Bill Clinton photo

Press Briefing by Mike McCurry

November 27, 1995

The Briefing Room

1:00 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the White House -- right on time, at 1:00 p.m. The President continued to do work on the televised addressed he will deliver to the nation tonight. And as we can we will provide you any excerpts or other information we'll have available. We'll have a senior White House official who will look amazingly like the Press Secretary do a little backgrounder later in the afternoon when we have more details on the text.

Q: What time?

MR. MCCURRY: Probably around 4:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. or so -- 4:30 p.m., depending on how comfortable we are we're close to a true text at that point.

Q: And you think we'll get it at that point?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I think you'll get a very good idea of the structure of the speech. The work that the President has done on it so far -- and this is for the benefit of the folks in TV land -- it looks to me the running length right now is closer to 15 minutes than to 10 minutes, just so you are well advised.

Q: By the end of the day --

Q: Is there a hard start on that?

MR. MCCURRY: At 8:01:30 p.m.

Q: The Oval Office?

MR. MCCURRY: Oval Office.

Q: Graphics?

MR. MCCURRY: At the moment the President does not plan to use any graphic presentations as part of it.

Q: Who did he see today about it?

MR. MCCURRY: He's had a variety of conversations today with the Vice President, with the National Security Advisor, Tony Lake. He plans to speak by telephone with Secretary Perry who has just returned from meeting in Brussels with the military committee of NATO, and also U.S. troop commanders there. I believe he also saw the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, General George Joulwan, who would be the overall force commander for the implementation force. So they will speak by telephone later today. The President will have further meetings with those national security advisors tomorrow as well.

Q: He talked to the Speaker?

MR. MCCURRY: He has not talked to the Speaker today to my knowledge.

Q: You may want to check that. The Speaker just came out of a news conference and said he called him and talked to him and --

MR. MCCURRY: Can you run and check on that? The President didn't mention anything to me about it.

Q: Does he have a plan now for going in, all set, ready to go?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry -- say again?

Q: Is the peacekeeping plan all ready now, ready to go?

MR. MCCURRY: It's my understanding from Pentagon officials who were also with Secretary of Defense Perry this weekend they are in the final stages of planning what is called the SACEUR plan, the plan that General Joulwan would submit to the North Atlantic Council for ratification as early as Wednesday.

There will be a meeting tomorrow in Brussels of the Chiefs of Defense. General Shalikashvili will be representing the United States at that meeting. Then the political authority, the NAC itself, is expected to meet at the Defense Ministers' level on Wednesday.

Q: Is the President making this speech before he has seen the final plan?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's been briefed in considerable detail about most major elements of the plan, including extensive briefings on the U.S. contribution, and he's well satisfied that information he needs as Commander in Chief in order to present to the nation is in his possession. They've got some final details on specific units and elements of the force posture itself that are being finalized, but the parameters of the mission, the exit strategy, the objectives are quite clear, and the President is very comfortable with them.

Q: When do the first American troops go into Bosnia?

MR. MCCURRY: That is subsequent to further action by the North Atlantic Council and by the conclusion of the peace process itself with the formal signing in Paris. To my knowledge, there has been no date certain set for that signing, although there are considerable discussions amongst the allies about that and within the Contact Group.

The President has sent letters -- sent letters on Friday to President Yeltsin, to President Chirac, Prime Minister Major and Chancellor Kohl saying several things, but most importantly, thanking them for the considerable and what he called "indispensable efforts," that their representatives had made in Dayton as part of the Contact Group. And he complimented them on the work that the Contact Group itself had done together to reach the agreements in Dayton.

Q: Does this operation have a name?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware if it has been designated a name by NATO yet. You should check with the military folks in NATO.

Q: Did he also say he would be attending that signing?

MR. MCCURRY: The final conclusion of the -- he did not indicate whether he would attend or not, although there's been work done in consultations on the expectation that he would.

Q: The number 20,000 is used for U.S. troops on the ground. Can you tell us what the overall troop number is when you factor in the Navy and the other troops who will be stationed in Croatia and other countries around there?

MR. MCCURRY: I would prefer to leave to the military briefers who know exactly what the force posture is in the Adriatic and surrounding countries to brief you on that. They are in better detail as -- for the American people who are trying to understand what this peace process is about and what the requirements are of the United States, the rough number is 60,000 for the implementation force on the ground, of which a third would be American, has been useful in helping people understand that. But specific numbers on deployments and units involved I should leave to Pentagon officials.

Q: Is there going to have to be a reserve call-up, or is there any mobilization from the United States? Or are we just talking about troops already on duty in Europe?

MR. MCCURRY: The Pentagon is already indicating in connection with this deployment they would expect a reserve call-up of between 2,000 and 3,000.

Q: It seems to me that you all already decided that this is an accomplished fact. What will you do if Congress says that you cannot spend any money for this? That would mean that you couldn't shift funds in the Pentagon and that you couldn't spend any money at all. What will they do?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President believes that the case he will make to the American people tonight will be persuasive. And we believe the work that the administration has done and will do will be persuasive and that Congress will see the importance of this for our own national interests and the importance of this for the future of security and stability on the European continent, a continent which -- where Americans twice in world wars have shed blood. So we are not entertaining the possibility that there's lack of support.

Q: You haven't answered her question. Are you deliberately avoiding answering her question?

MR. MCCURRY: I said that I am not entertaining a hypothetical question that we don't think will arise because we believe the President's argument will be persuasive.

Q: Mike, as things are on the ground today, particularly around Sarajevo, would the President, under those conditions, deploy troops? Would there be, in fact, even a peace treaty signing ceremony? What else do you need that you don't have now from the Bosnian Serbs?

MR. MCCURRY: The three Presidents who signed the document in Dayton have pledged to a very specific set of withdraw requirements and confidence-building measures which will make possible the deployment of the implementation force into conditions of a safe and secure environment in which the parties are committed to carrying forward on the agreement that they signed in Dayton. That hasn't happened yet. There will be things that begin to happen as we get closer to mid-December and beyond when the implementation force would likely be deployed.

So it's not useful really to measure what conditions are today. The leaders who have signed this agreement and the leaders who have signed on behalf of other elements within the leadership, specifically the Bosnian Serbs, have commitments. We expect them to make good on those commitments. They are in the process now of making good on those commitments. And that will change the environment on the ground as we get closer to the date of an actual deployment.

Q: Are you confident that they will --

MR. MCCURRY: You had a follow-up?

Q: Yes, I do. Are you confident that things are going to move toward an acceptable situation for you? And what gives you this confidence in light of Karadzic's remarks over the weekend and these daily protest demonstrations of the Bosnian Serbs around Sarajevo.

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, and because those leaders in Dayton who had the legal authority to sign on behalf of elements of the Bosnian Serb leadership have made those commitments. And, indeed, we already see some evidence that they are beginning to make good on those commitments by going before their publics to make the case in favor of this agreement, to explain it in greater detail.

This is an enormous document, and there's probably a great deal of misunderstanding about the documents. It's not surprising to us if there are a lot of Americans who want to know more about the details of the agreement reached in Dayton. But we are confident that after people have those facts, after they see what is required, and as they see the parties themselves beginning to implement this peace and make good on the commitments they signed in Dayton, that people understand that there has been an effort here to minimize the risks that will exist for all the nations participating in the implementation force, including the U.S.

Q: Speaker Gingrich suggested again today that the President, in his speech tonight, should also, among other things, explain to the American people how this force will be paid for. And he suggested a good way to do that would be for the President to announce that he's signing the defense appropriations bill. Has the President made up his mind on that bill and is he going to sign it now?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President has not made up his mind on that bill. It's still under examination. One reason, contrary to what the Speaker said, is because this deployment is not addressed in the $243 billion appropriations bill that's been passed by Congress. As you know, we estimate according to our own administration calculations of our national security needs that this bill is about $6.9 billion over budget. Those items relate to things that you are aware of -- national missile defense, B-2s, accelerated deployment schedules. So the bill was already a source of great concern to the administration because there was more money in it than we asked for.

But, more importantly, there is not any specific procedure in that bill to deal with Bosnia. And as a result of that, the President has instructed Chief of Staff Panetta to have discussions as early as tomorrow with the two Budget Committee chairs, Chairman Livingston and Chairman Hatfield, to address the question of how, in light of the appropriations bill that's been passed, we can effectively address the subject of Bosnia. Until those discussions are held, the President will keep the bill under examination.

Q: As you know -- can I follow up, please? As you know, it's very easy to move things around in appropriations bills if all parties agree. Is Panetta going to suggest that if they provide the $1 billion or $1.5 billion out of that excess $7 billion that you'll go along with the remaining defense money?

MR. MCCURRY: We'll have to see how those conversations go. Yes.

Q: Is the President going to explain today where he's going to get the $2 billion required for this operation? Because the Republicans are saying that he will not finance it --

MR. MCCURRY: That's the question we just did.

Q: Do you have any reaction to this proposal by former Senator Tsongas and others, this gang of seven, to possibly mount an independent candidate to run against the President?


Q: Anything on Gingrich not running?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that the President has had an opportunity to review that. We have said, in each and every case when individuals have made the decision whether or not to run that it is, first and foremost, an intensely personal decision and the President respects the right of people to make that type of decision.

Q: Back on Bosnia. Have you talked to the President about the events of the weekend and the statements by Mr. Karadzic? Has he had any comment on that, and does it give him more pause for sending American troops over there?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there's been considerable comment by U.S. officials. We remind folks that, first of all, Dr. Karadzic is someone who is specifically identified as a person who is not likely to play a role in the political future of Bosnia-Herzegovina because he is under indictment by the International War Crimes Tribunal. And the agreement reached in Dayton specifically addressed that category of individual. The fact that he is, through a variety of statements, trying to question the resolve of NATO and the United States to pursue the agreement reached in Dayton is not unsurprising, given his status under that agreement.

At the same time, there are other leaders within the Bosnia Serb movement, both in Banja Luca and in Pale, who have expressed support for this agreement, and their commitment reflects the agreement reached in Dayton. Their willingness to pursue their obligations under this agreement are exactly part of the process that would help the international community to enforce the peace.

Q: You're saying that you don't perceive him as any danger?

MR. MCCURRY: Do I perceive -- do we perceive him as any danger?

Q: Yes. I mean, he has a lot of people who back him.

MR. MCCURRY: He has -- we have never, first of all, never acknowledged that he is a legitimately-elected political authority. There are some questions about how legitimate his authority is. And in any event, his status, as I say, under the Dayton agreement is in question. So the fact that he would be raising doubts about the agreement is not a surprise.

Q: -- the Bosnian Serbs are perceived as the wild card in all of this. Is it likely he will not even mention them by name in this speech?

MR. MCCURRY: The Bosnian Serbs have commitments reached in great detail in Dayton. And we believe that President Milosevic, who was legally empowered to negotiate on their behalf, will be effective and persuasive as he convinces the Bosnian Serbs to meet those requirements.

Now, there are -- as Secretary Perry said yesterday, there are areas where Bosnian Serbs are now where they are now covered under this agreement in the forms of the entity that will emerge as the Bosnian-Croat Federation portion of the authority that exists after this agreement, and those requirements will place some hardship on Bosnian Serb populations. But we believe, working effectively under the terms of this exhaustive and comprehensive agreement as has been developed, those hardships can be addressed effectively. People have rights under this agreement. Those people include the Bosnian Serbs, and we think those hardships can be effectively managed by their legitimate leadership.

Q: Would you expect a Bosnian-Serb representative to be in Paris to sign --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. And President Milosevic has indicated there will be.

Q: Do you know who that is?

MR. MCCURRY: No, he has not announced who the representative will be.

Q: Can you say how many times the President has made an Oval Office address? And can you take us through when you actually expect a vote on the Hill, what timetable is --

MR. MCCURRY: No, I can't. We can have someone do that research. Secondly, it will not be our determination of when there's an actual vote. The congressional consideration and the timetable for consideration will be up to the leadership.

Q: What leaders of Congress will the President be talking with tomorrow? Is that on Bosnia and the budget, and where and what time will that be?

MR. MCCURRY: It's not certain yet. My guess is sometime early afternoon.

Q: Back to Bosnia for a second. The vote has to come before the Paris signing, though; is that correct?

MR. MCCURRY: We would expect that it would.

Q: Okay. The second question is, tonight will he put an end date on this mission? And if he does and use the time limit of a year, how do you answer the criticism that that just tells all the parties how long they have to lay low?

Q: Well, the parties cannot do things contrary to the agreements they've reached. They have very specific requirements in the Dayton agreement as to where they bivouac, where they store heavy weapons, what posture they take during the period of peace. If they were storing up, awaiting the conclusion of any time period, that would be quite obvious and it would be contrary to the commitments that they had reached.

Again, as we've indicated over and over again, we are going to implement a peace that is being implemented in good faith by the parties. We're not going there to contribute to their ability to resume the war at some future date. The President agrees with the timetable as has been outlined by numerous administration officials that the duration of the military portion of the implementation force, its mission, is approximately 12 months.

Q: And he'll say that tonight?

MR. MCCURRY: He will -- I haven't looked at the latest text, but that's understood to be the duration of the mission plan that is being submitted by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe for consideration by the North Atlantic Council.

Q: You indicated that the President will go to Paris for the signing, but won't that be in the middle of the budget crunch, and would he actually go to Europe and then turn around, come back, and go back again?

MR. MCCURRY: I said that consultations that are underway with our allies have been done with the expectation that the signing ceremony in Paris would be at highest levels; there's no date certain for that signing ceremony.

Brit, back to your question, I am told that the President did speak to Speaker Gingrich at around 12:15 p.m. today. They had a very short call. The President had been trying to reach the Speaker during the course of the weekend and they finally connected today. The discussion was principally about Bosnia and about the President's speech tonight.

Q: Just a quickie on the 3,000 reservists. Will they be in addition to the 20,000 ground troops?

MR. MCCURRY: You should put that question to the Pentagon. They briefed extensively on it last week.

Q: Mike, is it conceivable that after the NAC meeting on Wednesday that the pre-positioning force, the so-called enabling force, will be sent to the region?

MR. MCCURRY: Any enabling force that's part of the eventual deployment of the main force on the ground is subject to the SACEUR plan that would have to be reviewed and approved by the North Atlantic Council.

Q: Mike, do you expect this plan to be approved as of tomorrow -- as of Wednesday, so in Brussels by night --

MR. MCCURRY: That is my understanding, but you should check with your colleagues in Brussels about their consideration. My understanding is that a defense ministers' level of the NAC would occur on Wednesday where they expect some type of action on the plan at that point.

Q: There been, as you know, a lot of polls that show that there's not a lot of public support for putting ground troops in Bosnia. Yet there are also polls that suggest as part of an international operation and as a peacekeeping force the support might be stronger. What is the White House's assessment of what public opinion on this is now, and what Clinton has tasked for this speech tonight?

MR. MCCURRY: The President, in making the case tonight, will talk about what is in the national interests of the American people: why we have a commitment to Europe to begin with at a time when some call that commitment into question; why we must bring -- help these parties bring an end to the horrible conflict in Bosnia that has raged for the last three and a half years, that have seen a quarter million people lose their lives, another two million displaced -- half the pre-war population of Bosnia has been either killed, tortured or uprooted in some way by this conflict, and those have left searing memories for most American people that have understood or tried to understand that conflict.

That's what he's going to talk about tonight, and I don't know for that matter that the President cares one way or another which way the polls go, but he believes, as Americans, when they understand what's at stake for us, why we have a commitment to Europe in the first place, why we have to help these parties bring an end to this tragic conflict, that they will be persuaded. And he hopes he can make that case effectively.

Q: Michael, I hate to quote back the President to you from when he was a candidate because you might not be familiar with this, but he said extensively then that Americans should not get engaged in wars unless they are supported by the public. And my question was not a political question, my question was a basic White House question, whether or not the President believes he has to change public opinion greatly in support of this war, whether or not this military involvement or whether or not he thinks there's more support than we now see, or whether it plays -- it doesn't make a difference what the public thinks.

MR. MCCURRY: The President, he believes he has to go before the American people, as he will tonight, and very carefully in a very forthright way, explain why this mission is in the best interests of the American people. And he believes as he does that he will gain their support, he will the support of our Congress, and people will understand why this is a fundamental commitment that we must fulfill if we are to assume the leadership responsibility that we have in the post-Cold War era.

Q: Is he or anyone else in the administration going to do anything else in the following days to try and sell this to the American people? And did he talk to others on the Hill today besides Gingrich?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to the second part of the question, whether he's had additional discussions today. He does plan, himself, to work in coming days to make the case for this. As you know, he will be visiting the troops who will be part of this deployment Saturday in Germany, along with Chancellor Kohl. He will be discussing the importance of working together with the international community as he meets with the British Prime Minister and as he meets with the European colleagues at the EU summit in Madrid on Sunday. And a variety of people from the administration will make the case, we hope effectively, to the Congress and to the American people about why this deployment is in our national interest.

There will be ample opportunity for senior administration officials to testify on the Hill. We've been assured that they will have that opportunity, and in a variety of ways, the administration will make the case forcefully because the President is absolutely convinced that this is in our interests as we live up to our responsibilities that we have in this world.

Q: Would you anticipate a presidential phone lobbying campaign while he's traveling?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I suspect that he will remain very closely attuned to the debate here in Congress even while he's overseas.

Q: Mike, how concerned is the President about developments in Haiti and President Aristides -- the intimations that he might consider overstaying his term in office, especially with --since that was the case, would the President send troops in spite of public opinion, and he's now asking the public to go along with him again?

MR. MCCURRY: The President is very concerned about Haiti because we have approximately 2,500 troops there as part of the residual multinational force that was the follow-on force to the U.S. force that went into Haiti to restore democracy. He has been briefed regularly about political conditions in Haiti.

On balance, I have to say that we are certainly gratified that the conditions in Haiti are much more stable and much less dangerous than they were prior to the arrival of U.S. forces. However, at the same time, with the withdrawal of the multinational force scheduled for the end of February, 1996, we are concerned about political conditions there and we do take note of the commitments by President Aristide to preside over the successful restoration of democracy by seeing the inauguration of the second democratically-elected president. We take that on faith. And we also take that at President Aristide's word, confirmed as recently as last week when he met with National Security Advisor Tony Lake in Port-au-Prince.

Q: Has there been any follow-up by the administration to the remarks over the weekend by Aristide which gave rise to at least some doubts that he would go through with this and would not seek to serve further?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, say again?

Q: Has the administration sought to follow up on the meaning of what Aristide said over the weekend which gave rise to --

MR. MCCURRY: We have. They were more ambiguous than the previous question indicated. The remarks were delivered in Creole and they were ambiguous. But what is not ambiguous is the commitment President Aristide has made on prior occasions to leave office and to preside over the inauguration of his successor.

Q: Just to follow up for a second. Does the administration feel it has any recourse of any kind should Aristide, in effect, double-cross you on this?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, President Aristide has to respond to a very difficult political dynamic in Haiti. He is the single most popular political official in Haiti, and there is enormous pressure on him from political forces throughout the country, but especially from his own movement, Lavalas, and he is effectively responding to that as he attempts to keep a coalition together and win an election, now scheduled for mid- next month.

So, given that political dynamic, he clearly is using his influence with his movement and his constituency, but at the same time we hope that our persuasiveness has some role, too, and everyone in Haiti, including President Aristide, is well aware of the considerable effort made by the United States and by the community of nations to help restore democracy, and that has, probably, a powerful influence on a variety of political figures in Haiti.

Q: Is there some concern here that the effect of his remarks over the weekend may be to freeze the campaign in place while everybody wonders what he's going to do? That's happened before in other elections, as you know.

MR. MCCURRY: The electoral commission in Haiti has certified 14 candidates who are on the ballot. They are campaigning; they are attempting to gather political support. And during the election period, one of them will gain sufficient support to be elected. But that is the process that we are encouraging with our presence, and that's the one that we believe President Aristide is committed to.

Q: Do you know if Secretary Christopher or Tony Lake or anybody in the administration directly contacted Aristide after the remarks and said what are you talking about?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, his speech November 11th was the one that raised some ambiguity, and as I say, Tony Lake was there and met for three hours with President Aristide on Thursday.

Q: I meant since the --

MR. MCCURRY: And his remarks this past weekend were very much along the same, in the same lines.

Q: As the 11th?

Q: Is that a no?

MR. MCCURRY: November 11th was his first speech, and then there was a subsequent speech this past weekend.

Q: But is the answer no, Michael?

Q: The answer is no, I take it.

MR. MCCURRY: Has any -- I don't know that the answer is no. I'd have to check and see whether Ambassador Swing or others may have had contact.

Q: Could you explain, just, once again, just taking the other side for a second, what's wrong if Aristide -- what would be wrong from the U.S. point of view -- if Aristide has done a good job restoring democracy and the situation is good there now, better than it was before, and since he did lose three years of his elected term by the coup plotters, why is the U.S. opposed to his seeking another three years?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we are not -- we are in support of the Haitian constitution as it was promulgated, which bars successive terms. And we are supportive of the remarks made by President Aristide who indicated, correctly we believe, that the measure of a democracy is the ability to elect the second president, not necessarily the first.

Q: Mike, on the budget --

MR. MCCURRY: We've got about one minute, I'm told, before people need to gather for the next event.

Q: On the budget, has the administration gotten any response to Mr. Panetta's letter? And what do you expect to happen tomorrow? What are the President's expectations while he's gone?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President hopes that, based on Mr. Panetta's letter, which is a very detailed agenda for the concerns that he brings to the table as we begin an effort now to write a balanced budget plan, that those concerns will be addressed, that those who will negotiate on behalf of the administration will encounter congressional participants who want to address those priorities. And we've made it clear we also understand that the timing of the balanced budget is important to Congress, and Congress and the President have agreed to a good-faith effort to meet both the timetable and the priorities as they were very meticulously addressed by the Chief of Staff.

Q: Can I follow up on that? The Republicans today had said that the budget, the letter that Panetta sent and other budget figures are not specific enough, that they need more concrete numbers or else they have nothing to negotiate on.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we did not intend in Mr. Panetta's letter to send a draft budget to Congress. We did intend to sketch out the areas that we would be prepared to address in great detail if there's a good-faith effort by the congressional participants to address that.

Q: Does the administration plan to send numbers before --

MR. MCCURRY: You can't write a budget without discussing numbers.

Q: Mike, you say President Aristide gave Mr. Lake private assurances. Did Mr. Lake ask him to make public assurances, too?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, Mr. Lake addressed that question yesterday, and he indicated that we take on faith the public remarks that President Aristide has been made about his willingness to inaugurate a successor.

Q: How much do you figure is the recent Republican position on Bosnia is -- by the upcoming presidential campaign?

MR. MCCURRY: I have no way of knowing.

Q: Mike, would you expect the President to decide one way or other on the defense appropriations bill before he leaves for Europe?

MR. MCCURRY: That is not clear that -- given that the Chief of Staff will have discussions tomorrow, I'm not certain that there would be any decision prior to November 30th.

Q: Well, going into the negotiations -- you say you can't have negotiations without discussion numbers -- is the administration going to have a set of numbers that goes into the meetings?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we have a public set of numbers which are contained in our budget proposal, which meets the test that Congress and the President have now embraced. They have agreed to a commitment to meet and address a set of priorities. Now, we have a set of numbers that work. We have to discuss with Congress how you adjust those numbers as you attempt to meet the timetable that they've identified as being the important part of the equation from their perspective.

Q: Which numbers are these that you say meet the mutually-agreed upon test?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't say that. I said we have got numbers that meet the principles that we consider important. And we have to work now with Congress to see if that can be done within the seven-year timetable that the President and Congress have committed to.

Q: Just to clarify what you just said to Mark, if it's not clear that he's going to make a decision before November 30th, then it sounds like you're saying he'll let it become law without his signature, since December 1st --

MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't say that.

Q: Well, could you clarify since December 1st is the deadline?

MR. MCCURRY: November 30th I thought was the deadline. And I just suggested that it's not clear that he would take action on the bill one way or another prior to November 30th.

Q: Can you clarify -- when you said you have numbers that meet those principles, are you talking about the nine-year numbers?

Q: But then it becomes law, Mike.

Q: That's what I'm asking.

Q: If he doesn't act one way or the other.

MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't say -- I said it was not clear that we would act prior to November 30th. November 30th is the deadline, and he clearly is expected to act by that deadline.

Q: Mike, when he doesn't act it becomes law.

MR. MCCURRY: He has to take action by November 30th. I'm just saying it ain't going to happen tomorrow, definitely. That's all I'm saying. The question is whether he's going to it before we left for Europe, and I said not necessarily. That's what I was saying.

Q: Is he likely to accept a bill with the $6.9 billion overrun if the money for the Bosnia mission is incorporated in it?

MR. MCCURRY: I already said. Asked and answered.

Q: Could I try again?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Yes, we have specific numbers. They are numbers that follow the rough parameters of our nine to 10 year proposal, but we also are cognizant of the fact that if you're trying to do that on a different track you have to make adjustments in those numbers. And we thought about that. I'm not going to put those cards on the table for you now. But they clearly at some point have to have specific discussions around those numbers. Otherwise there's not going to be a budget December 15th.

Q: Mike, can you indicate to us why the President is so confident that he will get the approval of the nation on this?

MR. MCCURRY: Because I think that when the President --the President believes when he makes this argument directly to the American people about what our enduring commitment is to Europe and why we have to bring peace amidst the bloodshed that we've seen for the last three and a half years, the American people will understand and respect that argument.

Q: Who's going with him tomorrow?

Q: Mike, I just have a question -- I'm confused about this DOD thing. Are you saying that it won't happen tomorrow, meaning before he goes to Europe, but it will happen before November 30th?

MR. MCCURRY: I said I didn't guarantee that he's going to announce a decision on DOD appropriations before tomorrow.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 1:37 P.M. EST

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

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives