[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 5, 1998]
[Pages 1979-1980]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1979]]

Remarks on the Legislative Agenda and an Exchange With Reporters
November 5, 1998

    The President. Good morning. The Vice President and I have just 
finished a good meeting with Senator Daschle and Congressman Gephardt. 
We all agree that the message from the American people in the last 
election is clear--that they want us to pursue progress over 
partisanship and to find unity over division.

    And we talked about how best to start that process. We believe the 
best way to start is by taking up the Patients' Bill of Rights, the 
legislation that would guarantee quality health care to Americans 
without regard to whether they are in managed care plans or not and 
would assure that medical decisions are made by doctors, not by 

    In the last session of Congress, that bill lost by only five votes 
in the House, and we now have five more Democrats coming to the House. 
It came very close to passing in the United States Senate. It need not 
be a partisan issue. Indeed, a cosponsor of the Patients' Bill of Rights 
in the House is Congressman Greg Ganske from Iowa, a Republican 
physician who has spoken very eloquently about the need for this 

    So what we want to do is to reach out to like-minded people in the 
other party to try to heed the admonition of the American people and the 
direction that we certainly agree we ought to take and get to work 
together. We're looking forward to it, and this is where we think we 
should begin.

1998 Election Results and Impeachment Inquiry

    Q. Congressman Gephardt, what do you think this does to the 
impeachment hearings? Does it wipe them out, diminish them, slow them 
down, or what?

    Representative Richard A. Gephardt. First, I want to agree with the 
President on the Patients' Bill of Rights. I feel very strongly that we 
can get this done. If you have a sick family member, you want it done 
now, so we're going to work very hard to see if we can get it done in 
the early part of this next year.

    I don't know what is happening on Mr. Hyde's statement--if they are 
moving in our direction--we wanted them to some weeks ago, and they're 
going to get this over with in a fair and expeditious way. That's good.

    Q. Mr. President, do you anticipate that your lawyers will 
vigorously attack the Starr report in the committee? And is there any 
testimony in that report, sir, that you dispute?

    The President. I have nothing to say about that. I want these 
hearings to be constitutional, fair, and expeditious. At the appropriate 
time in the appropriate way, we will say whatever we intend to say. But 
I have nothing to say about it.

    I think the important thing is that we've got to go back to doing 
the people's business. The American people sent us a message that would 
break the eardrums of anyone who was listening. They want their business 
tended to. They are tired of seeing Washington focused on politics and 
personalities. They want the people and their issues and their future 
taken care of, and that's what we're here to do.

    The Vice President. If I could say a brief word. Before you all came 
in here, we had a long meeting. This subject never even came up. We 
heard what the American people said, and what they said was turn to the 
people's business. And that's what this whole meeting has been about.

    Q. Mr. President, are you still in jeopardy, sir? Do you believe 
you're still in jeopardy?

    The President. That's out of my hands. That's up to the American 
people and the Congress. All I know is I've got a day here, and I want 
to make the most of it.


    Q. Mr. President, are you concerned at all about the apparent lack 
of support among the Persian Gulf allies for a tougher action against 
Iraq at this point?

    The President. Well, actually, my information is that Secretary 
Cohen had a good trip, and we believe we'll have the support that we 
need for whatever decisions we ultimately make.

    Q. Including military action?

    The President. We believe we'll have the support we need, and all 
options are on the table.

[[Page 1980]]

Note: The President spoke at 9:47 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House, following a meeting with congressional leaders. A tape was not 
available for verification of the content of these remarks.