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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 17, 2006

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Briefing Room

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12:54 P.M. EST

MR. MCCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everyone; happy St. Patrick's Day. I see some of the familiar faces are missing -- I know it's been a busy time, they must be a little tired and exhausted lately. (Laughter.)

The President is giving a series of speeches this month to update the American people about our strategy for victory in Iraq. In those speeches he's talking about the progress we're making, the lessons we have learned from experience and how we're fixing what was not working. The speeches give the President an opportunity to talk about developments in Iraq in the broader context, and speak in greater detail about events on the ground. As Commander-in-Chief he believes it's important to keep the American people updated on our strategy and the progress we're making and the challenges that we continue to face.

This last Monday the President talked about the security element, about how we're training Iraqi security forces and they are more and more taking the lead in the fight and controlling more territory. And he also talked about how we're working to defeat the threat from improvised explosive devices.

On Monday, the President looks forward to traveling to Cleveland. The President in his remarks will talk about how we are working with all aspects of Iraqi society to defeat the terrorists and restore calm and order throughout Iraq and helping to rebuild homes and communities and achieving the stability that can only come from freedom. The President will highlight concrete ways and examples of real progress that is being made and how our strategy is succeeding.

This remains a difficult and tense period in Iraq. Oftentimes the progress that is being made doesn't get as much attention as the dramatic and horrific images of violence that people see on their TV screens. And the President believes it's important to continue to put things in the broader context. So he looks forward to talking about how the three elements of our strategy -- the political, economic and security -- are all integrated and how we are -- how those elements reinforce one another. So he'll talk in more detail and give some examples of that in his remarks on Monday in Cleveland. And you'll also hear more -- a little bit more about it in his radio address tomorrow.

And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.

Q Has there been a move afoot to actually set up some talks with the Iranians over the issue of Iraq? Or is that just --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think our ambassador --

Q Or is that just rhetoric coming from Tehran that hasn't been supported?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we'll see. They've made similar statements in the past. Ambassador Khalilzad I think spoke earlier today and said that there are discussions about how to move forward in order to set something up. Now, any talks with Iran would be specifically for us to reiterate the concerns we have expressed about their activities in Iraq. We have publicly expressed our concerns about Iran's activities inside Iraq. And we have repeatedly called on Iran to play a helpful role in Iraq.

We want to see them change their behavior. We have a number of concerns about the regime in Iran. And when it comes to the nuclear issue, that's a separate issue. We are addressing that in a multilateral forum. The matter has now been reported to the United Nations Security Council. There are discussions going on among diplomats the Security Council.

Now, any negotiations about Iraq would have to occur with the Iraqi leaders. The Iraqi people are the ones who are charting their own future. And so if there are any negotiations to be had, that would be with the Iraqi leaders.

We view this as simply an opportunity to express our concerns directly to Iran that we have already said publicly -- and repeatedly in public.

Q So you're waiting -- the next step is up to the -- you're waiting to hear from them?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, like I said, they've made such statements in the past that they would be open to talking about the matters in Iraq. But we'll have to see. You can understand why we remain skeptical, given their history on a variety of issues. This is a regime that we have a number of concerns about. We're concerned about their continued pursuit of nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian program. That is an issue that the regime has with the international community. And that's why the international community is continuing to step up pressure and make it very clear to the regime that they need to change their behavior and stop their pursuit of nuclear weapons. They need to suspend their enrichment activities. They need to come into compliance with their safeguard obligations and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They have not been doing that, and that's why the matter was reported to the Security Council.

We're concerned about their sponsorship of terrorism. We're concerned about their behavior in the broader Middle East. They are moving in the wrong direction. They're playing an unhelpful role in the broader Middle East. They continue to support terrorist organizations. They continue -- the regime continues to repress its people.

We continue to stand with the people of Iran and their aspirations for greater freedom. But the question you bring up is specifically relating to Iraq, and that's why it would be very limited to that topic and to our ambassador expressing our concerns directly to Iran. This has been a longstanding authorization that our ambassador has had. We previously had discussions with Iran about Afghanistan.

Q The second-ranking American commander in Baghdad spoke by teleconference this morning to people over at -- reporters over at the Pentagon. And he said the U.S. military's goal was to have the Iraqi forces in control of 75 percent of the country by this summer. That would more than the President talked about in his speech last Monday. Is the President being more conservative? Is there some disagreement here with the military --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't think you have to view those in disagreement with one another. But the President spoke earlier this week about how we'd like to see Iraqi forces in control of more territory by the end of the year, I believe is what the President said in his remarks.

What we need to continue to focus on is this -- this is one element of our strategy for victory, and that's training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. We're seeing more and more that they're in the lead. I think the commander that spoke earlier today also talked about one of a number of ongoing operations we've had over the last several months when it comes to going after terrorists who are seeking to derail the transition to democracy in the Samarra area. Specifically, there is some intelligence, I understand, that was picked up and then they're acting on that intelligence, as they have done previously in operations in the months preceding this time.

And what's interesting here is that you have a large number of Iraqi forces going in with coalition forces. There are a number of areas where Iraqi forces are taking the lead in the fight, and we're playing more of a supporting role, and allows coalition forces to focus more on going after the terrorist elements that want to create sectarian strife and that want to derail the transition to democracy.

And then it's also important to keep in mind the political process that's being made. Our ambassador has talked about how he is encouraged by the discussions that are going on among the Iraqi political leaders. The Iraqi leaders held their first meeting yesterday -- this was a government that was elected under a constitution approved by the Iraqi people. So the Iraqi people are showing time and time again that they want to live in freedom and chart their own future. And it's important that the government move forward on forming a government of national unity that represents all Iraqis.

So we're continuing to urge them to work together, set aside any differences -- whether they're political differences or religious differences or sectarian differences -- and come together and form a government of national unity. I think the Iraqi leaders understand the importance of doing that and moving as quickly as possible, particularly when they look back on some of the recent events and recent violence that has taken place.

Q You say there's no disagreement between the President and the military, so does the President believe this 75 percent territorial goal is realistic?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, I'll see if there's any more to it, John. I think the military is the one who is outlining those various benchmarks that you're bringing up and so I'm sure he was speaking for what the military is hoping to achieve. I don't have any reason to contradict what he said. I don't have any more on it than that.

Go ahead, Suzanne.

Q Can you be more specific about when he talked about wanting Iran to change its behavior regarding Iraq? What are you addressing? What are those concerns?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we've publicly spoken about some of our concerns and the unhelpful role that they are playing inside Iraq. And those have been issues that we've publicly expressed in the past.

Q What specifically are you referring to when you say that you want them to be more helpful, play a more helpful role?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, if there are any discussions to be had, we will express those concerns directly to the regime. They're concerns that we've expressed in the past. Our ambassador has talked about some of these issues; I'm not going to go back through them here. But, again, we'll have to see. They've made these comments before, and said that they would be open to talks, and it hasn't happened.

Q And do you think the Iranians reaching out, regarding Iraq, is that undermining the effort in New York, the U.N. Security Council, in terms of getting them to come to the table on the nuclear issue?

MR. McCLELLAN: In what way? I think it's a separate issue. That's why I made it very clear that, one, the only purpose of any talks with Iran would be to specifically talk about our concerns that we have with the unhelpful role in their activities inside Iraq. And so that would be for that sole purpose. And that's why we made that very clear. I think it's important to make clear to people that are listening that this doesn't have anything to do with the other issues, such as the one that you brought up. The nuclear issue is an issue that the regime has with the world. The international community is concerned. The international community has spoken very clearly. They do not want to see the regime develop a nuclear weapon.

And so you've seen the international community coming together and continuing to put pressure on the regime. And it's important that the international community continue to speak very clearly and to speak with one voice to make sure that the regime understands the concerns that we have about their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Q So how does the administration perceive it? Is this something that is good? Do they see this as something that Iran is reaching out when it comes to this issue, specifically Iraq or --

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, you can understand why I'm skeptical, because they've made such comments in the past. You can understand I'm skeptical on other issues, given their history on some of those issues, and their behavior. We'll have to see. It could be useful, but we'll have to see.

If they were to change their behavior when it comes to Iraq and play a more helpful role, and support the Iraqi people as they move forward on developing a lasting democracy -- which is what they have shown they want -- then it could be useful.

Go ahead, Jennifer.

Q Scott, on that list of things that the government wants to talk with Iran about, is it -- is the flow of IEDs into Iraq one of those items that the administration believes that the government in Tehran would do something about?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, we'll have to see if there are any discussions -- if there are any discussions to take place. We'll have to see --

Q If there were?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- given what they've said. But we have expressed our concerns about components being used in improvised explosive devices coming from Iran. The President spoke about that very issue earlier this week; Director Negroponte spoke about it in testimony before Congress. And that is a concern.

Q Along those lines, Scott, insofar as Iran is considered a state sponsor of terrorism -- Hezbollah, Hamas -- insofar as there -- according to the President -- are components in IEDs, a lot of Iranian -- they don't make much bones about supporting Shiite militias there, how do you answer the concern that this meeting shouldn't come to be -- constitutes negotiating with terrorists?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think -- first of all, you're jumping ahead of where things are, number one. Number two, this is not a negotiation, by any means. It would be for the sole purpose of reiterating the concerns we have expressed publicly. Repeatedly, we have expressed our concerns about Iran's behavior in Iraq and about their activities in Iraq.

And so that would be the sole purpose of the discussion. So I'm glad you brought that question up, because I think it's important to make very clear what the purpose would be.

Q Scott, the President, apparently, in the last couple of days, sent a letter to Congress relating to, among other things, the situation in Belarus as we're approaching the election. I was wondering if you could comment, what is the White House attitude if Lukashenka, indeed, does win the election, what position would the U.S. take, and what does the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, our policy on Belarus has been spelled out. We are very concerned about the behavior of the leaders in Belarus. They are not pursuing a democratic course. We support the advance of democracy in Belarus. And the report you bring up was sent to Congress. I think there are some unclassified and classified portions of it. But we spelled out some of the concerns when it comes to Belarus, and we continue to stand with the people of Belarus who want to live in freedom.

This is one country in a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace, that has moved in the opposite direction of democracy and freedom. And so the report relates specifically to an act that was passed previously on Belarus.

MR. McCLELLAN: But, I mean, you have reports that the government has cracked down on political opponents and jailed some of the opposition. We are deeply concerned about those reports. We're deeply concerned about the direction of the government of Belarus and their lack of moving in a democratic direction.

Q Another question, Scott, with regard to the unexpected death of Milosevic in The Hague, where there are all kinds of rumors of either suicide, murder, everything -- has caused something of a problem in U.S.-Russia relations. But also it's occurring in a situation where there are a number of referenda coming up -- in Kosovo, as well as in Montenegro -- creating what seems to be a very unsteady situation in the Balkans. Is the administration concerned about a new Balkan crisis as a result of this --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think our Under Secretary, Nicholas Burns, has spoken to our views and to our support for efforts ongoing in the region on those issues. I think the State Department could provide you additional information, if there is any beyond what he has already said.

Q Back to the speech on Iraq on Monday, Scott. You mentioned at the outset that you thought that items of progress are not being widely enough publicized -- I forget exactly how you phrased it. But why do you suppose that is?

MR. McCLELLAN: Why?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, because you have some horrific images of violence that it's much easier to cover such issues. I think that's why. The President has spoken about it, he spoke about it in his remarks. I mean, it's not that those shouldn't be covered, but sometimes when the images of violence are being covered to a much greater extent the progress that we're making on the ground gets lost, it doesn't get the same kind of attention.

And I think it's important to look at the broader context in Iraq and to talk about the progress that's being made, because there is substantial progress being made. We're coming up on the three-year anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom this Sunday. And one of the things the President will do, I suspect in his radio address tomorrow, is take stock of where we are and talk about the challenges that we've faced and the sacrifices that have been made. And he'll talk about the progress that's being made.

And he'll also talk about the courage of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people have shown that they want to live in freedom. And we fully support the Iraqi people as they move forward on building a lasting democracy.

Q Will he Monday and Wednesday --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. I mean, because you brought up an important issue. Success in Iraq is critical to our own security. A free Iraq will be a partner in the war on terrorism. A free Iraq will help inspire reformers in the broader Middle East, particularly in areas like Iran. A free Iraq will not be a safe haven from which terrorists can plan and plot attacks against the United States or against the civilized world.

The terrorists have made Iraq the central front in the war on terrorism. It is critical to our efforts to lay the foundations of lasting peace. And so that's why it's critical that we succeed. And we will settle for nothing less than complete victory.

Q Is Wednesday also an Iraq speech, as well? Is that part of the series? And can you tell us about the audiences for both those two?

MR. McCLELLAN: I can tell you about the audience for Monday. I don't -- it's a little bit early to preview Wednesday. But the audience for Monday is the City Club of Cleveland. This is a nonpartisan forum. I think if you go and look at their website, it talks about how it's the oldest continuous free-speech forum in the United States. And it's known for it's tradition of debate and discussion, is what it talks about on the website for the City Club. And so they talk about promoting free and open exchange of ideas to inform and educate citizens.

Q Scott, this morning you mentioned the President was getting a bird flu policy briefing, or a briefing this afternoon. Can you talk --

MR. McCLELLAN: This afternoon.

Q Who's doing it? And will there be a readout on that?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I do not expect a readout. I was just mentioning it -- well, we're not planning on any readout. This is one of a number of policy briefings that he has had on this very subject, on pandemic influenza. And this is really to give him an update. He wanted to receive an update on where we are in terms of our planning and preparations in the event of a pandemic influenza.

You know, in our National Security Strategy document that we outlined yesterday, that was one of the new areas that we focused on and talked about the threat from pandemic influenza.

Q Who is doing the briefing?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll be there, so I'll be able to provide you more names, but I expect that the usual suspects would be there and the people that are involved in this issue, including Secretary Leavitt and other health experts.

Q Scott, The New York Times this morning devoted half a page to news from New Mexico that after police Sergeant Billy Anders killed a white supremacist Aryan brotherhood ex-convict named Earl Flippen, who had just murdered his wife, but also murdered Anders' police partner, Deputy Robert Hedman, and was shooting at a three-year-old girl with his .357 Magnum. But Sergeant Anders has just been sent to prison for one year for shooting Flippen, who was handcuffed. And my question, will you join me in asking the President for executive clemency of this police officer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I'm just not familiar with that particular issue. I'll be glad to take a look into it, but there's probably -- it's probably not appropriate for us to be addressing it further.

Q Well, all right. In the last two months, two former Iraqi officials have said Saddam moved weapons of mass destruction to Syria before the U.S. invasion. And now one of the documents released by the Pentagon yesterday, a letter by a member of Saddam's intelligence apparatus, ties him to al Qaeda and the Taliban before 9/11. All of this, and yet, the President does not talk about any of it with the American people. Question: With increasing information coming out of here on Iraq -- WMDs and Saddam's link to al Qaeda -- what does the Bush administration want the American people to believe about these two crucial issues?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Les, first of all, the Director of National Intelligence has started putting out volumes of information and documents that were discovered in Iraq. And I think that that provides the public an opportunity to go and look, and they can make judgments for themselves in terms of some of the issues that you raise.

But the one thing the President has talked about, as we approach the three-year anniversary of Operation -- the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom is that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was the right thing to do. This was a regime that was a destabilizing force in a troubled region of the world. This was a regime that had invaded its neighbors, that had a history of using weapons of mass destruction, that had a long history of defying the international community and failing to come into compliance with the demands of the international community.

And one thing that tyrants around the world know is that we mean what we say, and when we say there are going to be consequences for such behavior, it's important that we follow through on that. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving Saddam Hussein one last chance to come into compliance; he continued to defy the international community. He made the choice, and the world is better off with him removed from power.

Q Just one more because --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, because you're making statements --

Q Just one more, just one more.

MR. McCLELLAN: No more statements today.

Go ahead.

Q Thank you. Scott, it doesn't look as though there will be an immigration bill passed by Congress this year, and if there is one, it will probably not contain a guest worker provision. Would the President sign an immigration bill that does not contain this provision?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that kind of speculation is a little premature at this point. The Senate is working to move forward on immigration reform. The President has said that we need to have a comprehensive package that continues to build upon the steps we've taken to strengthen our borders and better secure our borders, to continue to enhance our interior enforcement, and also to have a temporary guest worker program. The President believes very strongly that if we're going to address the problems we face from immigration, that we need to take a comprehensive approach.

And there are a number of leaders in Congress that recognize the importance of addressing this in a comprehensive way. There have been discussions going on among leaders in the Senate about how to move forward on legislation. The House has moved forward on some legislation. And so we're going to continue working closely with leaders in Congress to move forward on immigration reform. This is an important priority for the President. He has laid out very clearly the direction we should go and the principles that are important to keep in mind as we move forward on legislation. And so we look forward to continuing to work with congressional leaders.

Q Scott, is the President disappointed that the House defeated the amendment yesterday that would have provided $1.25 million [sic] for port security and disaster preparedness funding?

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about the Senate budget resolution?

Q I'm talking about Sabo amendment in the House.

MR. McCLELLAN: In the House? Well, first of all, a couple things. One, we have significantly increased funding for port security. Strengthening our port security, improving our port security has been a top priority for this President. And so we've taken a number of steps, particularly since September 11th, to make sure that we are doing everything we can to secure our ports. We moved forward on a Container Security Initiative. We have pushed out the screening of ports to make sure that we know what is coming in on ships when they're coming into our ports, well before they arrive on our shores. And we have taken a number of steps to make sure that we are funding the Customs and Border Protection so that they can carry out their important security responsibilities of the ports, and the Coast Guard. And we want to continue working with Congress and continue building upon those efforts.

Q So would it be the President's view that the $1.25 billion is not necessary, that in fact what you already have is what's necessary?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President's view is that we have taken a number of steps to secure our -- to better secure our ports, and we need to continue to work to build upon those efforts. And that's exactly what we will continue doing.

Q I have two questions regarding the --

MR. McCLELLAN: Can I back up, though? One second, because you did bring up the issue of -- an issue relating to spending. And yesterday the Senate moved forward on a budget resolution. We had outlined some very clear principles and some very clear limits when it came to the budget for 2007. The President believes we have a responsibility to make sure we're spending taxpayer dollars wisely. We are a nation that remains at war. While we are at war, it's important that we continue to fund our highest priorities and hold the line on spending elsewhere in the budget.

We appreciate the Senate moving forward on passing a budget resolution. It's an important step in the process. This process continues. Senator Gregg has provided strong leadership and worked to address some difficult issues. Democrats proposed dozens of tax and spending increases. The Senate leaders were able to stop the billions upon billions in tax hikes and spending increases proposed by Democrats.

I think if you take a look at the amount of money that Democrats were proposing be spent, it totals at least $170 billion in new taxes and bigger spending. And we're continuing to look at those numbers, and continuing to count. So we appreciate them. We appreciate the Senate stopping that billions upon billions in tax hikes and spending increases from moving forward. And we look forward to continuing to work with the House and Senate as they move forward on a budget resolution.

We want to see the discretionary spending come down and be more in line with what we have proposed. We also want to continue to address the mandatory spending side. We have taken important steps in recent budgets -- including last year -- to rein in spending and to slow the growth of entitlement programs. And we need to continue to build upon those.

Q So I have two questions regarding the U.S. government's decision announced earlier this week to remove military assets from the Keflavik Navy Base in Iceland. So my first question is, the Icelandic Prime Minister has sent a letter to President Bush asking him how the U.S. intends to fulfill the obligations in the Defense Treaty from 1951. When the fighter jets leave by the end of the summer, or September, U.S. officials, they have said that they will honor the treaty. But nothing has been decided as to how. So my question is, how the President will answer this letter from the Iceland's Prime Minister?

And, secondly, the government of Iceland was somewhat surprised by the U.S. government's decision to pull out. And they were under the impression that meaningful negotiations about the future of the base were underway. Then this unilateral decision comes by Wednesday, by a phone call --so would you consider this to be in the friendly spirit of diplomatic relations with an alliance partner?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the United States remains firmly committed to the defense of Iceland, and to our broader defense relationship that has been in place for over a half century under the defense agreement and the North Atlantic Treaty of 1951.

Now, what you're talking about is the permanent stationing of significant military forces in Iceland. And the President accepted the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense to end the permanent stationing of significant military forces there in Iceland. We did inform the government of Iceland earlier this week that we intend to take this step by the end of September 2006. So after that time, we would not expect to have a significant permanent United States military presence in Iceland.

But, nevertheless, we remain committed to Iceland's defense. And we look forward to early talks with the government of Iceland on the best means of modernizing our security cooperation. We also look forward to strengthening our cooperation with Iceland against such emerging threats as terrorism, trafficking and international crime.

Q What was the context of the Secretary's recommendation? Was this BRAC-related or something else?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it's in the overall context of our posture and transformation of the military.

Q Scott, the Irish Prime Minister told us when he came outside that the issue of rendition had come up, that he registered concerns with the President about the possibility that Shannon Airport was being used as a transit point. Did the President offer him any assurances? What was his response?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that we have spoken about this issue previously. Secretary Rice had a good visit to Europe and addressed these issues. I think that you saw European leaders appreciate the information that they received from Secretary Rice during her trip. Renditions are a valuable tool in our efforts to save lives, and to protect the American people. And we previously have talked about how we respect the sovereignty of other nations. And Secretary Rice made that very clear on her trip. So I don't think anything has changed in terms of what she has already said on the issue.

Q Can you put into context a little bit for us what the President told Prime Minister Ahern today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, they talked about a range of important issues. And in terms of this issue, I don't think there's anything new to what we've previously said on this matter.

Q He said they'd be in touch over the next few weeks on this, indicating that something else was going to happen.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Peter, if there's anything else to update you on, then we'll do so. But I think that we've expressed --

Q That would seem to indicate the President made some sort of an assurance to him.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think you're reading too much into whatever you heard. I don't know exactly what you heard. I'll be glad to take a look at it, but it doesn't change what we've previously said on this very issue. That's the point I'm making to you. Now, they talked about a range of issues, and so I think we shouldn't get lost in the fact that we have a very good relationship with Ireland. And the President has a good friendship with Prime Minister Ahern. The President was pleased to welcome the Taoiseach back to the White House and to accept the bowl of shamrocks that has been presented over the decades here at the White House.

But they discussed a range of important issues. They talked about important issues around the globe like Iraq and Iran and the recent -- the President's recent trip to India and the agreement we reached there. They talked about the Northern Ireland peace process. We continue to strongly support the efforts of Prime Minister Ahern and Prime Minister Blair. They talked about -- a number of our troops go through Shannon when they're coming back or going into various deployments.

And they also talked about Darfur. They talked about -- I think there's a shared concern when it comes to the situation in Darfur, and a shared commitment to help push forward on a peace agreement relating to that. And we all want to see an end to the violence and an improvement in the situation there. We're all concerned about the humanitarian situation. We're concerned about attacks on civilians. We're concerned about sexual violence against women and girls. We're concerned about the looting.

And so there are a number of important priorities they talk about, Peter, and I appreciate you bringing up this question, but I think we've been through that issue thoroughly in the past.

Q You were the one that brought it up.

Q Thank you.

Q On immigration reform, you said the Senate wanted to -- you were glad the Senate was moving forward with comprehensive immigration reforms, but do you think that --

MR. McCLELLAN: I said the Senate is working to move forward on immigration reform.

Q Right. But do you agree with what Senate Majority Leader Frist did, in terms of moving a bill directly to the floor, or wanting to move it directly to the floor --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, those are decisions for our legislative leaders to make. They determine how to move forward on the legislative process and the timing of those issues and how they go about it. So that's something for the Senate to decide.

Q And would it be a comprehensive bill if it doesn't include the guest worker program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we believe that it needs to have all those three elements that I outlined earlier.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

END 1:28 P.M. EST