For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 23, 2006
Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route South Bend, Indiana
10:47 A.M. EST
MS. PERINO: Good morning, everybody. A quick update. The President received his regular briefings this morning. As you know, he met with his Cabinet, where Fran Townsend, the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism advisor to the President presented her lessons learned report on Hurricane Katrina that the President requested on September 6, 2005. She will have a briefing at the White House briefing room at 11:00 a.m. this morning. So I'm sure your colleagues will provide you more information, since you're on the road.
We are now on our way to Indiana, where the President will give remarks at the event for Chocola for Congress reception. After that, the President will meet with a wounded soldier, soldier wounded in Baghdad.
Then we will go to Cincinnati --
Q Soldier or a family?
MS. PERINO: Soldier. I'm not sure if the family will be there, or not. I can find out.
The President will also make remarks in Cincinnati this afternoon, at the Mike DeWine for U.S. Senate reception.
I also have a foreign leader call to read out to you. This morning the President spoke with Haitian President-elect Préval to congratulate him on his election victory and to express our continuing interest in the democratic and economic success of Haiti. The two also briefly discussed cooperating in Haiti's economic development and the fight against the illegal drug trade.
With that, I'll take any questions you have.
Q Any members on board? Did Congressman Chocola come?
MS. PERINO: Congressman Chocola is on board.
Q What are the chances that the administration is going to allow this 45 day review to kick in on the port security deal?
MS. PERINO: Well, you heard from the President this morning talk about this transaction. In addition to that, yesterday, we provided briefings for five committees on the Hill. That was at the staff level. There are two additional --
Q Staff level on both White House staff and committee staff members?
MS. PERINO: I don't believe there were any members at these committee hearings on the Hill yesterday. Today there are two additional hearings, including one at 11:00 a.m. in Senator Warner's Armed Services Committee. That is open press. There are more briefings scheduled. We are committed to making sure that Congress has all the information they need about this transaction, so that they can understand all of the thoughtful consideration that went into it by the national security interests that are on the CFIUS committee.
Q So where does that leave the 45 day delay? You're not doing that, right?
MS. PERINO: At this point, no legislation has been passed. We have been working with Congress over the past several days. Again, we're doing these briefings yesterday, we have additional briefings today, and we're committed to making sure they have all the information that they need, and we'll continue to work with them as the process moves forward.
Q Is it the goal to obviate the need for a 45-day extension by giving them everything they need in a pretty quick and timely fashion?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think you heard from the President. He believes that this deal should go forward. And we are committed to giving Congress all the information that they need so that the deal can move forward, and so that it's not blocked.
Q I want to ask you a quick question about the process of reviewing the deal. Apparently there are restrictions that are common in approving transactions of this type that were not put forward in this deal, such as requiring their documents to stay on American soil. Can you explain why those kinds of restrictions weren't put on this transaction?
MR. PERINO: I'm not familiar particularly with that issue of the documents staying on U.S. soil. I would refer you to the Department of Homeland Security, who last night released the letter of assurances that it had received from the company. I think one of the things I saw in a report this morning about restrictions that were not included in this deal are restrictions that are usually placed on telecom deals that go through the CFIUS process. Obviously, this is not a telecommunications deal. So I'd refer you to the Department of Homeland Security, maybe Assistant Secretary Baker, who could provide more information about those.
Q -- already talking about having the votes to override the veto. Does the veto threat still stand?
MS. PERINO: You heard from the President the other day, and I don't have anything to add.
Q Does that threat also apply to legislation that would impose a 45-day delay?
MS. PERINO: The President has been clear, and I don't have anything to add, in terms of what he said on Tuesday.
Q He said, "any legislation to halt it."
MS. PERINO: That's correct.
Q Okay, so it does not apply to a delay.
MS. PERINO: I'll leave his words where they are.
Q Anything on the violence in Iraq?
MS. PERINO: Well, you heard from the President this morning in the Cabinet meeting, and we know that the insurgents have been trying for some time to divide Iraqis. The Iraqis have proven that they want democracy, most recently with 11 million Iraqis going to vote in the last election. And we appreciate the calm -- I'm sorry, the call for calm by the Iraqi leaders, and we reiterate that message.
Q What's he going to say in his speech today?
MS. PERINO: Stay tuned. It's happening in a few minutes.
Q Is it your basic fundraiser speech, or will he be giving us some news?
MS. PERINO: I've not seen the remarks, I don't know.
Q Have you heard of any views from -- not necessarily these candidates, from other candidates, about the ports deal, at this point? A couple of the candidates running for Senate in Tennessee, both said, that's not where we are, we need to block this deal; some of the folks running for Congress -- I saw somebody running for Congress in Georgia saying that. Are you at all hearing that from some folks?
MS. PERINO: Well, I certainly can't speak for members of Congress, and I believe that those who have wanted to speak out on this matter have, or if they want to in the future, they're certainly able to do that. What we are focused on is making sure that they have all the information that they need in order to be assured that the security of this country is what we consider our number one priority, that the security at the ports is going to be -- continue to be maintained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard. That is true before this transaction, it would be true after this transaction. The security of our nation's ports is managed by the United States government, and we want to make sure that the Congress has all the information that they have as we move forward.
Q Given the Republican complaints about this ports deal, is the President still getting a lot of invites to attend fundraisers like this today?
MS. PERINO: I checked on that this morning. In fact, we are getting daily requests for the President to participate in campaign events. In fact, the supply is not keeping up with demand. You also heard from the President in his press conference on January 26th, in which he said that he wants to be out there campaigning, so I can expect you'll see him out on the road supporting Republican candidates.
Q Can you quantify that a little bit? You said you checked into it. How many pending requests are there?
MS. PERINO: I'll see if there's anything I can add. I don't know.
END 10:55 A.M. EST