step forward.
Q: Tony Lake acknowledged in a print interview today -- I guess it was USA Today -- that he acknowledged reluctantly that there was some intelligence failure in Somalia, that the administration did not know the level of Aidid's armaments and was not prepared for what happened last week.
MS. MYERS: I think Tony tried hard not to characterize that as an intelligence failure. I think he did say that he didn't think that the U.S. would necessarily know every single thing that happened and that there was some underestimation of the size and strength of Aidid's forces and the number of recruits he'd been able to bring into Mogadishu.
Q: Is anyone addressing that within the administration? Is that a Defense function, is that an Agency function? Is the President asking for better information? Is Tony asking for better information?
MS. MYERS: There's been no request for a formal review. I think certainly a lot of people are reviewing circumstances over the last couple of weeks in order to avoid a repeat, but the President hasn't asked for any kind of formal review.
Q: Has all this given pause to the President on when you send troops in and when you don't?
MS. MYERS: I think the President has always taken that decision very seriously. He does not send American men and women into harm's way easily. It's not something any President does. I think that this is two very different circumstances in terms of Somalia and Haiti and the President considers each one very carefully before he makes it.
Q: Just to go back to the intelligence issue with Haiti. Isn't there any sense that the U.S. could have known, should have known that the military was not going to back them up when they came in?
MS. MYERS: I don't think that was Tony's point.
Q: No, no, I know that wasn't Tony's point. Tony was talking about Somalia. I'm asking about Haiti and the issue of how it was that there was no sense that they wouldn't get the backing they were expecting.
MS. MYERS: I think we gave them every opportunity to live up to their end of the agreement. We lived up to ours right up to the point that the Harlan County pulled into the Port au Prince. We remained hopeful that they would live up to theirs. General Cedras said -- one of the things he did say yesterday that he is a man who keeps his commitments. We will judge him not by his words but by his actions.
Q: How can he say that? When did he say that?
MS. MYERS: He said that yesterday. It was somewhere on the wire, Helen. I'm sure it was UPI.
Q: So the U.S. believed until --
Q: I didn't read it.
Q: the point they actually arrived that they would get the backup they were expecting?
MS. MYERS: Well, we were -- we gave them every opportunity to live up to their end of the agreement. Clearly, there had been incidents on the ground. But we gave them every opportunity to live up to their end of the bargain.
Q: Clearly, Huddleston thought that they were going to permit the berthing because she was waiting at the port for the ship to come in, even though there was a ship in the same berth.
MS. MYERS: Well, again, I think we went forward as we had agreed to do. And we're hopeful that the military would not permit the demonstrators from chasing the embassy personnel away from the docks and from preventing access to the docks. We expect that before our personnel and the military will secure the dock area and provide access for embassy personnel down to those berths.
Q: Could you say roughly from the Vice President's reinventing government, what percentage of the savings will go for deficit reduction and what percentage for government spending?
MS. MYERS: I don't think we have a firm number on that.
Q: Some of it will be used for new spending, right?
MS. MYERS: There are still conversations ongoing about that.
MS. MYERS: The question was, what percentage of RIGO savings will be used for deficit reduction and what percentage will be used for new programs.
Q: What is the status of sending up the rescission list?
MS. MYERS: We expect it to happen sometime this month. No final decisions on that.
Q: Do you have numbers yet?
MS. MYERS: No. No hard numbers.
Q: And that's still at OMB, it hasn't come over to the White House yet?
MS. MYERS: There have been conversations, but no final decision have been taken.
Q: And the health care legislation?
MS. MYERS: Same as yesterday. Could come as early as next week. But it might take a little bit longer. Again, there's some urgency attached to this, so we expect it soon.
Q: That was supposed to be in September, wasn't it, those additional cuts?
MS. MYERS: I don't know if we had a hard deadline. We wanted to get it done quickly. I expect it will come this month -- sometime in October.
Q: Has the seminar in Pennsylvania on entitlement spending that Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky insisted upon been scheduled now?
MS. MYERS: We're looking at December.
Q? How about the jobs summit?
MS. MYERS: February.
Q: February for the jobs summit?
Q: What year? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: February, 1994.
Q: What about just the rest of this week? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: The rest of this week -- tomorrow is another NAFTA meeting.
Q: More undecided congressmen?
MS. MYERS: More undecided congressmen. We hope to have a couple more that will come out afterwards and say they've changed their minds. And that's the only quasi-public event at this point, right? We haven't added anything else.
Q: saying that he had arrived here already a NAFTA supporter.
MS. MYERS: Who said that?
Q: Stetler, the Kentucky congressman. The Kentucky congressman who came out here.
MS. MYERS: Baesler.
Q: Baesler -- close enough.
MS. MYERS: No, he said that he had really -- I didn't hear his exact comments, but he had been undecided, had not formally announced his support. On the other hand, Congresswoman Debbie Pryce of Ohio said that she changed her mind based on the content of the meeting. That she remained to be convinced.
Q: But she said she was leaning toward it.
MS. MYERS: That may be true. We'll take the leaders who go from undecided to yes just as easily as those who are leaning against it.
Q: Can you give a job description there?
MS. MYERS: It's oral. I'm waiting for someone to come see me. I'm still trying to figure it out.
Q: Dee Dee, Ontario, the province, the Canadian province apparently is filing suit against NAFTA, challenging it as violating division of powers in the Canadian Constitution. Do you have any information on this and what does it mean to the fate of the trade agreement?
MS. MYERS: I know this is going to surprise you but I'm not an expert in Canadian constitutional law.
Q: Oh, really?
MS. MYERS: Painful.
Q: Is the administration aware of this? Can we get something on it?
MS. MYERS: Sure. We'll be happy to get something on that.
Q: how much disappointment is there that --
MS. MYERS: I think it was set up because it was Hispanic Month -- Hispanic Culture Month or something -- Heritage. Thank you -- Hispanic Heritage Month. It's not related to NAFTA, although people may talk about it there. But it was because of Hispanic Heritage Month, it's been on the calendar for a while.
END 2:31 P.M. EDT
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269259