|Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings|
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 13, 2006
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:03 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everyone. I just want to take one brief moment to use this opportunity to talk about Andy Card, who is in his last week here at the White House, after having served the President and the American people for more than five years. The President has talked about what a great Chief of Staff Andy has been, having served the nation with honor and distinction. And just on a more personal level, I think it's really hard to fully express the high regard with which the White House staff holds Andy. Andy has earned our highest respect and admiration, and those of us who have been honored to serve with Andy are really going to miss him. We wish him all the best.
And with that, I will be glad to go straight to your questions.
Q Is there a group that greeted him this morning on arrival?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, there were some. I was not here quite that early, but there was a group that wanted to wish him well and be here when he got here. You know that Andy arrives very early in the morning here at the White House, before most people are even here. And I know that Andy was there to greet the President in the Oval Office this morning, as he does just about every morning. And I know that Andy will be there to say goodbye to the President and Mrs. Bush as they depart for Camp David this afternoon to join their family and spend the Easter weekend there.
Jessica, go ahead.
Q Does the President --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go to Jessica, and then Helen. I'm sorry, I'm going down in order here.
Q Scott, a number of members of the military have called for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Does the President still have full faith and confidence in him, and is there any plan to replace him?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think that a -- to the first part of your question, when you asked about confidence in him. I think that you said, members of the military. I think there have been some former members. So I think we ought to draw that distinction, because if you go and look at what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the other day, he was speaking his own personal view, and he is someone who is held in very high regard and has earned the respect of all those serving in the military.
General Pace said, as far as he is concerned, this country is exceptionally well served by Secretary Rumsfeld. He went on to say that, "Nobody, nobody works harder than he does to take care of the PFCs, and lance corporals, and lieutenants and the captains. He does his homework. He works weekends, he works nights. People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism, and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld."
So I think you have to put that in context and look at what General Pace himself said --
Q And with respect, those are --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- who has worked with him closely over the last few years.
Q Those are General Pace's views. Does the President share those views, and does he have full faith and confidence in him?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history. The Secretary has led the Department of Defense during two wars -- wars that resulted in the liberation of 25 million people in Afghanistan and 25 million people in Iraq. The Secretary is also overseeing the transformation of the military, so that we are better prepared to confront the threats that we face in the 21st century. We are a nation at war and we are a nation that is going through a military transformation. Those are issues that tend to generate debate and disagreement, and we recognize that.
Q Does the President think that he can continue to conduct a war without end, without raising taxes, which money -- the cost of this war is expected to go up -- almost $2 trillion. Guns and butter, you cannot -- who is going to pay for this?
MR. McCLELLAN: You bring up a very good point.
Q Future Presidents?
MR. McCLELLAN: You bring up a good point. We are a nation at war, and that's why it's important that we keep our -- that we make sure we meet our priorities --
Q Who is paying for it?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what I'm getting to. It's important that we meet our most important priorities during this time of war, and it's also important that we work extra hard to hold the line on spending elsewhere in the budget. And that's why the President talked about the importance of making sure that we're spending the taxpayer dollars wisely. And earlier today, he talked about how over the last two budgets, we have actually cut non-security discretionary spending. This last budget, we were able to get Congress to pass a reduction in the growth of mandatory spending, as well. That's a significant step forward. It's a good start. But there is more to do. And the President is going to continue urging the importance of, one, keeping our taxes low, and, two, spending the taxpayer dollars wisely --
Q That will handle the cost of the war?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's absolutely critical to keeping our economy strong. Our economy is strong. The President talked about that earlier today. We saw just on Friday that more than 200,000 -- well, 211,000 jobs were created in the month of March alone. We've had more than 5.1 million jobs created over the last two, two-and-a-half years. And so we have an economy that is moving forward, it is growing very strong, and if we're going to keep it strong, then we need to keep taxes low.
And this is an important debate that comes up in a year like this: who is going to protect our taxpayer dollars. And the President laid out what the debate is. The debate is between those who want to keep taxes low to keep our economy growing, and then those who want to raise taxes. And we've seen many Democrats --
Q You can have the guns and butter --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- many Democrats want to raise our taxes. And the President has pointed back to what they said a few years ago, when they said that tax cuts would do nothing to create jobs. Well, more than 5.1 million times, they have been proven -- they have been proven wrong.
And we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And the cost of inaction is far higher -- we are laying the foundations of peace for generations to come. But we're going to make sure that our troops and our military has everything they need to complete the mission and do the job when it comes to prevailing in the war on terrorism. And that's why the President has outlined budgets that meet our most important priorities and hold the line on spending elsewhere.
Q I'm wondering what you might have about ElBaradei's trip to Iran. If you haven't heard anything yet, when do you expect to hear something? And do you think a report will come before the end of the month?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that it's expected at the end of the month, around the 28th or 29th of this month. And certainly we look forward to seeing his report. The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency is in Iran to evaluate the nuclear programs that they are engaged in. And that's going to be an important thing to look at by the United Nations Security Council and others.
Q Would you characterize -- would you characterize him as your best hope right now for verifying what, if anything, is true about Iran's claims?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that is the purpose. The IAEA board passed a resolution calling on the regime to take certain steps, to come clean, to fully suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities. They made an announcement the other day, saying that they are moving forward on their enrichment activities. That is in clear violation of the Paris Agreement they made with the Europeans, and it also continues to show their defiance toward the will of the international community that was expressed by the Security Council in a presidential statement reiterating what the IAEA board said.
And so what's going to happen is that he is there, he will evaluate their activities, he'll report back to the Security Council, and the Security Council will look at those issues. There are consultations that are going on. Our Undersecretary, Nicholas Burns, is going to be engaging in some more consultations with his counterparts. I know that the Permanent Five is continuing to have some meetings -- the Permanent Five of the Security Council.
So we'll continue to talk with the Security Council, we'll continue to talk with our other friends and allies about what steps to take if Iran continues on its current course. The regime is showing continued defiance, and it is time for the Security Council to act on the diplomatic front if they continue down that path.
Q But who is he meeting with today, and what have you heard about today's meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: You'll have to ask the International Atomic Energy Agency about his meetings; what he has seen. I'm not going to try to do an on-the-spot report on where he is.
Q Does the President think that retired generals, by virtue of no longer being in service, have less valid opinions about Secretary Rumsfeld?
MR. McCLELLAN: I've never heard him express it that way. People are going to express their opinions; they have the right to do so.
Q Does the President consider their views or their perspective, since they're not in the chain of command and might be freer to speak?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President looks to -- well, first of all, I think that that is somewhat insulting to our commanders, because our commanders are people of high honor and integrity. General Pace spoke the other day in the briefing at the Department of Defense, and he talked about how -- I'm going to go back to his own words.
This is, again, the Chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said, "In the last couple of days there have been several articles, opinion pieces, editorials about the responsibility of senior U.S. military officers to speak up, to tell the truth as we know it, and that is a sacred obligation of all of us who are fortunate to represent all the members of the Armed Forces and to have the opportunity to participate at this level."
And then he went on to talk about some of the views that have been expressed by others in the lead up to the -- or the planning going into Iraq. And he said, "We had then, and have now, every opportunity to speak our minds. And if we do not, shame on us, because the opportunity is there. It is elicited from us; we are expected to." Then he went on and talked about -- with Congress, during the confirmation process, how he was asked, "Will you, General Pace, if confirmed, give your personal opinion when asked?" And he said -- and the answer to that question is, "Yes I will, sir. And I have been for almost five years now, asked my personal opinion multiple times by members of the Congress of the United States in testimony, and I have spoken my personal opinion. I've given my best military advice to the Secretary and to the President, as have the other officers who have the privilege of being Joint Chiefs or being combatant commanders. Our troops deserve and will continue to get our best military thinking."
So he was talking about that to talk about how the system works, and how he has observed it over the last several years. And I think it's important to listen to what he had to say. He has a good firsthand account of it.
Go ahead, Sarah.
Q Thank you. My question has been answered in part, but has the President talked to, or does he intend to talk to, the five generals who are now saying Defense Secretary Rumsfeld should resign?
MR. McCLELLAN: I know of no plans. He's well aware of their opinions.
Q Scott, going back to Iran, in the meeting Wednesday, that just happened with the Ghanian President, is that the first personal meeting by phone or in person the President has had since all of this Iranian issue about --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, the first?
Q Is this the first meeting with someone from the U.N. Security Council that the President --
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, President Kufuor?
Q Yes. Is this the first meeting President Bush has had with a member of the U.N. Security Council personally --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's had some discussions -- no, he stays in close contact with Prime Minister Blair, as you know. He talks to him on a weekly or every-other-week basis. He stays in pretty frequent contact -- well, Germany is not on the Security Council, but he stays in pretty frequent contact with Chancellor Merkel of Germany. They are certainly someone who have been involved in the negotiations that were going on. But we've seen that the regime is not interested in moving forward on those negotiations.
Q So what was the the conversation --
MR. McCLELLAN: So he's had a number of conversations.
Q So what was the conversation between President Bush and President Kufuor on the --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they discussed a range of issues. First of all, they talked at length about the -- some priorities when it comes to Africa and Darfur and fighting HIV/AIDS. They did talk about the Security Council and they talked about the issue with regards to the Iranian regime and its pursuit of nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian program. The President brought that up and he expressed the views that you have heard him expressing publicly.
Q So there was nothing new? Did he ask the --
MR. McCLELLAN: This is an issue that -- and we have talked about it in our National Security Strategy. This is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. And the international community is united in our concern about the regime developing a nuclear weapons capability or know-how or nuclear weapons.
And so the President tends to bring this issue up in meetings he has with world leaders, whether they're phone calls or meetings in person here at the Oval Office -- in the Oval Office. The President brings this issue up on a regular basis. It is an important priority that needs to be addressed. It is a threat that the Security Council needs to act on to address.
Q So do you think the President -- would you classify it as the President bringing this U.N. Security Council member up to date, or trying to talk to him about what the plans are --
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. He expressed -- the President expressed his views of where things stand, and Secretary Rice has expressed our views very publicly yesterday when she said that it's time for the Security Council to act on the diplomatic front if the regime continues down this course. The regime has -- the regime's announcement the other day is only another signal of their defiance of the international community. And it only further isolates the regime from the rest of the world.
Q Secretary Rumsfeld in the past has said that he's offered his resignation to the President, but the President has refused. Has Secretary Rumsfeld recently offered --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have any update. That would be a question to ask him. I don't have any update.
Q And can I just ask you to explain a little bit, why do you feel it's so necessary -- if you could explain why it's necessary to distinguish between a retired member of the military and an active in talking about evaluating their opinion?
MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't think I said that. I just said that --
Q Well, with Jessica --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q But with Jessica, you made it a point to clarify that right away.
MR. McCLELLAN: That was General Pace. Or, was that Kelly, I think, was bringing up former -- you said military officials, and I was just saying these are some former members of the military.
Q And why is that?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's just a fact.
Q But are you somehow suggesting that --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think you are.
Go ahead, Goyal.
Q Scott, I have two questions. One, yesterday at the Johns Hopkins University, a media-type tycoon, with -- newspapers in Pakistan, he was speaking and he said that press is not free in Pakistan, and also the Pakistan -- has been seized by the military. And at the same time this week, General Musharraf has announced that he will stay another five years as is, as a General, not under the democracy in Pakistan. So do we --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure -- I don't know whether I saw that announcement. I'll have to take a look at that specific issue. But the President had -- the President had a very good visit with President Musharraf when he went to Pakistan just recently. They had a discussion, certainly, about the importance of continuing to move on the path of democratic reform. You heard very clearly from President Musharraf at that press availability in Pakistan speak to these issues and express his commitment to continue moving down that path.
And we will continue -- Pakistan is a very good ally of the United States. This is something that -- a relationship that has changed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. We appreciate what they're doing to go after former members of the Taliban and al Qaeda members and bring them to justice. We appreciate their efforts, and we will continue working closely with them in the global war on terrorism. And we'll continue talking about these important priorities, as well, moving forward on reform.
Q My second question is on -- according to The Washington Times, the day-before yesterday, President Bush said that in 2008, he will not take any sides as far actual presidential election is concerned, as far as the candidates are concerned. Does he support the first woman, Hillary Clinton in 2008?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President made very clear that he would be supporting the Republican nominee in 2008. I don't think she will be. (Laughter.)
Q Go out on a limb.
Q Is there speculation?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Q Scott, the President today accused Harry Reid of blocking a vote on immigration reform. Reid's people say that what he's opposed to are amendments that Republicans have offered that would undermine the guest worker provision. Is the President comfortable that amendments coming from Republicans on this side are not actually aimed at sabotaging the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, Wendell, let's step back to last week when this agreement was reached. This was a broad bipartisan agreement that was reached by members of the Senate. The President expressed his appreciation for Senator Frist's leadership, for Senator Hagel and Senator Martinez, Senator McCain, Senator Kennedy -- many people came together to support this compromise agreement and get moving on a comprehensive piece of legislation to fix our immigration system. It was an agreement that would help us better secure our borders, and help us move forward on a rational and humane temporary guest worker program.
And there was a reasonable number of amendments -- there were a reasonable number of amendments that the Senate thought should be considered. That's part of the legislative process. That's part of debating issues in the Senate. It was a reasonable number of amendments. It's important for people's voices to be heard. This is a difficult and complicated issue. The President has spoken about that. And we need to continue to work through these issues.
But let's be very clear about what happened last week. It's been noted in editorials around the country, it's been noted by many members of Congress: The Senate Minority Leader was the one who singlehandedly stood up and thwarted the will of the American people and stopped the bipartisan compromise from moving forward and getting passed. He put partisan politics above progress for the American people.
Go ahead, John.
Q So -- I'm sorry -- so the President is comfortable, then, with the 15 amendments Senator Sessions offered, and does not believe that they would have undermined the bill --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I expressed last week that it's important for voices to be heard, particularly when you have such a difficult and complicated issue like immigration reform, and for those amendments to be considered on the floor of the Senate.
Q Thank you, Scott. Let me ask a follow-up question. I asked you when Congress was in session twice about whether the President would veto a measure that did not include the guest worker program. You said at first it was early in the game, and then second you said that we had to wait until Congress had done what it had to do in dealing with the bill.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, I think I said that we wanted a comprehensive piece of legislation. That's what the President has said, as well, and that's what we're pushing for. And members of the Senate came together on a comprehensive piece of legislation, yet the Senate Minority Leader blocked that. He used procedural gimmicks to block a comprehensive reform bill from moving forward.
And so there was a lot of good progress being made in the Senate, and we were encouraged by the bipartisan agreement that was reached, because it would keep this legislation moving forward. It was a promising agreement, as the President talked about last week, and it was important to keep this legislation moving, to get it to conference committee, so that we could all work together and iron out some of the details and get a comprehensive bill passed.
Q Well, let me see if I understand you correctly. If it comes out of conference and does not include a guest worker program, it doesn't fit your definition of a comprehensive bill?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first, the Senate Minority Leader needs to end his blocking tactics so that it can go to conference. But the President wants a comprehensive piece of legislation, and that's what he will continue to emphasize. It's still early in the legislative process. Leaders in the Senate have said they are committed to continuing to move forward on comprehensive reform, and we look forward to working with leaders as they do so.
Q So if I understand you correctly, if the final version doesn't include --
MR. McCLELLAN: You're ahead of the legislative process at this point. The President is going to continue talking about the importance of comprehensive reform and working to get comprehensive reform passed.
Q So you're not going to say whether he'll veto anything or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can't be more clear than what I said, I'm going to say.
Q Scott, I'm not sure if this was asked before, but does the President believe that these criticisms -- aside from the resignation criticisms -- that these generals are making have some bearing?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know why they're expressing such opinions. You'll have to ask those generals that.
Q Scott, a two-part.
MR. McCLELLAN: I would just point out, of course we greatly appreciate the service of these retired generals, as we do appreciate the service of all those who have worn the uniform. And we will be forever grateful for their service.
Q Scott, a two-part. Last May, the Council on Foreign Relations, in its major report titled "Building a North American Community," urged the U.S. to de-emphasize its borders with Mexico and Canada, and to encourage an even easier cross-border migration between the three countries, saying rather than beef up the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian borders, we should instead concentrate on toughening up an outer security perimeter all -- around all of North America. And my question: Does this match the President's thinking?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President has expressed what his thinking is when it comes to doing more to secure our borders. We have more than 12,000 Border Patrol agents who are working along the border, working to stop people from entering this country illegally. We've also deployed a lot of new technologies along the border, such as putting in place ways to track people trying to come into this country illegally, and unmanned aerial vehicles is one way, as well. We've talked about that before. We've continued to work to increase the number of Border Patrol agents.
There's more -- we've made some good progress to better secure our borders. The President talked about how since he came into office, we've stopped some 6 -- or returned some 6 million people from coming into this country illegally. And we need to continue to move forward. There's more that we need to do, and that's what the President is committed to doing.
Comprehensive reform begins with securing our borders. And it also includes interior enforcement, and a temporary guest worker program is important if we're going to have a rational solution to the problem. And that's why the President has talked about how a guest worker program will help relieve pressure on the border, because what you have is a number of people that are coming from countries because they want to do more to improve the quality of life for their families. That's why they're coming here.
And so there are some longer-term solutions in terms of expanding trade and opportunity and improving the quality of life in those countries for those individuals, so they'll be less likely to want to come here.
But we also have to deal with reality. The reality is, we have a number -- a very high number of illegal immigrants in this country. They're meeting an important economic need. And we are a nation of laws, and we're a nation of immigrants. And if we're going to address the real threats, then we need to have a temporary worker program to allow our Border Patrol agents to focus on the criminals and the thugs and the terrorists and the traffickers and smugglers that are trying to come into this country illegally. That's what all of us want to see happen. But I think there's broad support from the American people for comprehensive reform.
Q From San Antonio, The Washington Times reports this morning that the gravesite of Gregorio Esparza, who was killed in action defending the Alamo, is now missing. And my question: Does the former governor of your state believe that Esparza's grave should be searched for, restored, and honored?
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't taken a look at that issue, Les. But I'll be glad to take a look at it.
Q Get back to me?
MR. McCLELLAN: As someone who is a Texan, and certainly someone who has followed Texas history very closely, as well.
Q You're a Virginian, you keep telling us.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q You are registered to vote in the --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm a Texan.
Q -- in the commonwealth of Virginia?
MR. McCLELLAN: Born and raised in Texas. Temporary resident of Virginia, which is a great state, too.
Go ahead. (Laughter.)
Q When did the administration become aware of the Pentagon report that talks about mobile trailers?
MR. McCLELLAN: The only update I have on that matter is what the Pentagon said yesterday. The Pentagon put out a statement and talked about how that was a preliminary report from a DIA -- meaning Defense Intelligence Agency -- sponsored technical exploitation team, and that information was sent to the DIA. And then they said that the CIA-DIA joint white paper that was released publicly on May 28th reflected the position of the intelligence community at the time, and that the findings that you're bringing up were vetted with other intelligence analysts during the summer of 2003. So that's a statement from the Pentagon, and that's the only update I have at this point.
Q So if it had been vetted then would you have known about them by, say, September 2003?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you'll remember, the view of the intelligence community was expressed in the white paper that was released on May 28th. It was a joint white paper by the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. And that's what the President's comments were based on. I know that there were still -- and that view prevailed for quite some time period. You can go back and look at that time period, because there's a lot of discussion about it. And then you had the Director of the CIA talking as late as February, saying that there was not a consensus on this issue -- February of the next year. And these findings were incorporated into the Iraq Survey Group, which completed a final report in September of 2004.
So that was a year later, more than a year later when the Iraq Survey Group completed that report. And if you go back to, I think, October of 2003, David Kay was still saying that it wasn't exactly clear, or something along those lines, in terms of what these might be used for.
Q Well, the report had said it was absolutely clear what these could and couldn't be used for, that they couldn't be used for --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I just pointed out that at the time there was a preliminary report coming in from the field, and that it was evaluated and assessed over a period of time.
Q When was -- one second one. When was Congress briefed on the contents of this?
MR. McCLELLAN: You might want to talk to the Defense Intelligence Agency. It was in the Iraq Survey Group report, which was a public document incorporated into the bipartisan Robb-Silberman Commission report which looked at the intelligence relating to Iraq, and then made recommendations about how to improve our intelligence.
Q The Vice President, as late as January 2004, was still stating that they were weapons labs.
MR. McCLELLAN: There were a number of people who were still talking about that issue for quite some time.
Q Scott, the President has said, you have said, as well, that the U.S. is pursuing diplomacy regarding Iran. When the President looks at the recent statements and actions by the Iranian government and particularly the President, does he have a hope, does he have any real reason to believe that there can be a peaceful resolution?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you can understand why we are skeptical, given the regime's history. This is a regime that has a history of hiding their nuclear activities from the international community and not abiding by their international obligations. That's why the Security Council issued a presidential statement and said, you need to fully suspend your enrichment and reprocessing activities, you need to come into compliance with your obligations, and you need to negotiate in good faith -- abide by the Paris Agreement and negotiate in good faith. The Paris Agreement was what the regime reached with the Europeans, saying that, we will suspend our enrichment and reprocessing activities.
That's an issue of trust. It's an issue of confidence-building. This is a regime that has shown they can't be trusted when it comes to their nuclear program. It's not a matter of whether or not they should have civilian nuclear power; they've had options to move forward on civilian nuclear power. It's an issue of trust and can they show the world that what they are doing is for peaceful purposes. So far they're only showing the world defiance. And we want to see cooperation and negotiation. But as long as they are continuing down this path, then we believe it's time for the Security Council to take some steps to address this threat.
Q So is the President -- could you describe him as disheartened or pessimistic about those chances?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I just said "skeptical."
Q Will the President attend the egg roll on Monday?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Will the President attend --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have any update on his schedule for Monday. We'll keep you posted.
Q Well, I have the speech in Sterling. We know he's sort of out of town during the day, but no decision yet on whether he'll be at the event --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll keep you posted on his schedule for Monday.
Q Scott, has the White House ever stated its outright opposition to the felony provision in the House immigration bill?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the Department of Justice has been working with members of Congress on that very issue. I think Chairman Sensenbrenner talked about some of that outreach. We've been working very closely with members on that very issue, and I saw the statement that Senator Frist and Speaker Hastert put out the other day, as well.
Q Scott, this just crossed from Senator Reid --
MR. McCLELLAN: Instant reaction.
Q Yes. "President Bush has as much credibility on immigration as he does on Iraq and national security. If he were actually committed to comprehensive immigration reform, he would have stopped his own party from filibustering it twice last week. If the President is serious about moving forward then he should join me in calling on Senator Frist to bring immigration reform back to the Senate floor when we return." Will he do that?
MR. McCLELLAN: The Senate leaders have committed to coming back to immigration reform. This is a Democrat leader that is on the defensive because of what he did to stop us from moving forward on comprehensive reform. He singlehandedly stopped the Senate from moving forward, and he's having a tough time defending his position in front of the American people, because the American people expect us to work together to get things done, and the Senate did work together, came to an agreement, and Senator Reid was the one who singlehandedly thwarted the will of the American people and stopped that bipartisan progress from moving forward.
Q Has the President flexed the full force of his muscle yet on this?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has remained -- has been very engaged in this issue, and he will continue to be. So it's a high priority for all of us. And that's why Senator Reid needs to allow this process to move forward and stop engaging in procedural gimmicks to block those efforts.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 12:35 P.M. EDT