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President Bush Urges Congress to Speed Up Work on Education Bill

Aired July 5, 2001 - 14:42   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.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to take you live to the White House. The bully pulpit is on the South Lawn. CNN's White House correspondent John King is there. What's going on, John?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the president leaving shortly. He's going up to Kennebunkport, to his parents' house there, to spend a little time, a little -- belated holiday weekend, but before leaving the president wants to push Congress a little bit. His education bill, one of his top priorities, stalled right now.

You see the president walking up to the podium. He wants to urge the Senate, now in Democratic hands, to get down to business, in his view.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Looking forward to spending the weekend with my family. I know Congress is spending weekends with their families as well, and when they come back there's going to be a lot of work to do, and there's nothing more important than getting the education bill to my desk. I urge Congress to come back, to work hard to reconcile any differences that may exist between the House and the Senate bill and to get a bill to my desk quickly.

It's important to do so. All you've got to do is ask the governors and superintendents and local officials standing behind me. These good folks have come to Washington to urge me to urge Congress to get the people's business done, because they've got plans to make for the public school children of America.

Behind me are three governors and superintendents from around the country, education leaders who know full well what is required to plan an education year. And if the rules are to be changed, and I hope they are in a constructive way, Congress must act quickly so people at the local level can plan.

A bill out of the House and the Senate passed with large majorities and bipartisan support. There's no reason to delay. The secretary of education joins me in urging the Congress to act. And I'm confident, if the will is there, we can resolve any differences and get the bill to my desk.

This is a good bill, it's a good piece of legislation, because it aligns authority and responsibility at the local level, because it believes in setting high standards, it challenges the soft bigotry of low expectations, at its cornerstone is strong accountability measures so that we can make sure not one single child gets left behind in America.

So I wish the members of Congress a great weekend, but I remind them the people's work's ahead.

Thank you all for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: You see president walking away there, waiving to reporters, going over now to shake some hands of some guests and some staff members and others who are here to wish him farewell as he heads up to Kennebunkport, Maine, for the weekend.

The president's point there -- he was quite polite in his words, but the White House upset at what it thinks is a little bit of a stalling on the Senate side here. Both the House and the Senate have passed the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. There are some differences between the two, chief among them: the Senate bill spends millions more than the House bill does, but before the two chambers can resolve their differences, on the Senate side they need to report the conferees to the committee that would work out that compromise.

Remember, this was one of the issues that convinced Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont to leave the Republican Party to become an independent. This issue -- it was over spending levels that he decided he disagreed with the president, among other issues. So, as the Senate has changed hands from Republican to Democrats, the pace of the education bill's way through Congress has slowed down.

The president here trying to make the case for Congress to deal with it as soon as it comes back, but most of all the president now heading out for a little late high school weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine. Education will be number one priority when he returns next week, and he is hoping the Congress will move in that direction as well -- Lou.

WATERS: 55 years old tomorrow?

KING: 55 years old. He will celebrate his birthday up in Kennebunkport, at the family's retreat. Reporters often traveled there with former President Bush. This is their first visit up there with this President Bush.

WATERS: Well, Kennebunkport is probably used to that kind of traffic on a holiday weekend, and they are really going to get it this weekend. OK, John King, senior White House correspondent.

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