For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 30, 2001
Remarks by the President at Meeting with Republican House and Senate Leaders
The Cabinet Room
10:35 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: It's an honor for
the Vice President and the Secretary of Treasury and myself, and OMB
Director, to welcome the leadership in the House and the Senate on the
Republican side. We've had a wide-ranging discussion;
discussed tax relief and how we can pay down national debt and have tax
relief, which all of us around this table firmly believe we can do.
We also discussed the fact that there's a lot
of Americans who have got a lot of consumer debt, and we must be
mindful of those hard-working Americans. And part of the tax
relief package is to allow people to better manage their own finances
with their own money. We had a discussion about
We discussed, particularly the Leader and I
and members of the Senate, discussed the need to get our nominees
through the Senate. And I hope, in the spirit of
bipartisanship, there will be no further delays on the confirmation
process for John Ashcroft and other nominees of ours.
I certainly appreciate how fast the Senate
worked, initially; but it's time for the delays to end, it's time for a
vote on all our Cabinet officials.
This is will be a series of conversations
we'll have throughout my tenure and I really enjoy
this. It's been a good, frank discussion.
Q Do you think the Fed
should cut rates now, sort of stimulate the economy? And in
the discussion of tax policy, there has been some disagreement between
the White House and the Speaker and others, over whether you should
have one big package of tax cuts or to do it in pieces.
THE PRESIDENT: First, Mr. Greenspan
needs to make his decisions, independent of what I think. I
learned a pretty good lesson during the transition, and that was I had
commented out loud about one of the actions he took -- that's the last
time I'm going to comment about the actions that Mr. Greenspan
takes. He's an independent voice and needs to be an
Secondly, we did discuss the timing of the tax
relief package and how best to move it through the House, where to
originate. And as I told the Speaker and the Chairman and
the leadership, that we are interested in success; that the most
important -- most important criterion for how the tax package is
handled is whether or not it will succeed. And these are the
members who are going to have to work to get it out of the
House. So we're listening to their strategy.
Q What is the best
timing for presenting the tax proposal, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Again, that's going
to be up to the leadership. Obviously, it depends upon -- it's the
middle of our budget. As you noticed, the head of the budget
committees are here; we're talking budget. Taxes must fit into a
budget, which they will.
The answer to any of our initiatives, of
course, is as soon as possible. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, sir?
Q Good morning, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: How are you doing?
Q Good. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I thought you had
abandoned us for a while. (Laughter.)
Q Are you happy with
the progress you're making in reaching out to world leaders, or do you
plan to change the pace of that at all?
THE PRESIDENT: I've got a steady
pace. I'm calling as I can. I talked to the Prime
Minister of India today. It was a phone call that I was
going to make, regardless of the natural disaster that took
place there. Obviously, a lot of the conversation today was
about the aid that our country is sending: a 747 from AID
has landed this morning; another one is on it's way. We're
sending some military planes over, as well. I assured him
that our nation was deeply concerned for the citizenry that had lost
their lives. It was not the appropriate time to discuss
policy beyond that.
And I will be making other calls, touching
base with world leaders. I'll do a lot of that, of
course. Good diplomacy really depends upon good personal
relations, whether or not we agree with each other on a lot of issues,
or not. And I'm going to continue the diplomacy that reaches
out to people on a regular basis.
Q On Senator Ashcroft,
are you worried that there are going to be more -- do you feel he's
going to be confirmed, still?
THE PRESIDENT: I do believe he's
going to be confirmed. But one of my charges is to run the
Executive Branch of government. And it's important for our
Cabinet officers to be confirmed so they can start doing their job of
organizing their departments. Once we get our Cabinet
officials through, I'm sure I'll be speaking to the Senate about moving
the number twos and threes through, as well, so that we can take hold
of this government.
And one of the things I'll be doing when our
Cabinet meets is talking about the need for each Cabinet member to be
fiscally sound with the taxpayers' money. It's hard to
deliver that message when somebody hasn't been confirmed. So
I would just hope there are no further delays. There's been
a lot of discussion, a lot of debate, there's been a lot of
questionnaires presented and answers filled out -- and it's now time
for the vote, it seems like to me.
Q Did you get the Vice
President a birthday present?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not
THE PRESIDENT: As a matter of fact
-- (laughter) -- some used coffee cake, perhaps, Mr. Vice
10:40 A.M. EST