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Senator Trent Lott Talks Taiwan

Aired April 24, 2001 - 12:06   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Washington now. We understand that the Senate majority leader Trent Lott is out on the lawn near the White House there -- speaking after a meeting with President Bush, talking about taxes this morning.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: ... you can pass through the two bodies, and we'll be working on that. So there was no, you know, specific number that we, you know, came to an agreement on. That will work through the process in the next couple of days.

QUESTION: How about spending increases (INAUDIBLE) 6 percent a compromise between 4 and 8?

LOTT: Well, I think the important thing on spending is to do what is necessary for, you know, our economy, to make sure that we have what is needed for defense. And also, we're working on an agreement involving education.

But also, we need to control the size of the growth of the federal government. We don't want the federal spending to eat up all the funds that instead should be left with the people that earn that money. And, also, we want to make sure that what is done is done in a responsible way.

QUESTION: Does that go for the submarines at Pascagoula?

LOTT: We don't build submarines in Pascagoula. Sorry, about that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) What's your reaction on (OFF-MIKE) president's decision on arms sales to Taiwan? (OFF-MIKE) by not telling the (OFF-MIKE)...

LOTT: Well, I think you all know that, you know, my hometown is a place where we build ships. We built the Kidd class destroyers, all four of them. We also advocate the ability to construct AEGIS class destroyers, the most modern destroyers in the world. I have not had a chance to review the entire package, but I view the president's decision as a prudent one, one that can get assistance to Taiwan that would be helpful. It does include a package. It's not just the destroyers, the Kidd class destroyers. It also includes some submarines and some other important equipment that would be helpful to Taiwan.

And the problem with Aegis destroyers, it would be eight to ten years before they could actually be delivered. This package actually can be helpful, but I think all things considered, the word I use once again is prudent. I think the president has made the right decision in view of all the considerations that were on the table.

QUESTION: Senator, can I doublecheck? You said you thought you have a budget resolution conference meeting report at the end of the week?

LOTT: Well, I hope that we can get an agreement on what would be in the conference report before the end of the week. That's, you know, a reasonable expectation. As to exactly when it would be voted on, will depend on when that agreement is actually reached. Hopefully, it would be late this week, it could be early next week.

QUESTION: Does 6 percent sufficiently control spending?

LOTT: No final agreement has been made on the actual numbers.

QUESTION: What did he say to you? QUESTION: Are you still confident that you can get a tax relief package?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Senator, excuse me...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: The Chinese government is saying that the sale of arms to Taiwan is going to damage relations.

LOTT: I think the president was very measured in what he decided to do. China understands that we have some agreements with Taiwan. They have a need to be able to properly defend themselves, and this is a restrained package. And I think the president made the right decision.

QUESTION: Are you still confident you can get a tax relief package by the Fourth of July?

LOTT: Yes, absolutely....

HARRIS: Now we're hearing the comments of Senator Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader. We also saw him assembled there with the other leadership from both the House and the Senate there. They were discussing -- and they were all Republicans, I should mention -- they were all discussing, this morning, taxes and other issues with President Bush.

We did hear the discussion of also the package of equipment that was sold to Taiwan discussed, Senator Lott calling that -- even though Taiwan had been asking for the highest tech of high-tech system -- the Aegis -- so-called the Aegis system to be sold, which President Bush decided not to do at this particular, sending other equipment instead. Senator Lott calls that decision a prudent one and a restrained one.

And he says that, in consideration of all the things that were on the table, it was the right thing to do at the time.

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