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Teleconference on the Passage of Handgun Control Legislation and an Exchange With Reporters

November 24, 1993

Q. How soon do you think for the signing, Mr. President?

The President. Early next week, I hope. We're working on it.

Q. And what about the compromise? Are you satisfied with the kind of compromise the Republicans want to bring to a vote?

The President. They asked for the right to bring it to a vote and to know that it wouldn't be vetoed if they could pass it. We all agreed, all of us together, that that was acceptable.

Q. Do you think the Republicans were afraid to go home to their districts this weekend without reaching some kind of agreement?

The President. I think the American people would have been real disappointed if Congress had gone home without this bill. And I think they'll be very happy now. It's a great Thanksgiving present.

[At this point, the telephone conversation began.]

The President. Hello, Senator Mitchell, how are you doing? Mr. Speaker?

Senator Mitchell. [Inaudible]

The President. You sure are. I told you last night, see.

Senator Mitchell. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, we are delighted. I am here with the Vice President, Attorney General Reno, and Jim and Sarah Brady in the Oval Office, and we're all happy as can be. And we thank you very much for a wonderful session of Congress and a wonderful ending.

Senator Mitchell. [Inaudible]—back to health care next year.

Speaker Foley. A lot of work to be done next year, Mr. President, we're going to look forward to working with you on.

The President. And we're ready to roll, and we're very grateful to you. You have a good Thanksgiving and a good Christmas.

Speaker Foley. I'd like to put on Bob Michel here just to say a word to you.

Senator Mitchell. And Bob Dole as well——

The President. Please do.

Senator Mitchell. ——without whose cooperation we could not have achieved this result today.

Representative Michel. Hi, Mr. President, this is Bob Michel speaking.

The President. Hello, Bob.

Senator Dole. Bob Dole——

The President. Hi, Bob. Thank you both very much.

Senator Dole. Well, we think it was kind of a capstone of the whole session to get the Brady bill behind us. As I indicated yesterday, I thought we could do it if we just hung in there.

The President. Well, it worked out, and all of us are very pleased and very grateful. And I'm especially glad that we're ending this session on two measures where there was substantial bipartisan support for the progress that we're making. And I'm very appreciative of it, grateful to both of you. I hope you have a good holiday.

Senator Dole. Same to you, Mr. President.

Representative Michel. Yeah, thank you very much, Mr. President.

The President. Take care of that shoulder, Bob.

Representative Michel. [Inaudible]—I would have to agree with the assessment. It got confrontational at times, but it's nice to leave in an amicable mood when we're talking the same language. We'll be back next year.

The President. Can't wait to see you.

Representative Michel. Happy Thanksgiving to both you and Mrs. Clinton.

The President. Thank you.

Speaker Foley. Goodbye, sir.

The President. Goodbye, Mr. Speaker.

Senator Mitchell. Okay, thank you again, Mr. President. Have a good Thanksgiving.

The President. Thank you, Senator Mitchell.

Senator Mitchell. Talk to you soon.

The President. Bless you. Bye-bye.

[At this point, the telephone conversation ended.]

The President. I would just like to say before we leave, on behalf of the Vice President and the Attorney General and myself, that we believe very passionately in the Brady bill. As all of you who were involved in the campaign know, I spoke about it at every campaign stop and every country crossroads in this country. But none of this would have ever happened if it hadn't been for the courage and dedication and constancy of Jim and Sarah Brady. They worked for 7 years for this day. This is their victory, and I'm glad to be a small part of it.

And I hope that it means what I believe it does, which is that the American people are serious about our doing something about mindless violence, about the terrible conditions under which our young people are laboring, where so many of the children are being shot, weapons of mass destruction that they shouldn't even have in the cities or anywhere else in this country. And I hope this is the beginning of our effort to rebuild the fabric of this country from the grassroots up.

Our administration is dedicated to that. The Attorney General has spent her life working on it. And if this is the beginning of what I think it is, then the entire Nation owes Jim and Sarah Brady even more than for the Brady bill; they have changed the focus of our Nation. It's high time. It took them too many years to do it. What a wonderful Thanksgiving for them. And we are thankful for them. Thank you very much.

James Brady. Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:50 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, and his wife, Sarah, head of Handgun Control, Inc.

William J. Clinton, Teleconference on the Passage of Handgun Control Legislation and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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