Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton aboard Air Force One en route Columbus, OH
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Columbus, Ohio
10:50 A.M. EDT
MR. BURTON: We'll make this fast so you guys can eat.
Q Why did the President take a shot at China in his G20 letter today -- alluded to their problems with Chinese currency rates?
MR. BURTON: Well, look, what the President said is something that the G20 nations all agreed on last time around, which is that we’d all be better off with a market-based exchange rate. So that’s something that I'm sure --
Q If China had a market-based --
MR. BURTON: Yes. So, going forward, this is obviously going to be an issue that we'll continue to discuss and we'll have an update on the status of the currency report after the G20, as Secretary Geithner said.
Q Bill, are you satisfied with the status of the Burton statement now that he -- Barton statement now that he --
MR. BURTON: Burton -- Barton. (Laughter.)
Q Are you satisfied with where things stand with Barton’s statement? He’s apologized. The Republican leadership, obviously, threatened to yank his leadership role.
MR. BURTON: Well, I saw the tortured construction of his misconstruction statement and I do have to say that what we saw here was an example of what some folks in the Republican Party truly believe, which, in this case, was BP was the wronged party. And this is just not what the President thinks. It’s not what folks in the Gulf region think. What the President thinks and believes and is going to make sure happens is that the people who have been harmed by this oil spill by BP will be made whole again by BP. So the tortured apologies and backward-looking ideas that they have are just -- as was said yesterday, have no place in this debate.
It’s just worth knowing that as we move forward and we talk about energy legislation, as we talk about how America turns the page on using fossil fuels as the basis for where we're going, and as we think about how we're going to use renewable fuels to create a new energy economy, with the Democratic Congress we know what sort of leadership we've got. With President Obama we know what his ideas are on this issue. If Republicans were in control of the House, Joe Barton is the man who would be the chairman of that committee. So that's just something that I think people will be considering moving forward here.
Q Which senators are coming next week to talk about energy legislation? Do you have any update on that?
MR. BURTON: I don't have a list for you right now. I’ll see if I can get you one, though.
Q Any update on Netanyahu, when he’s going to come to the White House?
MR. BURTON: It’s looking like that's going to be in the coming weeks. I don't have an exact date for you, but I think that we’ll be able to nail that down in the next couple of days here.
Q Did the President watch Hayward’s testimony on the Hill yesterday? Did he have any ideas how it went, what he thought about it?
MR. BURTON: As you saw from the guidance, the President had a pretty full day of meetings yesterday. He obviously read the news reports of it. He had a sense of what ranking member Barton had to say about Tony Hayward. So he’s focused on his job and making sure that folks in the Gulf are getting all the resources that they need.
Q What are the President’s next personal steps in responding to the Gulf spill?
MR. BURTON: Well, we’re in the middle of making sure that BP is doing everything it can to contain all that oil, that we're getting all the assets into place to clean up the oil and mitigate the damage that the spilled oil has already caused. And of course, the third party -- Feinberg and his third party are standing up a facility by which they can make sure that folks are getting their claims taken care of fairly, promptly, and there’s enough money set aside in order to do just that.
So the President is in close contact with Carol and Admiral Allen, and he’s going to continue to do that to make sure that everything is happening at the speed which is required in order to make sure we’re doing everything we can.
Q Given all those things that are happening, sometimes we see them and sometimes they're happening behind the scenes. How important is it from the President’s point of view to continue to go to the Gulf, for him to be down there and have a presence?
MR. BURTON: Well, you can bet that the President is going to be back down to the Gulf at some point. What’s important to the President isn’t necessarily just optics. It’s also are we doing every single thing we can at every level that we can to make sure that we’re taking care of folks down there, and that's what he’s focused on right now.
Q Are you considering barring BP from some of their federal government contracts? Is that an option? Because they have a $2.1 billion contract with the Pentagon right now.
MR. BURTON: I'm not familiar with that issue. I'd have to check that out.
Q And anything on Secretary Clinton, what she had to say about the Arizona immigration law, that the government would consider suing?
MR. BURTON: Well, that law is still under review, but I would have you check in with my good friend, Matthew A. Miller over at the Justice Department who can answer questions on that.
Q Any preview of today’s speech, beyond the marking of the milestone -- what’s the President’s message?
MR. BURTON: Well, despite what Mark Knoller tells you, this is indeed the 10,000th project here. And what the President is going to talk about is how much progress we’ve made since the last time he was here in Columbus. He’s going to make clear that we took some pretty bold and, at times, politically unpopular steps in order to make sure that we were injecting the economy with the sort of aid that it needed to create an environment where jobs were getting created, where people were getting back to work, and where the -- like on a construction project, you’re helping the folks of that entire community to stand up their local businesses.
So the President will talk about our progress. He’ll talk about some of the things that we need to do in order to keep our economy growing in the right direction. And he’ll make clear that he’s not satisfied with the progress that we’ve made just yet, that there’s still more work to do and that some Americans are still really feeling some pain from this recession.
Q Do you think he’ll -- (inaudible) --
MR. BURTON: I’m not sure what you’re referring to.
Q Has he talked to anyone in Congress about jobless benefits?
MR. BURTON: The President has been very engaged on the issue of extending benefits, and his staff is obviously closely engaged. As folks know, Senator Scott Brown came by this week. I know that they’ve talked about the issue. So this is something that he’s committed to and that we hope that we’ll be able to stop -- we’ll be able to move past the efforts to block progress on this important bill.
Q Has he talked to anyone specific?
MR. BURTON: I don't have anything for you.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURTON: Let’s eat.
Q Anything on Ray Mabus and the criticism that he should leave his day job, just like Donald Powell did at FDIC?
MR. BURTON: Well, the President is confident that Governor Mabus is going to be able to provide the leadership that's necessary to do both these jobs. This is a moment that is all hands on deck for this government, and the President wants all resources focused on doing everything that we can in the Gulf region.
And you know Secretary Chu has been down there. He’s activated the National Science Labs to help the scientists engaged in doing everything that they can down there. A lot of people in the government are doing more than one job at once as a result of the many different crises we face right now. And the President is confident in Governor Mabus’ ability, especially considering his close ties to the region; as the governor of Mississippi and someone for whom the Gulf region is near and dear to his heart, he feels like he’s the right guy for the job.
All right, thanks, guys.
END 10:58 A.M. EDT
Schedule for the Week of June 21, 2010
On Monday, the President will celebrate Father’s Day and discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood and mentoring to build healthy families and communities at an event in Washington, DC.
On Tuesday, the President will hold a meeting with health insurers and state insurance commissioners. Following the meeting, the President will deliver remarks. In the evening, the President will host an LGBT Pride Month event at the White House.
On Wednesday, the President will hold his regular monthly meeting with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Later, he will meet with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss the process for passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year. In the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will attend the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Nutrition event.
On Thursday, the President will welcome President Medvedev to the White House, where they will explore possible avenues of greater cooperation regarding trade, investment and innovation, as well as other issues of mutual concern leading into the G-8 and G-20 meetings.
On Friday, the President will travel to Muskoka, Ontario in Canada to attend the G-8 summit.