Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 4, 1999

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY WITH
                          NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM
                             The Cabinet Room

4:02 P.M. EDT

          THE PRESIDENT:  Is everybody in?  I'd like to make a brief
statement and then I'll answer your questions.
          Our national security team is about to meet to discuss the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to end nuclear weapons testing forever.  This
is very important for protecting our people from the danger of nuclear war.
That's why so many prominent Americans, including four former Chairmen of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff support it.
          For two years, the opponents in the Senate have blocked any
consideration of the treaty.  Now, we have been given just eight days
before the Senate vote.  I will do all I can to get the treaty ratified.
          Our experts have concluded that we don't need more tests to keep
our own nuclear forces strong.  We stopped testing in 1992, and now we are
spending $4.5 billion a year to maintain a reliable nuclear force without
testing.  Since we don't need nuclear tests, it is strongly in our interest
to achieve agreement that can help prevent other countries, like India,
Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran and others from testing and deploying nuclear
          The treaty will also strengthen our ability to monitor if other
countries are engaged in suspicious activities through global chains of
sensors and on-site inspections, both of which the treaty provides for.
This is a crucial decision the Senate is about to make that will affect the
welfare of the American people well into the next century.  I hope the
American people will pay close attention to this, and I hope the Senate
will pay close attention and that we will have a careful debate as much as
possible within the time that's been allotted.
          Q    Mr. President, why do you think the Republicans handled this
in the way they did and just said, okay, let's go ahead and vote on it in a
few days?  And you've been pushing this for a long time.  Why is it that
you're so behind the eightball on getting the votes for it?
          THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we've been pushing it, but there has been
no consideration of it.  If you look at how other treaties have been
handled in the past, you have 8 days of hearings in the Foreign Relations
Committee, 12 days of hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee.  The
Democrats in the Senate were frustrated because the whole thing had been
stonewalled.  And, finally, they said, okay, you can have a debate and a
vote right now or no vote at all.
          So we decided we would take the right now and do our very best to
do it.  I don't want to speculate on other people's motives.  We'll have to
ask them why they decided to do it this way.
          Q    Mr. President, you need a lot of Republicans if you're going
to pass this treaty.  How many do you think you have right now?
          THE PRESIDENT:  I don't know.  We don't have enough now; I hope
we can get them.  I think the critical thing is, if you look at all these
-- anybody who expresses reservations, there can only be, it seems to me,
two arguments against it.  One is that we have to test and maintain our
stockpile.  And Secretary Richardson is here -- the people at the energy
labs and many other experts say that is absolutely not true.  And we are
spending $4.5 billion a year to make sure it's not true, that we can
maintain the integrity of our stockpile.
          The other argument that we saw a version of in the press
yesterday that I think is just a missing point is that maybe somebody,
somewhere, is doing a very small-scale test and we won't pick it up.  Well,
the point I'd like to make about that is the following:  Number one, if you
get the really small test, they're hard to pick up.  They're hard to pick
up now, they'd be hard to pick up if this treaty is ratified.
          If this treaty is ratified, there are new tools to monitor the
testing levels.  We'll have monitoring stations, we can do on-site visits.
There's the deterrent impact of a country signing and then getting caught
violating it.  So we'll have a lot more ability to pick up all kinds of
testings at all levels and a lot more deterrent against it if we ratify the
treaty than if we don't.
          There is another thing the American people need to think about
and the Senate needs to think about.  If any of the 44 original signatories
of this treaty don't sign and don't ratify it, then it cannot enter into
force.  For decades, the United States has lead the world against
proliferation.  If the United States Senate votes this treaty down, it
would be a signal that the United States now wants to lead the world away
from the cause of nonproliferation.  We would be giving the green light to
all these other people.
          We're not testing anyway.  That's why Britain and France and nine
other of our NATO allies have already ratified this treaty.  They
understand this.  That's why there is such overwhelming support for it.  So
it would be, in my judgment, a grave mistake not to ratify the treaty.
          Q    Mr. President, on a related matter, I'm sure you've been
briefed that the FBI is sort of starting all over this week on the Chinese
espionage investigation.  Are you concerned now, looking back, about the
way the investigation was handled?
          THE PRESIDENT:  I think the only thing I would say about that, I
think the only appropriate thing for me to say is, number one, they ought
to do whatever they can to find out whatever the truth is.  Number two,
this is another lesson that we should not assume anyone's guilt ever.  We
should let the investigations take their course.  And I think that's -- we
just have to support the proper -- the investigative process.
          Q    Mr. President, on health care, do the new numbers mean that
you've failed in your effort to expand coverage to people who are not
          THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, they mean that the First Lady
and I and all the rest of us were right in 1994 when we told you in 1994
that if this were voted down, the insurance companies would continue to
drop people and employers would because of the system we have.  So what has
happened is exactly what we said would happen.
          Now, what are we doing about it?  We passed the 1997 Children's
Health Insurance Program, but it was only this year that all the states
finally signed up.  I do believe you will see this year significant numbers
of children enrolled in our children's health insurance program.  And I've
talked with Senator Kennedy and others in the Congress about what else we
can do to try to get several million more children insured.
          Number two, I do believe that the Kennedy-Jeffords bill will pass
this year which will allow people with disabilities to go into the work
force and keep their health insurance and that will be good.  Number three,
we have before the Congress and have had for two years a proposal to let
people between the ages of 55 and 65, one of the biggest problem groups
without insurance, by the end of the Medicare program.  That would help a
lot if Congress would pass that.
          Some Republicans have said in the past that they favor that sort
of approach.  I would urge them to take another look at this.  They ought
to allow Medicare buy-in.  It's the cheapest, least costly, least
bureaucratic way for people in that age group to get insurance.  And,
number four, we have granted to some innovative states waivers from the
Medicaid program which they have used to let people who are lower-income
working people buy into Medicaid.  If we can get some more states to do
that, that can make a big difference.
          If you look at these numbers, you've got people between the ages
of 55 and 65, you've got people who have moved from welfare to work and
then get jobs above the income level when they're eligible for Medicaid,
then you've got all these middle-class people who work for companies that
are dropping health insurance.  So I think we ought to keep working on
these things.  I certainly don't think we ought to give up.  I do think
you'll see the numbers improve with children over the next two years.
          I think that if we pass Kennedy-Jeffords, which I think we will,
you'll see that improving.  But we need the Medicaid buy-in and the
Medicare buy-in for the older people and more states could solve this
problem.  We could give them the money through Medicaid waivers to let
lower income working people buy into that.  All those would make a big
          Let me also finally say I'm glad to see that this has become a
source of discussion in the presidential campaign for the Democrats, and
I'm proud that the candidates in my party are trying to do something about
it and I hope that we will continue to see this debated.  But these numbers
confirm exactly what the First Lady said in '94, and we have some specific
things we can do about it if the Congress and the states will help, and I
hope they will.
          THE PRESS:  Thank you.
                          END       4:12 P.M. EDT