During Tour of CDC (Center for Disease Control)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
November 8, 2001
5:25 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: You know, a lot of Americans never heard of the CDC. They're
wondering what CDC means. And they have learned that the folks who work at CDC
are part of a vast army to fight off the terrorist attacks in America. And I'm
so fortunate to be able to come by and say hello to the people that are working
endless hours to provide good public health information, remedies, a quick response
to people who have been affected by this evil attack.
I believe -- firmly believe that because of the good folks who work in this
building and other buildings throughout Atlanta, Georgia, and throughout the
country for CDC, that we've saved a lot of lives in America. And the very least
I can do is come by and thank them for their hard work and their dedication
to the country. So, for a group of folks that have made a difference in America,
it's -- and no one ever heard about, they're going to hear about -- be heard
about tonight. I'm going to talk about public health officials as part of being
the new heroes of America. And that's why I've come by today, to thank them.
QUESTION: Mr. President, what sort of -- does the CDC need now from the administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, one of the things that they need is for there to be an
organization that allows for the free flow of information -- that when the CDC
finds something, gets information, they're able to pass it throughout our government.
And we're getting really well-organized. The CDC's whole function is to help
save lives, and the faster information can move, the more analysis can happen
on a real-time basis, the more likely it is people will live.
In terms of the CDC budget, one of the jobs of Tom Ridge, the new Homeland Security
Director, is to collect information. And we'll present a budget to Congress.
And if we need to present a supplemental, we'll do so next year. But we're collecting
all the information to make sure that our strategy is seamless and the budget
reflects a seamless strategy.
QUESTION: Mr. President, what's your take on the call for a universal application
of small pox vaccines for all Americans?
THE PRESIDENT: We're in the process of -- I'm looking at different options for
small pox. One thing is for certain; we need to make sure vaccines are available
if there were to ever be an outbreak.
As to whether or not we ought to have mandatory vaccinations, I'm working with
Tommy Thompson on that. One of my concerns is if we were to have universal vaccination,
some might lose their life. And I would be deeply concerned about a vaccination
program that would cause people to lose their life. But I'm looking at all options,
all possibilities, and we'll work with the smartest minds in America to develop
the best strategies in how to deal with a potential small pox attack.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you think the Postal Service should be bailed out?
The Postmaster General is suggesting billions may be needed.
THE PRESIDENT: We are looking at all opportunities to spend money in our government,
and we're going to make sure that any supplemental that may or may not occur
next year fits into an overall national strategy. I told the appropriators in
Congress that we believe we've got ample money to make it through the holiday
season and the beginning of next year; that the $40 billion that they appropriated
in the supplemental is ample to meet our homeland security needs, as well as
our defense needs; and that before we spend more money, let's make sure we have
a national strategy to deal with the homeland defense issue. And that's -- the
Postal Service is part of the homeland defense.
So we'll look at all opportunities to spend money. But I urge Congress not to
break the budget agreement that we signed off to in early October. And I remind
them that the $40 billion of supplemental is enough to meet the nation's needs.
We have hardly even begun to spend the $40 billion that they presented. But
we're listening to all requests.