Press Briefing

July 15, 2013 | 38:15 | Public Domain

White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.

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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/15/2013

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:24 P.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY:  Good day, everyone.  Welcome to the White House.  I hope you had a terrific weekend.  Since you asked, I had a great weekend.  (Laughter.) 

Q    How great was it?

MR. CARNEY:  I took my son to see Paul McCartney Friday night.  That was unbelievable because --

Q    He was with the Beatles, you know.  (Laughter.) 

MR. CARNEY:  It turns out he was.  Wrote a few very good songs.  It’s just a fantastic experience because he’s amazing and his songs are amazing, but to be there with an 11-year-old who also knew all the words is pretty special. 

And Saturday night, I went to see, my wife and I, a local band, U.S. Royalty, which brought down the house at this place off of H Street, N.E., where all the kids go, apparently.  Very cool. So I recommend that.  It was a musical weekend. 

And with that, I'll --

Q    We could sing the briefing. 

MR. CARNEY:  I'll refrain from --

Q    -- Jay’s Week Ahead.  (Laughter.) 

MR. CARNEY:  We won't sing my week ahead.  (Laughter.)

Seriously, U.S. Royalty -- you’ll be hearing from them I'm sure.  And with that, I'll take your questions.  Oh, before I do, hard stop at 1:00 p.m. because we have the dual President event.

Q    The White House doesn’t often put out statements from the President on trials that don't directly involve the government.  Why did the President decide to put out the statement yesterday on the Zimmerman trial?

MR. CARNEY:  The verdict, obviously, was fairly big news and it was something that was being watched nationally, and the President, of course, had spoken about Trayvon Martin in the past after he was killed, and the President wanted to convey that he felt that the death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy for his family and for the community, but also for the country.  And he wanted to note that in the wake of the verdict, the strong passions the case had elicited could be running even higher, and that it was important to remember that we are a nation of laws and a jury had spoken. 

The President also wanted to ask every American to heed the call for calm reflection from Trayvon Martin’s parents, a rather remarkable request given how much they have suffered and were suffering after losing their son.  And he wanted to express his view that as we reflect in response to that call that we should ask ourselves if we are doing all that we can to foster compassion and understanding in our communities, and to stem the tide of gun violence, as well as how we can prevent future tragedies like this from happening.

Q    Even though the jury in this case has spoken, the Justice Department is still considering whether to file criminal civil rights charges.  Does the President feel like that decision needs to be made quickly in order to have some kind of finality to this case?

MR. CARNEY:  This is a decision made by the Justice Department, by career prosecutors, and all questions about how that process is undertaken should be directed there.  And that is not something the President involves himself in.  As the Justice Department said yesterday, they first acknowledged last year that they have an open investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death and they are continuing to evaluate that evidence.

Q    But since the President did speak about this case last year in pretty personal terms, did he have any personal reaction to the verdict?  Does he have any personal feelings on the need for the Justice Department to make a decision on this quickly?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he has no opinion to express about the disposition of how the Justice Department would look at this.  He did speak about it in personal terms, and I think his statement yesterday reflects how the loss of a young person is a source of great anguish and pain for the parents of that person, for the community where that person lived -- that young person lived, and for the whole country, because the loss is greater when a young person dies because the potential of that life is so unfulfilled.
So I think that’s how the President viewed it then and views it now.

Q    And then just quickly, is there any reason that President George W. Bush is not coming to the event today?

MR. CARNEY:  Oh, I think you would have to ask the Bush family.  I should say this -- having covered President George W. Bush -- and I’m sure as you all know, he’s enormously proud of his father, of course, and his father’s presidency, but in particular, this remarkable program that President George H.W. Bush initiated. 

And the current President, President Obama, has recognized the importance of this program and the role that President George H.W. Bush has played in fostering a spirit of community service in this nation.  It’s so important.  And this organization that he started has contributed significantly to fostering that sense of community service.  It’s a much more common thing in our country, I think, to hear about, and for young people to get involved in, community service.  And I think the President believes that President Bush 41 deserves a large portion of credit for that.

Yes, Jessica.

Q    I know you’re not going to comment on the civil rights case, but I’m curious if the White House is feeling any pressure because the number of civil rights leader calling for a civil rights case is mounting.  There are 600 signatures on a NAACP petition; some -- let’s see -- more than 15,000 in just 24 hours on a White House petition online.  Does the President feel some pressure on this administration to bring a case against Zimmerman?

MR. CARNEY:  Cases are brought on the merits and the merits are evaluated by the professionals at the Department of Justice. And the President expects, as in every case, that the process will be handled in the way it should be at the Department of Justice, and certainly not here.

Go ahead.

Q    He is an attorney.  Does the President believe that there are merits to the case?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I would point you to the President’s statement for his reaction to the verdict and his statement about the verdict, and the broader issues that he thinks we might all reflect upon.  He will not comment on a Department of Justice investigation or on a decision that the Department of Justice will make on how to proceed, if to proceed.

Q    But more broadly, he said that we’re a nation of laws.  Does he feel the Florida “stand your ground” law should change?

MR. CARNEY:  I mean, this is a state law that you’re referring to.  And again, within the context of this case, I just don’t have any comment from the President to provide to you.  That’s something, again, that would be more appropriately answered by the Department of Justice.

Q    And finally, is there any concern about what kind of message the verdict sends?

MR. CARNEY:  I think the President’s statement reflects his views about the verdict, about the tragic loss of Trayvon Martin, for his family, his community and for the country, the fact that his loss reflects and symbolizes the loss we see daily in this country of young people to gun violence.  And that’s why I think the President’s statement contained within it the elements that I described.

Q    Can I follow on Jeff’s question?


Q    Jay, should the Martin family be encouraged to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit rather than wait for a decision by the Justice Department regarding a civil rights investigation?

MR. CARNEY:  April, I’m just not going to comment on any kind of decision like that that the Martin family would have to make.

Q    Well, okay.  Well, has the President -- when is the last time the President talked to Eric Holder, particularly about this case?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not sure that I know the answer to that question.  I don’t believe that this is something the President views as a discussion he would have with the Attorney General, especially on the substance of the case or decisions the Department of Justice would make.  That is something the Department of Justice makes, and they have talked about this and put out statements about it, and they will make assessments and decisions on the merits and on the evidence.

Q    Well, tomorrow, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius and Shaun Donovan will be in Florida addressing the NAACP, and one of the issues is on gun violence.  And according to the NAACP, black males ages 15 to 19 were eight times as likely as white males of the same age, and two and a half times as likely as their Hispanic peers, to be killed in gun-related homicides in 2009.  And Kathleen Sebelius, Eric Holder and Shaun Donovan will be addressing those issues.  What does the White House have to say, particularly as you can’t push forward gun legislation?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President has made clear his feelings about the failure of the Senate to act on common-sense legislation that would have improved upon our background check system -- legislation that has enormous support across the country, in blue states and purple states and red states, and that the Senate should have approved. 

The fact of the matter is -- and the President has spoken about this -- he will continue to work with members of his administration to advance the cause of reducing gun violence, using the powers that the administration has, but will also continue to try to impress upon Congress the need to have Congress act on this important problem and to reflect the will of the American people when it comes to common-sense steps -- steps that respect our Second Amendment rights, rights that the President supports, and that simply, in the case of the background check legislation, as we discussed quite intensively for a period earlier this year, would simply build upon and improve an existing system, so that those who should not have access to firearms because they’re convicted criminals or have a serious mental instability are prevented from obtaining them.  It’s a pretty simple proposition.

So the President will continue that work.  And I’m sure that the Cabinet Secretaries that will be speaking in Florida will talk about the need to continue that work.  And the President’s package of steps to reduce gun violence included a number of -- 23, if I’m not mistaken -- executive actions, and there has been significant progress on almost all of those.  And the President will continue to press for those to be completed.

Q    And lastly, the irony with Top Cop in Florida at this time, on that situation -- the verdict for George Zimmerman.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m sure that the Attorney General looks forward to having that conversation.  The issues surrounding gun violence in this country remain -- they remain a priority for this administration.  So I don’t want to anticipate what remarks he or the other members of the Cabinet might make, but these continue to be important priorities for the President and his administration.

Q    On the nuclear option, as you know, the Senate is meeting to have a discussion later on this evening.  I know you said you would defer, the White House would defer to Reid on matters of procedure.  But is the President concerned that in the expediency of moving forward on nominations, you might sacrifice the ability for the minority voice to be heard in the Senate?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, first of all, I think we should note that there’s a joint caucus meeting today in the Senate, and we take that as a constructive step towards streamlining the confirmation process and breaking the Republican gridlock holding up executive branch appointments.  Our view, which I’ve expressed and the President and others have expressed, is that Republicans have needlessly and systematically obstructed our nominees, even though the individuals the President has nominated for these posts have extraordinary credentials and bipartisan support, and several of them, as I noted last week, have been waiting for more than 100 days for a floor vote. 

So gridlock is something we’ve seen in Washington for some time, but the Republicans in the Senate have brought gridlock to new heights -- or new lows, depending on how you look at it.  The data bear this out in terms of the vast increase in filibusters and the blocking of nominations; the needless stalling of nominations; the unprecedented filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee, who happened to be a former Senate Republican, of all things.  So the President’s views on this are oft expressed and well-known.

As for the process in the Senate, we do defer on Senate rules and processes to the Senate Leader, and we do that today, noting that there will be this joint caucus later today.

Q    And to shift to Syria, has the administration resolved questions and doubts expressed by members of Congress about arming the Syrian rebels?  Are those objections holding up the plan for moving forward at all?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me say a couple things.  We have been clear, even though I get this question in a variety of ways, that we cannot provide details about the timeline or logistics of delivery for every type of assistance, or catalog specific types of assistance. 

But we are in daily contact with the Syrian Military Council to discuss how we can support their needs.  And as I said last week, and I can say again today, we are in regular consultation with Congress on matters related to Syria assistance.  And the President believes very strongly, as he made clear, that our updated assistance to Syria is essential to helping buttress the opposition as it endures this vicious assault from Bashar al-Assad that is supported -- in a manner that speaks volumes about who he is and who his friends are -- by Hezbollah and Iran.

Anybody else on the front row?  Jon.

Q    Jay, does the President have a personal opinion about whether or not there should be a civil rights suit brought against --

MR. CARNEY:  Jon, I think I’ve been pretty clear at the top here that the President’s views on this matter were expressed in his statement.  I don’t have any others to convey.  And it would be inappropriate, as you might imagine, for a President of the United States to express an opinion on what the Justice Department should do.

Q    The New York Times had a story over the weekend about military sexual assault cases, saying that the President’s comments have prejudiced several cases and could complicate many cases going forward.  I’m just wondering your view on that.  Is that accurate as far as you know?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don’t know about how people view this in terms of the story.  I think the President has spoken very clearly about the problem, which has been significantly documented in a way that proves how serious the problem is.  And he's expressed his opinion that as Commander-In-Chief he has no tolerance for sexual assault in the military, and that those who participate in it or who engage in that conduct are dishonoring the uniform that they wear.

So that’s the President's views.  And I think they're very high-altitude -- they're not specific to a case; they're his views about the commission of a crime.  And I mean, it's a crime in the military as it is outside of the military.  So I don’t think they're anything but general views that reflect his feelings about how a problem like this needs to be addressed.

Q    But in light of the impact that we've already started to see, did the President misspeak when he outlined in some detail what he thought the punishment should be?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I think the President's words reflected his general views about the seriousness of the problem, which has been amply documented, about the particular significance of it taking place within the military, and how he believes that those who engage in that conduct are dishonoring the uniform they wear. But it’s certainly true in the military and true outside of the military that specific cases have to be adjudicated, and everyone waits for those results on individual cases.  But the problem itself is well-documented and exists, and needs to be fixed.

Q    And just quickly on the Senate rules dispute -- Senate Republicans have made it clear that if Democrats go through with this rule change -- I understand that the President is leaving this up to Harry Reid -- but Senate Republicans have basically threatened that they're going to shut everything down if Senate Democrats go through with this rule change.  Is the President concerned that the Senate could actually become even more dysfunctional than it's been?  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  Well, it boggles the mind how they would achieve that.  But the fact is the Senate needs to confirm this President's nominees in a timely and efficient manner -- to consider and confirm.  And that is true and will be true for the next President and the next President after that.  This has become ridiculous.

And you have a situation with Gina McCarthy, the President's nominee -- highly qualified nominee to head the EPA, whose qualifications are not in dispute at all -- it would be odd if they were, since she worked for Mitt Romney in Massachusetts --  but she’s been held up.  Tom Perez, enormously qualified -- he’s been held up.  And perhaps most appallingly of all, Rich Cordray, who has broad bipartisan support around the country, whose work is unimpeachable and in the position already has achieve remarkable things.  And the only reason why Republicans have stalled his nomination for two years is because they don't like the agency that he heads up. 

But the agency was created by law, and Republicans ought to explain what they don't like about an agency that's designed to protect consumers from financial fraud; what they don't like about the $425 million that has already been refunded as a result of the 2012 CFPB enforcement actions and that money has been refunded to consumers who had been subjected to deceptive practices.  Do Republicans who oppose the CFPB not want to see that money refunded?  Because that's what Rich Cordray oversees.

What about the 6 million consumers who have received funds because of the 2012 CFPB enforcement actions?  Should they not have received the funds for the deceptive practices -- as reimbursement for the deceptive practices that were uncovered by the CFPB?  That's the agency that they oppose.  And they don't oppose the nominee because they all have made clear that they don't think he’s anything but highly qualified, but they have held him up for two years because they don't like the work that the CFPB has done.

But let’s look at that work:  200 million customers who have files at the major consumer reporting agencies which are now, for the first time, subject to federal supervision; or the 30 million consumers -- I meant consumers in the other one -- consumers who currently are subject to debt collection agencies, those agencies now subject to federal supervision for the first time; 31,000 military and veteran consumers that the bureau’s Office of Servicemember Affairs communicated with in 2012 through 82 outreach events.  The CFPB has --

Q    It sounds like it’s working without a nominee.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the thing is that they want -- but they want to prevent it from working.  They have made that clear.  They want to undermine its functioning.  And they have used their refusal to confirm this enormously qualified individual as a means of trying to achieve that.

Now, you’re right that the President has pressed ahead and Rich Cordray has pressed ahead in making sure that the CFPB functions for hardworking Americans out there.  But we should not have to do this and the American people should not have to tolerate this kind of obstructionism, because this agency does good work and it is a key element of Wall Street reform and that Wall Street reform is benefiting Americans around the country. 

And I understand that Republicans who oppose Wall Street reform and oppose the CFPB as currently constructed are joined in that opposition by a number of powerful banks and other interests.  But the American people deserve these protections and they deserve to have Rich Cordray confirmed by the Senate.

Q    I understand you have concerns about nominees.  But what I'm asking is Republicans are basically threatening to blow the place up so that nothing gets through the Senate.  Are you worried?  Do you take that threat seriously?

MR. CARNEY:  We take the fact that the Senate has been riddled by gridlock -- I'm not sure that's a metaphor that works -- but that has been overwhelmed by gridlock to be obvious and it has manifested itself in this nomination process.  That's why it's so important to work it out, to work out a system so that we can streamline the nomination process.  And we're talking about executive branch nominees.  We have big problems on the judicial branch nomination process, too, but this is just executive branch nominees.

And we look forward to the session tonight, and we defer to Senator Reid in terms of next steps.  But the problem is real.  And here it is again -- when the obstructionism, on the one hand, in this case, or the attempts to undermine agencies like CFPB or the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, who suffers as a result?  It's not the members themselves who obstruct and it's not the special interests that support their obstructionism.  It's average Americans, average Americans who would, when we move on to the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing efforts by Republicans to undermine that -- what if they were to achieve in repealing the Affordable Care Act?  They won't, but what if they were -- since it seems to be the only business that they focus on?  Who would suffer?  Average Americans. 

They are going after the individual responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act now, their latest attempt at repeal.  Well, that aspect of the Affordable Care Act is absolutely essential to ensuring that people with preexisting conditions can get insurance.  And guess what -- half of you have preexisting conditions.  Half of your kids will have preexisting conditions. Who loses if the House Republicans get their way?  Anybody else? Or is that a perfect -- I should drop the mic, right?  (Laughter.)

Q    But just to clarify -- (laughter) --

MR. CARNEY:  Thank you. 

Q    -- the President has no objection to this possible rule change, even though at some point it might negatively impact his own party?

MR. CARNEY:  Look, the President believes that the Senate ought to function and hopes that the Senate will figure out a way to ensure that the nomination process is appropriately streamlined.  What we defer to --

Q    What I want to know is whether he endorses this.

MR. CARNEY:  The President supports Harry Reid and supports the support --  he supports Harry Reid and he is appreciative of the support that Harry Reid has given to the President and his nominees, and will give to the President and his nominees.  And we're talking about a process that should not work the way it's been working, because it hasn't been working very well. 

Q    And is there any chance that we would hear from the President about the Trayvon Martin case?

MR. CARNEY:  I think the President's statement yesterday reflects his reaction to the verdict and his feelings about the usefulness in response to the call by Trayvon Martin's parents that we all reflect calmly on the loss here and on what we can do to bring our communities together to prevent things like this from happening and to reduce gun violence.

Q    So will he say it publicly?

MR. CARNEY:  I don't have any announcements to make about presidential remarks. 

Q    Jay, on Zimmerman, on the civil rights question, you said earlier that the Justice Department will decide this on the merits of the case.  There were records released in the case last week that showed that the FBI had interviewed nearly three dozen people in the Zimmerman case and found that there was no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting.  So my question would be what is the open question then for the administration?  This is not the Zimmerman defense attorney saying that; this is the FBI looking at it independently.  They've determined from interviewing nearly three dozen people in the case that racial bias was not a factor in the shooting.  What's the open civil rights question?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, that is a question that the Department of Justice will answer.  And the Department of Justice, appropriately, handles these investigations, reviews the evidence and makes determinations about next steps.  That's not something that we do from here.

Q    When you said earlier that it would be inappropriate for the President to comment on a possible Justice Department investigation, why are you drawing that line now?  He already did that last March.

MR. CARNEY:  No, the President commented on the death of a young man and the pain that his parents were feeling, and he commented in very personal terms.  He didn’t comment about the disposition of an investigation or a case.  He commented on the death of a young man.

Q    And you don’t think that put any pressure on his Justice Department, others in the government, based on his personal feelings that he felt there should be an investigation?

MR. CARNEY:  I think the President expressed the fact that it was a tragedy that a young man’s life was taken.  And I think that was true then and it’s true today.  Meanwhile, there is a process in place that resulted in a trial and verdict by a jury, and there’s a process in place by which the Department of Justice looks into these matters and makes decisions about next steps.  The President’s views were personal and his statement yesterday I think reflects personal views.

Q    Following up on what Bill said, very quickly, though, would Vice President Joe Biden cast the 51st vote, if necessary, to change the filibuster rules?  Would the President support that?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I’d refer you to the Senate Majority Leader’s office for procedures related to this issue of obstructionism in the Senate over nominations.

Q    If it requires an additional vote and he were the tiebreaker?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that’s a speculation that I’m not going to engage in, because it’s up to the Senate to figure out something that really is a matter between the members of the Senate.

Q    I want to ask you briefly about immigration reform, if I can.  The Associated Press wrote an article over the weekend talking about the President’s intentions going forward in terms of fighting on behalf of immigration.  And Dan Pfeiffer was quoted as saying, “We’re doing meetings, we’re talking to folks, we’re behind the scenes at every step.”  And then asked when the pressure might mount, Pfeiffer said, “There might be a moment where the hammer comes out, but we’re not there yet.”  When does the “hammer,” in Dan’s language, come out?  When does the President take the next step in terms of --

MR. CARNEY:  When that moment arrives, if it arrives. 

Q    What is that moment, then?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think -- we don’t know yet. 

Q    What are the options --

MR. CARNEY:  What has been our approach all along has been to evaluate the progress that comprehensive immigration reform has been making in the Congress, and against that progress to make judgments about how we can best, from the President on down, advance the cause.  And we have done that, and we have been engaged from day one.  And this process is where it is in no small measure because of the positions the President took very publically; because of the positions the President campaigned on; because of the fact that he won reelection; and then because of the remarkably good work in the Senate by a bipartisan group of senators and then by the whole Senate in considering broad, principled comprehensive immigration reform. 

And now we’re at another stage in the process and we are looking at this the same way.  You know, because I think we put it out, the President is going to give some interviews to local Spanish-language television, where he will talk about, again, the need to move forward on immigration reform.  He’ll talk about the benefits, the enormous benefits of immigration reform -- economic benefits, which were made clear by the CBO, as well as all the other benefits to our businesses, to the rule of law, to the capacity for our country to continue to generate innovative ideas and entrepreneurial advances.

So this is all part of the process.  But I don’t have a prediction to make to you about what events might illicit this kind of comment by the President, or a speech by the President, or this phone call from the President.  He's engaged and he will always be engaged in this process as we move forward.

Q    Can I follow up on immigration?

MR. CARNEY:  Sure.

Q    You've said in the past that he wouldn’t sign anything that didn’t have a path to citizenship.  Does that mean a path to citizenship for all 11 million, or would the DREAM Act be sufficient?

MR. CARNEY:  The President believes that comprehensive immigration reform must include a path to citizenship -- a clear path to citizenship for the 11 million Americans here.  I misspoke -- for the 11 million immigrants here, illegal immigrants, who would be given a path to citizenship through the Senate immigration bill -- comprehensive immigration bill, and that that is an earned path which includes taxes and learning English and a lot of steps along the way.

So let's be clear about, as those of you who've written in detail about it, what that path looks like.  And the President supports the Senate bill.

Q    And on Trayvon Martin, does the President feel justice was done in this case or has been done in this case?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I have no more to add to the President's I think very poignant statement yesterday about the verdict and about the pain that Mr. Martin, Trayvon Martin's parents feel, and that we all can feel at the loss of a young person.

Q    But the jury has spoken is not the same thing as justice has been done.

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I don’t have anything to add.  Obviously, as we've discussed already here, this is something that’s under review by the Department of Justice, and I don’t have further comment on it.


Q    Following on that, your favorite topic today, could you just tell us if the President spoke to the Martin family over the weekend?  

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have any calls to read out.  I don’t believe so, but I don’t have any presidential calls to read out. 
Q    You asked?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that is something -- if you want to ask -- I mean, we're not going to read out personal calls, but I don’t have any reason -- I do not believe that he did.  But I don’t have any calls to read out.

Q    -- his statement with such public a case, I mean, that is a real question.

MR. CARNEY:  I understand, but I think that any phone calls that he might make like that -- and again, I don’t have any call to read out -- might be something that individuals might want to share or not share.

Alexis, then Connie. 

Q    Can I follow up on Mara?  I want to make sure I understand -- if the House decides to take up immigration in a piecemeal fashion before the end of the year and some elements of that could be conferenced with provisions in the comprehensive Senate bill, I just want to clarify -- would the President support that effort to carve it into pieces with the DREAM Act as part of it?

MR. CARNEY:  Are you talking about process in the House, or what emerges from a conference?

Q    Well, it would be both.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, it's hard to predict what the House will do.  We obviously saw the outcome of their meeting, the House Republicans, and their bottom-line statement by leaders that inaction is not an option, which we believe is a sign of progress and an important recognition about why we need to move forward on this issue.  How action manifests itself is obviously for House leaders to decide and House rank-and-file members. 

We believe that the Senate bill is a great vehicle to act on, and were it to pass the House and land on the President's desk he would sign it.  But obviously, this is a process that House leaders will decide.  And it's just -- there are too many permutations to imagine here to get into a game of “well, if it included this, what do you” -- because in the end, whatever emerges from the House, if something does emerge from the House, then it would hopefully be conferenced with the Senate bill, and then a bill would emerge from that.  And that is what we would evaluate as against the President’s principles.

Q    So he might just sign the DREAM Act part --

MR. CARNEY:  No, I didn't say that at all.

Q    I'm getting more confused.

MR. CARNEY:  You are.  Because what the House does on -- because there’s been much discussed about smaller measures sequentially -- it’s just impossible for me to comment on it, one, because they haven’t done anything; and two, there are infinite permutations.  So my point is whatever the House does, if it does something, will then obviously, hopefully, go to conference.  And then it would be the bill that emerges from that we would judge against the President’s principles.

Q    But his principles -- is it for current families, citizenship for every family?

MR. CARNEY:  What I just said remains true.  The President believes that comprehensive immigration reform must include a viable, earned path to citizenship.

Q    For everybody?

MR. CARNEY:  For 11 million.

Q    But just to follow up again, because now I’m confused  -- (laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  You guys are confusing yourselves.  What I’m saying is I can't -- I cannot even begin to count the number of possibilities that could emerge through the House process, so I’m not going to.  What I’m saying is that the end result has to meet the President’s principles if he’s going to sign it into law.

Q    Okay.  So the President’s principles -- comprehensive, pathway to citizenship and --

MR. CARNEY:  Enhanced border security, ensuring everybody plays by the same rules, eVerify and the like -- that these are the principles that were the foundation of what the President put out on two years ago and that he’s been talking about ever since.

Q    So if there’s a lesser --

MR. CARNEY:  You guys are -- it’s hard for me to know what sort of imagined result I’m commenting on, and I don't want to suggest that there’s anything besides what the President has made clear are his principles.

Q    I know I’m fighting you on time, but you were talking about the President’s desire to be very deliberate in choosing a successor to Secretary Napolitano.  But there are members on the Hill who are saying that they want it to be about -- the confirmation -- they would like the President to be mindful of being swift in nominating folks because it’s important to the immigration reform effort.  Can you give us any more guidance about how swiftly the President would like to -- because, as you know, there was some question --

MR. CARNEY:  As swiftly as deliberation allows.  I mean, that is his approach to all these slots that need to be filled.

First of all, Secretary Napolitano remains on the job.  And the President will consider candidates to replace her in a deliberate manner but an efficient manner.  But I don't have anything beyond that in terms of timing or names to float.


Q    Thanks, Jay.  On Zimmerman, has the President said anything about George Zimmerman?  Is there some message here?  The statement --

MR. CARNEY:  I think -- again, I read the statement the President put out yesterday -- or rephrased it.

Q    The statement was on Trayvon Martin, but nothing on Zimmerman.  Is there a message here?

MR. CARNEY:  I think everything that the President has to say was contained within that statement.

Q    Do you have any update on the Middle East peace process and Iran --

MR. CARNEY:  That's a lot.  I think I’ve been -- we got a hard deadline here.  I have nothing specific on those issues.

Thank you very much.

1:00 P.M. EDT

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