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Excerpt from July 23, 2002 Press Briefing with
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Click here for the full transcript

Q: Also, you said yesterday the president and others were going to be calling around the Hill on trade promotion authority. (Inaudible) -- whether that's happened -- whether the president has indicated, particularly to Republicans, whether he's ready at this point to sign something that includes some trade adjustment systems -- and if you could define a little bit of that. And if this doesn't happen this week, what damage is done, since there's nothing that is being negotiated right now that needs -- (off mike)?

MR. FLEISCHER: There are three main areas that the Congress is working on this week where the president has called on the Congress to act. And keep in mind that the House of Representatives is leaving at the end of this week and won't be back until September. And they have a very abbreviated session this fall, before the Congress leaves to campaign for re-election. The Senate is scheduled to leave a week from Friday. So time is running out on this Congress.

And there are three major issues that are pending in the Congress where the president wants to work with the Congress to help them complete action this week. One is on trade promotion authority, which can, the president believes, be resolved this week in a conference committee so final action can be taken and a bill can be signed this August. The second issue is corporate corruption, as I discussed earlier. And the president again sees the House bill and a Senate bill, both of which are tough, which can easily be brought together and presented to the president for signature. The third issue, on which the Congress has been moving forward rather at a strong pace, is the legislation to create the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

All three of those, the president is looking for action this week: trade promotion authority, on a corporate corruption final action -- sending a bill to the president; on Homeland Security, House passage and then next week, Senate passage.

The risk of inaction is, you don't have to be a helicopter pilot to know that Congress is heading for a giant traffic jam. Congress has a lot of unfinished business left on its agenda. And if Congress fails to pass trade promotion authority this week or it fails to pass a corporate corruption initiative this week or if it's unable to have initial passage of Homeland Security, it's presenting itself with a gigantic traffic jam, which is hard to get out of this September and for the shortened session they have before they leave.

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