THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam)
For Immediate Release November 15, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY
PRESS SECRETARY JAKE SIEWERT
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
8:25 P.M. (L)
MR. SIEWERT: I'm not sure there's anything else to say, but we are
prepared to take any questions about the domestic front or other areas of
Q When is the meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister? It's not
in the schedule.
MR. SIEWERT: Tomorrow afternoon.*
Q Do you know when?
MR. SIEWERT: I don't have an exact time, but we'll let you know. I
think we'll probably just -- it's going to take place at the Polo area
where the APEC Summit is taking place.
MR. SIEWERT: Probably be stills only, or we may try to arrange some
opportunity to have some footage of it. But I don't think you can expect
that there will be a pool spray.
Q Jake, has there been any decision on sanctions or moving in the
direction of sanctions regarding Japanese whaling, and is that going to --
that will come up, I would imagine, but has there been any --
MR. SIEWERT: I expect the President will raise that issue. As you
know, the President directed on September 13th his agencies to take a look
at potential measures in this area. It's something that we take very
seriously, and the Japanese have indicated that they're proceeding with
their plan to hunt whales. That's something that we're preparing, but I
don't think we'll have a decision before the meeting. But it is something
that we're getting word back from the agencies on now, and preparing to
send a report to Congress on.
Q When you say you won't have a decision before the meeting, will
there be one in the meeting?
MR. SIEWERT: No. I expect that we'll raise it in the meeting,
continue to state our concern about the plans that the Japanese have stated
to hunt whales. But we will actually identify specific measures sometime
after that meeting takes place.
Q Jake, there are reports coming from Tokyo that the U.S. and Japan
have already agreed to set up a panel of experts on the subject. Is that
MR. SIEWERT: I don't know, I'll check on that. I don't think that
we've resolved this issue to our satisfaction yet.
Q Jake, in the President's speech this morning to the business
leaders, he suggested that the reason for the one-day delay to his trip
was, in fact, the election controversy in Florida. Was that what he
intended to suggest? It seemed to be a slight revision of what -- the
official statement on the subject.
MR. SIEWERT: I think -- the primary reason for the delay was the
meeting that we had with Prime Minister Barak on Sunday. That's the main
reason why we were delayed in coming. He obviously spent the time there
following developments on the election, but that's not the reason we
delayed the trip.
Q Jake, has he talked to the Vice President or to Chairman Daley or
anyone affiliated based on the results -- I know the time difference, but
based on --
MR. SIEWERT: He has not talked to the Vice President as far as I know
since the last call that we outlined for you, I think which was late last
week. But he's been provided updates pretty regularly from his staff on
the road here. He's obviously interested, as all of you are, in what's
transpiring there. But I don't -- I think he's been pretty careful to
avoid a running commentary on this. He has told you all that he thinks
we'll be able to work this out, and work it out in a way that's fair. He
hasn't really received much in the way of comment on this from other
leaders, contrary to what you might have heard from some people back in the
This has come up, but really only around the margins, and in a mostly
good-humored way. It doesn't seem that there's any real anxiety among the
leaders here about this problem. I think they recognize that this can be
Q Jake, you answered the question about talking to the Vice
President. I'm not sure I heard the answer.
MR. SIEWERT: Daley, I don't believe he has spoken to Chairman Daley.
We have been trying to provide him updates through the traveling chief of
staff on the road and through Mr. Ricchetti, who is back at home. And they
have been in contact -- the White House staff has been in contact with
Chairman Daley. I don't believe the President has. I'll double-check,
Q Can we presume that he has not talked to Governor Bush?
MR. SIEWERT: Governor Bush? Which Governor Bush? No, I don't
believe he has spoken to either Governor Bush on this matter.
Q Do you have any reaction to Chairman Arafat's call to
Palestinians to stop firing on Israelis?
MR. SIEWERT: As I told the pool earlier, the President spoke with
Chairman Arafat late last night when he arrived here, and that conversation
was focused on ways to end the violence. We believe that it's very
important that both parties take immediate steps to reduce tension and
lower the level of violence in the area. We obviously welcome any public
assertions that -- public declarations that are aimed at ending the
violence. But what is going to be important is that they take the concrete
steps that were envisioned at Sharm to provide a more secure environment
for people in the region.
Q What's the latest on the budget? Is there a continuing
resolution on its way to Brunei?
MR. SIEWERT: Yes. The President spoke to both Majority Leader Lott
and the Speaker before he left, and they agreed that, given Congress's
diminished appetite for finishing up its work this week, that we would sign
a CR that would extend the government through December 5th, I believe. And
that CR has been passed by both Houses and is on its way to Brunei. I
expect the President will sign it sometime tomorrow, local time, which
should be sometime today in the United States. And I will let you know
exactly when it gets here. That's all contingent upon commercial flight
travel, so we will hopefully get it in time and have it signed.
Q Jake, how did the administration go from the position where the
President wasn't willing to sign any CR of greater than 24 hours in length
to what is now I guess a two-and-a-half week CR?
MR. SIEWERT: We had said for a long time now that we thought Congress
had ample time and opportunity to finish its work before the election and
that there was no reason why we needed a lame duck session. Congress just
didn't get the job done; they left a lot of unfinished business on the
plate. And, as a result, we are into a new session and a set of new
That essentially means that we're going to have to work with them in
finding the best time and place for them to do that work. We had thought
we could get that work done before Thanksgiving. Turns out they are not
interested in coming back to town now and doing that. So just recognizing
that reality, we've agreed to postpone the session until December 5th. But
we were trying to use the pressure of an election, the pressure of Congress
presenting itself to the voters as an opportunity to see them do some work.
And I don't think there's any question that particularly the Senate,
which blocked progress on a lot of important measures that even the House
had taken seriously -- the Senate stifled the debate on a patients' bill of
rights; they stifled the debate on a number of different issues that were
very important. And I think the leadership there played a pretty heavy
price in the elections for not completing its work on time.
But that's all over now and we want to see what we can do to get back
to business when they return, and finish up the education budget, finish up
some of the minimum wage work and some of the other differences that we
Q What are the changes that, when December 5th rolls around, the
President might be asked to go along with a CR through the end of his term
MR. SIEWERT: We don't think that's necessary at all. We think that
Congress could easily finish up the work on education that we had agreed to
before they left town for the election. We had an honorable compromise on
education funding that would be pretty easy to put back together in fairly
short order. We need to resolve differences on immigration and a couple
other matters. But they could also raise the minimum wage pretty easily.
That would not require a great deal of heavy lifting.
So, ultimately, we will make a decision when they get back to town on
how much work we want to get accomplished. But there is no reason why they
couldn't come back together, and they've indicated an interest in coming
back and getting some of that work done, so we take that at face value.
Q Hey, Jake, how does the CR physically get here? Does a White
House staffer courier it here and then back?
MR. SIEWERT: Essentially, yes. That's the long and short of it.
Someone will --
Q Which staff person?
MR. SIEWERT: Well, I don't know that we want to make him famous.
Someone who is young enough to handle a lot of air travel in a very short
period of time. But, no, there is someone in the Staff Secretary's office
who will actually fly out here commercially and then return directly after
it's been signed.
All right, thank you.
END 8:33 P.M. (L)