Excerpts from Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, November 12, 2002 (Full transcript)
QUESTION: Scott, assuming homeland security passes this lame duck session, is there a piece of legislation that the President would like the Congress to pass first in the next session?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, he outlined some of that in his remarks last week in the news conference. I don't know whether I'd characterize first or second or third or fourth, but he made it very clear that there are certain priorities we need to focus on during the remainder of this Congress, because of the limited amount of time, first being the department of homeland security.
We also need to focus on terrorism insurance, which means job creation and economic growth. We also need to focus on fiscal discipline as we move forward on the appropriations process. Only two of 13 appropriation bills have been passed at this point. Congress needs to make sure they control ways for spending, that they have fiscal restraint, and that they fund our priorities. And when we return next year, there are a number of priorities that are important. The President, at his news conference, as you know, announced that he's going to work with Congress on a new economic growth and jobs package, in addition to what we've already been pushing, and making the tax cuts permanent. Moving forward on an energy bill remains an important priority. So there are a number of important priorities -- passing welfare reform reauthorization.
But as we get closer to the session, we'll talk more about what can be accomplished in the next session and what our top priorities will be. But the biggest priorities will always remain protecting the American people and continuing to take steps to strengthen our economy.
QUESTION: One on economic priorities for the following year. There was reporting over the weekend that the number of tax proposals that are likely to make it on the President's agenda next year is being winnowed down and, for example, a capital gains cut is unlikely to make it. Could you comment on that?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not going to -- the announcement is for the President to make when he's ready to do that. We're going to -- he made the commitment that we're going to work with Congress on an additional job creation and economic growth package. He remains committed to that. The President continues to review ideas. He continues to look at additional ideas that are out there. But he also continues to press for the current economic growth initiatives that he has already outlined. That means passing terrorism insurance, making the tax cuts permanent, fiscal restraint, just to name a few.
QUESTION: Were those reports wrong that the number
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, you're asking me to get into something that I think it's the place of the President to announce. That's something that he will announce when he's ready to do so. Clearly, there is more that we need to do. The President won't be satisfied, as he has said, as long as there's one American worker out there who wants a job and cannot find a job.
QUESTION: What's the significance of the meeting with the Chamber people this afternoon? Is the President looking for input on this growth package and what elements should be in there next time?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, we reach out to groups from across the spectrum all the time, and we've had meetings with these people, with these individuals before, I believe. But he will talk about -- in his remarks to them he will talk about economic growth, he will talk about the legislative agenda for the lame duck session, including the department of homeland security. So it's an opportunity to continue reaching out to people to talk about important priorities that need to be accomplished.
QUESTION: Does he have any plans to meet with labor people?
MR. MCCLELLAN: We do meet with labor people on a regular basis. As you know, he's had meetings with members of the Carpenters Union, with Teamster leadership and so forth.