Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Budget

 

October 8, 1986

 

The President. I have one thing I would like to say -- a little statement. We are 8 days into the fiscal year. We do not have a budget. We had a continuing resolution for a few days while the Congress continued to debate. That expires as of midnight tonight, and the Government has no funds. Now, I don't think that we should go for another short-term continuing resolution. I think it is time that we have a budget, and I think it is time that the Congress does not tie to that budget things having to do with armament and national security that will tie my hands now on the eve of going to Iceland to debate and to negotiate with the Soviet Union. And I think the message to Congress should be that it is high time that we have a budget, and a budget that deals with the financial situation and does not try to bring in their views on international relations and national security.

 

Q. Will you be able to get them to compromise at all?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Are you willing to compromise at all on putting off these amendments until early next year?

 

The President. And what good would that do? The man I'm talking to across the table would know that all he has to do is wait and the Congress will help him do their work.

 

Q. You really want to scrap SALT II? It means that much to you?

 

The President. I want a budget, which I haven't had since I've been here.

 

Q. You asked them about this yesterday.

 

The President. What?

 

Q. You made this request yesterday. What did they [congressional leaders] say?

 

The President. Let me say I did not get a firm answer.

 

Q. Mr. President, was there any U.S. involvement in this flight over Nicaragua -- carrying the arms -- any involvement whatsoever?

 

The President. I'm glad you asked. Absolutely not.

 

Q. Are you going to get the Americans back?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Are you trying to get the bodies of the Americans and the live American back?

 

The President. I don't know what is going on as of this morning with regard to that. While they're American citizens, there is no government connection with that at all.

 

Q. Was there any U.S. knowledge that those flights were going on?

 

The President. We've been aware that there are private groups and private citizens that have been trying to help the contras -- to that extent -- but we did not know the exact particulars of what they're doing.

 

Q. Do you approve of that?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Do you approve of those flights?

 

The President. Well, we're in a free country where private citizens have a great many freedoms -- including the fact that some years ago, many of you spoke approvingly of something called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

 

Q. Well, did you approve of that?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Were you for that?

 

The President. I was busy then.

 

Note: The exchange began at 10:04 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House prior to the President's departure for Raleigh, NC, and Atlanta, GA.