Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
2:48 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: I'll start with a statement and then be happy to take your questions.
Earlier today, United States aircraft, as part of a NATO mission authorized by the United Nations, carried out an air strike in the vicinity of Sarajevo. In recent days, Bosnian Serb troops have increasingly violated the exclusion zone. They've attacked the United Nations convoy, killing a British soldier. They've also blocked access roots in the city and attempted to reclaim weapons being held under U.N. guard. As the situation has worsened, the United States has urged the U.N. and its NATO allies to take action if the violations did not cease.
Once again, we call on the Bosnian Serbs to accept the peace proposal put forward by the Contact Group. If they continue to reject the proposal, the Contact Group, with the full support of the United States, will continue to pursue tightened enforcement of sanctions against Bosnian Serb territory, and final planning for strict enforcement of extension of exclusion zones. The Contact Group has also stated clearly that if the Bosnian Serbs continue to reject the proposal, a decision by the U.N. to lift the arms embargo could become unavoidable.
Q: To what extent do you think that this Serb adventurism is a result of a rather weak statement in Geneva last weekend, and other repeated instances of the allies not living up to past threats?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think the allies and the Contact Group made clear that we expect the Bosnian Serbs to live up to their obligations. The United States has urged the U.N. and NATO to carry out the exclusion zone enforcement as authorized by the U.N. And, certainly, that was something that was discussed at the Contact Group.
The Contact Group communique, in fact, included language that said additional planning for extension of the exclusion zone and enforced protection of the exclusion zones would be ongoing. So I think the Bosnian Serbs ought not to have any bad ideas, or misideas, about what the international community's commitment is here. And I think today's actions enforce that.
Q: What did the planes hit? And what do you mean, unavoidable? Do you mean that the U.S. would go it alone in lifting the arms embargo?
MS. MYERS: No. The -- I'm sorry, the first part of your question what did we mean unavoidable? The Contact Group issued language on Saturday which basically -- in fact, on July 5th they said that if one of the parties did not sign onto the Contact Group's peace plan, there would be consequences.
Last week the Contact Group laid out what those consequences would be, beginning with stricter sanctions and enforcement of existing sanctions, planning for expanding the exclusion zones and stricter enforcement of exclusion zones; and finally said, if the parties still refuse to sign onto the Contact Group plan that lifting the arms embargo multinationally could become unavoidable.
As you know, the Bosnian government signed onto the Contact Group's plan; the Bosnian Serbs have refused. There will be repercussions for that. That is something that is ongoing now in the U.N. as enforcement and expanded sanctions are discussed.
Q? Can you describe the mission? What was hit by how many bombs, and how much -- whether they were U.S. planes, or what?
MS. MYERS: Operational details will be discussed later today at the Pentagon. General John Sheehan will brief at 5:00 p.m. Essentially, it was one U.S. war plane hit a target somewhere in the vicinity of -- or struck a target somewhere in the vicinity of Sarajevo.
Q: Do you know what the target was?
MS. MYERS: I do not. And again, the Pentagon will be able to provide more details as those become available.
Q: Do you know if it was a military target? I mean, it wasn't a fire hydrant, was it?
MS. MYERS: No, it wasn't a fire hydrant. I think I can safely say that. But again, they're evaluating the results of the strike, and we'll have more details on that from the Pentagon later.
Q: How is the President keeping track of this, and what information --
MS. MYERS: The President was informed earlier today by National Security Advisor Tony Lake. He had an opportunity to discuss it prior to his prescheduled foreign policy meeting with Secretary of Defense William Perry, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and National Security Advisor Lake. And Mr. Lake's been keeping him advised; in fact, advised him just a little while ago that the mission was, in fact, over.
Q: What time did they meet?
MS. MYERS: The foreign policy meeting started around 11:30 a.m. The President spoke, again, with the Secretaries just prior to that.
Q: Could you walk us through this -- how this came about? Because under the agreement, Akashi and Rose have the right to call in air strikes, but you're talking about the U.S. urging U.N. action. At what end did the request for air strikes start? And how high did it go?
MS. MYERS: Well, the request for air strikes followed the usual chain, which is something that has to be requested on the ground by UNPROFOR commanders; and that is, of course, General Rose. Mr. Akashi, who is Boutros-Ghali's representative in Bosnia, delegated authority to authorize air strikes to General Delepresle as he is out of the country at this point. And the request went from General Rose to General Delepresle and, of course, is then also authorized by Admiral Smith, who is the American forces commander in Italy.
Q: Who did we ask to conduct air strikes? Or what pressure did we put on?
MS. MYERS: We've urged the international community, the U.N. to enforce existing authority; to enforce the exclusion zones and other things. And as you know, it was made very clear back in February that any weapons that were in the exclusion zones but not in the containment areas, or the appointed areas, would be subject to air strikes.
Q: I'm trying to connect your statement to the specific action today. You said the U.S. urged action. To whom did we urge action, and what action did we urge?
MS. MYERS: Yes, we've been stating that, I think, over the course of the last few weeks, that we believe that there is authority to enforce the exclusion zones, and that we expect that that authority will be used.
Q: You didn't call up today and say, they took the tanks; we should do something?
MS. MYERS: There have been a number of discussions, and I think we have talked, over the course of the last few weeks, with the U.N., which is something that we do on a regular basis, and with our allies.
Q: But what about today?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to take that question. I'm not sure if there was a specific phone call today. There is on an ongoing basis. But as you know, Ambassador Albright is here in Washington today.
Q: The way you described the chain of events, though, it appears that the military officials on the ground went up through their chain and that's how this occurred. And it doesn't appear to leave much room for influence by the U.S. government from here. Could you just describe how that worked, if it did?
MS. MYERS: Again, I don't know if there were any specific phone calls. There's been a pattern of violation, I think, continuously, but that has been stepped up by the Bosnian Serbs over the last few days. As you know, they opened fire on a U.N. convoy and then on French troops that went there to aid that convoy. They've closed roads, they've closed the airport. They took weapons out of a cantonment area today. They fired on a U.N. helicopter that was trying to follow them. There have been a number of violations, and we have just urged that those violations -- that the exclusion zone be enforced.
Q: Were there phone calls --
Q: Could you clarify what the administration's position is on unilaterally lifting the arms embargo? Yesterday, you and Leon Panetta, the White House Chief of Staff, both suggested that that was in the cards if something happens.
MS. MYERS: No, I think -- our position has not changed. That is that through the Contact Group -- first of all, we would oppose a unilateral lifting of the arms embargo. That has always been our position. The Contact Group has said that there will be disincentives for the Bosnian Serbs who failed to sign on to the plan, beginning with sanctions, moving to expansion of the exclusion zones and stricter enforcement. And finally, we have said that multilateral lifting of the arms embargo could become unavoidable.
I think the point that Mr. Panetta and I both made yesterday is there is increasing pressure in the United States Congress to lift the embargo unilaterally. That is not our position; that is simply a fact.
Q: list of violations that you just cited is the United States satisfied that this one mission is sufficient to punish the Serbs or send a message to the Serbs, or should we expect more?
MS. MYERS: I think certainly it sends a message to the Serbs that the international community is determined to enforce the exclusion zone. And I think they should know that if they continue to make violations, if they continue to violate the exclusion zone, that there will be a penalty for that.
Q: What about the Russians and other allies -- what contacts have we made and what responses have we gotten?
MS. MYERS: Secretary Christopher has spoken to Foreign Minister Juppe, Foreign Minister Hurd of Britain. Before he left he had calls into Foreign Minister Kozyrev. I don't know whether he's had a chance to speak with him, or not. As you know, Secretary Christopher is on his way to the Middle East, and I believe that they've left just a little while ago. But there will be ongoing conversations. I don't have any readout on the responses.
Q: At this point we do not have any sense that the Russians were opposed to this air strike? Did we give them prior notification?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of, but they signed on and supported the U.N. action that authorized the strikes.
Q: To go back to this area of pressure -- you kind of never finished that. Was it telephone calls from ambassadors, from Madeleine Albright to the United Nations? Was it at the NATO level? Where did this pressure come?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we've made a number of public statements, and I think that we've communicated our position through a variety of channels. I just can't answer the question --
Q: How about to Akashi -- has anyone talked to Akashi?
MS. MYERS: Akashi is not in the region. He delegated authority to General Delepresle.
Q: Well, did any authority go to him -- I mean, any requests?
MS. MYERS: No. I think, again, once -- the actual request came from the NATO commanders on the ground. I think we made our position clear and the U.N. is familiar with our position, which is --
Q: Well, we're trying to figure out who you made it clear to.
MS. MYERS: Well, again, we've made a number of public statements recently, and certainly there are contacts daily at the U.N. and on a number of other levels between U.S. officials and other government officials.
Q: Regardless of today's action, has the administration not signed on to congressional House-Senate conference language that would require the administration to go to the U.N. and ask for the lifting of the arms embargo if this action occurred, andor remove our troops from participation in the U.N. action? As I understand it, that's the language in the conference report that you've signed on to.
MS. MYERS: Well, we're still in discussion with members. I assume you're talking about Senator Nunn's proposal, and I don't think that's been finalized yet. We may have more details on that later today.
Q: Is there a meeting on this subject this afternoon, or some sort of principals meeting, further meeting on Bosnia?
MS. MYERS: I believe there's a meeting -- I'm not sure what the topic of the principals meeting is today. Do you happen to know the answer to that?
Q: Is there another meeting today?
MS. MYERS: I don't know -- there was a prescheduled meeting today. There has not been a meeting added that I know of, but I can take that and get back to you.
Q: When was the meeting this morning with the President and Christopher and Perry?
Q: Would you?
MS. MYERS: There was a meeting in the Cabinet Room which is sort of our weekly expanded foreign policy meeting.
Q: What time was that?
MS. MYERS: That was scheduled -- I think that started around 11:30 a.m. when the President finished the event out in the Rose Garden. Prior to that, I believe he just pulled those Cabinet officers and Mr. Lake into the Oval Office for a few minutes just to talk about the situation in Bosnia.
Q: Now there is another meeting on the embargo?
Q: Can you characterize his reaction --
MS. MYERS: This is not something the President would participate in. The President is not scheduled to have any foreign policy meetings today. I'm sorry -- there was a question about a principals meeting, and I think there is one, but I'm not sure what the topic is.
Q: What time, and is it here?
MS. MYERS: They're generally here, and I don't know what time.
Q: What's the prospect for further strikes? What would have to happen for the next strike to come?
MS. MYERS: Well, there would have to be a violation of existing authority or of the exclusion zone, or something else. And then the UNPROFOR commander on the ground, General Rose, would have to request it of the U.N. And then it would have to -- again, there's sort of two keys; the other key is Admiral Smith or NATO.
Q: There have been reports that, I guess, four or five of the targets were obscured by cloud cover, and the jets returned -- those jets returned without striking any targets. Is this specific retaliatory mission or whatever you want to call it completed?
MS. MYERS: Yes, this particular mission is completed. But I do know the weather was bad; I don't know exactly what impact that that had on the strikes. Again, those are the kinds of details that the Pentagon will be able to discuss a little bit later.
Q: But as far as you know, there were six targets; one was struck, but there's no plans to go back --
MS. MYERS: I don't know how many targets there were. But again, I know that one target was attacked. You'll just have to wait for the Pentagon to provide additional details.
QQ: And back to this chain of command business, do you know was today's strike the result of the specific, direct request that originated with the U.S.?
MS. MYERS: No, the request has to come from the UNPROFOR commanders on the ground. And they make those requests based on a number of factors, including violations that they see, the disposition of UNPROFOR forces, and the impact that it might have on them. The UNPROFOR commanders are the ones who are authorized by U.N. Security Council resolution to make that call.
Q: Just to be clear -- when these weapons were grabbed and the helicopters shot at, nobody in the U.S. picked up the phone, called Rose and said --
MS. MYERS: I have said repeatedly, I don't know if a call was made this morning. I just don't have an answer to that question; I'm sorry. But the call -- it is something that we have said repeatedly, a position that we have made clear that we would like to see stricter enforcement of the exclusion zones. I simply don't know whether a call came from here, from Washington, today.
Q: You said the U.S. commander in the region, for example.
MS. MYERS: Well, Admiral Smith is the U.S. commander in the region. But he doesn't have the -- the authority originates with the UNPROFOR commander on the ground.
Q? I understand that.
MS. MYERS: Right, but it has to be approved by -- actually, Admiral Smith is not -- he's an American Navy admiral, but he is acting as a NATO commander. He's the head of American forces in the southern command, but that is a NATO position.
Q? Dee Dee, were French and Dutch planes also involved in this?
MS. MYERS: There were other planes involved. And again, it was a multinational effort. The Pentagon can provide the details as to whose planes they were, what types of planes, what the targets were.
Q: And it was one target, or more than one?
MS. MYERS: One target was hit.
Q: But there were others that were cloud-covered and couldn't be hit?
MS. MYERS: Again, they will -- once they've had a chance to de-brief the pilots and to walk through the details, they'll be happy to provide those for you. They just don't have answers to all those questions yet.
Q: Can you tell us how many U.S. planes?
Q: Dee Dee, can you confirm these reports that --
MS. MYERS: It was one U.S. A-10 that actually attacked the target.
Q: Right, but you don't know how many actually flew?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Do you know what kind of ordinance it dropped?
MS. MYERS: I don't. Former Pentagon correspondent Wolf Blitzer asks. (Laughter.)
Q: It was city ordinance number 407 -- (laughter) -- fire hydrants. (Laughter.)
Q: Given the list of Serb actions over the past few days, can you characterize the President's reaction to those specifically? Is he angry, at the end of his patience? Does he have some --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think he was troubled -- he was certainly troubled by it, and agreed that there ought to be stricter enforcement of the existing exclusion zones. Certainly authority exists approved both by the U.N. Security Council and by the North Atlantic Council; and you remember that process back in February. He certainly believes that those exclusion zones ought to be enforced.
Q: Is he still going to Camp David?
MS. MYERS: Yes, he's still planning to go to Camp David.
Q: Will he make remarks before he goes?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Is the White House going to bomb Stan Greenberg?
MS. MYERS: No. I'm glad that you asked that question.
Q: What's the question?
MS. MYERS: The question is --
Q: I hate it when she --
MS. MYERS: Don't you hate that? I have to say that I read the Stan Greenberg memo, and the story that was written did not in any way reflect the Stan Greenberg memo that I read.
Q: Can you pass the memo out, so we can judge for ourselves?
MS. MYERS: Well, we don't plan to do that, but I will be happy to read you a couple of excerpts from it.
Q: This is not Whitewater -- we want full memos or no -- (laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Well, I'll tell you, first of all, he doesn't -- at no point does Stan Greenberg urge candidates to run away from President Clinton, absolutely does not.
Q: Does he say, don't use the name Clinton?
MS. MYERS: He does not. What he suggests is that the candidates go out there and take ownership of the agenda; that they go out there and talk about why it is that they have voted for certain initiatives and what that has accomplished for the voters in their districts.
At one point, he says, "voters want to know that their member of Congress is fighting to get things done for them, not advancing some national or partisan agenda. When Republican candidate runs this race against Clinton, the Democrat fighting for people makes substantial gains. Voters want an independent candidate and, in any case, are predisposed to favor candidates who will help Clinton succeed."
That is the tone of the memo. And basically his recommendation is, talk about what you've accomplished; talk about why it's important to the voters in your district; do not run away from the tough fights and the votes that you've made; stand on principle and tell the voters what it's done for them. If you voted for the economic plan, the President's budget, tell them what that's done for them. And he also urges them to talk about crime and some other issues that have been on voters' minds recently.
Q: Isn't that what Bob Kerrey was doing today when he came out against the Mitchell health plan -- being independent, striking out on his own? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I don't think Stan is --
Q: Was he here today -- Kerrey?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.
Q: But, Dee Dee, if Greenberg advises Democrat candidates to be independent and not sign on to any specific national agenda or program, he's not talking about being independent of the Republicans or not signing on to the Republican national agenda. That's directly --
MS. MYERS: No, it's not. What he's urging them to do is to run on their records; to stand by the agenda that they have been out there promoting, and to talk about their accomplishments.
It does not matter to -- what he's saying is that voters don't -- they want to know that you're voting and working in their interests, and I think that's fair. Voters -- it's not as important to them that you're making a vote because you're a Democrat and the Democratic party supports it. They want to know that you're doing something that you think is in their best interest.
Now, I think that people here -- the President, Mr. Greenberg and others -- have great confidence that what President Clinton is doing is in the interest of voters. You need to tell them specifically how that is. But in no way does this memo urge members to run away from President Clinton. And in fact, it urges them to stand by the accomplishments of this administration.
Q: Dee Dee, that article seems to be saying also that the issue of health care -- the President has not been able to fire up voters on that issue. What they're really worried about primarily is crime.
MS. MYERS: Yes -- that's wrong on a couple of points. One, I think The New York Times' own poll show that crime and health care are sort of equally on voters' minds.
Q: No, they don't, because we poll with them, and that's not correct.
MS. MYERS: The last one -- I think the last New York Times poll showed health care moving up, about even with crime. And now that the national focus is on health care and there's so much attention to it, I think Stan fully expects that crime -- that health care will pass crime and become the number one issue on voters' minds. It is certainly going to be something that they're going to read a lot about and see a lot about on television over the next couple of weeks.
He does not -- I think what he urges is that people talk about -- in this memo, talks about things that have been accomplished, and not so much about things that we're working on. Although, he would not urge candidates to run away from health care reform.
Q: Did it upset the President? And did Greenberg ask you to come out and clarify?
MS. MYERS: No, but I got a question about this this morning. So I expected that I would get a question about it this afternoon.
I think the President is certainly familiar with Stan's work and what he recommends, and I think understands that you can't always believe everything you read.
Q: Dee Dee, is there some reason that the President chose to single out the NRA and not the Congressional Black Caucus as fighting against the rule on the crime bill?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think that the NRA has really stepped up its efforts recently, and is fighting to defeat the crime bill, particularly the ban on assault weapons.
Q: But so is the Congressional Black Caucus, isn't it?
MS. MYERS: I think there's a split in the Congressional Black Caucus, and I don't think there's -- the Black Caucus itself has any sort of one position. But I think, certainly, the NRA has stepped up its efforts, is very much trying to defeat the crime bill , and particularly again the assault weapons ban, even though law enforcement officials across the country -- and I just happen to have an entire packet of letters from law enforcement organizations endorsing the crime bill and urging for its swift passage.
I don't think the NRA wants to be seen as opposing the National District Attorneys, the National Association of Attorneys General -- I could go on and on -- the Federal Law Enforcement Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. These are all people who have -- and I'm happy to pass this out; I'm sure you guys can barely wait to get it. We have letters here from a number of mayors, from the Police Executive Research Forum.
Q: What does it really say about a president whose party controls Congress, who has said he was elected with a mandate to make change, that on issue after issue he finds himself, almost day in and day out now, railing against these special interest, named and unnamed, who he says are somehow blocking the way? Does that not speak a certain weakness on his part?
MS. MYERS: I think that his record of accomplishment speaks a certain strength on his part. I think, on issue after issue after issue, the President has taken on the tough fight and has won.
Q: Okay, the record of accomplishments speaks of strength. What about this complaining about the special interests? What does that speak to?
MS. MYERS: I think special interests -- if you have an agenda of change, which this President came into office with, and a fairly extensive agenda of change -- taking on the tough fights -- then, yes, special interests are going to oppose you. I think every president who has stood for change has found that to be true. And that goes back across history.
President Roosevelt, President Kennedy, President Lincoln always had special interests and others lined up against them. I think that's a fact of life. I don't think it shows -- I think it shows strength that this President is willing to take on the tough fights, to go after members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, to put together the coalitions he needs to make the changes he believes in.
Q: Is there some special interest other than the NRA that you can name that is opposing this bill?
MS. MYERS: I think there are others.
Q: Well, he says the NRA and, to be fair, other special interests. Who are the other special interests?
MS. MYERS: I think there are a number who have made it very clear -- the ACLU, on the other end of the political spectrum, opposes the crime bill, I think, very publicly. And I think there are others who are trying to defeat it. I don't think that is any secret.
Q: What is the President going to do about it?
Q: Assuming you get the crime bill and health reform, what is left to do on the President's agenda over the next two years? (Laughter.)
Q: Oh, my God. (Laughter.)
Q: Run for reelection.
Q: Campaign finance.
Q: You'll think of something, right?
MS. MYERS: Right. Come on, let's everybody get involved here. Come on. (Laughter.) Welfare reform, campaign finance reform and lobbying reform, which we're going to do the final phases of. We still have the reemployment act and other economic measures that the President is working to pass. There are innumerable things. We are still working to implement and to finish the structuring of some of the changes that he's made, but there are a long list of things that the President is going to do and continue to do. And I'm sure you all will remind us of the things that he's talked about that he hasn't done.
Q: Has the President heard from any Democratic senators today saying that it's time for Roger Altman to resign or that the President should ask Roger Altman to resign?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.
Q: Is the White House sounding out the Hill on this, inviting comments?
Q: What's the question?
MS. MYERS: The question is, has the President heard from the Hill on Roger Altman. And the answer is, not that I know of. I think that the members plan to make their conclusions fairly public at the end of this process, and I'm not sure when that's scheduled. It was originally scheduled for today. Has it been pushed back? They're going to do it today? So the Senate is sort of going to sum up today, and I think that certainly that will -- we will have a very clear idea of where they stand on this.
Q: Can the President be swayed by members of the Senate saying they don't have confidence in Roger Altman? Will that affect his decision about whether he still has confidence in him?
MS. MYERS: No, I think the President and the Secretary of the Treasury have both spoken. They've heard Roger's testimony, they have worked with him over the course of the last 18 months in Secretary Bentsen's case and have known him for many years in the President's case, and have expressed confidence in him.
Q: And that won't be affected at all? They have no interest in whether U.S. senators of either or both parties say that they don't think they can work with him anymore?
MS. MYERS: Well, I don't want to say they have no interest at all in it, but I don't think it changes their position. I mean, obviously the President and the Secretary of the Treasury would like to see the staff have good relationships with the committees that oversee them, and I think that is something that we will continue to work towards and work for.
But, again, the President has expressed confidence in Roger Altman, and I can refer you all back to his statement on Wednesday.
Q: There is a perception that this isn't an all-out support of Altman.
MS. MYERS: I don't know how much more clear --
Q: one line, and, well, the Secretary thinks he's doing a good job and so do I. I mean, it's not whole-hearted.
MS. MYERS: The President said, I have confidence in him and I think he's doing a good job. I don't think that there's anything more the President needs to say.
Q: He could say, he's here and he's here to stay.
MS. MYERS: He said I expect he'll continue. That was in his statement.
Q: Well, I know, but that's not the same as "here to stay." For how long do you expect him to continue?
MS. MYERS: I think Roger has some say in this.
Q: Has he had any personal contact with Altman since this whole --
Q: So basically it's up to Roger?
MS. MYERS: Roger was here yesterday, but I don't know whether the President saw him. You all had a chance to see him yesterday at the briefing.
Q: At the well-attended economic briefing. Has the President spoken to Bob Kerrey before or after Kerrey's floor speech today?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. I can take that, but I don't think so.
Q: Senator Kerrey said that he thought the President needed to reach out in a bipartisan way to moderates, particularly in the Senate. I know the President wants bipartisan support, but can you name anything he's done to reach out to Senator Chafee, Senator Danforth?
MS. MYERS: I think if you look at what he's said and done with respect to the bill, there's a dozen things that he's done. They said they didn't like mandatory alliances so we accepted voluntary alliances. They said the phase-in period was too short so we lengthened it. They said, you know, they didn't like the -- they thought we should try market reforms first so we tried -- you know the President said he supports a bill that tries market reforms first. I think that we have met them more than halfway on all of the policy concerns that they've raised. This isn't about politics or the President, it's about policy. It's about getting a bill that gives us universal health care, that contains costs, that preserves quality and choice.
And I think that the President's actions speak for themselves. He's been willing to meet with the leaders of the House and the Senate, the bipartisan leadership to talk about this issue. He's been willing to address their concerns and every time he moves towards them, they step back. I think they need to answer the question why are they continually backing off of the positions that they stated somewhat earlier.
Q: Dee Dee, on welfare reform -- a few days ago the Senate Environmental Panel voted against the use of excess Superfund --
MS. MYERS: I'm sorry, could you repeat that?
Q: A few days ago the Senate Environmental Panel voted against the use of Superfund excess revenues being used to fund welfare reform. Will the White House have to reconsider or look into another funding mechanism for welfare reform?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to take that question. I'm just not familiar with that vote.
Q: This morning the President struck sort of a decidedly anti-Congress tone, aligning himself with Americans who are frustrated with inaction on crime and on health care. Is the President anti-Congress at this point? Is he so frustrated with these people, both Democrat and Republican, that he's sort of becoming the Harry Truman of the 1990s?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't think the President's antiCongress. The President hopes to continue to work with Congress to continue to make progress on the issues that he cares about. I think that he is just reflecting the frustration of the American people who want a crime bill, who want health care reform, who want campaign finance reform and ethics reform, and all of those things that he's urged Congress to send to him so that he can sign. He'll continue to work with Congress to get those done, but I think he understands that people want action and they want it now. He's going to continue to urge Congress to make progress.
Q: Is that an effective way to deal with Congress when it's controlled by Democrats?
MS. MYERS: I think the President's proved that he's been pretty effective at dealing with Congress. He meets with them regularly, he consults with them regularly, he has them down regularly. He goes up there from time to time. I think that he has proven that he can deal effectively with Congress.
Q: Going back to the congressional hearings just for a minute, on the House side today, April Breslaw from the RTC is testifying essentially that her subordinates in the Kansas City office of the RTC took her out, got her drunk, put her in a room with a concealed tape recorder and tried to get her to make incriminating statements while they --
Q: Tried to get her drunk.
Q: Tried to get her drunk, and then tried to get her to make incriminating statements while they rolled this concealed tape recorder, and then provided a tape recording to Jim Leach. (Laughter.) This would seem to suggest a degree of noncollegiality amid the ranks of the RTC. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I'm shocked.
Q: Is there some concern about this agency and how it's operating?
MS. MYERS: I think I'm not going to even touch that question.
Q: Geneva talks with --
MS. MYERS: Very, very limited readout from North Korea. The two sides met for eight hours today. They did a morning session, broke for a working lunch, met again in the afternoon. They agreed, it was businesslike, and they agreed to meet again on Monday to continue to discuss the positions.
So that's all I have for you on it. Ambassador Gallucci will remain in Geneva and they will again begin discussions on Monday. They expect the talks to go on for about a week.
Q: Why not tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: They decided -- I don't know all the reasons why.
Q: Dee Dee, is the President losing his voice and is it allergies or what? He seems kind of hoarse. Is he having trouble with it again?
MS. MYERS: He has, I think, had a little hoarseness lately but it doesn't seem to be concerning him too much. I don't think he thinks -- he has a lot of allergies so sometimes his voice comes and goes but I haven't -- he hasn't mentioned that it's been bothering him in my presence. I am happy to see if there's anything else on that, but he has had a little bit of hoarseness lately but I don't think anything serious.
Q: What's his game plan for getting the crime bill after the shootout? (Laughter.) And is he going to try to rally the police chiefs and so forth to lobby? What is he actually going to do to move this?
MS. MYERS: I think, certainly, supporters of the crime bill will urge all of those who support it, police chiefs, police officer organizations, attorneys general, all those groups I have these letters from, to do what they can to urge Congress to pass this. And, certainly, the President will continue to do that, as will the members who support the crime bill.
I think there are some hurdles to it. I think we'll continue to be hopeful that we can work those out and get a vote on the rule and get the bill to the floor.
Q: Do you have any kind of prognosis for getting it?
MS. MYERS: I think there's a chance we'll have a vote on this next week. It's not going to happen today.
Q: If I ask about Haiti, you won't say thank you for --
MS. MYERS: No, but I will --
Q: Okay. Senator Specter today put up a proposal that was voted down trying to restrict President Clinton's use of forces to invade Haiti before consulting Congress. And there was a lot of division in that vote. A lot of it was turned down because they claimed it impugned on the constitutionality of it. But there's a lot of discontent on Capitol Hill and the Haitian policy. Is the President reaching out to the members on Haiti?
MS. MYERS: Sure. The President will continue to consult regularly with Congress on this. I think he answered the question that he doesn't think that congressional authorization is necessarily required but said it was too soon to talk about whether he would ever seek it. Again, that resolution wasn't something that I think we could have supported but we will continue to reach out to Congress and to consult with them on Haiti as this goes forward.
Q: And to follow up, there was a group of Latin American countries that were thinking of sending a mission to Haiti. Now there's talk that that mission has been suspended. Has the U.S. pressured any of those countries to stop that mission?
MS. MYERS: There have been discussions, I think, ongoing about how best to get the military leaders to leave. Meanwhile, we continue to pursue a policy of sanctions and I don't know that they've stopped having that discussion. I just can't speak to that.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:22 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/269613