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Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers

November 16, 1993

The Briefing Room

4:10 P.M. EST

Q: What's your sense of tomorrow? Like do you have any sense of schedule of the President's activities?

MS. MYERS: There will be no formal public appearances. He'll spend the day mostly on the phone. It's been all reserved for phone and office time.

Q: Do you think you're going to do something after the vote, whenever that is?

MS. MYERS: The vote is scheduled for, I think, 8:00 p.m. I think that there is some speculation that that will slip, based on previous experience. And, of course, it will depend on when it happens. The only guides I can give you is what we did after the votes on the budget in both the House and the Senate, which was I think in the first round, when we finished before 11:00 p.m. or 11:30 p.m., the President made a statement both on the final vote and on the earlier votes in the House. And I think once it got past 11:30 p.m. or midnight, we didn't do a -- I think we put out a written statement or put a conference call to the wires.

Q: No, you did something on the North Portico.

MS. MYERS: Yes, but that was when it passed before 11:30 p.m.

Q: Then you did one --

MS. MYERS: That was when it passed at 9:00 p.m. (Laughter.) Dave Seldin remembers very clearly staying here until 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. in the morning when the Vice President broke the tie in the Senate and releasing a statement to the wires at about 3:00 a.m. in the morning.

So the best guideline I can give you is it will depend on when the vote is final. Certainly, it's our intention to make a statement tomorrow night. We hope it's done early enough that that makes sense.

Q: Does the administration plan to appeal this federal court ruling today which reinstates this gay Navy midshipman and essentially strikes down the military's ban on gays?

MS. MYERS: All I can tell you is that at this point -- two things -- at this point it's under review. Just keep in mind that that was against the old standard that that case was filed, although it does have implications which I don't want to get into because I'm not a lawyer. But it is under review.

Q: It has implications --

MS. MYERS: Or it could have implications. That's why it's under review.

Q: And the White House is studying those implications?

MS. MYERS: Studying the opinion in its entirety.

Q: Well, the court essentially ruled that he was guilty only of declaring his homosexuality and of no -- and not guilty of any homosexual conduct.

MS. MYERS: Correct.

Q: Now, doesn't that, in fact, strike at the very heart of "don't ask, don't tell"?

MS. MYERS: Keep in mind that when this suit was filed, it was filed against the old standard -- the standard that preceded the President's implementation of the new standard. So the Justice Department and the White House lawyers are reviewing it now to see what's in the judges' opinion -- it's a three-judge panel -- what's in the opinion, what the implications are and make a decision about what to do next. So all I can tell you at this point is we're reviewing it.

Q: I understand that, but even under the new standard --

MS. MYERS: But it wasn't filed against the new standard. It was filed against the old standard.

Q: But the court ruling seems to strike at the very heart of the new standard, which is that this gentleman was forced out of the Naval Academy only because he declared himself a homosexual and not because of homosexual conduct, which seems to strike at the heart of "don't ask, don't tell," which is that if somebody declares that they are a homosexual, they could be forced out of the military. I don't see the difference there.

MS. MYERS: Well, all I can tell you is the court didn't rule against the new standard. They didn't try this case against "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue." Although, again, all I can tell you is that lawyers are reviewing it to see what the implications are and will make a decision to go forward.

Q: Thursday -- what's the event here before the President leaves for Seattle?

MS. MYERS: I think that will depend on what happens tomorrow. We'll probably do some kind of event in the morning. The President may meet with some members of Congress.

Q: A NAFTA look-back?

MS. MYERS: I think, depending on what time the vote comes, what needs to be said, I think that there's a good chance that we would do something on Thursday to affirm a big, solid NAFTA victory. But I don't think we'll know that until first thing Thursday morning. And then we leave at noontime.

Q: What are you doing during the day tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: I think it's all reserved for phone time, perhaps additional meetings --

Q: No public --

MS. MYERS: No public events scheduled at this point. I suspect we'll do some kind of a pool spray at some point of maybe the President on the phone.

Q: Do you anticipate briefing tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: Probably. Yes, probably a 1:00 p.m. briefing.

Q: Don't you brief at 11:00 a.m.? (Laughter.)

MS. MYERS: I do. So we'll do the usual time. (Laughter.)

Q: Tonight -- does the President have anything special tonight, NAFTA related?

MS. MYERS: No. He's got a relatively early night and I suspect he'll spend some time on the phone. But there are no -- I think his last meeting is at 5:45 p.m. -- the last congressional meeting is at 5:45 p.m.. Now, something could have been wedged in today. But he'll spend I'm sure some time tonight on the phone, as he has all week, and then be back at it first thing tomorrow.

Q: Has anyone declared in the last hour?

MS. MYERS: I think so. We were expecting some -- a couple of more declarations today. I think we'll probably pick up at least two more votes from the 15 that had been previously announced today.

Q: Are you still in single digits?

MS. MYERS: I stand by everything Howard Pastor said.

Q: Newt is telling reporters that there are only 118 Republicans. That's all he's going to deliver. Do you have at least 100 Democrats?

MS. MYERS: We've made good progress and all I can tell you is that we expect to have 218 votes tomorrow.

Q: Has he told you that, that that's all he has?

MS. MYERS: I don't know if he's told that to us. Not that I know of, but he may have said something to Howard. I think that he's done a good job of delivering Republican votes, and we expect we'll have enough Democrats and Republicans to do it.


END 4:15 P.M. EST

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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