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May 11, 2004 | 12:27 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jennifer from Williamsburg, VA:
I understand that the President has taken some serious criticism of the No Child Left Behind Legislation. As a teacher I am starting to see the effects of it. I graduated with a Master's Degree in May and hold a teaching certificate to teach Social Studies, English and General Science, but have been unable to find a job. Many of my fellow graduates are in the same situation. We have been told that we do not qualify as highly qualified under the NCLB and until we do school districts will not even consider us. Many have left the teaching profession and the myth of the teacher shortage for employment in other fields. What is the truth about the so called teacher shortage? How is the President going to address the large numbers of new teaching graduates who can not find jobs?

A:Margaret Spellings, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
Jennifer, thanks for writing and congratulations on completing your education. It is true that the No Child Left Behind Act requires that teachers be "highly qualified".

Each state determines exactly what is considered to be "highly qualified" but it must include content mastery in the subject to be taught. You should check with your state certification board to see what your state requires. There is no specific federal mandate in this area.

In addition, many states provide for alternative certification programs and some of these programs are operated by school districts, particularly in urban centers. Alternative certification may provide a way to meet your states "highly qualified" definition and get into the classroom more quickly.

Finally, I would suggest that your teacher preparation program should work closely with state certification processes to make sure that students who are graduating are on course to meet the state requirements.

As for the issue of teacher shortages -- most of these shortages are in the subjects of math, science and special education -- particularly at the middle and high school levels. Thanks for writing and for your commitment to teaching.

May 11, 2004 | 12:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Carol from Schodack, NY:
Will this interactive program continue to be operational in the fall? I would like to assign a group project to my Political Science class that would involve submitting a question to White House staff. Thanks for this opportunity!

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Thanks Carol

We have all intentions of keeping this part of the site very active. We've seen through the success of "Ask the White House" that interactivity between the White House and citizens is what people want. We look at "White House Interactive" as kind of a mini-Ask the White House and we appreciate the questions that we receive. My only regret is that we can't answer more. To that end, we'll try to answer the questions that are the most representative of the emails we receive. And we'll just try our best to answer as many as we can.

May 10, 2004 | 3:06 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Trevor from Bend Oregon:
My mother and father enjoy watching West Wing every Wednesday night. I try and stay up and watch it with them, my dad tells me that someday I can be the President of the United States. I was wondering how much of that show captures the real events around the white house and the west wing.

Thank you for answering my question.

A:Secretary Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
The show stretches reality, but frequently has story lines based on credible experiences. The real West Wing is not as "large" as it appears in the television show, and the offices are much smaller. Never have I seen West Wing staffers running around the corridors in any panic. The President is also not likely to give a long speech to his staff in the Oval Office.

May 10, 2004 | 10:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Linda from Harrods Creek, KY:
Are citizens allowed to tour the White House at this time?

A:Sarah Armstrong, Director of the White House Vistors Office:
Thank you for your interest in visiting the White House. Tours are available for groups of 10 or more, regardless of age or type of group. Requests must be submitted through your Member of Congress and may be submitted up to six months in advance. We recommend that you submit your request as early as possible since the White House is a popular place to visit. The tours are self-guided and are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

You can also tour the White House by visiting our website at Just click on the "History and Tours" section at the top of the homepage where you'll find interesting articles, photos and videos.

Thanks again for your interest. I hope you'll make plans to visit the White House.

May 7, 2004 | 3:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bart from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:
Does Chief of Staff Andy Card have an actual seat at the Cabinet table or is he a "Counselor to the President"?

A: Brian Montgomery, Deputy Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary:
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, Jr., also serves as a member of the President's Cabinet and has a seat at the table for each Cabinet meeting. His official title is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, not Counselor to the President. Additionally, the Chief of Staff is also referred to as "Secretary Card" since he served as Secretary of Transportation from 1992-93.

A little background on the President's Cabinet: The Cabinet consists of, at a minimum, the Vice President and the heads of the 15 executive departments, including the newest, the Department of Homeland Security. At the discretion of each President, other individuals have variously been accorded Cabinet-level rank. President Bush has designated, in addition to the Chief of Staff, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade Representative, the Administrator of EPA, and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, all to have Cabinet Rank.

May 4, 2004 | 5:16 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tom from Camano Island, WA:
How could this Country who is supposed to represent all that is right in the World allow the treatment of prisoners to happen as reported in our newspapers today? Swift and sure action must be taken to correct this situation (if true).

A: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor:
I want to assure people in the Arab world, Iraq, around the world, and the American people, that the President is determined to get to the bottom of it, to know who is responsible and to make sure that whoever is responsible is punished for it and held accountable.

And he's determined to find out if there is any wider problem than just what happened at Abu Ghraib. And so he has told Secretary Rumsfeld that he expects an investigation, a full accounting. Americans do not do this to other people. Those pictures were awful because America -- American men and women in uniform, active and reserve, are serving in Iraq at great sacrifice. People are losing their lives. We came there to help to liberate the people of Iraq. We came there to build schools, and to build clinics, and we want very much that the images of Americans should be the images of helping the Iraqi people. It's simply unacceptable that anyone would engage in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. And we will get to the bottom of it. And those who are responsible will be punished.*

*Interview of the National Security Advisor by Al Arabiya, May 3, 2004

May 4, 2004 | 11:20 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Lori from Great falls, Montana:
I support the war on Terror, But if the courts are releasing these people and they go back into society are we worried they will cause more problems all over again? And what if anything are we going to do about it??

A: Judge Al Gonzales, White House Counsel:
The President's most solemn obligation is protecting the American people. The President is committed to aggressively pursuing the war on terror and to doing everything possible to try to prevent another attack. He is of course doing so in a way that upholds the Constitution and all U.S. laws.

Currently, the Supreme Court is considering several cases regarding the authority of the President to detain certain individuals as enemy combatants in order to prevent them from returning to the battle against America and to obtain intelligence information from them which would help us in fighting the war.

The Administration believes that the determinations made by the President are within his Constitutional powers as Commander in Chief, are supported by Congressional authorization and Supreme Court precedent, and are consistent with the war-time practices of prior presidents. The Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision in any of these cases.

May 4, 2004 | 9:33 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Adam from New York:
To whom it may concern,
I was reading through the executive proclomations of friday, and I noticed that President Bush has proclaimed May 6, 2004, do be a National day of Prayer. I was wondering how this is not in violation of the church and state seperations set forth by the 1st Amendment and protected by several Federal and Supreme court decisions.

A: Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives:
President Bush is following the precedent of his predecessors - a practice that began with President Washington, I believe, who proclaimed a national day of fasting and prayer. The event Thursday does not endorse any one religion nor is any citizen obliged to participate. This practice is Constitutional.

April 29, 2004 | 6:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ross from Scotland:
Does the White House really have a 'Situation Room' like in the TV program West Wing?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
"There is, in fact, a Situation Room in the White House. It is a command center for the President and his national security team to monitor world events and to meet in a secure setting on issues like terrorism, to help ensure that our national security is being protected. The Situation Room is staffed by a wonderful group of men and women who work around the clock to help protect our nation."

April 29, 2004 | 11:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Ronald from Savannah, Georgia:
The constitution of the U.S. clearly states that there will be a separation of church and state. Yet the president has mentioned the "Faith Based Initiatives" Program. Why is he doing this? I know that the president has not mentioned a specific religious denomination, the constitution clearly states that there must be a "separation of chuch and state."

A: Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives:
Dear Ronald: With all due respect, I must respond to your email by pointing out that the First Amendment does not mention a "separation of church and state." It says that Congress shall not establish a religion or interfere with the free exercise of religion. So there is a balance struck between two interests - a very delicate balance. President Bush agrees with you that government should not establish, fund or favor any religion, and that the church and state should not become one. But the pendulum should not swing in the other direction in such a way that the public square is sanitized of any possible religious influence. This might surprise you but Thomas Jefferson, who coined the phrase "wall between church and state" in a letter he once wrote, used to attend religious services in federal government buildings! No kidding! I point that out to make the simple point that when we harken back to the founders' intent, we should be careful to note the profound respect they had for the freedom of religion, and that they would be aghast at how the First Amendment has been interpreted by some in such a way as to promote a hostility toward religion.

April 28, 2004 | 11:44 a.m.(EDT)

Q: John from Mehoopany (Forkston) PA:
Why were tax breaks for alternative energy systems (to power homes) done away with? It would seem to me that promoting reliance on renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and water powered homes would benefit not only the homeowner, but also our environment. I have a solar energy system with generator back-up powering my house. The more components that I add to my system, the less I rely on my generator for back-up. I have NO power lines to my house. I feel that incentives should be given out to people who go out of their way to help save the environment.

A: Jim Connaughton, Council on Environmental Quality Chairman:
Thanks for your question, John. We agree.

President Bush's 2005 budget calls upon Congress to approve $4.1 billion in tax incentives through 2009 to spur the use of clean, renewable energy, and energy-efficient technologies, such as hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, residential solar heating systems, renewable energy produced from landfill gas, wind, or biomass, and efficient combined heat and power systems.

These tax incentives, which were first proposed as part of the President's National Energy Policy in 2001, can help improve our environment while sustaining our economic growth and ensuring our the country's energy security. We will continue to work with the Congress to enact these important incentives, which expired at the end of 2003.

April 26, 2004 | 12:37 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Sydney from Green Bay:
Dear White House

With today's news of new home sales, how do economists rate this statistic? There are a lot of economic stats out there -- some more important than others. How important is this one and how do you read it?

A: Andrew Samwick, CEA Chief Economist:
Today, the Census Bureau reported that new single-family home sales in March rose to an annual pace of 1.23 million homes, a 22 percent increase over the March 2003 level. While not as significant as news about Gross Domestic Product or employment, the pace of new home sales shows that the economy continues to strengthen and suggests that the housing market remains an engine of growth after one of its best years ever in 2003. Our nation.s 68.6 percent homeownership rate is the highest ever, and President Bush is taking steps to make owning a home a reality for more Americans, especially minorities and those with low incomes. To read more on the President.s Homeownership Initiative, please see /infocus/homeownership/.

April 22, 2004 | 4:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Marlene from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
Why was Condoleeza Rice's meeting today on Capitol Hill only with REPUBLICAN members of Congress?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
You have it wrong...actually she met this afternoon with Senate Democrats. Dr. Rice believes the job of National Security Advisor should be nonpartisan, and she insisted on meeting with both Democrats and Republicans.

April 22, 2004 | 8:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Carlos from Miami, FL:
Mr. President:
In your recent campaign adds on national television, you state how you have promoted the aid to the creation of small businesses. If I were to start a small business, where would I go for a grant, small business loan or even have the government back up my loan? (like student loans that are backed up by the government hence making it easier to obtain)

A: Hector Barreto, Administrator, Small Business Administration:
Of the 500,000 to 1 million new businesses that start up each year, more than 80 percent use some form of credit, and the U.S. Small Business Administration offers several ways that can help you access capital. The SBA backs more than $10 billion in small business loans every year through its two primary loan programs. Under the 7(a) loan program, the SBA provides guarantees that allow commercial lenders such as banks and credit unions to make loans to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, about a quarter of those loans go to start-ups. The SBA's other major loan program, known as the 504 program, provides loans for capital expenditures, such as the purchase or rehabilitation of land, buildings or machinery, and equipment. You can find more detailed information on the financing page of the SBA's Web site at

April 21, 2004 | 5:16 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Steve from Aurora:
Is President Bush going to participate in any Earth Day event tomorrow? Thank you.

A: Harriet Miers, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy:
Tomorrow the President will celebrate Earth Day by traveling to Wells, Maine to deliver remarks at the National Estuarine Research Reserve. In addition, tomorrow afternoon, the President will honor the recipients of the President's Environmental Youth Awards in a Rose Garden ceremony.

April 21, 2004 | 10:00 a.m. (EDT)

Q: Melissa, Junior Girl Scout from Buffalo, New York:
Hi, I just wanted to say that it was an awesome sight this morning at the Buffalo Airport watching Air Force One land. I only wish that my brother, sister, mom, dad and me could have heard the President speak today. My mom took some pictures of the landing and of the motorcade.

I only wish that somehow, my Girl Scout troop could have welcomed the President and his friends to our city. Please, Mr. Bush...come back to our area again, and PLEASE, please, let the scouts welcome you with a flag ceremony.

A: Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff:
Melissa -

Thank you for your e-mail. I traveled with the President yesterday when he went to Buffalo. The President was welcomed by thousands of people who lined the streets of Buffalo and waved, held signs or saluted. He participated in an important discussion about fighting terrorism with new tools included in the Patriot Act.

Yes, Air Force One is "awesome." It is a spectacular sight to see it take-off or land. It is also an unbelievable honor to be able to fly in it.

The President is frequently greeted by Girl Scouts. Just a few weeks ago, representatives of the Girls Scouts visited the Oval Office to present a report to the President.

Thank you, too, for being involved in Girl Scouts. You're helping your community and your Nation.

Keep in touch,

Andy Card

April 21, 2004 | 9:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tresha from Erie, MI:
Is it true that Mr. Bush is talking about bring back the draft,and that it could be put into effect by February 2005?

A: Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff:
We have an all volunteer military in this country and it serves us very well. I have heard no call from any of our military leaders for a return to the draft.

April 20, 2004 | 3:51 p.m.(EDT)

Q: George from Aberdeen, MD:
How can a person apply for a small business loan or grant from the federal government?

A: Hector Barreto, Small Business Administrator:
The SBA administers two major loan programs - the 7(a) working capital loan program and the 504 loan program, which is typically used to finance capital investments including real estate and large equipment purchases. SBA sets the guidelines for the loans while SBA's partners (Lenders, Community Development Organizations, and Microlending Institutions) make the loans to small businesses. SBA backs those loans with a guaranty that will eliminate some of the risk to the lending partners.

The best way to get more information about financing is to log on to the SBA's website - From the website, you can also easily locate one of 70 district offices nationwide nearest you.

April 19, 2004 | 11:52 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Randall from Hanceville, Alabama:
How many invitations does President Bush and the First Lady receive in a month? How hard is it to schedule a visit with them? Is it possible for a average person to meet the president or would they have a bether chance getting struck by lightning? Thank you!!

A: Melissa Bennett, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Appointments and Scheduling:
The president receives more than 1,000 invitations to events all over the world every week. As you might imagine, it is a big job just to go through and respond to all of them. While the President appreciates each invitation it is impossible to attend as many as he'd like. Hope you will send your invitation in to us for consideration.

April 15, 2004 | 9:49 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Daphne, Fresh Meadows, New York:
Did President George Bush, President George W. Bush's father, really hate broccoli so much he took it off the White House menu?

A: George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States:
I never asked that it be removed from White House menus. I just vowed that I would never eat it again, and I have courageously stuck to that promise.

April 14, 2004 | 2:38 a.m.(EST)

Q: Betsy from Connecticut:
When is Barneys new Easter Egg Role Adventure coming out?

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
That's a good question. There were discussions about a new Barney Cam entitled, "Barney's Easter Egg Roll Adventure." The script was in production. Barney agreed to his third film. The supporting actors were ready. But we ran out of time.

So, we'll have to release it next year. So, when will the third installment of Barney Cam come out? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Barney Cam and Barney Cam II: Barney Reloaded are both still available.


April 14, 2004 | 10:58 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tom from Plano, Texas:
I am the coach of a Tball team here in in Plano TX. I have heard that during the summer, the White House periodically hosts several Tball teams to come and play on the White House Lawn. I think this would be a tremendous once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity that I could provide to the players. Could you please provide me with information on how a team might get considered for such a wonderful event.

Thank you,
Tom Madden

A: Brian Besanceney, Deputy Director of Communications for Planning:
President Bush has hosted tee ball games on the South Lawn of the White House each year that he has been in office. The tee ball games are a remarkable experience for the children (generally 5-6 years old) and their families. The President hosts these games to help encourage young Americans to learn the importance of teamwork and physical fitness at an early age.

We work closely with Little League to make each tee ball game a memorable experience for the children and their families. Little League provides us with logistical support, equipment, and - most importantly - the teams themselves. Little League takes applications from interested teams and recommends two teams for each game to the White House. Typically, these recommendations are based on a "theme" we have developed for a particular game; for example, the first game last year honored members of our Armed Forces and their families by featuring teams from military bases (it was the tee ball version of the Army-Navy game).

For more information on applying, you can visit the Little League website (

April 13, 2004 | 12:48 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tiffany, North Canton Middle School, Canton, Ohio:
Can you please move the Presidents speech to another time? I want to watch American Idol. How about moving the speech to 9pm?


A: Scott McClellan, Press Secretary:

I think we are going to stick to the 8:30pm time tonight. There are some important issues that the President wants to discuss with the American people at a time when most Americans will be able to hear what he has to say. The good news for American Idol fans is that FOX is moving tonight's episode to tomorrow night at 8.

April 13, 2004 | 11:24 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Steve from Cheyenne, WY:
Recently, my spouse was laid-off from her job that she had for 11 years. Luckily, she was already planning a career change and had been going to school to become a registered nurse. Since there is such a great need for nurses, is there any type of aid she can get with the President's new reemployment policies? Thank you.

A: Elaine Chao, Labor Secretary:

The President is committed to helping all dislocated workers get the help they need.

Wyoming receives $21 million in federal funds every year from the federal government to pay for training, employment and unemployment programs and services. For more information about what kind assistance you may be eligible for, contact your local One Stop Career Center.

To find your closest One Stop, you can visit or call 1-877-US-2-JOBS.

Your wife has made an excellent career choice. Not only is health care a rewarding field, but it is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. Health care is predicted to grow at a rate of 28 percent and add 3.5 million new jobs between 2002 and 2012, which is why the President has made nurse training part of the High Growth Job Training Initiative.

In fact, just last month, I announced a new $24.4 million Health Care Initative, which will help provide the training needed to pair workers with new good-paying health care jobs like nursing.

This Initiative will not only help train new workers, it will also ensure that we have enough skilled workers to meet America's health-care needs as our population ages in the coming years.

April 13, 2004 | 9:53 a.m. (EST)

Q: Kimberly from Stow, Ohio:
I was curious to know if anyone has ever gotten married at the White House and if so, how do you get to do that I am getting married in August and would love to getting married there. Just wondering.

Thank you.

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
Dear Kimberly,

There have been 17 weddings at the White House. Although three presidents were married while in office, only one -- Grover Cleveland -- was married at the White House, June 2, 1886, in the Blue Room.

Eight daughters had White House weddings -- Maria Monroe (1820), Elizabeth Tyler (1842), Nellie Grant (1874), Alice Roosevelt (1906), Jessie Wilson (1913), Eleanor Wilson(1914), Lynda Bird Johnson (1967), and Tricia Nixon *1971) -- but one only son -- John Adams, son of President and Mrs. John Quincy Adams (1828).

Four weddings for members of the families of first ladies -- one sister, one brother, and two nieces.

One presidential niece, one daughter of a presidential friend and one presidential assistant make up the final three weddings.

April 9, 2004 | 1:14 p.m. (EST)

Q: Brett from Watertown:
I have a question for the White House photographer. What is the favorite picture you've taken?

A: Eric Draper, White House Photo Director:

This is the most frequently asked question I get and the most difficult to answer because I have several favorite photos. I think one the that remains in my top ten is a photo I made during the first weeks of the administration.

The picture shows the President and Vice President both checking their watches in the Oval Office before the President departed the White House for an event. It was what we call in the business a "grab shot".

I saw it happening, and I just reacted as I reached for my camera around my neck and pressed the shutter button. Lucky for me the image was in focus and perfectly composed and yes the President made it on time to the event.

April 9, 2004 | 12:28 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jeff from Georgia:
Mr President, I think the NASA decision to abandon the Hubble telescope to its fate and not maintain it is a both short sighted and wrong. Since it in instrument that has far greater capabilities than any earth bound telescope is there a Hubble II waiting the wings to replace it? If not the NASA explaination not to put astronauts at risk is hollow, they all voluteered for those rocket rides didn't they?

A: Sean O'Keefe, NASA Administrator:
We welcome the public's recognition of Hubble's importance. NASA is putting its best people to work on plans to extend Hubble's operations. There are 3-4 years before Hubble's support systems may fail. We have the time and the talent to engineer a way to save the Hubble. In addition, dozens of teams from industry and the university community have responded to NASA's request for innovative ideas to use a robotic spacecraft to replace the Hubble's batteries and gyroscopes and perhaps even install new science instruments. NASA will carefully evaluate these ideas and then proceed with a plan to extend this remarkable scientific instrument's life as long as possible.

These ideas for robotic servicing missions show that there are other options besides a risky Space Shuttle servicing mission to Hubble. NASA is serious in its commitment to implement every one of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's safety recommendations. Based on where NASA is today in its efforts to return the Shuttle safely to flight, prospects have declined dramatically for NASA to develop in time all required safety and return to flight elements for a Shuttle servicing mission before Hubble ceases to be operational. That's why NASA is looking at options for robotic servicing of Hubble and seeking other ways to keep it operating longer as being more attractive options.

NASA is confident that its current course will provide many good options to extend the Hubble's working life. Meanwhile, Hubble will continue to provide unparalleled views of the Universe complementing the capabilities of the Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes. Looking forward, the upcoming Kepler and James Webb space telescopes, and an array of astronomical observatories on the ground promise to dramatically increase our knowledge of the amazing Universe in which we live.

April 9, 2004 | 10:50 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Christopher from South Carolina:
Why is it that marijuana hasn't been legalized in the United States yet we spend so much money fighting against something that really isnt that bad.

I personaly have smoked marijuana in the past and still can not figure out why its not legal to smoke. Alchol is more dangerous than marijuana is. So why not legalize it?

A: John Walters, White House Drug Czar:
Marijuana is a dangerous drug that remains illegal because of the threat it poses to Americans, particularly children. Our current knowledge surrounding marijuana - including treatment center admission data, scientific research, and medical knowledge - directly contradicts the myths that this drug is non-addictive and harmless. The perpetuation of these falsehoods has fueled the spread of this harmful drug among Americans over the last 30 years, so it is important that Americans understand the facts about marijuana:

  • Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, which can lead to cancer of the respiratory system and can disrupt the immune system.
  • Marijuana use has a negative effect on learning and memory, and is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
  • Marijuana users are more likely to be depressed and have suicidal thoughts.
  • Of the 7.1 million Americans - 1.4 million of whom are teenagers - identified as needing drug treatment, over 60 percent have a dependency on marijuana.
  • In recent years, for the first time, more teens have presented themselves for treatment of marijuana dependency than have presented themselves for treatment of alcohol dependency.
Legalizing marijuana will only cause more Americans, especially children, to believe the marijuana myths and try this harmful drug. Because of these concerns for public health and safety, the federal government will continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana.

Thank you for your question.


April 9, 2004 | 9:38 a.m.(EDT)

Q: David from Fort Lauderdale, FL:
Has there been progress with the executive order the President signed that ends federal discrimination against recently released prisoners to make a successful transition back to society?

This 4-year, $300 million initiative will provide transitional housing, basic job training, and mentoring. Where can I find more about this program? Does this now mean ex-offenders can become federal employees?

A: Jim Towey, Faith-Based Director:
Thank you for your questions. You are actually asking about two separate, but related issues. During his 2004 State of the Union Address, President Bush called on Congress to codify the principle of equal treatment for faith-based organizations in the Federal grants process, putting an end to discrimination against these charities. This legislation would ensure that more Americans in need would be able to get vital social services from the country's most effective charities, whether they are secular or faith-based organizations.

Also during the State of the Union Address, the President announced his four-year, $300 million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. This innovative program will harness the resources and experience of faith-based and community organizations in dealing with the challenges of helping returning prisoners transition back into their communities. The U.S. Departments of Labor, Justice, and Housing and Development are currently developing the framework for this program that will soon provide tens of thousands of ex-offenders with job-training and placement services, transitional housing, and mentoring. Questions about this initiative may be directed to the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, (202) 693-2700.

April 8, 2004 | 3:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Carol from Dover:
What will the new manufacturing czar do? What are his responsibilities?

A: Don Evans, Commerce Secretary:
The Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing and Services will advocate, coordinate and implement policies that will help U.S. manufacturers succeed worldwide. Some of the challenges he will focus on include enhancing government's focus on manufacturing competitiveness; creating the conditions for economic growth and manufacturing investment; promoting open markets and a level playing field; lowering the cost of manufacturing in the United States; investing in innovation; and strengthening education, retraining, and economic diversification.

April 8, 2004 | 10:54 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Rosie Marie from San Antonio, TX:
Our Aunt Bernice will be turning 100 on May 28th. I would like to know if the President could send her a birthday card from the White House for this event. How would I go about getting it?

A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence:
Thank you for your interest in requesting a greeting from President Bush for your Aunt Bernice's 100th birthday. You may submit a request via fax at 202-395-1232, mail to The White House, Attn: Greetings Office, Washington, D.C. 20502-0039, or by Web Mail located on the White House website at

Please make sure to include your aunt's full name with appropriate salutation, date of birth, mailing address, and your (the requestor's) name and daytime phone number. We ask that requests for greetings are received in our office at least six weeks in advance of the event date. We will make every effort to send the greeting in time for your special occasion. For more information on our guidelines and the types of greetings you may request please visit the White House website at

April 8, 2004 | 8:35 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tony from New Jersey:
How many women are in the president's cabinet?

A: Brian Montgomery, Deputy Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary:
Currently, there are three women in the President's Cabinet: Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. To learn more about the President's Cabinet, click here.

Thank you for your question.

April 7, 2004 | 12:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Rochelle from Austin, TX:
Where can I find a list of radio stations that air President Bush's weekly radio address in Texas and other states?

A: Trey Bohn, White House Director of Radio:
Thanks for your question. All radio stations that subscribe to news services such as ABC, CBS, CNN, AP, UPI or USA can access the President's Weekly Radio Address to the nation. It is fed live at 10:06 ET each Saturday morning for local affiliates to broadcast.

Many of your local 'all news' format AM stations will typically air the President's Weekly Radio Address, but are under no obligation to do so. Some stations may even air it at different times depending on their programming. Therefore, there isn't a list with consistently accurate information available. I would encourage you to contact your local stations' programming departments to find out more. In Austin, 590 AM and 1370 AM may be a good start, but it can always be found at each and every Saturday.

April 7, 2004 | 11:04 a.m. (EDT)

Q: Dana from Reno, NV
I was wondering- what is the difference between a federal law and Constitutional amendments? And why do some court cases go from a state/federal court to the state/supreme and why do some court cases go from a state/federal court to the state/supreme court?

A: David Leitch, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel:

I was wondering- what is the difference between a federal law and Constitutional amendments?

A federal law is passed by Congress and signed by the President, and must address issues within the enumerated powers of the federal government. A federal law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is invalid. A constitutional amendment follows a different process involving Congress and the States and can address any subject. While hundreds of federal laws are enacted each year, the Constitution is amended only rarely (27 times in our history) and the constitutional amendment process has generally been reserved for issues that are more fundamental and permanent in our society.

Why do some court cases go from a state/Federal court to the state/Supreme Court?

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and consider matters including those involving the United States Constitution, federal laws, treaties, the United States government, and controversies involving citizens from different states. State courts are usually courts of general jurisdiction; this means that under state law they may hear any case except those within the exclusive jurisdiction of a federal court. Any case involving an issue of federal law may be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, but that court has no jurisdiction over cases coming from state courts that implicate only state law.

April 6, 2004 | 11:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Charles from Chattanooga, Tn:
What is the President's view on Church and State relations?

A: Jim Towey, Faith-Based Director:
The President believes in the separation of church and state and believes the First Amendment and its protections are essential to true freedom.

He does not support tax dollars going to support the promotion of religious beliefs, nor does he support discrimination based on religion in the provision of publicly-funded services.

He does support faith-based organizations and their right to be in the public square, and he wants to end discrimination against these groups by government.

His faith-based initiative strikes the appropriate constitutional balance and unleashes America's "armies of compassion" to help addicts find successful recovery programs, the homeless find housing, and other Americans in need find hope.

April 5, 2004 | 12:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tim from New York:
What is the President doing for the opening day of Major League Baseball?

A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
President Bush is throwing out the opening day pitch at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals are playing the Milwaukee Brewers. Since 1910, Presidents have traditionally rung in the new baseball year by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.

The Vice President is throwing out the first pitch at The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati as the Reds host the Chicago Cubs.

To see a history of Presidents and baseball, click here:

April 1, 2004 | 11:39 a.m.(EST)

Q: Steve from Alexandria, Virginia:
What do you think of today's Washington Post story which says that most Americans feel less safe since 9/11?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
The headline did not accurately reflect the actual survey results, and it leaves readers with the wrong impression. According to the survey from the nonpartisan Council for Excellence in Government, "Americans feel increasingly safe and secure. Nearly half (47%) of all Americans say that the United States is safer today than it was on September 11, 2001. When the same question was asked a year after the attacks, just 38% of Americans said that the country was safer than before. Americans see steady progress in the creation of a secure homeland. Fewer than one in five (18%) say that we are less safe today, and a third (34%) say that we are about as safe as we were two and a half years ago." These words are taken straight from the survey. In other words, 81% feel about as safe or safer than they were two and a half years ago, while only 18% feel less safe.

To see the full report, click here.

March 25, 2003 | 8:27 a.m.(EST)

Q: Ashley, from Philadelphia, PA.:
What is your reaction to today's news that the economy expanded at a 4.1 percent in the first quarter?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
That's another sign that the economy is strong and growing stronger. We're seeing sustained economic growth. Obviously, there are people that are still looking for work that cannot find work, and we need to continue to act to make sure that we're creating as robust an environment for job creation as possible.

We've had six straight months of new jobs being created. The unemployment rate at 5.6 percent is below the average of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Productivity is high; disposable income is up. The economy is strong and growing stronger. It's moving in the right direction.

March 24, 2003 | 11:15 a.m.(EST)

Q: Ron, from El Cajon, California:
What do you think of today's reports that there was a sea on Mars? Do you believe there was life on Mars? Could there still be life on Mars?

A: Sean O'Keefe, NASA Administrator:
We think the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is in the vicinity of what was once a shoreline of a salty sea on the red planet. If we are correct in our interpretation, this was once a habitable environment. It's a salt flat.

These are the kinds of environments that are suitable for life on Earth, but we don't know if that was the case on Mars. We have not found any evidence of past life on Mars, but we will continue our efforts to gather data, and maybe eventually answer that intriguing question.

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