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Remarks on Budget Negotiations and an Exchange With Reporters

December 22, 1995

The President. I hope—as you see, we're running a little behind today, so I hope you'll forgive us if we don't do a lot of questions; we have a lot of work to do. But let me just say from my point of view, I am pleased that our representatives met yesterday. They did make some progress. Obviously, a lot of the biggest issues remain. But the process seems to be working, and I'm encouraged. And I want to continue to do it until we reach agreement on a balanced budget. That's what I think clearly we all want.

I would say here that 2 days before Christmas I hope some way can be found to get the checks for the 3 1/2 million veterans and the aid to the 8 million children who need it just to exist. And there are almost half a million Federal workers who have been working who won't get their paychecks today that they would otherwise get. So I think those problems need to be addressed.

But on the other issue, I at least believe that we made some good progress yesterday, and I'm looking forward to the report today and continuing this process until we succeed, until we get this job done.

Q. Can we ask the leaders, Mr. President, if they will get the checks out and——

Q. Do you think the Congress should go home when millions are denied subsistence checks over Christmas?

Speaker Gingrich. Well, let me just say, if I could for a second, Mr. President, I think both the House and Senate hope to get those bills down here today so that the—the AFDC and the—as the President mentioned the other day on television.

Q. What are the chances of reopening the Government, Mr. Speaker?

Speaker Gingrich. I think we're going to talk about that now.

Q. Mr. Speaker, do you feel like a dog being wagged by its tail? [Laughter]

Speaker Gingrich. It's amazing you guys get paid for some of these questions, on the eve of Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Q. No, it's not my expression; it's the President's analysis.

The President. I never called the Speaker a dog. [Laughter]

Q. No, I know you didn't.

Speaker Gingrich. And I'm deeply grateful. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you think you can get a framework of a deal by Christmas?

The President. I'm prepared to—let me just say, I'm prepared to just keep working. I think all of us want to have Christmas with our families, but beyond that, I'm prepared to keep working. And I'm going to do everything I can to succeed, and that's what we're going to talk about.

Q. Mr. Speaker——

The President. Thank you. We really need to go to work.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:52 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House, prior to a meeting with congressional leaders. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Budget Negotiations and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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