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Public Papers - 1990

Statements by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Federal Budget Negotiations


The President, the Speaker of the House [Thomas S. Foley], the Senate majority leader [George J. Mitchell], the Senate Republican leader [Robert Dole], and the House Republican leader [Robert H. Michel] have agreed to establish a special bipartisan budget negotiating group. The purpose of the special budget group is to seek bipartisan agreement on a package of measures that would have four basic objectives: First, to reduce the deficit substantially on a multiyear basis; secondly, to allow the economy to grow at a continued strong pace; third, to strengthen the budget process; and fourth, to avoid the adverse economic and programmatic effects of the stalemate that might otherwise ensue.

The President and the bipartisan congressional leadership agreed that the special budget group would function best if there were no preconditions for negotiation and if there were no negotiations through the public. The special budget group will hold its initial organizational meeting on Tuesday, May 15.

In the session this morning the leadership and the President discussed this matter for about an hour. The discussion was quite friendly, of course, and focused on procedures, on process, on participants, and on timetable. The timetable is that they would like to work as quickly as possible and complete agreement as soon as possible. There are no specific deadlines, but as I said the other day, all parties feel it's in the best interest to try to move this process forward immediately. And the first meeting on Tuesday, the 15th, will indicate a rapid pace as they proceed to deal with this issue.

The White House announced the members of its internal budget summit coordinating group. That group will be comprised of the President, the Chief of Staff [John H. Sununu], the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers [Michael J. Boskin], the national security adviser [Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs], and the Assistant to the President for Economic and Domestic Policy [Roger B. Porter].

The negotiating team for the administration who will meet with the legislative bipartisan budget group will consist of the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chief of Staff, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. This basic negotiating group will be complemented by several formal and informal sub-groups. When such groups deal with tax and economic policy, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers will join the negotiators; with defense policy, the Secretary of Defense and national security adviser will join; and with domestic spending programs, the Assistant to the President for Economic and Domestic Policy will join.

Note: The first statement was read by Press Secretary Fitzwater during his daily press briefing which began at 11:38 a.m.

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