The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 21, 2004

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Briefing Room

Press Briefing


1:10 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. I will go straight to your questions -- I have nothing to begin with today. Go ahead, Helen.

Q The President is very dedicated to seeing that U.N. resolutions are implemented. Is he going to work to get the U.N. resolution to calling on Israel to tear down the wall built on Palestinian land -- is he going to work for that?

MR. McCLELLAN: What he's going to do is continue to work for a political solution to --

Q I asked a different question.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- the situation in the Middle East. The United Nations resolution that you referred to, as you're aware, is not binding. We did express our concerns about that at the United --

Q Whether it's binding or not, it's a resolution, it is the U.N. and there have been several.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay. I would like to respond to your question, and I'm trying to. The United Nations resolution that you referred to was not binding. We expressed our concerns about it, about it being one-sided. And we've also made it very clear that we believe the way to resolve the situation in the Middle East is through a political solution. And the road map is what has been put forward to get us to the political solution. The solution that the President proposed, of two states, living side-by-side in peace and security.

And the Quartet endorsed that road map as the way to resolve this --

Q The road map has nothing to do with this fence being built on Palestinian land, 400 miles.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay. I'm going to finish here and then I'm going to move on. The President has made it very clear that he believes that's the appropriate way to resolve this matter. An Israeli court has also made a ruling, and Israel is working to meet the court's concerns that it raised. We've always said that Israel has the right to defend itself, but that as it takes steps to do that, it should keep in mind the plight of the Palestinian people and work in a way that doesn't place undo hardships on them, so that they can move about freely.

We've made our views -- we've made our views known on that. And the way to resolve this is through the road map. And we have the opportunity before us to get started again on the road map and get to a negotiated --

Q How have you made your views known? By vetoing everything?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and to get to a negotiated settlement.


Q Why isn't Lee Hamilton briefing the President directly today, instead of briefing the staff and then the staff briefs him?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's always the way it was set up, Steve, that they were going to brief the White House staff today. I think it's for a half hour, hour briefing. The President looks forward to receiving the full report tomorrow. He will receive the full, final report and looks forward to looking at it and looks forward to seeing what the recommendations are from the 9/11 Commission. He greatly appreciates all their hard work and he will see the full report tomorrow, versus just a shorter briefing today.

Q Does he get briefed tomorrow, as well, or does he just read --

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, he's been briefed throughout this process by White House staff, and he will continue to be briefed by the White House staff. And I'm sure he'll receive a report on the briefing that's going on this afternoon.

I would remind you that the President sat down with all members of the commission for some two-and-a-half hours just a few months ago.

Q Two questions. Just a follow-up on Helen's question. You mentioned the Quartet. Every member of the Quartet, every member of the European Union and Russia and, of course, the United Nations, supported this resolution in the General Assembly. Does the relative isolation of the United States hinder the effectiveness of the President's diplomacy in the Middle East?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, look, the President has always stood behind the right of Israel to defend itself when it comes to addressing the security situation in the Middle East. He's also called for a Palestinian leadership that is committed to fighting terrorism and building a unified security structure to do so. And that's what we need. We have an opportunity before us now -- and this is where the President's focus is -- to move forward on the road map. There has been an historic and bold proposal put forward by Prime Minister Sharon where Israel will pull out of Gaza and remove settlements in parts of the West Bank, as well. And so it's important for the Palestinians to focus on getting the institutions in place necessary for a democratic state to emerge.

And the President has been leading on this issue and pushing for the political solution to move forward. And that's what we will continue to do. We don't believe that the U.N. resolution is the appropriate way to go. The appropriate solution is to follow the road map to get to the political solution that has been outlined.

Q Can I follow up on that?

Q Sure. Go ahead.

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

Q Does the President think Israel is now in greater danger due to the growing violence and anarchy in Gaza?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of the situation in Gaza, I addressed that the other day. I said that it's important -- and I was talking about little bit about it when Helen asked the question initially -- that it's important that the Palestinian leaders focus on creating the institutions necessary for a democratic state to emerge. I think you're seeing that the Palestinian people really yearn for Palestinian leaders that are not tainted by corruption and that are committed to fighting terrorism and building the institutions necessary --

Q -- they're yearning not to be demolished.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- for the kind of leaders to emerge that will be in place when there is a democratic state to emerge.

Q Does the U.S. think this is the time to oust Yasser Arafat?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've made our views known about Mr. Arafat. He has certainly not been part of the solution. And that's why it's important to have institutions in place for leaders to emerge that are committed to fighting terrorism, and committed to moving forward on the road map.

All parties have responsibilities under the road map. And we want all parties to meet those responsibilities. That's what we continue to urge. On the specific issue of the security barrier, we have made our views very well known to the Israelis. And an Israeli court has ruled on this, as well. And Israel is working to take steps to address what the court has said on that matter.

Q Scott, is the administration --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Bill.

Q Is the administration concerned --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Kathleen.

Q -- that the 9/11 report will outline 10 opportunities, missed opportunities to have derailed the 9/11 attack, six of them occurring during the Bush administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if that's quite the way the report will describe it. Obviously, like I said, we look forward to seeing what the report says, and what it recommends, so we will have a final copy of that report tomorrow. We will take a close look at it, and the President has made it very clear if there are additional steps that they recommend that can help us build upon the steps that we've already taken to better protect the American people since September 11th, then he welcomes those recommendations, and I expect he would move forward on those recommendations that he believes will help us do a better job of protecting the American people.

Q Are you concerned that the implication may be that the administration simply didn't do enough, could have done more to prevent the attacks?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, a couple of things here. One, I think you've heard directly from the President. The President made it very clear that if there were something that had come to our attention that could have helped us prevent the September 11th attacks from happening, the President would have moved heaven and earth to stop those attacks. He's made that very clear.

The fact of the matter is, we were not on war footing prior to September 11th. Now we are a nation at war. We are engaged in a global war on terrorism. But the threat from terrorism was building for more than a decade. This was a threat that was emerging for quite some time. I expect that the 9/11 Commission will talk about how the national security and counterterrorism apparatus of the United States did not evolve with that emerging, building terrorist threat.

What this President has done since September 11th is engage in a broad war on terrorism. We are fighting that war on many fronts. We're cracking down on terrorists' financing. We are going on the offensive, taking the fight to the enemy. He recognized that it is no longer just a law enforcement matter. There are things we can do on the law enforcement front, as well, but this is a broad war. You're seeing great change in places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and Iraq because of the actions that we are taking.

And we have also taken action here at home to go on the offensive. This President worked to pass the Patriot Act, to break down the wall between law enforcement and intelligence, so that we could disrupt and prevent attacks from happening here at home. This President worked to create the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which allows us to better share and gather intelligence information.

The President also worked to create the largest reorganization in some 50 years of our federal government, by creating the Department of Homeland Security. We've strengthened our aviation security. So there are a number of steps that we have taken, but we welcome the commission's report. We have worked very closely with them on their efforts. We appreciate their hard work and we look forward to reviewing their recommendations. And certainly this President will always move forward on recommendations that he believes build upon the steps that we've already taken, so that we can better protect the American people.

Q Speaking of things that didn't come to your attention, the Attorney General has testified that the after action report from the millennium 2000 terror threats was not brought to the administration's attention before 9/11. So does the administration share the view of some on Capitol Hill, that what Mr. Berger was doing might not have been inadvertent, might have been, in gathering up these copies of this report, aimed at preventing some embarrassment?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is an ongoing criminal investigation that has been going on, apparently, for several months. And we believe it's best to direct those questions to the Department of Justice, they're the ones that are overseeing this investigation, and that's our stance.

Q But aren't you concerned, as some Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed that they are?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's an investigation going on and they're looking into all these matters, and we need to let the investigation proceed.

Q Was anyone at the White House aware of this investigation prior to this week?

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I'm glad you asked that question, because I first became aware when the news reports came out. But my understanding is that this investigation has been going on for several months and that some officials in our Counsel's Office were contacted, as part of the investigation. Because, if you'll remember, the Counsel's Office is the one that is coordinating with the September 11th Commission the production of documents. And since this relates to some documents, the Counsel's Office was contacted as part of that investigation.

Q So the White House was aware that Mr. Berger was being investigated for this?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Counsel's -- some people in the Counsel's Office were contacted regarding this investigation.

Q Yes, but who else knew? Did the President know? Did the Chief of Staff know?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what I know is that a few individuals in the Counsel's Office were contacted. I first became aware of it yesterday. I'll do some -- if I have any further information, I'll be glad to get that information to you.

Q Was Judge Gonzales aware?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. I mean, I said, some individuals in the Counsel's Office.

Q Was the President aware?

Q Scott, two questions --

Q Before you -- still on this. Do you know if the President was aware that an investigation was going on?

MR. McCLELLAN: I said if I got any additional information -- what I know is that some people in the Counsel's Office were contacted as part of the investigation. That's what I know. If I've got additional information, I'll make sure that --

Q But you don't know whether the President knew?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- I get it to you.

Q There is a concern among -- there's a couple partisan charges here. On one side, it's the Democrats who say if this thing has been going on since last October, the Bush Justice Department had to leak this thing just before the Democratic Convention, just before the 9/11 report to make Democrats look bad, or to deflect attention from the 9/11 report. Can you comment on that first?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of how this story came about. And I don't think -- I know of no one in the White House that is aware of how this story came about. But the issue is that it's an ongoing criminal investigation, and that's a serious matter. So the questions are best directed to the Department of Justice on this matter.

Q The other partisan charges being leveled is that Berger, as an informal advisor to Senator Kerry, may have been using documents that would ultimately inform Senator Kerry's thinking on developing policy. That view has been expressed by the reelection campaign. Does the White House share that concern?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure that all those matters will be looked into by the people overseeing the investigation.

Q As part of the investigation?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure that they will look into all those issues that would be related to this investigation.

Q You just don't want to have a piece of this story, do you?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think it's -- Bill, you've asked me about other criminal investigations, and I've always said that, because it's an ongoing investigation, it's best that we let the investigation proceed, and that those questions be directed to the Department of Justice. I understand your desire for information, but this is a serious -- this is serious matter.

Q Scott, but why was the Counsel's Office informed? I mean, obviously, they're the ones who are deciding which documents are provided --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think I would describe it as "informed." I think I would describe it as they were contacted as part of the investigation, because, like I said, the Counsel -- our Counsel's Office has been working very closely and cooperatively with the September 11th Commission, and the Counsel's Office was the one responsible for helping to make sure that documents were produced that the commission needed to do their job. And the commission has pointed out that they have had access to everything that they've needed to do their job. So I think they were contacted in that context. And, again, it's just not appropriate for me to go further than that.

Q Wait, wait, wait, I don't follow.

Q Hold on a second. If I understand this correctly, the Counsel's Office had the final say over which documents -- both from the Clinton administration and the Bush administration --

MR. McCLELLAN: We coordinated that effort.

Q -- went to the commission.

MR. McCLELLAN: We coordinated that effort, that's correct.

Q And you're saying that as a result of that responsibility, they were brought in on this and contacted --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's the way I would look at it. Again, I'm not going to -- it's not appropriate for me to get into talking about an ongoing criminal investigation. But I did want you to know that information. I did find that out since yesterday.

Q Okay, and one further point on that. Is there any suspicion here that there are documents that were -- that are missing for which there are not copies? I mean, we know that the commission, or we've been told that the commission did, in fact, get the final copy of the after action report. Is there any --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the commission has spoken to that specific issue. And I think, again, it's an ongoing criminal investigation. There are issues that the Justice Department is looking into, and they're the ones where you should direct those questions.

Q Right. But I'm saying you had the responsibility to turn over the documents. Are there any documents you were not able to turn over because they are missing?

MR. McCLELLAN: Jim, again, because these questions relate to an ongoing criminal investigation, you need to direct all those questions to the Justice Department. Obviously, our Counsel's Office is always going to cooperate with investigations of this nature.

Q One other thing, if I could. You said the President will move quickly on this stuff. When he gets the report, and people sit down and read it and look at the recommendations, along with the National Director, and so on and so forth, what's the process? Is the President going to take this home at night and flip through it and come back and say, I kind of like this, and I kind of like this? Or is there a group --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he said on Monday that he looked forward to seeing what the recommendations are, so, yes, he will look at them --

Q I mean, is there a group that's assigned to sit down and wade through this?

MR. McCLELLAN: And as I said, as well, that we're open to additional ideas that build upon the steps we've already taken to improve our intelligence-gathering and our intelligence capabilities, so that we can better protect the American people.

Q No, I'm just suggesting to you, once the report is read by everyone, there are going to be all sorts of proposals from all sorts of people, and I'm just wondering if the White House has some plan to sit down, evaluate these things, cull among the various recommendations, and decide rather quickly what it wants to embrace, if anything?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the way I describe it is that, yes, we are going to look very closely at these recommendations and seriously give them consideration. The work of the 9/11 Commission is very important, and even more so are their recommendations that can help us build upon the steps we've taken to protect the American people; that can help us do an even better job of making sure that the executive branch and the Congress get the best possible intelligence.

The President is focused on three specific areas, first and foremost. That is, bolstering our human intelligence; that is, making sure that we have the best technology possible to stay ahead of the terrorists and their adjusting tactics; and to make sure that we are sharing and coordinating that intelligence in the most effective way possible. And so that's the way that he'll look at it.

But that's why I pointed out we've already made significant steps to move forward on intelligence reform and improve our intelligence capabilities to address the threats of the 21st century.

Q You missed one little point. You said that you have given everything to the commission that they asked for?

MR. McCLELLAN: They've expressed that they've had access to all the information they need to do their job. They've expressed that.

Q Totally?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Goyal.

Q Two questions about this report. Some members of Congress have said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were behind the attack on the United States, as far as finding the terrorists and training camps and all. Now you say this earlier, that there have been some changes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan because of steps. Can you describe those steps, which steps were --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. The President has been talking about this a lot, because if you look back at where we were prior to September 11th and where we are today, we've made significant progress to make America safer. There's more that we need to do, and this President is continuing to wage a broad war on terrorism to make America safer and more secure from the threats from terrorism. And he's spoken specifically about those two countries you mentioned, where he talked about Pakistan before was one of the few countries that recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda was able to move about in Pakistan. Today, Pakistan recognizes that al Qaeda is the enemy and they're taking the fight to them within their own borders.

And in Saudi Arabia, there has been great change, as well. Saudi Arabia recognizes that al Qaeda is an enemy within their own country, and they're going on the offensive and bringing terrorists to justice, as well.

` Let me go to Terry.

Q Second --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going.

Q When you mention the White House being in contact with the Counsel's Office, when did the Justice Department contact them? Was that last October? Was that a couple --

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is an ongoing criminal investigation. I'm going to defer all questions to those at the Department of Justice who are overseeing the investigation --

Q Well, you raised the --

MR. McCLELLAN: But I said -- I pointed out -- that's why I pointed to you that this investigation has been going on for quite some time. And I think if you look at it in that context, of course, it would be logical to conclude that they would contact the Counsel's Office as part of the investigation.

Q But when?

Q You can't tell us when?

Q What does it -- why can't you say when?

MR. McCLELLAN: It's been a while since they first contacted.

Q I just want to clarify one point, which is, moving with the 9/11 -- working with the 9/11 Commission, this White House has had the responsibility to turn over classified materials from this administration and Clinton administration documents. Am I understanding that right?

MR. McCLELLAN: We oversaw the coordination of that process, to make sure that they had the documents they needed to do their job.

Q All right. So was there a situation where --

MR. McCLELLAN: And to look at all those classified issues, as well, with them.

Q Right. And Jim alluded to this, where there were actually questions about document A, B, or C, they couldn't locate and they were looking into -- investigating where they were, and that's when they let you all know that, in the beginning of the process?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're asking all these questions related to an ongoing criminal investigation. It's not appropriate for me to get into discussing those issues.

Q But you can tell us when they were contacted.

MR. McCLELLAN: I said it's been quite some time ago when they were first contacted.

Q Scott, back on the 9/11 Commission. I'm just a little confused about when in this process the President has the time to sit down and directly talk to members of the 9/11 Commission, understand their conclusions. I heard you before say that, of course, he's met with them. But that was -- that was a different kind of a session. There, they were trying to extract information from him about what he knew. At what point does he get to sit down and say, okay, what's not working in our process? What do we need to change?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, apparently, it's going to be a pretty lengthy report that they will be publishing tomorrow. And those recommendations will be spelled out in detail in that report.

Q I'm not doubting he can take it home and read it. What I'm asking you is, have you worked out any mechanism by which time the President can interact with this commission and seek the logic behind some of their thinking? Or is that not what you intend?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, the full -- if you'll let me finish my statement. The President will receive the full and final report tomorrow, with all the recommendations. He looks forward to taking a look at those recommendations. He has also been briefed by White House staff throughout this process. He will continue to be briefed by White House staff.

The briefing that you're referring to today that's going on was scheduled as a briefing for key White House staff. And it's not a lengthy briefing. It's an overview of the report, itself. And the President -- the President will be briefed on those matters, as well. And I expect that he will certainly stay in touch with the commission as needed, as we move forward on looking at some of the recommendations in the report. And I expect -- yes, I expect he would be talk -- that they would talk to him about the report today.

Q Just clarify for me. You said --

MR. McCLELLAN: The White House staff is always in close contact with him, they talk to him throughout the day.

Q But when you say the President will be briefed, as well, do you mean by his staff or by the commission members?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, if he needs to talk to the commission members about issues relating to the report that he will be getting a copy of tomorrow, then I'm sure he will seek them out and talk to them.

Q But currently there is no scheduled --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we'll keep you posted if there are any additional briefings specifically for him by Chairman Kean and Vice Chairman Hamilton --

Q But none envisioned right now?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- but he's already met with them for a lengthy period of time, all the members of the commission. He's familiar with many of the issues that they've been looking at.

Q Scott, as Commander -- I have a two-part -- as Commander-in-Chief, the President is surely aware of the fact that the mother of U.S. Air Force Major Gregory Stone, who was killed in Iraq, has called the film maker Michael Moore, "a maggot that eats off the dead," for using the Major's funeral in his film without the family's permission -- and also using, without family permission, footage of Army Reservist Peter Damon, who lost part of both of his arms.

And my question, the Commander-in-Chief wants the Defense Department to give every assistance possible if these two service families sue Moore, doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Les, let me point out that the President is saddened by the loss of any life of our fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan. The President mourns the loss of each and every one of our fallen. They are sacrificing to make America safer and to defend freedom around the world. And the President meets frequently with the families of the fallen, and he meets frequently with those who have been wounded, as well. We are forever grateful for the service and sacrifice of the fallen.

I think in regards to this movie, it's come up previously. I'm not going to keep discussing it here in this room.

Q Scott, would you be at all surprised if the Democratic National Convention were to have as its speaker Ronald Reagan, Jr., introduced by Linda Ronstadt? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure what that schedule is --

Q Would you be surprised?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- but if you have recommendations that you want to make to the Democrats on their convention, I think you should forward those recommendations to the Democratic National Committee.

Q Wouldn't you say that it's full of surprises?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Heidi.

Q Scott, can you confirm that the President struck a deal with Democrats to extend the tax cuts for two years?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've seen reports. In terms of what is going on in Congress in terms of the tax cuts, the President has made it clear -- he makes it clear in about every speech -- that it's important to make these tax cuts permanent. The three that were specifically focused on this year are the child -- the expansion of the child tax credit, the marriage penalty relief, and the expansion of the 10 percent bracket. The President does not believe we should be raising taxes on families with children or raising taxes on married couples or raising taxes on those in the lower income brackets. And that's why he's called for making these tax cuts permanent.

We're encouraged that Congress recognizes the importance of not raising taxes. This congressional process is ongoing at this point, and we will continue working closely with Congress to make sure that we do not raise taxes on the American people. And, again, the President will continue to urge the importance of making these tax cuts permanent.

Q So are you knocking down the specific report that there is a deal that --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what report you're referring to. In terms of discussions with Congress, obviously, I don't negotiate from this podium.

Q On one of those provisions, does -- what is the President's position --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll come back to you. Richard.

Q With regard to Iran, more reports have been coming out about their possible links to terrorism and 9/11 and so forth. Is there any second guessing going on in the White House that maybe the administration should have been tougher with Iran and less tough with Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we are being tough with Iran. If you'll recall, the President in his -- I believe his 2002 State of the Union address talked about Iran, he talked about North Korea, he talked about

Iraq. What September 11th taught us was that we must confront threats before they fully materialize. And this President is confronting the threats that we face around the world. There are different ways and different strategies for confronting different threats. We are working to get Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons right now. That has been a multilateral process to keep the pressure on Iran and encourage them that they need to pursue a different approach. And we continue to call on Iran to abandon their nuclear program.

Q Any response --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have made some progress in the sense that the multilateral -- through the multilateral process. The international community recognizes the importance of getting Iran to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons. And so we're continuing to move forward to address that threat.

We have also spoken about Iran's continued support for and harboring of terrorists, particularly Hezbollah. We've also called on Iran to turn over those al Qaeda leaders that are in their country to their country of origin. So there are a number of ways that we're addressing the issues and concerns we have with regards to Iran. There are serious concerns. We've also confronted the other threats that we face in this world. That's why I talked about how we're engaged in a broad war on terrorism. It's a strategy that recognizes that we must confront threats before it's too late, before they fully materialize. And that's what we're doing around the world in not only Iran, but North Korea and elsewhere. And we've been pursuing these efforts for quite some time.

Go ahead.

Q Scott, as a follow-up to Heidi, are you saying that the White House is no longer insisting on a five-year extension of the tax --

MR. McCLELLAN: You've heard directly from the President about the importance of making these tax cuts permanent. And we don't need to be raising taxes, as I said, on married couples, families with children, or people in that lower income bracket.

Q Right. And a two-year extension would not be raising taxes --

MR. McCLELLAN: And now I think you're trying to get me to negotiate from the podium, which I don't do. We're encouraged Congress recognized the importance of not raising taxes, and we'll continue to work with them.

Q So two years would be acceptable if that's the best you can get?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Geoff. I've already answered that. Go ahead.

Q At the same time the U.N. is passing a resolution to make sure Israel can't defend herself, it's stonewalling the investigation into the corruption with the U.N. Oil for Food scandal. Iraqi Ambassador Rend al-Rahim believes that this investigation needs to move forward quickly and aggressively, if for no other reason that Iraq needs the money. It's $10 billion. What --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Paul Volcker has been appointed to oversee that investigation and address those issues. These are serious allegations, and that investigation is ongoing.

Q But it's not going very far very fast. And my question is, is the administration going to increase the pressure on the U.N. --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see if there's any update beyond --

Q -- to the --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see if there's any update to the status of the investigation.

Q NBC is now working on -- working on this story. The New York Times reported it quite a long time ago.


Q I started talking about it in March. It's --

MR. McCLELLAN: And we've expressed our concerns about the U.N. Oil for Food program, as well. It's an investigation that is ongoing at this point.

Go ahead.

Q Scott, what is the position of the President on the agricultural guest worker program that a majority of members of Senate are for?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's continuing to move forward on the temporary worker program that he has talked about that will match willing workers with willing employers. He laid out some clear principles for that approach. And we will continue to work with Congress on these issues. We stay in close contact with Congress on these reforms that the President has proposed.

Q If he is for it, why did the White House block the vote on this resolution last week?

MR. McCLELLAN: Why, I'm sorry?

Q Why do you block the vote? There are some reports that you were against to put that in vote --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know specifically what you're referring to. I'll be glad to take a look at it. But in terms of the President's proposals, you've seen what he's put forward. He remains firmly committed to that. It's an important priority. Obviously, Congress sets the legislative schedule. And we'll continue working with them on this issue, and continue encouraging them to act on it. You heard the President recently speak on this issue about -- I think about a week ago, when he addressed LULAC.

Q One more question on tax policy. What is the President's position on whether or not the income ceiling for the child tax credit should be raised from a little over $100,000 to a little over $300,000, as some have proposed in Congress?

MR. McCLELLAN: Refresh me on this issue.

Q Some people in Congress are proposing that the income cap for receiving the child tax credit be raised from a little over $100,000 to over $300,000.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that this is one that we've addressed previously. Let me go take a look at it, and I'll make sure that I get you the response to that.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

END 1:40 P.M. EDT

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