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DeLay Speaks With Reporters

Aired January 29, 2003 - 11:15   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I believe we are going to Capitol Hill. Secretary of State Colin Powell is there -- briefing members of Congress. Let's go ahead and listen in.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: ... the longer we go, the more Saddam Hussein has abilities to support his terrorist friends, as he has in the past.

I have to remind you, the inspectors are not policemen, nor soldiers or any other things than inspectors. Saddam Hussein is not under house arrest. He can continue all his evil activities with abandon and without anyone stopping him. So every day that goes by he can still continue to support terrorism around the world.

So I think the president is right in saying that it's obvious, unless in the next week or so that Saddam Hussein is going to have a complete change of heart and a spiritual experience, nothing's going to change.

And I also remind you that it's not the inspectors job to be going, ferreting out weapons. Resolution 1441 says Saddam Hussein has to reveal that he has disarmed himself, not the opposite. It is not the inspectors' job to go prove it. It is Saddam Hussein's job to prove that he has disarmed, and he's not cooperating.


QUESTION: ... tax question, tax cut.

DELAY: Tax cut?

QUESTION: Dividend tax cut. Chairman Thomas was on record the other day as expressing doubts about the viability of a tax cut, whether it would even help.

I'm wondering, it looks bad in the Senate, it's looking worse in the House. Is the president going to get what he wants (OFF-MIKE)?

DELAY: Well, first of all, I have to totally disagree with your premise. Number one, I've been in several meetings with Bill Thomas over the last few days, and he has not expressed to me, nor have I seen it publicly expressed that he has doubts that a growth package and a job package is important to this country.

It is his constitutional responsibility as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to look at what the president has proposed, and by the Constitution it's the Ways and Means Committee's responsibility to start the process. And he's looking at all possibilities, and he is focused -- and I can say this for him because he said it to me -- he is absolutely focused to get the biggest bang for the buck. And that means to make sure that the policy that we send to the president for his signature is the right kind of policy that gets the kind of economic growth that we desire and the number of jobs that we hope created for the American people.

QUESTION: Would you object to another vote before going to war?

DELAY: Another vote on what?


DELAY: Well, my devious nature, when I saw this morning that Senator Ted Kennedy wanted to have another resolution, I thought, "Boy, let's have that debate again." I would love to have Senator Kennedy standing on the Senate floor saying the things that he has been saying recent again to the American people.

It is obvious, the president is showing incredibly moral leadership in understanding the challenges before this nation, and he is going to protect the American people, and he's going to do it in a way that actually works, not in a way of evasion or appeasement that we all know never works.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that the information that was submitted before the lawmakers today is the same thing that will be submitted to the United Nations next week...


DELAY: Actually, the secretary said that they are working on a briefing for the U.N. that is even more extensive than what we just got. And they expect to show the American people the same briefing.

So they are working through the issues, as you well know, the national security issues and intelligence issues, to make sure that they don't reveal any of their assets or burn any of their assets, and they're going to make their case to the Security Council when Colin Powell presents his presentation.

QUESTION: Did he lay out how he would make his presentation up at the U.N. next week?

DELAY: No. Only in general terms, that he is going to make a presentation. The debate is already ongoing. It started last Monday. According to him, he's been discussing it with other ministers. That process is going on. He'll make his presentation and then they'll go from there.

QUESTION: Mr. DeLay, as we are on the brink of war, what is the mood of the House?

DELAY: My sense is the mood of the House is very supportive of this president and his leadership. Frankly, as I was sitting and watching that speech last night, the thing that hit me the most was the incredible character. The sense of character and moral leadership that this president was exhibiting overwhelmed members of both sides of the aisle. And it's very difficult to criticize a man that understands what the challenges are, understands what the realities are, and understands and will stand, even if it's unpopular, what is necessary to protect the American people.

QUESTION: On prescription drugs, with the seniors having to go to HMOs in order to get it, how do you think...

DELAY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That's absolutely false.

QUESTION: That's not true?

DELAY: That's not true.

QUESTION: Well, what are the prospects for prescription drugs passing the House? Do you think...

DELAY: Well, the same prospects that have passed for the last two Congresses. The House of Representatives has passed prescription drugs twice. The Democrats in the Senate have stopped them both times, in two different Congresses.

We expect to do it again in this Congress, but this time we have a Republican Senate and a president that wants to see it happen. And I expect that we will have a prescription drug program that ties in with some meaningful Medicare reform to give seniors the kind of health care that they deserve.

QUESTION: What is your understanding of how it works if it is not that they have to go into HMOs or managed care...


DELAY: You are way, way ahead -- you're way ahead of where anyone is right now. We're in the process of discussing what the package is and working with the White House and others about what the president will roll out as his proposal. You're way ahead of us. We're not even close to understanding what the president's going to propose.

KAGAN: We're going to leave Capitol Hill right now where House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was speaking after a briefing with Secretary of State Colin Powell.


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