For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 11, 2001
Briefing by Ari Fleischer
To the Travel Pool
10:17 A.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Do you want me
to give a little readout? He had 25-minute
remarks. The President was introduced. He
received a 50-second standing ovation. The President talked
about how they must work together and focus on the American people;
talked about how optimistic he is -- we're doing incredibly positive
things for America. Talked about the tax cut that was
enacted into law. Said it was "timely and necessary for our
Talked about how the economy could
rebound. He thanked the House for the action they took on
the supplemental; said, "shows the American people we can address
shortfalls without loading up spending bills with all kinds of
problems." He said, you're showing yourselves to be "good
stewards of people's money."
He talked about patients' bill of rights,
about education reform. He talked about trade. He
talked about the faith-based initiative.
On a patients' bill of rights he said we
need a bill that "honors patients, not one that empowers the
plaintiff's --" He said on a patients' bill of rights, we're
90 percent there -- these are quotes -- "we're 90 percent
there." He said, "I'm here to ask you to continue to work so
I can be sent a bill that I can sign."
Q Did he give a
MR. FLEISCHER: No, did not.
Q "I'm here to ask
you to continue to work" --
MR. FLEISCHER: -- "so I can be
given a bill that I can sign." He said, "The
Johnson-Fletcher bill is a good compromise. I urge members to give it a
good look," which received applause from most -- not all, but most
people in the room.
On education -- this is a quote --
"Education is a passion for me. And our party needs to be passionate
about improving public education."
He made a case for trade, talked about his
experience as governor of Texas -- trade alleviated poverty in
Mexico. He said, remember, people used to talk about
building a wall around our country. He said, we must extend
the hope of trade.
On faith-based initiative, he said, "I saw
it work its magic in places where hope had been lost. Our
country ought to capture love and compassion and direct it to people
who need help."
That was the essence of his
remarks. And the House may take up the patients' bill of
rights legislation and the faith-based legislation on the floor as soon
as next week.
Q -- or did anybody
MR. FLEISCHER: No, this was
just talking. It was a 25-minute speech.
Q So no questions?
Q Was there any Q&A
FLEISCHER: No. No -- and then he mingled with
members of Congress for approximately 20 minutes.
Q And how many
members, approximately, were there?
MR. FLEISCHER: It looked to me
like virtually all the House Republican conference. So
that's -- what -- 225 or so. Obviously, some people -- when
I worked here, not everybody could make it all the time, but it was a
standing room only turnout.
Q In terms of
leadership, other than Speaker Hastert, was Mr. Armey there --
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh,
yes. Mr. Armey, Mr. DeLay, Mr. Watts. The
Q Did he try to get
any kind of a commitment on when a conference will meet on education?
MR. FLEISCHER: That wasn't the
purpose of his remarks. His remarks were not focused on
calendars, his remarks were focused on progress. But
Congress knows he wants it to get it done on education as fast as
Actually, on education, he did have a line
-- we need to go to conference "so school boards can plan," he said.
Q Did he give the
summer recess timeline again on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, that's what
he said. That's what he said. Clearly, he wants them to
take action before the August recess, as quick as possible.
Q Thank you.
END 10:21 A.M. EDT