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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Republican Congressional Leaders

1992-09-09

The President. I've invited our leadership, Republican leadership, here this morning to talk about what can get done in this very short session of the Congress. I want the Congress to pass 12 signable appropriations bills. There's 4 weeks available. There's no reason why Congress cannot produce these spending bills individually without resorting to a lot of pork-laden additions to the bills. And I will sign them only if they comply with my budget request.

I also want to see action on some of the things that we've been talking to the American people about over the weekend. We should take a first bold step on legal reform. The civil justice reform legislation designed to change our current inefficient, costly legal system has been pending in Congress for over 7 months without even a hearing. And before adjourning, the Congress should at least seize the immediate opportunity, starting in the Senate this week, and pass the product liability reform bill.

And they can and should take a step, a first step, a needed first step on enacting a health care reform bill by passing portions of my plan, including the small business reform and the medical malpractice reform. These are key ingredients. Time is short. Both can be passed. By acting on these areas, we'll help to provide affordable, quality health care for millions who do not have it now and be a down payment, frankly, to the American people who deserve comprehensive health care reform without higher taxes and without cutting into the quality of United States medicine, which is the best in the entire world. Get the Government further in, and it's going to go down. So we've got to protect the quality as well as making insurance available to all who need it.

And there are other pieces of legislation. I met yesterday with the leaders in the Senate and House. I think we can pass our energy proposal. We need to get a national energy strategy out and approved, and that can be done. There are some others we might get done. But these that I've outlined here are priority. And I now want to talk to our Members about how we can achieve these ends and hear from them if there's other key objectives to get to that can be accomplished here.

Thank you all very much.

Family Leave Legislation

Q. Mr. President, Democrats are ready to pass a family leave bill. Will you veto it in its present form?

The President. Well, I've got to look at what comes down here, of course, as I always do. But I've expressed my reservations about some of the things that are pending. So let's wait and see what happens. We don't need mandates; we need family leave without loading up small business with a lot more mandates. The concept of family leave I've strongly endorsed. But getting the Government further into it and throwing small businesses over the edge I'm not sure is the way to do it. But let's see what they say.

Q. Do you think the Democrats are playing politics with this issue?

The President. Almost everything, yes. [Laughter] No, I do. I believe it. I think the American people believe it. And now I have my chance to take the case to the American people. I've tried to stimulate this economy and been rebuffed. And I think the American people will see that clearly. I don't think they see it yet. But they will when we get through. Of course there's a lot of politics in this.

Note: The President spoke at 8:35 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

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