|The White House
President George W. Bush
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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 economy."
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 time limit?
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 reply?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, this was just talking. It was a 25-minute speech.
Q So no questions?
Q Was there any Q&A afterward?
MR. 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 complete leadership.
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 possible.
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