WASHINGTON (CNN) - He continues to face tough questions on a range of issues, but President Bush nevertheless welcomed the White House press corps back into the building Wednesday after a yearlong absence.
"Welcome back to the West Wing," Bush said in an official ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen the James. S. Brady Press Briefing Room after an 11 month renovation. "We missed you - sort of."
"The relationship between the president and the press is a unique relationship and it's a necessary relationship. I enjoy it – I hope you do," Bush added. "Sometimes you don't like the decisions I make, and sometimes I don't like the way you write about the decisions. But nevertheless, it's a really important part of our process. And the fact that you were working in substandard conditions just wasn't right. "
The room has undergone extensive changes, including new lighting, a better cooling system, and an improved work space for members of the press. There are also now seven seats per row versus the prior six seats, shoring up a front-row seat for CNN's White House reporters.
But perhaps the most noticeable change is a "new interactive media backdrop" located behind the press secretary's podium. Two 45-inch television screens will display content relative the subject of a particular press conference and will also display different "sets" depending on whether the president or the press secretary is speaking.
"I think it's going to benefit future presidents and future White House press corps to be working in modern conditions, conditions where a fellow like me will feel comfortable coming in here and answering a few questions without losing 20 pounds," Bush said during Wednesday morning's ceremony.
While the press was out of the White House for the last year, they were never that far away. They were housed in a makeshift briefing room across the street in Jackson Place.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow will hold the first press conference in the new facility at 12 p.m. ET.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney