Monday, December 20, 2010

White House Press Briefing Dec. 20

MR. GIBBS: Mr. Feller.

Q Thanks, Robert. A few questions on START. Can you give us your updated sense of where we stand? Does the White House feel that it has -- still has the votes?

MR. GIBBS: The White House believes that before Congress leaves town, that the Senate will ratify the New START treaty.

Q So are you confident ultimately you’ll have the votes or right now is it still in play?

MR. GIBBS: Look, obviously, the President and the Vice President continue to communicate with senators in order to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information. Obviously you heard last week I think a pretty compelling endorsement from General Cartwright, the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs, speak to one of the misconceptions about the impact of preamble language on our missile defense posture. And I think that’s been dealt with rather effectively.

We were asked over the weekend whether Senator Kyl or Senator McConnell’s opposition impacted passage and I don’t -- I have not talked to anybody here who had them as “yes” votes at any point in this process anyway. So their statements in my mind don’t impact passage.

Q Are the concerns that you’re still hearing at this point from senators who have not committed are ones that you consider to be substantive in nature?

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, we have -- as I’ve said here before, there have been 18 committee hearings on this; a thousand questions asked and answered; a treaty that’s been on the Internet for eight months. If there are senators with substantive questions, we can have anybody that they want to speak with them about those questions. We feel very confident that all of their questions have good answers.

Again, General Cartwright is the expert on the chair -- on the Joint Chiefs staff on missile defense. And when he stands in this room and says that there are no concerns with preamble language on missile defense, that's a weighty endorsement for what’s in the treaty.

Q Can you give us an update on the President’s week ahead, as best you can tell right now? Specifically -- (laughter) -- READ THE REST