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Press Briefing by Mike McCurry

December 29, 1995

The Briefing Room

7:25 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: Second verse, same as the first. Bye. (Laughter.)

Q: Do you know now how the President feels about the Democratic move in the Senate?

MR. MCCURRY: The President believes that we'll able to work -- given the cooperation shown today, we can work something out that will allow federal workers to resume their diligent service to the American people.

Q: Tonight?

Q: What's that mean?

MR. MCCURRY: It will be up to senators and leaders on the Hill to resolve those issues, but we hope they will.

Q: Well, does he agree that the Democrats have a point?

MR. MCCURRY: He understands the concerns the senators have to make sure they've got the right protected to debate very important budget matters and the very few hours of hearings and debate devoted to aspects of the Republican budget. And he well understands why people are protecting the right to have further debate. At the same time, he will encourage all members of Congress from both parties to act quickly to allow federal workers to return to their posts.

Q: Mike, when you say work something out, does the President -- is the President given to understand that there will be something done today or tomorrow to work something out to return furloughed federal employees back to the job -- to their jobs?

MR. MCCURRY: The sense the President got is that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are working urgently to solve the matter.

Q: -- conciliatory to me.

MR. MCCURRY: -- let me tell you what I know about tonight. They're taking a break. Mr. Panetta and his group from the White House will return to Capitol Hill, begin meeting with the so-called budget advisers group, approximately 8:00 p.m. It's my understanding they do not plan any further readouts this evening. They are continuing to work through issues that they then prepare for discussion by the budget advisers. I anticipate that staffs are going to be working throughout the evening and into the morning to prepare discussion documents that will be used by the principals

tomorrow. They've agreed to reconvene here at the White House at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. That's the principals group.

Q: How does that affect the radio address? Still be done live?

MR. MCCURRY: The radio address is going to be done taped just to protect -- make sure we don't have any -- because the President may be involved in pre-briefs prior to the meeting.

Q: What's the subject?

MR. MCCURRY: It will be about the budget.

Q: When will that be available, Mike?

MR. MCCURRY: He's taping it tomorrow morning, and we expect it will be available just shortly before air time.

Q: Mike, the Republicans all left tonight without comment. Did the meeting end in an atmosphere of --

MR. MCCURRY: It ended very amicably. And the President, the Speaker, the Majority Leader and the Democratic leaders agreed that the readout that you heard earlier this evening would suffice for the work that they did between roughly 6:00 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.

Q: -- resolution tomorrow, Mike? What does it look like?

MR. MCCURRY: Say again.

Q: For the prospects of a resolution tomorrow.

MR. MCCURRY: A resolution -- you mean a resolution of issues or --

Q: Yes.

MR. MCCURRY: They will make progress tomorrow, but I don't -- the work they're doing, it would be very hard at this point to predict that they would arrive at any final agreements tomorrow. They've got a lot of work to do tomorrow.

Q: Do you this going, then, into Sunday?

MR. MCCURRY: Conceivably, yes. But that's not been decided yet.

Q: Do you have a reaction from the President to the Daschle blocking this plan that --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, we talked about that earlier.

Q: Is there a meeting with Panetta and the budget advisers tomorrow morning before the principals meeting? There was some talk about a 9:00 a.m. meeting on the Hill before the principals came down here. Was there any talk about that?

MR. MCCURRY: They may -- the budget advisers group may reconvene tomorrow morning, but they -- that would be prior to the 10:30 a.m. meeting --

Q: Why did the President cut off a reporter from asking Gingrich whether he had caved?

MR. MCCURRY: The President -- (inaudible) -- felt that there had been any indication by the Speaker that he had, quote, unquote, caved -- (inaudible) -- the President also thought he might give a better answer than the Speaker might. (Laughter.)

Q: What?

Q: He wants peace to reign.

Q: -- single issue was set aside as agreed upon or anything narrowed substantially --

MR. MCCURRY: The procedure they've been using for these discussions is that any element discussed and any element that they reach consensus upon would not change the admonition that nothing is finally agreed until everything is agreed.

Q: Your sense, Mike, about any travel plans the President may have that could be tomorrow or more likely Sunday now?

MR. MCCURRY: I have no sense, but the President seemed to be enjoying himself here as much as he would in South Carolina. (Laughter.)

Q: You have no sense of that?

Q: -- answer to that question that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed -- what you're saying is, whatever differences they narrow today have no permanent status because everything has to be agreed to or--

MR. MCCURRY: As a common negotiating device, they usually -- even as they work through complicated issues, that they reserve the right at the end of the discussion to go back and look at the entire package. And they have done so here, and I suspect they will continue to do so -- that they will go back and look at the final package that they get, if they in fact get one, before they agree that they've got a final agreement.

Q: But you -- as you agree, you guys are just checking it off and moving on to the next one, and then --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, but what they're doing -- they're doing -- I mean, without getting into the substance, because I'm not authorized to get into the substance, they are working through a set of issues that have been identified. The budget advisers today met, dealt with a series of budget issues, not all of them, but many of them. They were analyzed in some detail, discussions papers were prepared. They were reviewed today. The budget advisers will now go back up to the Hill, continue to address elements of the budget discussion. They will be analyzed, discussion drafts will be prepared, and they'll work again on it tomorrow. They're taking these issues serially as they work through a series of contentious issues that range from the -- starting with the less controversial and moving to the more controversial. And they clearly now are moving into areas that are more controversial.

Q: On the Hill tonight do you think there will be action to get the workers back to work?

MR. MCCURRY: I cannot predict that. You've heard the discussion of the representatives and the congressional leadership earlier, and it will be up to them to --

Q: Mike, are there going to be simultaneous meetings with the budget leaders up on the Hill, meeting at the same time that the meetings down here are taking place, or do they complete --

Q: I think Tony Blankley said --

Q: He did indicate -- Tony indicated that they'd be up on the Hill, you know, working on churning stuff out even for future issues -- even as --

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, yes, they have -- well, we have -- there have been staff -- staff work has continued even while the principals are meeting, yes. In fact, there's some -- staff has been available in the Roosevelt Room in case there is a need for expert advice on budget related issues, and they continue.

Q: With Cabinet-level people? Will they be meeting also at the same --

MR. MCCURRY: I wouldn't rule it out, but mostly the people who are there are more staff level experts.

Q: -- radio address subject?

MR. MCCURRY: It will be the budget situation generally. It will also be, because it's the last radio address of the year, it will be a review of 1995.

Q: Mike, unrelated, is the policy out here changed at all, or was that just a mis --

MR. MCCURRY: That was a regrettable misunderstanding, and I believe we have got meetings going on right now to straighten out --

Q: That's not the first time it's happened today. It's happened several times.

MR. MCCURRY: I understand, and there's --

Q: Some people decided not to provoke a fight and --

MR. MCCURRY: Right. They're working to clarify what the ground rules are on -- (inaudible) -- because they obviously --

Q: Is the President going out tonight?

MR. MCCURRY: Say again.

Q: Is the President going out tonight?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. Is he? He is? Pool alert -- that he may go out for dinner apparently.

Q: Where?

MR. MCCURRY: Okay, see you all tomorrow.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 7:35 P.M. EST

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

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