8/13/10: White House Press Briefing

Uploaded by whitehouse on 13.08.2010

Mr. Gibbs: Good afternoon.
Welcome to the White House.
Before we get started, I have one quick announcement.
On Sunday, August 29th, President Obama will travel to
New Orleans, Louisiana, to mark the fifth anniversary of
Hurricane Katrina.
The visit will include remarks by the President at Xavier
University of Louisiana.
Members of the President's Cabinet who have worked to speed
recovery and restoration efforts in the region also will be in
New Orleans to mark the anniversary.
We will have more on that trip obviously as it gets closer.
Next, we are joined today by Secretary Napolitano.
As you know, just a little while ago, with Secretary Napolitano,
the President signed into law a border security bill that puts
more agents and more equipment along the Mexican border.
And she is here to talk about that,
our efforts to bolster the border region since coming into office.
And I will turn it over to the Secretary.
Secretary Napolitano: Thank you.
Well, thank you.
Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you for being here today.
I was very pleased to be with the President earlier as he
signed a bill providing $600 million in additional resources
to further strengthen security along the Southwest border.
We applaud Congress for acting in a bipartisan manner to take
quick action on this bill.
I'd like to especially thank leaders Reid and Pelosi,
and also Senators Schumer and McCaskill.
The legislation adds permanent resources that will continue to
bolster security along the Southwest border,
supporting our efforts to crack down on transnational criminal
organizations, and reduce the trafficking of people, drugs,
currency and weapons.
The bill is important in two respects.
First, it adds new resources to the border.
Second, it makes permanent many of the assets that this
administration has surged along the border during the past 18 months.
Now, let me pause there for a moment.
I have worked on border issues as a public servant for 17
years, starting in 1993, as United States state's attorney
in Arizona, then the attorney general of Arizona,
then the governor of Arizona, continuing through today as the
Secretary of Homeland Security.
What's significant about this bill,
in addition to its contents, is that it passed something with
bipartisan support that gives us the resources to continue
efforts that were well underway, and demonstrates that the border
is not and should not be a political issue;
it is a matter of national security in which we all,
both parties, have a stake.
And on that score, even before the President signed this bill,
the administration had already devoted more resources to the
Southwest border than any point in American history.
These efforts are making a difference.
And they are the reason why everything that is supposed to
be going up is going up, and everything that is supposed to
be going down is going down.
Seizures are up and rose across the board last year.
Apprehensions for illegal crossings are down.
For the first time ever, we are screening 100% of southbound rail.
Criminal alien removals are at an all-time high.
We've added more technology, manpower,
and resources to the border than ever before.
This is a long-term, systematic effort to defeat the cartels and
to continue to secure the border.
The administration is dedicated to that approach.
And that's why the President ordered 1,200 National Guard
troops to the border, and it's why he asked Congress for this
supplemental funding.
Now, the bill.
In terms of manpower, the bill provides for 1,000 additional
Border Patrol agents.
It contains $68 million for Customs and Border Protection
officers at our ports of entry, facilitating legal traffic and
interdicting contraband.
It enables ICE -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement --
to hire more than 200 special agents,
investigators and intelligence analysts who will help combat
narcotic smuggling and their associated violence.
It provides for two more unmanned aircraft systems,
and has $14 million to deploy improved tactical communications
technology that will improve enforcement,
particularly along some of the more remote areas of the border.
It also includes $196 million for the Justice Department to
surge federal law enforcement, add prosecutors,
immigration judges, and support for detention and incarceration
of criminal aliens in coordination with our Homeland
Security enforcement efforts.
And in terms of infrastructure, it includes $6 million for two
forward-operating bases to improve our border enforcement activities.
This bill is clearly another step forward on border security,
on top of the significant progress that the administration
has already made.
It is one of the many tools in the toolbox we have constructed
along the border.
So we're very pleased with the swift passage,
very pleased the President was able to sign this bill into law today.
And now I'm happy to take your questions.
The Press: Secretary Napolitano, when the President spoke about
immigration last month, one of the points he made is that our
borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem
only with fences and border patrols; it won't work.
Our borders will not be secure as long as our limited resources
are devoted to not only stopping gangs and potential terrorists
but also the hundreds and thousands who attempt to cross
each year simply to find work.
Is the administration now in any way conceding that comprehensive
immigration reform is not tenable,
that you can actually fix this problem, bill by bill?
Secretary Napolitano: No, no, I would say quite the opposite.
I think the administration's position is that this bill adds
to significant border security efforts that have been underway
for the past 18 months.
And the administration is very intent now in saying, look,
this bill passed on a bipartisan basis.
Now let's get Republicans to the table finally so we can address
the whole issue of immigration reform.
These are not sequential items; these are things that should be
done together.
The Press: So in your sense, having gotten this piece through,
and knowing the politics as well as the policy,
that comprehensive reform is still something that could
happen in the next couple years?
Secretary Napolitano: Absolutely.
And it needs to happen.
And again, I say this as someone with a lot of experience with
the immigration issue and along the border.
We need a safe and secure border.
This is a 2,000-mile, roughly, expanse.
It involves a lot of legitimate and legal trade of commerce,
goods, tourism, people that need to be able to go back and forth.
So the border area itself needs to be safe and secure.
But as a nation we also need immigration reform.
Mr. Gibbs: Bill, let me just add this.
I think you've seen the President has talked about this.
As I've mentioned in here before,
the President has worked on this in 2005, 2006, 2007,
as a member of the United States Senate.
Leaders in the Senate made tough decisions and tough votes to get
a bill because Democrats and Republicans worked together.
Nothing is going to happen on this issue in a comprehensive
way that only involves one party or one person.
Secretary Napolitano's home state had leaders that were
willing to make tough votes, willing to roll up their sleeves
and be leaders.
And the question is -- we will get comprehensive immigration
reform when we go back to a time in which both Democrats and
Republicans are willing to be leaders.
And only then.
It's not going to go through the Senate or the House or Congress
and come to any President's desk because one party has willed it
to do so.
The Press: Well, I guess that's my point, just to finish up on this,
is that there always seemed to be strong support at some level
for securing the border but not for the more difficult parts,
including guest worker program and so forth.
So how does this differ from that?
You got the part that both parties can support.
Where does the rest come from?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think the efforts on overall immigration reform are
ongoing, but the point I'm making is that you need to multitask.
You need to secure the border and have a safe and secure
border area, and you need immigration reform.
That's what this President has set out to do.
That's what he has asked the Department of Homeland Security
to work on.
That's why he has invited Republicans and Republican
leadership to the table, said, look,
let's get to the issue of immigration reform.
But at the same time, we want to make sure that the border itself
and that 2,000-mile expanse is safe and secure.
The Press: Just following on that, I'm wondering if you could talk a
little more specifically about the President's timetable for
bringing about comprehensive immigration reform,
for getting Republicans to the table.
And how much will this be contingent on the outcome of the
November elections?
Are you concerned that if Republicans increase in strength
then the prospects diminish?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think the purpose of our briefing here today is to talk
about this bill, its significance,
the fact that it passed in a bipartisan fashion,
and very swiftly.
I mean, the President made a formal request for this
supplemental funding I think in June, and we are now --
we have already begun moving resources,
in addition to what we had already put at the border,
to the border.
This will allow us to make some of those movements permanent.
And the addition of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents on top of
the 20,000 we already have, that is significant.
Two hundred more ICE agents that we can devote to special
investigations involving the cartels that use that border and
its trafficking routes, that is very significant.
Unmanned aerial systems that we can add to the ones we already
have, along with the fixed-wing and helicopters that we have,
that allows us to have the capacity for 24/7 air coverage
along this border.
This is the most kind of systemic border security package
-- when you add everything together that has happened --
that we've ever seen.
The Press: But not to be impolite, the question was,
what is the timetable for -- now that you have this bill,
which is significant and clearly lays the groundwork for
comprehensive immigration reform --
what's the timetable for the next step?
And how much is it contingent on the elections?
Secretary Napolitano: The President has said from the beginning that immigration
reform is a priority for him.
He had reiterated that as recently as the speech at
American University, which you were quoting from,
and he has invited Congress to the table.
But again, as was said earlier, this is in the hands of the
Congress and they will need to address this in a bipartisan way.
It can't only be done by Democrats;
the Republicans need to be willing to come to the table.
The timetable question should be addressed to them.
Mr. Gibbs: And I think, just to add one thing,
nobody has suggested that I have heard that only one step needs
to be taken to have comprehensive immigration reform.
This is an aspect of it.
It's something we always mention,
but there are obviously other aspects that are needed and that
people are interested in doing.
And the President has reached out to and has talked to
Democrats and Republicans on this issue.
We just need a little support to make it happen.
The Press: But if you don't get those other aspects,
if you don't get comprehensive reform,
is this not just then a drop in a bucket in attacking the problem?
Secretary Napolitano: No.
And I say this again as someone who is from a border state and
has governed a border state.
The border region is an important,
critical area for this country.
So much trade and commerce occurs along there.
People live in communities along that border region.
We want to make sure that border region is safe and secure.
We want -- and that requires a law enforcement approach that
includes manpower, that includes infrastructure,
that includes technology.
And that's why this bill, added to what we've already done,
gives us the resources necessary for that kind of a system to be in place.
That makes a lot of difference for people who live in that area
and for the country as a whole.
The Press: Could I ask you about -- you've mentioned the
crossings are down.
Can you talk a little bit more about that in terms of the numbers?
And to what degree do you think that is the result of the
economy, that there simply aren't the jobs here now for
people to want to cross the border?
And to what degree is it because of specific measures that have
been taken by this administration?
Secretary Napolitano: We can give you specific numbers,
but I can tell you from my own experience that crossings are
down, I have to say, 50%, 60% from even a few years ago.
The Press: Some people believe that almost all of that is because of
the economy.
Secretary Napolitano: I think it is fair to say that the economy has something to do
with it, but it is also fair to say that the additional law
enforcement resources at the border also have something to do with it.
And there's a third factor, I think,
that should be taken into account,
and that is we have undertaken really an unprecedented
partnership with Mexican law enforcement,
with the Calderón administration,
with law enforcement on the Southern side of the border,
and that also is having an effect.
The Press: To follow on that, can you quantify what this extra money
and resources is going to mean in terms of percentages of all
the things that you're trying to curtail?
Secretary Napolitano: I don't understand --
The Press: You said you were trying to limit the activity of drug
cartels, of narco-trafficking, of human trafficking --
$600 million, 1,200 National Guard troops --
how much of an effect is that going to have?
Can you quantify it in terms of numbers and percentages?
Secretary Napolitano: It's always difficult to quantify a negative,
how much have you prevented from occurring.
But what we can give you are exact numbers on how much
crossings have gone down and how much seizures have gone up,
and that will give you some of the matrix.
The Press: But now you're adding more resources.
So I guess the question is -- critics might say, well,
you're throwing this in, you're doing this for political show in
order to lay the groundwork for November,
in order to lay the groundwork or the predicate for pursuing
comprehensive reform at some point in the future.
What effect is this actually going to have?
And that's the genesis of the question I'm asking.
Secretary Napolitano: I think you will see crossings continue to go down,
and I think you will continue to see seizures going up.
I don't know if I can give you an exact number.
The Press: At an increased rate because of all the --
Secretary Napolitano: When the resources are in place, I think you will see that.
And I think you will see crime rates along the border keep --
either remain stable or keep going down,
so that communities along the border are safer because of this money.
So there are all kinds of ways you could look at it,
but I would look at all of those factors.
The Press: To follow up on the earlier questions about the timing of
comprehensive reform.
So is it safe to say now that the policy pieces are in place
-- I know you say it's not sequential --
but the policy pieces are being put in place,
and now it's simply a political problem to get reform through Congress?
Secretary Napolitano: I think it is fair to say that it is time for immigration
reform; that the administration is ready to invite the Congress
to get at it.
But again, as Gibbs just said, it can't be just one party;
the Republican leadership now needs to come to the table.
The Press: As you know, Republicans here in Washington and in the region say
that while this is -- while 1,200 National Guard troops is
helpful and while this money is helpful, it's not enough.
It's nowhere near enough.
Do you agree that more is needed,
or do you think that we really have the resources you need at
this point to do the job?
Secretary Napolitano: I think this bill matches very well with what the President
asked for in June.
It augments what we had already been surging down the border,
beginning in March of '09.
I mean, I think people perhaps didn't recognize the fact that
since March of '09 we have been moving resources to the
Southwest border.
This allows us to make some of those resources permanent,
not temporary.
So I believe that we have designed what needs to happen at
this border, we have a good idea what it takes to keep this
border safe and secure, and that these monies will allow us to do that.
And again, it shows when the Congress acts in a bipartisan
fashion, even on a complicated issue --
and border security is a complicated issue;
other issues they've addressed in a bipartisan fashion are
complicated -- when they do it things can move rather swiftly.
The Press: I'm sorry, I didn't understand for sure how you're responding
to my specific question.
Do you think this is enough, or is more needed to do the job
that you think needs to be done?
Secretary Napolitano: I think this is what we asked for, and of course,
what we asked for is what we thought would be enough.
The Press: Do you know how long it takes for 1,500 more agents to be
hired and trained and get on the job?
Secretary Napolitano: Yes, the average time for a Border Patrol agent to go from
hiring to training to be boots on the ground is eight months.
The Press: Eight months?
Secretary Napolitano: Is eight months.
The Press: And once you get all of these in place,
you feel you have kind of a long-term now stabilization on
the numbers there.
Is the gap widening between the border security and then the
more political issue on the other side of what to do with
the illegal aliens who are in the United States now?
Isn't that a problem that now is even farther --
especially with the lawsuits that are out there --
is that becoming farther and farther from a possibility,
not only this year but next?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, again, that goes to the issue of underlying immigration
reform with those already in the country.
But we have set pretty clear priorities for ICE about who
they should focus on from a law enforcement perspective,
just like any prosecution office would.
And we have directed, and the assistant secretary has
directed, that we focus on criminal aliens --
and record numbers are being removed from our country of
criminal aliens; that we focus on gang members;
that we focus on felony fugitives.
And when you look at the numbers,
the numbers show that ICE has made significant strides in that
regard and, really, record numbers are being removed.
The Press: Thank you, Robert.
Madam Secretary, as far as this bill President signed this
morning, it's supported by the Indian Americans and companies
doing business in India.
But there is a red alert in India now from some companies
doing business in India in the part of the bill,
which is that this bill will be paid by those H1B visa holders
who will be entering the U.S., but they have not entered yet,
but it will be paid by them.
And also that this bill might impact the U.S.-India relations,
and what many companies are saying this bill should be paid
by those who are illegal in this country but not those people
doing business in India.
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think the method of payment,
which is an increased visa charge for certain
business-related businesses -- business-related visas --
makes a lot of sense, because what it's saying is that we're
going to make sure that we pay for immigration in this part of
it, that we pay for it out of the visa system.
And that way it doesn't come out of the general fund,
which is necessary for so many other things.
And so the Senate was able to find a way to fund this bill
that doesn't add to the deficit and allows us to get the
enforcement monies we need on a permanent basis.
The Press: Do you think that in any way as far as U.S.-India relations and
this connection and the companies doing business in India?
Secretary Napolitano: I think this administration has a very close relationship with
India and we hope to sustain it as such.
Mr. Gibbs: April.
The Press: Back on the issue of comprehensive
immigration reform.
There is a concern about the temporary worker program as you
were starting -- this precursor that -- Marc Morial,
for instance, the head of the National Urban League,
is concerned that there needs to be more accountability in the
process of screenings just in case there are companies that
decide that they may need to go outside of the United States to
bring in some workers.
What say you about that and bringing in more accountability
as to finding -- making sure that they've exhausted all
avenues that no one wants to work in that company,
and they have to go abroad to Mexico?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think we are all concerned and focused on making
sure in the business side of the immigration process that the
rules are followed, that the rules are enforced,
and that jobs are not unfairly precluded for American workers.
And that's the directive that's gone out.
The Press: But would -- it might be the directive,
but what kind of teeth are you putting in place?
What kind of accountability efforts are you putting in place
to make sure that businesses are exhausting every measure that
they can to make sure that no one wants the job in the United
States before they go out into Mexico for hiring?
Secretary Napolitano: We can give you a separate briefing, but at USCIS,
they have begun or have been conducting a lot of oversight or
go-backs on visas that are given,
to make sure that the rules are being followed.
The Press: Lindsay Graham had been specifically working on
this issue.
You were talking about the need for Republicans to come to the table.
Is the administration specifically reaching out to him?
Secretary Napolitano: I think the administration has reached out to a number of
Republicans, including Senator Graham.
And I think we all recognize that this is an issue that's not
going to go away; that immigration needs to be
addressed even as we secure the border.
And so, yes, the administration has reached out to Republican
leadership and to others, including Senator Graham.
The Press: And has he indicated that he will be willing to work with you
on something?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, he co-signed a op-ed with Senator Schumer, and they,
together, because of where they sit in the Judiciary Committee
structure, have key roles to play on whether an immigration
bill could move through the Senate.
And that op-ed, which the President has endorsed,
laid out really what the framework for the immigration
bill should be.
The Press: That was a while ago, though.
Secretary Napolitano: Indeed.
The Press: I mean more recently.
Secretary Napolitano: Again, I have seen no sign that there is any change in Senator
Graham's position.
The Press: Secretary Napolitano, last week after a nun was killed in a
drunk driving accident in Prince William County,
you asked for a review into the circumstances that led the
alleged driver to be released by ICE back in 2008.
Just looking for some details there: When do you expect that
review be completed?
Will the results be public?
And what questions are you hoping it will answer?
Secretary Napolitano: The review is not complete yet.
I don't have a completion date, but it's something we're
tracking out of our headquarters.
I think we want to know the same thing that the public wants to know.
Why was this individual with two DUIs in his past out on the road?
And we want to make sure that the directives that we have
issued since this individual entered the immigration system,
that the directives would make sure that somebody like this
would not be released onto the road.
The Press: And will those results be made public,
or is this just for internal --
Secretary Napolitano: Let me not answer that question prematurely because I don't know
whether there is a -- whether that would compromise an ongoing investigation.
But to the extent we can make things public,
we absolutely want to.
The Press: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
A number of Republicans, notably on the House side,
have indicated they would be warmer toward a comprehensive
immigration package if there was more being done on the fence.
Was more money put in for the fence along the border,
and what is its status right now?
Secretary Napolitano: The fence -- there is not money in here specifically for fence,
in this supplemental.
But we have built out the fence to the extent,
minus about six miles, that it has received appropriations.
And so, in our view, the fence is there.
But the fence is only part of this.
I mean, as I said, I think famously, when I was a governor,
you show me a 15-foot fence and I'll show you a 16-foot ladder.
You got to have infrastructure but you've got to have the
manpower and technology to back it up.
And you got to have the air cover.
And that's really the system that we have been putting in
place over the last 18 months, and that's what's in this bill.
The Press: So you're saying that the fence is just six miles short
of completion?
Secretary Napolitano: From the amount that was appropriated for the
fence, that's right.
And I think that six miles have --
I may be corrected, but I believe almost all of that is in litigation.
The Press: You talked about the money in the bill for incarceration
and prosecution.
But is that record deportation of criminal immigrants --
was that straining your existing resources?
Secretary Napolitano: I think that's -- I think it's fair to say, yes, it was.
And one of the things about this bill that's significant is that
it recognizes that this is a system,
and it's a system that crosses federal departments.
So if you're going to increase efforts on border security,
if you're going to increase efforts on removing and
deporting criminal aliens and the like,
you need more on the detention side,
you need more on the immigration judge side,
you need more on the U.S. attorneys side.
So there's $196 million in here for the Justice Department.
The Press: Secretary Napolitano, could I ask you to weigh in on the 14th
Amendment controversy before Congress right now?
Do you think it's remotely practicable to --
I don't know, deport babies -- I don't know --
what do you make, from an immigration perspective and a
policy perspective, about this "born in the United States" and
discussion about whether you should no longer be a citizen?
Are you surprised that Senator Graham and some of the other
senators who have intimated they wanted to debate this issue have gone there?
Secretary Napolitano: I have to tell you I am surprised, to say the least,
that discussion is being had about amending the United States
Constitution before we even get to the table on amending the
statutes that actually carry out immigration policy.
I think that's where the action needs to be.
And any talk of amending the Constitution is just wrong.
The Press: Do you say it's political also, or do you think it's serious --
Secretary Napolitano: I think it's just wrong.
The Press: Can we follow up on that?
Mr. Gibbs: Sure.
The Press: I'm sorry -- I just wonder if you've discussed that with the
President and do you have a sense of his feelings on it?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, Sheryl, I think I spoke on this two days ago,
after having discussed this with the President.
And what I said was I very much --
the President and Secretary Napolitano agree on this.
Let's take this a couple different ways.
The 14th Amendment enshrines, and has for more than 150 years,
equal protection and due process --
two things that we don't think need to be tampered with.
I think the Secretary just pointed out the process for
augmenting the Constitution takes a long time.
With a little leadership, we could have comprehensive
immigration reform.
And it is always interesting that --
and I said this the other day and I will say it one more time
-- that those that have, with steadfast fidelity,
talked about not tampering with our Constitution have now
swerved to pick the 14th Amendment as the best place to
address comprehensive immigration reform.
It is -- it's rich in its irony; it's wrong in its approach.
The Press: Governor Brewer, in justifying the state's immigration law,
has repeatedly said that the federal government is not doing its job.
Do you see this legislation, in part,
as an answer to that criticism?
And I'm also wondering if you can talk about what
conversations -- we know she met with the President earlier this
year -- that you have had with her, your successor?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I'll take it in two ways.
One is I think her factual premise was just wrong.
The facts are the facts.
And the facts are that there are more Border Patrol agents at
that border than ever before; there's more infrastructure at
the border than ever before; there's more technology at the
border than ever before; there's more air cover at the border
than ever before.
And the results are the results.
The results are that illegal crossings are way down,
and seizures of drugs and guns and cash are way up.
And so I think that the factual premise that she posited,
which is that somehow the federal government had ignored
Arizona, was just inaccurate -- and unfairly so.
And we will continue to augment the resources that we have been
putting into Arizona, particularly the East side of
the state, which is known as the Tucson sector.
You know, when I was the U.S. attorney,
I supervised the prosecution of at least 6,000 immigration felonies.
This is an area I know quite well.
And I will tell you there has never been a greater federal
presence at this border.
So the factual premise for the bill was wrong.
Now, I did meet with Governor Brewer in Boston during the NGA,
and we just discussed all the things that we were doing at the
Arizona border.
It was a very professional and cordial conversation.
The Press: Madam Secretary, the Republicans along the way have said that you
have to secure the border first.
You, yourself, have listed a number of steps that the
administration has taken during the past 18 months.
My question to you is, first of all,
how will the administration respond?
Because there are already Republicans saying that this is
an important first step, but more has to be done.
The question is, when will the border be secure?
Who will certify that the border is secure if that is what is
needed to get comprehensive immigration reform?
How do you respond to that?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think this is more than a first step.
I go back to March of 2009, when we began moving assets and
resources down into the Southwest border,
so I disagree with that characteristic.
Secondly, as I've said before, this is a great bill for us.
This is a great bill.
It adds a thousand Border Patrol agents; it adds ICE agents;
it adds air cover; it adds other technology.
It helps us make sure we have the most up-to-date
communications technology at the border,
which is really important because some areas you can't
cover with a cell phone because there aren't any cell towers
down there, so you really need the communications capacity.
So that part is there.
And what I would simply say is --
sometimes I hear "securing the border" and the goalpost just
keeps moving -- "well, we've done this,
we need to do this and this and this."
And I say, look, we will continue to do everything we
need to do to have a safe and secure Southwest border.
We will continue to do everything we need to do to work
with counties along that border.
We now have the Secure Community System, as I said before,
at every one of the 25 counties along the border.
We will continue to make sure that our efforts are informed by
good intelligence and analysis so we're not just throwing money
at the border.
But that should not be used anymore to preclude discussions
about immigration reform.
As I said many times, these should not be sequential;
they should go together.
The Press: A second question, Madam Secretary.
ICE has said that they can only get only get to (inaudible)
deportations a year because they just don't have more resources.
I wonder if this bill would provide some more resources to
get some more deportations.
And the second point is, some activists have said that by
passing this bill alone the most radical have hijacked the debate
on comprehensive immigration reform,
and I would like your reaction on that.
Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think it is likely that we will see more deportations,
particularly in the priority categories I have set forth.
Can I give you a number just yet?
It would be premature to do so.
But obviously our goal is to make the best,
most efficient use of the money that we receive from the
Congress, and focus it on where we think the best efforts ought to be.
And that is making sure we are removing from our country
criminal aliens, felony fugitives,
gang members who are also in our country illegally,
particularly once they've served their sentences.
For those who say, or who would suggest that somehow this bill
is radical -- what did you say -- what was the phrase you used?
The Press: They say that by passing this bill alone,
the radicals have hijacked the debate, basically,
and moving to more enforcement-type --
Secretary Napolitano: No, I think that's just wrong.
I think this bill is a bill that the President asked for.
He asked for it because we know that we can make good use of
these monies for permanent and consistent across-the-border
security, and that's what we want to have.
But that in no way should be read to suggest, imply,
or in any way, back off from the fact that we also need
immigration reform.
The Press: Secretary, Senator McCain and Senator Kyl said yesterday that
key elements of border security are still missing, for example,
implementation of Operation Streamline in the Tucson sector,
more Border Patrol agents, among other things.
So I was wondering if -- do you agree with this statement?
Do you agree that these kind of measures are still needed in the border?
Secretary Napolitano: Well, again, Operation Streamline has proven effective
in some places where it is used.
We use it in some places.
It's very expensive, and there are other methods that we use
that are proven equally effective.
And so as you're trying to make the best use of taxpayer dollars
and make sure that they're targeted where they can do the
best -- Streamline is one way.
Repatriation into the interior of Mexico is another way that
has proven very effective.
And so we need a lot of different kinds of tools in our toolbox.
And I think it is a mistake to focus on any single one and say,
well, if you don't have that tool,
you don't have an effective system.
We have a good toolbox.
We have a good system.
And now with these monies, again,
passed with the support of Senator McCain and Kyl,
we can do even more.
Mr. Gibbs: We'll take one more.
The Press: Just a follow-up, a quick follow-up?
Madam Secretary, you said that leadership is needed from the
Republicans and Democrats in Congress in order to have
comprehensive immigration reform.
But in Congress they said that leadership in the White House is
needed in order to have comprehensive immigration reform.
So at the end of the day --
Secretary Napolitano: Look, only Congress can pass a bill.
The President can advocate, he can get them to the table,
as he has in the Roosevelt Room upstairs.
He can implore, he can provide ideas,
he can agree to a framework, as he already has.
He can give a major address that spells out what's needed in a bill.
But only Congress can pass a bill.
Mr. Gibbs: Take one more in the very back.
The Press: Businesses from India and the U.S. have said that the portion
of the bill which raises the fee on H1 and L1 visa is
discriminatory and this would undermine the growing economic
relations between India and the U.S.
What's your comment on that?
Secretary Napolitano: I don't think it will.
I think the United States and India have a robust and vital
relationship, and nothing in this bill should interfere with that.
The Press: Just to follow up, about the WTO scenario where the U.S. can be
taken to -- the WTO rules are being violated with this bill.
Secretary Napolitano: On that I can't comment.
That has not been raised to me at all.
Mr. Gibbs: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
Secretary Napolitano: All right, thank you.
Mr. Gibbs: Should we do a few other topics, and then call it a Friday?
Ben and then I'll go to April.
The Press: Thanks, Robert.
A couple quick topics.
Down in the Gulf today could be the day that the well is sealed
for good, depending on, I guess, test results there.
Can you give us any indication on how that's going?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, I would say -- and I think we will have directives from the
National Incident Commander soon --
the scientific team met and was meeting this morning,
as they have in each big step along the way,
to evaluate where we were, take pressure readings,
evaluate all the data that's applicable in making those next decisions.
As you know, the storm delayed some of the activity on the
relief well.
It is our hope that, even as we have put the mud into the
well-bore and cemented the well, that the final steps that will
kill this well off once and for all will resume soon and
hopefully come to fruition.
It'd be nice to have that sometime this weekend.
It would be nice to -- well --
-- no, no, it would be nice to have had that about 110 days
ago, but I say that not because of the proximity of the
President's trip.
I say that because we have maintained throughout this
process that that was the end of this well,
is having that relief well and have --
what that means in terms of the stability of the entire well
structure -- that is obviously important to moving forward.
I will say this -- and I repeat this because it is important to
this government and to this President.
This would end -- a relief well --
a successful relief well would end this phase of,
but would not end our commitment to this region.
We still have oil to clean up.
We still have an environment to monitor and measure and study.
We have natural resource damage assessments that will be --
fines that will be given to BP for that.
And we have a process by which restoration of the Gulf will begin.
Secretary Mabus will travel with the President tomorrow to
Florida, and they will talk more about that process.
The Press: Talk more about the restoration process?
Mr. Gibbs: Talk more about sort of what these --
what sort of we're shifting into in terms of the next steps in
this process.
I think it is important that the people in the region understand
and know clearly that -- our focus has been for the past many
days what we think is now very much upon us,
and that is a well that is dead.
I think it is important to know that this well has not leaked
oil for a month.
That is important -- certainly important to the environment and
to the people of the Gulf.
This well, the relief well would kill this once and for all.
That ends that phase as we transition to the next phase.
The Press: And one other point, moving a little bit further ahead --
can you frame White House goals and expectations for the
President's U.S. trip next week?
I mean, he's going all over the place.
Obviously a lot of political fundraisers to that,
but he's got a policy event every day.
What does he hope to get out of this?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, look, I think you'll hear the President talk a lot about
the economy, different aspects of it, in different places,
whether it's our initiative on exports and other things.
Obviously the President's travel includes, as you mentioned, Ben,
a hefty amount of political travel for Senate candidates,
for gubernatorial candidates, and for the congressional committee.
And some of the money raised goes directly to state parties
to build campaigns, strong campaigns, top to bottom,
within the state in some very important areas in 2010.
I think the President takes that role seriously.
And we obviously are getting closer and closer to some very
important elections where we'll make some important choices
about going backwards or going forwards.
You'll hear that speech again.
The Press: To clarify, it sounds like you're not willing to give up on
the relief wells.
Just leaving the cemented top as it is now is not enough for you.
Mr. Gibbs: I hesitate to get ahead of what I think the National Incident
Command is going to do soon.
Again, the way we've always talked about this is the
importance of that relief well.
Despite the fact that if you -- look, a month ago,
a sealing cap largely prevented additional oil from coming out.
Mud on top of that increased that.
The cementing of that increased that.
But we still have the relief well.
The Press: How do you ever go back in and find out what went wrong in
the first place?
You've got all these oil wells out there that can't budge until
you guys find out what happened --
Mr. Gibbs: Well, there's a scientific and engineering process that is
ongoing that's -- I forget the exact name of it but I'll get it
-- that's an investigation that's headlined out of New
Orleans, that will look at -- and, look,
I think one of the things we'll want to do is look at some of
the components that are there and see the degree to which they
contributed to what happened on April 20th.
The Press: Is the President discouraged at all at the stubborn nature of
the economic recovery?
Mr. Gibbs: Yes, has been for going on 18 months.
The Press: So what else -- I mean, everything is being
thrown at it.
You hear about creating more opportunities for small
businesses, creating more jobs --
Mr. Gibbs: Which I think is -- which, I will tell you,
is a priority of the President and what he hopes is a priority
that the Senate will complete when it comes back to do its
business in the fall.
We hear a lot about how important small business is --
it's true; how important small business is to creating jobs -- that's true.
What we need now is that rhetoric to match the support of
Republicans on Capitol Hill that, for the most part,
have voted against -- let's be clear --
ending capital gains for small business,
increasing the amount that small businesses can deduct based on
the investments that they make, and increasing through community
banks the lending that's available for credit to expand
and hire more workers.
That is tremendously important.
I think what happened just earlier this week,
ensuring that 160,000 teachers and 160,000 classrooms weren't
without those teachers was tremendously important.
I have said this millions of times and I'll make it a million and one.
We looked at and we continue to face the greatest economic
downturn that our country has seen since the Great Depression
in almost every person's lifetime.
It is going to take a while to get out of that hole.
We will continue to work at finding whatever solutions are
necessary for trying to do that.
I think if you look at -- and I know this is --
the President understands the frustration that the millions
without jobs face.
What is economically indisputable is that the actions
that were taken prevented something much, much,
much worse from coming to fruition.
The Press: What will it take to restore the confidence, though,
in the American people who -- in the spring,
when we were talking to people, you got the sense that everyone
thought things were getting better.
Now, polling, it seems that people think otherwise.
Mr. Gibbs: Well, as I said here the other day,
I think the trajectory of where April and August are,
are different.
Now, what we're not debating is whether that trajectory is up or
down, okay?
If you look at where we were a year ago,
if you look at where we were a year and a half ago,
we were fighting an economy that was contracting greatly,
we were fighting an economy that was shedding hundreds of
thousands of jobs -- 700,000, 750,000 jobs a month.
We're adding jobs.
Our economy is growing.
Not as fast as the President and many of those that are
frustrated would want -- and I would include the President
among those that is frustrated.
Obviously some events happened, I think beginning,
as you've heard the President and myself say,
beginning in Greece and in Europe,
that have caused people to become concerned.
The Press: On the President's trip this weekend --
this was asked a couple of days ago --
but any plans to get in the water?
Mr. Gibbs: I doubt that that will go out specifically on the guidance,
but stay tuned.
The Press: Everyone wants the picture, Robert.
The Press: So, yes?
Mr. Gibbs: What's that?
The Press: What this is about is that everyone wants the photograph.
Mr. Gibbs: Are you guys bringing your suits?
Are you -- go ahead.
The Press: So, yes, right?
It just won't be on the guidance?
If I were going -- I would bring my suit if I were going, but I'm
not going.
Mr. Gibbs: But you're not -- well.
Give your Speedo to somebody else.
The Press: So the question is, will we get in the water,
and will there be pictures?
Mr. Gibbs: I will wait --
The Press: Are the waters clean enough to get into?
Mr. Gibbs: Of course they're clean enough to get into.
The Press: Would that say something if he takes a walk down the beach but
doesn't put his feet in the water?
Mr. Gibbs: Guys, why don't we all worry about what happens on Saturday.
The Press: Because this is Friday.
Mr. Gibbs: I know.
I know it's Friday and we have to preview whether or not the
President will go swimming.
I'm going to let --
The Press: That's the biggest tourism --
The Press: Swim -- we're not saying swimming.
He can just walk in the water.
Mr. Gibbs: I see, just walking in the water.
The Press: No, no, above the knees.
Mr. Gibbs: All right, you guys maybe get together, figure out --
-- what would appropriately check the Aquaman box and --
The Press: If you would say it now, it's the biggest tourism --
The Press: I have a non-swimming question.
Was the President briefed about GM's news yesterday?
Mr. Gibbs: Yes.
The Press: How did he react?
And when, with an IPO likely in the coming months,
does he expect to get back the government's money?
Mr. Gibbs: Let me -- I want to state clearly, I am not,
and you have heard on any number of occasions,
members of this administration, we're not going to comment on an IPO.
Obviously that is a process that is ongoing.
Once that process begins, the Securities and the Exchange
Commission has purview over that process,
and I'm not going to run afoul of that.
The President -- obviously we are grateful for and I think the
country should be grateful for the service and the sacrifice of
Ed Whitacre.
The President was informed of this,
and our belief is that Dan Akerson is a proven and
well-respected individual that will carry on what Ed and others
have started in restructuring an auto company that not too long
ago was on the brink of extinction.
They announced again yesterday a quarterly profit.
They are on the upswing, as the other auto companies are, as well.
You've heard the President and the administration say --
and I'm not saying this not necessarily in the relation to
the timing of IPOs -- but our belief is that if you look at
the valuation of the company and the investment that we put in,
we believe the money that this administration put in will be
gotten back.
And I think the reason is -- and I think this is important --
the money that we invested came with managerial changes that had
to be enacted.
I think Ed Whitacre and I think Dan Akerson understand that GM
made a series of decisions that got them into a position,
with the type of economic downturn that we've had, that,
quite frankly, put the existence of the company in great danger.
I think both of those individuals --
and I think you have a management structure and work
ethic at that company in management --
and we all saw the tremendous job that those that are working
each day putting those new cars together --
there's an understanding that they have a second chance;
that that investment required them to do some things
differently, and they are, and now there's a much different
story to tell in the auto world, that will only, quite frankly,
get better as our economy gets stronger,
and more people buy cars.
You've heard me say these figures before --
the auto industry's sort of apex was 17 million to 17.5 million
car sales a year.
The economy that we were dealing with when the President came
into office was one that was selling at 9-9.5 million cars a year.
Now we're up to 11-11.5 million cars a year.
We'll get higher and higher, and the industry itself will get,
by definition, stronger and stronger.
The Press: Can I follow up on that, Robert?
Mr. Gibbs: Yes.
The Press: Does the President feel like his philosophy on governance has
been vindicated by this?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, I think his philosophy that a million people shouldn't
lose their jobs without us taking --
without us doing what is necessary to keep them,
I think the President's philosophy that communities that
are built around and generations of families that are built
around work in the auto industry shouldn't be abandoned without a
fighting chance I think has proven to be correct.
The President would be, though, the first to tell you that
management decisions that were made, as I just talked about,
to change the direction and trajectory of the auto industry
were important.
And everybody made sacrifices -- most of all, the workers,
as they did what they thought they needed to do to keep
an industry in place.
They owe -- they are owed a lot of credit for what has happened.
The Press: Are you familiar with the Benenson memo?
Mr. Gibbs: The Benenson memo -- I don't know what the memo is.
The Press: -- or maybe you could just address the argument,
basically it's that this is not going to be a wave election
because the Republicans are even less popular than the Democrats are.
Mr. Gibbs: Well, I will say -- my sense is Joel's memo is sitting somewhere
in my in-box.
I have not seen Joel's memo.
I will say if you just look at --
if you look at the NBC poll, you see that the drop in ratings for
Republicans is greater than any other political party.
They continue to be less popular than Democrats.
I think if you look at that polling,
you see a fairly appreciable change in the enthusiasm gap
over the course of several months.
I think quite honestly the President has pointed out to the
American people and others what those choices are: Are we going
to take an economic philosophy that got us into this mess and
go back to that, or an economic philosophy that is getting out of it?
And I think that's what the next several months of this election
will be about, and I think we'll do well in November.
The Press: That, along with the recent election, does the White House,
does the President feel Democrats are on a little bit of
a roll right now?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, as I said, Chip, I think there's -- what is --
undoubtedly, Democrats had a very good Tuesday.
In every state we nominated the strongest candidates,
and in many of those races got opponents that I think most
people believe make the chances of Republicans winning many of
those races less likely.
The Press: Tomorrow, does the President see this as a family vacation,
and can you really have a family vacation in 27 hours?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, the President views this as -- I think it's important --
The Press: Wasn't it originally billed as a vacation?
Mr. Gibbs: No, I think this was originally billed as,
and continues to be billed as, highlighting the notion that a
region of the country that is heavily dependent upon tourism
is alive, well, and open for business.
For a number of these communities,
certainly those closer to Louisiana and Mississippi and in
Alabama, for a lot of these communities,
you talk to folks there, and this was to be the first season,
past Katrina and Rita and other natural disasters,
that things would have been back to normal for the entire time.
And we know that well down the coast of Florida,
communities that never saw oil are being impacted economically.
Tourism in Florida and along the Gulf Coast is the economy.
This is an opportunity to highlight the notion that this
important region of the country is still doing well and open for business.
It will also provide the President an opportunity to,
again, talk to those that have been affected by the damage
caused by BP, and a desire to talk again with them about what
has to happen going forward to restore,
both economically and environmentally,
the damage that's been done.
The Press: Not a vacation?
Mr. Gibbs: Look, he's going to have some fun.
Whether or not he gets in the water is up for clearly some debate.
But, look, he will have an opportunity to enjoy the
physical beauty of the Gulf and do some work at the same time.
The Press: This evening the President is hosting an Iftaar dinner in
honor of Ramadan, in celebration of Ramadan.
Has the President been monitoring closely the
U.S.-allied coordinated efforts in the Pakistani-Gulf relief
efforts, Robert?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, look, obviously the President has, in his PDB,
been briefed on the flooding that has occurred in Pakistan
and asked that -- asked each day specifically about the relief
efforts there and to ensure that all that can be done is being
done to assist the Pakistanis in what clearly are --
a devastating environment with devastating pictures.
The Press: Robert, a follow on the Ramadan?
The Press: Reaction to Russia's announcement that it is fueling
the nuclear power plant in Iran at Bushehr?
Did we ask them recently not to do this?
I presumed we've maintained all along that we don't want them to
do this until --
Mr. Gibbs: Well, look, I think this is -- I think what is important here is
this is done under IAEA -- under the monitoring and the
safeguards of the IAEA.
Russia is providing for the fuel and taking the spent fuel back
out of the country.
It, quite clearly, I think, underscores that Iran does not
need its own enrichment capability if its intentions,
as it states, are for a peaceful nuclear program.
So I think, in many ways, this is a concept that closes that
fuel loop, and I think, again, demonstrates and proves to the
world that if the Iranians are sincere in a peaceful program,
their needs can be met without undertaking its own enrichment
program, which call into question its motives.
The Press: Robert, can I ask a follow-up?
The Press: On another matter, WikiLeaks says it's going to release about
half of the 15,000 documents it withheld because of its admitted
concern about their sensitivity initially.
Does this trouble you more than the initial release?
Mr. Gibbs: Look, I would -- I don't know that it would be easy to
quantify the troubling nature of the initial releases with this
release as well.
I think all of the releases have been troubling.
We discussed the nature of what's in these documents,
why there are laws in place to ensure that documents that are
classified as secret and top secret aren't posted on the Internet.
It's the safety and the security of our soldiers.
And I think if you go back to the beginning of --
or go back to the initial release of documents and find
what the spokesman for the Taliban said specifically about
names that they found in those documents,
that they knew how to deal with those individuals.
I think we're clear on what that means.
And I think we're clear on the danger that those that are
helping an effort to provide safety and security and peace to
the Afghans, how that is threatened by those who wish to
do us harm and those who wish to continue to garner attention for
themselves by posting these documents on the Internet.
The Press: If I can ask one final question.
Norm Eisen's departure and the decision to basically chop up
his responsibilities among other officials and not name another
ethics czar -- why should that not be seen as a lessening in commitment --
Mr. Gibbs: I don't know who came up with the notion of the "ethics czar."
The Press: Well, we like the czar.
Mr. Gibbs: No, I've watched your channel; I know.
The Press: I mean "we," writ large.
Mr. Gibbs: I've seen those 37 stories, Wendell.
The Press: Not just us.
Why shouldn't this be seen as a lessened commitment to
transparency and accountability?
Mr. Gibbs: There are a number of attorneys in the Counsel's Office and an
added position in the Domestic Policy Council to oversee our
efforts to reform the way our government works and to ensure
its highest ethical standard.
Understand, though, Wendell, that charge does not come from a
participant in the Counsel's Office or a staffer at the DPC.
It comes from the President of the United States --
a President who, as a state senator in Illinois,
worked to change laws in that state that allowed at one point
you to use your campaign fund to buy a car not for campaign
purposes but just to drive around;
somebody who worked in the U.S. Senate to pass landmark ethics
reform in 2007, and has instituted here some of the
toughest rules on closing the revolving door and ensuring that
the people of this country know each and every month who comes
in to meet with people and who they meet with.
The Press: To clarify Ann's earlier question on top kill versus
static kill, Admiral Allen said yesterday --
I believe it was yesterday in a briefing --
that there was a possibility that there was more harm than
good in trying to go for the relief well.
And you've noted here today that all along you guys have said
that the relief well is the final end-all.
I'd just like a little clarification on that.
Are you intimating that you will go ahead with the relief well?
Mr. Gibbs: The powers vested in me are not the same as those at the
National Incident Command.
I'm going to let them make the final announcements on that.
I think what Admiral Allen might have --
I did not see what he specifically said that you just
talked about.
There has been -- and I said this earlier --
at each of the big points along the way,
before different operations -- static kill, top kill,
the sealing cap, what have you -- have taken place,
there has been a robust and vigorous discussion with the
scientific team, largely headed by Secretary Chu,
to evaluate each of the steps that we're taking.
Because obviously doing no harm to the situation that we have
now is tremendously important.
So I know that there were meetings going on today to
evaluate a whole range of scientific data around the well,
the integrity of the well, and a whole host of features.
The Press: You're not implying here today the relief well will
definitely be drilled?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, I want to not simply imply,
but state clearly that that direction will come from the
National Incident Command.
The Press: Can I talk a little --
Mr. Gibbs: Oh, go ahead.
The Press: I'm sorry, just one more, I'm sorry.
The symbolic nature of the trip to the Gulf --
there was some criticism when the First Family went to Maine
after the First Lady had encouraged others to go to
Panama City.
Can you talk a little bit about the picture,
the symbolic nature of why they're going to be there?
Mr. Gibbs: Well, again, I think that for anybody --
look, I grew up not far from there.
I have friends that are vacationing in the Gulf right now.
That region of our country is so heavily dependent upon visitors
from throughout the region and throughout the country for the
nature of their economy.
That's what fills those hotels.
That's what fills those restaurants.
And what the President wants to do is highlight the health of
the region, the vitality of the region,
that it's open for business, and that we hope others will do the same.
The Press: So there's no reason for anyone not to go to the Gulf.
Mr. Gibbs: There's no reason for anybody not to go.
The Press: At the dinner tonight, do you anticipate that the President
will address the issue of the mosque in New York?
Mr. Gibbs: I have not seen the President's final remarks, Laura.
I will say this.
I think the President strongly believes that our country was
founded on, first and foremost, on a tenet of religious freedom.
We have events throughout the year --
Christmas, Hanukkah, tonight's event, Iftaar, and others --
to celebrate the rich diversity of religious freedom in this
country that goes back, as I said, to its founding.
I anticipate he'll talk about that.
Again, I have not seen the final remarks.
The Press: How does that square, though, with the earlier comments on
this from the White House that this is a local matter?
Mr. Gibbs: Religious freedom is something that the President believes in
and I think you'll hear him talk about tonight.
The Press: Robert, back on Bushehr reactor, in March,
when Secretary Clinton was in Russia,
she said that it would be premature to open the plant
until Iran had given the international community
reassurances that its nuclear program was only for civil and
peaceful purposes.
So what's changed?
You seem to be endorsing it.
Mr. Gibbs: I would point you over to State.
I think they can answer the difference on where we are today.
The Press: Robert, two things.
One, is the fact that the President's water visit is in
question because possibly about Secret Service and security
getting in the water with him?
Is that some of the issue?
No, no, no, it's a real issue, because he said something about
like that in Hawaii.
Mr. Gibbs: And, April, I got to tell you, you will never see me stand up
here and talk about security issues,
whether it's relevant to this question or not.
The Press: Okay, one more question, one more --
Mr. Gibbs: You ended with a big one, and -- go ahead, go with
your follow-up.
The Press: No, it's on the Katrina anniversary.
Mr. Gibbs: Go ahead.
The Press: How is New Orleans now like another American city,
especially since this administration has pulled it out
of its standalone status, in the ways that you look at it?
We understand that you have lumped New Orleans in with other
cities that are -- that just have the normal financial issues
and things of that nature.
Mr. Gibbs: I don't know what you're --
The Press: How is -- looking at findings --
Mr. Gibbs: Let me -- before you rephrase your question.
The region that was impacted so devastatingly by Katrina,
I want to assure you this administration does not look at
like it looks at everything.
I'll be honest with you, April, I don't think you could look at
the actions, the funding that we've freed up,
the stuff that has been done by Secretary Donovan on housing,
the reforms that have been helped and moved along by
Secretary Duncan in education -- I think the premise of your
question, the notion that somehow we've turned a blind eye
to treat that -- I know you're shaking your head,
but I'm going to take this for a little bit of a ride --
I just don't think the premise of your question is accurate.
The Press: Okay, I wasn't saying that it's not special,
it doesn't have its needs.
What I was saying -- and let me rephrase it --
is that some OMB officials came over earlier -- around --
just right after the release of the FY2011 budget.
And we asked about New Orleans, and they said New Orleans is
now, by this administration, viewed in light -- like Detroit.
It's in a category -- it's not standalone anymore but it's in
another category of a special-needs kind of --
still moving forward.
That's --
Mr. Gibbs: I'll be honest with you, April.
I have not heard that.
The Press: The bill the President signed to reduce the disparities between
crack cocaine and powder cocaine is not retroactive,
so those who were serving -- or offenders that were serving
before he signed the bill will be serving longer sentences than
people in the future.
Has he thought about reducing those sentences,
or has anyone looked at this?
Mr. Gibbs: It's a good question that I will ask somebody about.
The Press: The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that Axelrod
met yesterday with Elizabeth Warren.
Can you confirm that?
Mr. Gibbs: I can.
The Press: And what do you make of that?
Were they talking about the appointment?
Mr. Gibbs: They were discussing whether we were going to go swimming
in the Gulf.
The Press: Walk on the water or --
Mr. Gibbs: I tried the best I could not to laugh as I was doing it.
No, look, obviously she was here.
I think it -- look, the consumer office is an aspect of the
financial reform/Wall Street reform bill that the President
signed recently.
It is -- it in many ways was an idea conceptualized by Elizabeth
Warren several years ago.
Obviously we have said that she is among those being looked at
for a role in that new bureau, because the President believes
that -- if you think about the intersection that most people
have with the financial industry in this country --
it's getting loans for a house, it's getting loans for autos,
it's credit cards.
The reforms that the President worked on and passed earlier,
particularly around credit cards and the protections that he
thinks need to happen going forward in loans like the ones I
talked about, are a big part of the financial reform bill that
he passed.
I will say I do not expect any personnel announcements about
this job in the coming week.
But she was here to talk about the office yesterday.
Thanks, guys.
The Press: Week ahead?
Mr. Gibbs: The week ahead will go out in email in just a little bit.
The Press: All right, you said week or weeks for the announcement on
the financial --
Mr. Gibbs: Week, week.
I don't anticipate anything next week.
Thank you, guys.
The Press: (inaudible)
Mr. Gibbs: Likely, yes; but we'll have more details on that as we get closer
to (inaudible).