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For Immediate Release
October 28, 2005
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Norfolk, Virginia
9:16 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, good morning, everybody. Let me go through the President's day real quick, and I have one additional announcement to make. And then I'll be glad to take your questions.
The President taped his radio address this morning. Then he participated in his usual intelligence briefing. We are going to Norfolk now, where the President will be speaking to military personnel and families. This is another in the series of speeches that the President has been making on the war on terrorism and builds on what we've been saying recently about the stakes involved in the war on terrorism, and the nature of the enemy that we're up against.
Then, following that, we will return back to Washington. And this afternoon the President has a meeting scheduled with the Secretary of Defense. Then he'll make remarks in the East Room at the 40th anniversary of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. And then he's scheduled to depart for Camp David around 3:50 p.m. this afternoon.
The announcement that I have is that this afternoon we are going to be sending a savings package of spending rescissions and a reallocation of existing funds to Congress. We will do a conference call probably sometime after 3:00 p.m. today -- we'll get you the exact time on that later today -- with our OMB officials to talk about this package that we'll be sending up. But again, this is a savings package that will include a reallocation of existing funds, funds that have already been appropriated to begin the recovery and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast region. And then it will also include a spending -- a package of spending rescissions, as well.
It will have zero impact on the deficit. The funds -- and the reallocation will be limited to activities that are in need of funding until -- by May. So it's going to be essentially shifting funds the Congress has already passed for FEMA's disaster relief fund. And the rescission will be in addition to the reallocation.
We do expect to seek additional funding for the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region next year, but we think this will address what is needed for that time period I just mentioned, from now until -- or the upcoming weeks until May.
And then I'll do the week ahead at the end if you remind me.
Q -- dollar sign on the rescissions?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will -- that's what the conference call will be about later today.
Q Exactly how much money?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, about what we're talking about.
Q So you're reprogramming funds from the disaster relief fund --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- reallocating or shifting funds from what's already been appropriated for the disaster relief fund. And then there will be spending rescissions on top of that.
Q Okay, and taking those together, a net impact of zero on the deficit?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q So what's the word on Mr. Rove? Is he spared an indictment today?
MR. McCLELLAN: One, there -- I know there's a lot of speculation that's been going on; two, it still remains an ongoing investigation at this point, so I don't really have anything else to add to it at this time. If the special prosecutor has any announcements to make, then I think you can expect that we'll have more to say after that. But I don't have anything to add to what we've previously said about it.
Q Will the President be prepared to talk once Mr. Fitzgerald has made his announcements?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let's see what the special prosecutor has to say, if he has something to say later today.
Q Were Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby in senior staff this morning?
MR. McCLELLAN: They were both at the White House this morning and participating in meetings.
Q But specifically in senior staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think Karl left his house a little bit later than normal, so he was in a little bit later. And Scooter did come to senior staff.
Q Has Karl informed anybody at the White House that he's been informed that he is not to be indicted today, as his lawyer is telling others?
MR. McCLELLAN: All I know, Geoff, is that there's a lot of speculation and I don't have anything to add beyond that.
Q Karl, we understand, met late last night with the President. Was that -- can you tell us if that was about the pending indictments, or was this on a regular business matter?
MR. McCLELLAN: I saw that report and I'm not sure what they were referring to. If you have more information I'll be glad to check into it.
Q Is that typical that Karl talks with the President outside of normal business hours?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. He's Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. We don't have normal business hours at the White House. But again, I don't know what the Associated Press is referring to, that Geoff was bringing up. If you find out more, let me know and I'll check into it. Obviously, there are a lot of meetings that go on, on a lot of important priorities that we're focused on, and so --
Q On the rescissions, do you have any kind of ballpark number on how much it is?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, not yet. We'll have that later today.
Q Not like within tens of billions --
MR. McCLELLAN: They're finalizing up the package and putting it all together. I'm not going to get out in front of the announcement until we're ready to do so. And plus, there are congressional consultations that we have, as well, so I want to make sure that those have the opportunity to proceed forward.
Q Is there an expectation that people would tender their resignations if there were indictments?
MR. McCLELLAN: If there are, you can ask me those questions after that.
Q On Harriet Miers, are we expecting an announcement today in terms of her replacement?
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you for bringing that up. I do not expect any announcement today. The President is moving forward, and as he indicated, he will name a nominee in a timely manner. But I do not expect any announcement today.
Q What about over the weekend?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't expect any announcement today. I'm not going to go beyond that.
Q It's been suggested that he wants to move in more than a timely manner, it would seem, that he wants to move very quickly on this. Do you expect us to have something, if not this weekend, then early next week?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm just not going to speculate about the timing, but he is moving forward on making an announcement soon, and when he's ready to do so you will hear from him.
Q Did he meet with anybody --
Q Has he already talked to potential nominees?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not speculating about any announcements. Anything else?
Q Scott, on the reprogramming and the rescissions, when news of this surfaced from the Hill around midweek, some members of the Louisiana delegation are concerned that the President may not make good on promises for the amount of aid that he suggested would be available to them for the hurricane, and that he's kicking the can down the road by not allocating new funds for this at this time. So I was wondering if you could respond to that.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, a couple things. One, I think the President made it very clear that we're going to do our part to help the people in the Gulf Coast rebuild and -- rebuild their communities and rebuild their lives. The initial funding that we provided of some nearly $63 billion that we thought would be needed for the -- some of the immediate needs, it has turned out that some of that funding hasn't been needed. And so that's why we're going to be able to shift some of those funds to needs that will be coming up in the coming weeks and months. But we -- as I indicated, we expect to come back next year and seek additional resources to address ongoing needs. This is, as the President indicated, going to be one of the largest reconstruction efforts ever. The private sector -- it's important to help the private sector get back up on its feet, too, and that means getting people back in their communities and working, and that will help address needs, as well. So we have to take all that into account.
And what we want to make sure that we are doing is acting in a fiscally responsible way while meeting the needs of the people in the region. And you can do both.
Q Any consideration of expanding to include Wilma now?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sorry -- funding?
MR. McCLELLAN: On this request? Well, check later today, but I'm not -- we've already issued the disaster declarations for Florida to address some of their needs. And obviously, we'll look at what's needed there, as well.
Q One more thing on Karl. If he were to escape an indictment today, but be told he is still in legal jeopardy, still under investigation, could he continue on in his capacity in that mode?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into what-ifs at this point. If, as is reported in the media, the special prosecutor has more to say today, then we'll be ready to talk after that.
Q I want to go back for a minute on the spending rescissions, you called them, and then the reprogramming of existing funds within the disaster relief funds -- that's an accurate way to portray it?
MR. McCLELLAN: The spending rescissions are in addition to the reallocation of funds that will go to meet needs in the Gulf Coast region needs. Through -- or up until this May, essentially is what we're thinking that this will address. But you'll have more on the conference call later today to explain that and answer some of the questions.
All right, let me do the week ahead. Monday, the President will be meeting with Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy at the White House, as you all are aware.
On Tuesday, the President is going to be making remarks on our national strategy for pandemic and influenza preparedness and response. As you know, we've been moving forward on our preparedness plan and the President is going to be talking more about that in remarks on Tuesday in Washington.
On Wednesday, the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to welcoming the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to the White House, where they will participate in the arrival greeting, and then a dinner.
And then Thursday through Monday we will be traveling to South America, and I expect we'll do a trip briefing before we all depart for South America.
I might have an additional announcement to make for you in a minute.
Q What about the speech today? Any more you can give us in terms of an advance on the speech that he's about to make?
MR. McCLELLAN: What I just told you in the beginning, and that's the general outlines. I think it will be similar to -- he wants to continue to reiterate what he has been in the speeches, to talk to the American people about the stakes involved and the nature of the enemy that we're up against, and the progress that we're making in Iraq, as well.
Q And he'll probably talk to families, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: The other additional announcement is that the President will be attending the memorial service for Rosa Parks on Monday in Washington.
All right, thanks.
Q One more thing. Has the special prosecutor communicated at all to the President in the last couple days, as he's wrapping up his investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, if there's more to say, I'm sure the special prosecutor will do so at the appropriate time. I don't have anything else to add to what I've already said.
All right, thanks.
END 9:25 A.M. EDT
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