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Expanding Opportunity

Excerpt from June 28, 2002 Press Briefing with
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Click here for the full transcript

MR. FLEISCHER: I do want to note that as the Congress leaves for its July 4th recess, the president believes that this week particular was a week of accomplishment for the American people. The House of Representatives passed the trade promotion authority legislation which enhances the likelihood of a conference agreement. That's something the president will work for, because he believes trade is important to creating jobs. The House also passed an exciting new law -- or new bill providing for prescription drugs coverage for American seniors, something that the president thinks is long overdue. He's very pleased that the House has taken this action.

QUESTION: When it comes to welfare reform, and the faith-based and those other items that he'll be talking about, is the president's message resonating on the Hill, particularly in the Senate, given where we stand on the congressional calendar?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think the president's message is certainly resonating in the House. The president's agenda on faith-based initiatives has already been passed by the House, and it remains to be seen what will happen in the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee has passed some helpful steps involving faith-based programs. On welfare, on the other hand, the Senate has taken steps that move in the opposite direction in moving people from welfare to work.

And so, the president will, as always, continue to work with the Congress. I think when looking broadly at August, Congress is about to leave for July 4th, and I think it remains to be seen about whether this will be a summer of productivity in the Congress, when it's all said and done, or a summer of inaction.

There are many important issues that are currently pending in the Congress between the House and the Senate, that the American people are looking to the Congress, and to people in Washington to work together to get resolved. That includes a patient bill of rights, something the president cares very deeply about, that he would like to get passed an enacted into law; energy legislation, to make the country more energy independent -- that too is caught right now between the House and Senate Conference Committee; faith-based legislation; a ban on cloning; trade promotion authority; terrorism insurance. These are all important issues that are pending in the Congress.

There is a good possibility that this will be a summer of productivity in the Congress