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Special Event

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Locked-Up Transition Funds

Aired December 4, 2000 - 10:18 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you live now to Washington, D.C. We're going to listen on the House Subcommittee on Government Management. The topic: the transition funds that have been locked up. So far, the GSA, the General Services Administration, has refused to release funds to the Bush campaign, to the Bush camp.

Let's go ahead and listen in. This is Congressman Henry Waxman speaking from California.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: We don't know, at this point, who the next president will be. Now, my colleague from Illinois presented her opening statements as if we know. We know it's already a Bush-Cheney, and therefore, they ought to have the funds released to the Bush-Cheney transition.

Well, maybe, if you keep saying that, it will turn out to be true, but the decision as to who the president of the United States is going to be is not based on how many times you say it's resolved when we still have a court -- many courts trying to sort through these issues. I know there's, clearly, a strategy on the Republican side to keep on with a mantra: Well, we won; therefore, let's don't count the votes -- we won; therefore, let's don't go into the courts -- we won; give us the transition money.

That seems to me, maybe, good public relations, to try to change public attitudes about idea that we are to, ultimately, decide who really won, but I don't think it makes good policy sense when we're trying to adopt changes to legislation or evaluate the laws that are on the books.

The law say that there has to be an apparent winner, and we leave that up to GSA -- all of us want this resolved as quickly as possible, and we know it's important to have the transition funding, but let's make sure that we deal with the real substantive issues as to how the law should work in unusual circumstances such as this and not use a hearing, or this strange situation we're in, simply to repeat the mantra that we won, so don't talk about anything else; give us the funds. That's not really the way to make decisions for these very important issues that are going to be before us in the future, and I doubt that we're ever going to have a presidential election as we have today,leaving things as uncertain as they are. If we do, then we ought to think through the best way to deal with it, and if the law needs to be changed, we should change it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

I now yield to the gentleman from California, Mr. Osie.

REP. DOUG OSIE (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm reminded, yesterday morning, when my daughters opted to argue with each other that the -- at the end of the day, what we need is a president who, both he and his team, has had a proper amount of briefing and training and education.

And I have to -- I'm chuckling here somewhat, because I ended up dealing with my daughters by asking them: Well, today what are you?

And they both scratched their heads and at he end of the -- they finally came up with: Well we're sisters.

I said: Well, on Friday what are you going to be?

And they both scratched their heads, and they both simultaneously turned: Well, we're still going to be sisters.

Well, at the end of this entire process, we're all still going to be Americans, and it would seem to me that the country is best served, as Mr. Waxman and Mr. Horrin suggested, by moving this thing forward as expeditiously as possible.

I don't understand why, under such unique circumstances, we can't take members of both campaign teams and start the transition process. I mean, it's not like we're going to spend all 5.3 million dollars the first day. So I am looking for answers as to how we prepare whoever is going to lead this country for the four years that they will be in office for.

I mean I just -- at the end of day, it's like my daughters. At the end of the week, they're still sisters; they'll be sisters forever. At the end of the day, we're all still Americans, and we still got to make this work. So how do we do that? That's why I came today, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank the gentleman, and now I yield five minutes to the gentleman...

KAGAN: Hearing comments from two different California congressmen, one Republican, one Democrat, talking on the House subcommittee on transition funding. Their topic: what's to happen for those transition funds, currently locked up by the General Services Administration. They have not given it yet to the Bush campaign, who have just gone ahead and said we'll, you know what, we'll set up our own offices in McLean, Virginia, and raise our own funds to get the transition going.

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