Nov 9, 2021
Gina Raimondo & Karine Jean-Pierre White House Press Conference Transcript November 9
November 9, 2021 press conference with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. They discussed the infrastructure bill. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:00)
As you all know, the Secretary is a member of the President’s Jobs Cabinet who was deeply involved in negotiations on the Hill that culminated in the bipartisan infrastructure deal, a once in a generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. Today, the Secretary will discuss the role of the Department of Commerce in implementing this bill to build up broadband infrastructure. This will deliver for the American people by teaching digital skills, getting kids the devices they need to succeed, and improving overall accessibility and affordability. And after she is done giving her remarks, we’ll take Q&A and I’ll make sure to guide that and get people in the front and get people in the back. Secretary, all yours.
Gina Raimondo: (00:52)
Good afternoon, everybody.
Speaker 1: (00:53)
Gina Raimondo: (00:59)
Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me today. It’s a pleasure to be with all of you. I suppose, before I talk about broadband, I just want to take a moment to recognize what an incredible accomplishment it was last week to get the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill accomplished. I can tell you, prior to this job, I was Governor of Rhode Island for six years and every year we thought, we were told an Infrastructure Bill was around the corner. “It’s going to come, Governor. The infrastructure money’s coming.” But, of course, it never did. And President Biden delivered. President Biden stepped up. He led. None of this could have been done without his leadership. He was so personally engaged working across the aisle to compromise, to get results, to deliver for the American people. And that’s what happened. And I don’t think we can underestimate the impact of this. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help Americans and deliver for Americans.
Gina Raimondo: (01:57)
As it relates to the Commerce Department, it is going to enable us at the Commerce Department to fund key priorities that will have very tangible, positive impacts for American workers and businesses. Just to tick off a few things, it’s substantial funding for NOAA to increase climate resiliency and restore and improve coastal habitats. It is very excitingly, permanent authorization for the Minority Business Development Agency and $1.6 billion to that agency. MBDA, which resides in the Commerce Department, is the only federal agency solely focused on promoting the growth development and resiliency of minority owned businesses. So it’s pretty incredible. But today I’m going to focus particularly on broadband, as Karine said. President Biden has set a very ambitious goal for his administration that we must connect all Americans, all Americans regardless of where they live, to high speed, affordable internet.
Gina Raimondo: (03:06)
And thanks to the passage of the bill, we will be able to accomplish just that. The Infrastructure Investment Act allocate $65 billion to expand broadband in communities all across America to create low cost options and subsidize the cost of service for those who need it. Of that 65 billion, about 45 billion will be coming to the Commerce Department at NTIA to administer that program. I will say, this is an area that I am particularly passionate about having been a Governor during the pandemic and being with people who didn’t have broadband, children who couldn’t go to school, people who couldn’t go see a doctor or a therapist, it is heartbreaking and it showed in a very real and human way how essential broadband is. And the fact of the matter is we have to close the digital divide, period, and this Infrastructure Bill will allow us to do that and the 48 billion coming to the Commerce Department will allow us to do that.
Gina Raimondo: (04:12)
Beyond the physical infrastructure, laying fiber, affordability is just as important. Affordability is just as important as access. It does a family no good if there’s broadband in their community, but they can’t afford it. Closing the digital divide means both providing the broadband and making sure it’s affordable. So the investments in this bill will help ensure every American can access affordable high speed internet, which means requiring funding recipients to offer a low cost affordable plan. Everyone who gets a penny of this money is required to offer a low cost affordable plan, provide federal funding for broadband services to low income families, requiring providers to be transparent about pricing to help families do comparison shopping for services where they have competitive options.
Gina Raimondo: (05:07)
I will confess this is going to be a massive undertaking for the Department of Commerce, but we’re up for it. We’ve been planning for months and we’re up for it. We plan to work in close collaboration with states, counties, cities, community based organizations, and the private sector in partnership to develop grant programs which will ensure that we roll this out in an efficient manner. Broadband is the gateway to economic opportunity, and so in order to open that gateway, we’re putting equity at the center of everything we do. I will say, to truly transform our economy into one that works for all Americans and one that will make our country more competitive on the world stage we have to make investments in a way that is equitable and just. And we view this lens across all of the work we do at the Commerce Department and it will be particularly front and center with the broadband work that we will be doing.
Gina Raimondo: (06:08)
It will not be easy. This will be technically difficult. It’s an implementation challenge, but it is necessary. It is necessary and I believe, I know, that implementing this in partnership with our partners on the ground, we will be able to close the digital divide, close the innovation divide, and achieve the President’s goal of making sure that every American, regardless of where they live or the color of their skin or their income has access who broadband. And I will say, 30, 40, 50 years from now, we will look back on this as the turning point, as a critical turning point, because now that we are moving even more towards a digital economy and a data economy and a tech economy, nobody can be left behind and that means has broadband. And due to the President’s leadership, we’re going to be able to deliver on that. So with that, I will turn it over to you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (07:05)
Thank you. Thank you. Go ahead, [inaudible 00:07:05].
Speaker 2: (07:09)
Thank you, Karine. Thank you, Secretary, for being here. Can you walk us through the logistics of how the money’s going to be allocated? From what I understand, at least $100 million will go to states. And then, is it totally up to the states to determine what projects to launch or will there be federal oversight? Basically, I’m trying to understand how the money is going to get funneled through and how the remaining money is going to be allocated.
Gina Raimondo: (07:32)
Yes, thank you. So in terms of the practicality of it, each state will receive $100 million, as you say. The remaining money will be allocated based on need, based on how many underserved households there are in that state. So the whole name of the game here is to focus on the underserved and the unserved and on affordability. We have to make sure that we don’t spend this money over-building, which means we’ll have to work very closely with the FCC and using their maps to make sure that we focus the money where broadband doesn’t exist now. Everyone gets 100 million. Beyond that, it’ll be based upon unserved, based upon need. We’re going to give out a grant per state, and each state will then give grants to sub-grantees on the ground. We are, as I just said, very focused on equity and making sure there’s affordability and ubiquity, which means we have to be flexible.
Gina Raimondo: (08:39)
In a state like Rhode Island where I’m from, there’s no rural Rhode Island. It’s a city, it’s an urban place. So the needs in a place like Rhode Island will be more around affordability, inner city access. Contrast that with New Mexico, completely different topography. 50% of people on tribal lands don’t have broadband. We need to account for the flexibility there, which is why it’s going to be a state by state. There will be a tremendous amount of federal oversight and transparency. Every state has to put their plan online for everyone to see and we are going to have very strict criteria to make sure that we achieve the goals of affordability and access.
Speaker 2: (09:24)
And when do you think the first expansion projects will get underway?
Gina Raimondo: (09:28)
I’m sorry. Say again, please.
Speaker 2: (09:29)
When will the projects get underway? When do you think states will physically start [crosstalk 00:09:34]?
Gina Raimondo: (09:33)
I would say, first, we have to have the law and then it’ll take us some time to get set up, some number of months. So, I mean, it’s hard to say, I would say well into next year.
Speaker 2: (09:54)
Speaker 3: (09:55)
[crosstalk 00:09:55]. Secretary, a question for you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (09:55)
Hold on a second, sir.
Speaker 3: (09:55)
Can you guarantee people living in internet dead zones [crosstalk 00:09:56]? This is about internet dead zones. [crosstalk 00:10:01]
Speaker 4: (10:01)
Secretary Raimondo, thank you so much for taking my question. The first question I have is, can you talk a bit about how quickly Americans will feel the impact of this and as well as if there are some more longer term goals that maybe are 10, 20 years down the line? Can you just talk a little bit about the timing of this?
Gina Raimondo: (10:16)
So I say first, we are already implementing. In the Rescue Package, Commerce received some money related to broadband, and we’re already putting that out now. There’s a tribal initiative. There’s a rural initiative. USDA has that. We’re working with them. So some Americans will start to see relief this year, soon. As I just said over here, the rest of this, I think it will take us some number of months to start getting the money out the door. It’ll be staged in. We want to get relief out there as fast as possible but in a quality way. So some of the affordability metrics, providing subsidies, that can happen more quickly. Laying fiber across America, that will take time, but we’ll be creating jobs at every step of the way.
Speaker 4: (11:04)
Thank you. Can I ask you one other quick question just about, can you talk a little bit about the equity portion? Are there percentages or numbers you want to hit? Maybe you won’t speak to them publicly here, but I’m wondering how you’re going to measure success.
Gina Raimondo: (11:15)
Every single American has access to high speed, affordable broadband, which means truly affordable.
Speaker 3: (11:22)
Does that include people living in internet dead zones?
Speaker 5: (11:23)
Thank you. Secretary, appreciate your being here. Obviously, as a former Governor, you know the importance of the coordination with Governors and the various states. Can you talk a little bit about the outreach so far? And are you taking the lead on that in terms of being in touch with these various Governors as they implement [crosstalk 00:11:43]?
Gina Raimondo: (11:43)
Yes, yes. I should tell you, we’ve been preparing for this. We are figuring out already how we’re going to staff it within the Department of Commerce, how we’re going to hold make sure we have accountability. I’ve already had several convenings with Governors. I’ve been speaking with Governors, with Mayors, with tribal leaders and now that this is official we’re going to significantly ramp up that engagement.
Speaker 5: (12:10)
And just to follow up very quickly, as you talked about, you need to target rural areas and then more urban areas, how do you determine which areas you’re addressing first? Is it an all hands on deck approach? How can we expect to see the roll out happen?
Gina Raimondo: (12:24)
We are asking each state to give us a plan. So we are saying to them, “Show us a plan that guarantees every single person in your state has access to high speed, affordable internet.” And then we’re going to evaluate that plan, adjust it, provide technical assistance to make sure at the end of the day, we hit the goal.
Speaker 5: (12:51)
And just to push you on the timeline a little bit, some of the physical infrastructure projects are estimated to take six months to a year, is that about the same timeline that you’re tracking for this?
Gina Raimondo: (13:00)
Look, it is really hard to say. We have to be flexible. Laying fiber in a place with a mountainous, difficult topography, that could take years.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:13)
You in the back here.
Speaker 6: (13:14)
Thank you, Karine, and thank you, Secretary Raimondo. I want to ask you about implementation. It seems to be the focus of a lot of our questions. One year from yesterday, the midterm elections will take place. Can you guarantee that people all around the country will see that implementation take place before the midterm elections? And what type of projects are you looking at in terms of implementation between now and then?
Gina Raimondo: (13:42)
So, certainly, Americans will feel and see in their communities much of the progress that the Biden administration is overseeing, I mean, from the Rescue Package to the Infrastructure Package. It is not the case, I think every community will see activity and action-
Gina Raimondo: (14:03)
The case, I think every community will see activity and action. Some communities will start to see people working, laying fiber. But I also think it’s important to be realistic, and you have to be honest with people, which is to say, we want to get this right. It’s more important to get it right than to rush. So I think people will see their state putting together a plan, they’ll see us starting to move out on that plan. But you know, not everybody’s going to have broadband a year from now.
Speaker 6: (14:29)
A year after President Obama signed the Recovery Act, he acknowledged that this idea of shovel ready jobs is not reasonable. It doesn’t exist. Would you agree with that statement in terms of what President Obama said after the passage and his signature on the Recovery Act back in 2009?
Gina Raimondo: (14:51)
There’s all different kinds of projects. There are many projects that are shovel ready, I can tell you that from being governor. In my state there are many projects that are shovel ready, need money to be added. There are others, and broadband is an example, that require more planning, that require thoughtful technical planning. So the whole point of the infrastructure package is to deliver for Americans. I promise you this a year from now, many, many people will be working in high quality jobs because of this package. But I also promise you that the President wants us to get it right. And if it takes a little longer to lay the groundwork for fiber and broadband, then we’re going to do that. [crosstalk 00:15:36].
Gina Raimondo: (15:38)
I can’t hear. Sorry. [crosstalk 00:15:39].
I wanted to ask, thank you, about the deadline that your department had imposed to get voluntary data from semiconductor manufacturers and other companies. Did your department receive all of the information that it was looking for from these CEOs? And then also, what’s your reaction to China appearing to be angry about TSMCs compliance with your request? They called it extortion of confidential information from chip firms and talked about concerns that the US could use this information to sanction Beijing. What’s your reaction to that?
Gina Raimondo: (16:17)
Yeah, so the deadline is yesterday, so we haven’t yet had the opportunity to go through all the submissions. I will tell you over the past couple of weeks, I have spoken to the CEOs of a number of semiconductor companies, including TSMC, asked them for their compliance, and they all said that they would be complying and sending us the information that we’re asking for. It is laughable to suggest that it’s coercion because it is voluntary, we’re asking to cooperate with us. And the truth is that this is what… President Biden has said to us on his team use every tool that we have to deliver relief for the American people around supply chains. And so that’s what we’re doing, this is a tool in the commerce toolbox and we’re using it. And I think to great effect, and every CEO I’ve talked to, including TSMC has said, it’s a good idea. It will increase transparency in the supply chain, which will cut down on bottlenecks, and that’s why they’re complying. Their own choice.
Does China’s reaction make you think that the US should have a more clear strategy toward possibly defending Taiwan, given their response to this? You’ve called the semiconductor shortage, a national security crisis. They’re obviously being very responsive to the White House probe for more information and they’re hedging on that. What do you think about how we should approach defending Taiwan?
Gina Raimondo: (17:43)
I think what I’ve said, which is, that the lack of domestic production in America of semiconductors poses not only an economic threat, a national security threat, and we need Congress, the House, to pass the CHIPS Act or USICA as quickly as possible so that we can get to the business of making more chips in America. [crosstalk 00:18:04].
Are you pushing for that follow up soon?
Gina Raimondo: (18:07)
Yes. Tomorrow would be great.
Speaker 7: (18:09)
Let’s take two more so we can let her go. Go ahead [inaudible 00:18:11] in the back, the gentleman, thank you. [crosstalk 00:18:13].
Speaker 8: (18:13)
Thank you. You’ve mentioned in a couple of answers, the jobs created from this, I’m curious is there are a workforce right now that is able to fulfill that this broadband expansion? I mean, do you have to train people how to do this?
Gina Raimondo: (18:29)
Such a good question. So, I would say yes and no. But, in working with Congress on this portion of the bill, we specifically said, keep it flexible so we could use some of the money for workforce training. And to the question of equity, the folks that we train ought to look like America. And to the question of what will Americans see, what they’re going to see soon is people in their community, men, women, people of color, white people, laying fiber. And today we don’t have enough trained people, no we don’t. But some of this money will be used for workforce training so that we can train folks, and in the process of doing that diversify the ranks of electricians and technicians and folks who are know deploying the fiber in America.
Speaker 8: (19:25)
I want to ask you about broadband, but just first here, the Commerce Department made a really consequential decision to add NSO group to its entity list. Could you talk a little bit about was there a specific breach that led to that? Was there evidence that their software is being used to monitor US citizens? What was it that led you to make that decision?
Gina Raimondo: (19:46)
Usually we don’t comment on the details. I will simply say it went through the same process, inter agency process, that all of these decisions go through. We came to a determination that it was necessary for national security in order to impose that.
Speaker 8: (20:01)
Okay. And then on the broadband question, congress exempted the infrastructure bill, this $42 billion pot of money that you have from the Administrative Procedure Act requires a number of things in terms of public notice-
Gina Raimondo: (20:20)
I’m having bad flashbacks to law school, administrative law.
Speaker 8: (20:24)
Well, it’s really important for journalists because we use things like the Freedom of Information Act to get information on how government is spending money that might be going to private sector companies. So, since we don’t have that, how do you expect us to hold you accountable for how this moneys being spent?
Gina Raimondo: (20:40)
So I’ll confess I haven’t gone that deeply into the weeds of that particular provision, but I will say this. As I said here, we are deeply committed to transparency, the way to build public trust is transparency. As a result, every single state plan is going to have to be put online. So you can comb through every detail of every plan to see where every penny goes, and I think that’s really important.
Speaker 7: (21:05)
Thank you so much.
Speaker 9: (21:12)
Secretary, do you have a message for people living in dead zones? Can you guarantee they’ll get access to broadband?
Gina Raimondo: (21:12)
Thank you guys.
Speaker 9: (21:13)
It’s a real simple question. [crosstalk 00:21:13]-
Thank you very much.
Gina Raimondo: (21:14)
I hope you get out to enjoy the weather.
Yeah, it’s beautiful.
Speaker 9: (21:22)
So, no comment on people living in internet dead zones.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (21:22)
Okay. This is going to be an interesting briefing. I have a few things for all of you at the top. So, today the Biden Harris administration is announcing a set of concrete steps to accelerate investments in our ports, waterways and freight networks. These goals and timelines will mobilize federal agencies, get money out of the door for high impact projects faster and lay the foundation for successful implementation of the historic investments included in the bipartisan infrastructure deal for our supply chain, jobs, growth and competitiveness. This action plan will increase federal flexibility for port grants, accelerate port infrastructure grant awards, identify project locations for coastal navigation, inland waterway and land ports of entry, and launch the first round of expanded infrastructure grants. Outdated infrastructure has real cost for families, as we all know for our economy and for our competitiveness. We’re seeing that right now, even as we move record goods through our ports. With supply chain bottlenecks forming that lead to higher prices and lower deliveries for American families. Even as we take immediate action, we have a chance to make lasting fixes through the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (22:49)
The bipartisan infrastructure deal includes a total of $17 billion to improve infrastructure at coastal ports, inland ports and waterways and land ports of entry along the border. This is the single largest federal investment in our ports in US history. And these investments will improve the efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency of these hubs of commerce. As you all know, the President will be visiting the Port of Baltimore tomorrow, where he will further discuss the administration’s port action plan and the historic investment in ports in the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (23:28)
Today, our US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released a community tool kit for addressing health misinformation, continuing his administration’s work to combat health misinformation during the pandemic and beyond. As you all know earlier this year, Dr. Murthy released a Surgeon General’s advisory warning people about the urgent threat of health misinformation. The toolkit released today builds on his effort offering freeing practical guidance for trusted community leaders like healthcare professionals, school administrators, teachers, and faith leaders, to understand, identify and stop the spread of misinformation.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:08)
This is particularly timely yesterday. Kaiser Family Foundation released its vaccine monitor findings outlining that belief in pandemic related misinformation is widespread. With 78% of adults saying that they have heard at least one of eight different false statements about COVID-19 that they either believe to be true or are unsure if it is true or false. As we continue our effort to vaccinate more Americans, including children, its mission critical Americans have access to accurate information so they can make health decisions based on facts.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:47)
Last week for the fourth time, Republican members of the Senate’s Small Business Committee blocked a vote and refuse to show up to a hearing on Dilawar Syed, a qualified uncontroversial nominee to be the deputy administrator of the small business administration. This is a position important for helping small businesses across the country, and Dilawar has had a successful business career and is endorsed by more than 200 groups and individuals, including the Chamber of Commerce. If confirmed, he would also be the highest ranking Muslim in this administration. But Republicans whose justification for opposing his nomination keep shifting as argument after argument falls flat, continue to block a vote on his nomination. If for some reason they don’t believe he should be confirmed, they should just say so and vote no, instead they are obstructing a vote from even taking place. As the SBA works to help small businesses build back from the devastation caused by this pandemic, we call on these Republican senators to do their job and show up and allow a vote on this qualified nominee. And that’s all I have. Go ahead Alex.
Thanks Karine. Two quick ones on infrastructure and then one on Prop 26. To start, obviously, we’re all pretty interested in timing for this bill. And the President said yesterday in his WKRC interview that Americans could see some of the funds go out, quote, literally in a matter of weeks. What exactly could we expect to see happen that quickly? And is there a risk that he and other administration actors are over promising at this point when the secretary just mentioned that it could take months for a lot of these programs to go forward?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:39)
Well, I think there’s what you call shovel ready and shovel worthy, these are things that you will hear us talk about a lot. And the secretary actually did say there are projects that are shovel ready and ready to go, and that is actually a real thing. Well, one of the things that the President talked about last night, he identified the Brent Spence Bridge as a major example of a project he expects to get funding. The deal will also help transit expansion projects, including Valley Metro Northwest phase two extension in Phoenix, Arizona, and Met Council Gold Line extension in St. Paul, Minnesota. So, we’re going to be working to pinpoint areas of the greatest need where these investment will make the big differences in the daily lives of families and create jobs. So we’ll have more to share in the near future, but there there are projects that are ready to go and we’re going to identify that and we’ll have more to share as the days come.
And then for following up, actually on Trevor’s comments on oversight, you all have talked about how important preventing waste and fraud and abuse are to the President. So can you speak about what specifics the administration is putting in place to prevent that and how involved will the President be, is he looking at deputizing a similar role to the COVID czar or potentially doing what President Obama did with him and having the vice president oversee implementation? Are any of those things on the table?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:03)
Yeah, those are all great-
Having the Vice President oversee implementation, or any of those things on the-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:03)
Yeah, those are all great questions. As soon as we sign the bill, which I know you’re asking me about timing, which will happen soon. As the President said on Saturday, he wants to make sure that the people who worked very hard on both sides of the aisle are there for the bill signing. So as soon as we get that done, we will share more. We’ll share more about the implementation, and you’re right; we want to make sure there is accountability. That is something that’s going to be incredibly critical, and important to the administration. And as you can imagine, this is something that’s so important to the President, and so he’ll be getting regular updates as we move forward and be very engaged on this.
And then on COP26; how involved is the President sort of remaining in these topic that they go forward, and is he optimistic that will ultimately be a deal?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:50)
Well, I I’ll say this. The President is definitely very engaged. We have White House officials who are there currently at cop 26, the Secretary of Pete Buttigieg, That’s where he basically left after leaving here, speaking with all of you. And so again, we’re very engaged, we have White House official staffers there as well who’ve been in and out of COP26. So yeah, we’re just going to continue to have those conversations and we are optimistic.
Speaker 5: (29:20)
I know that the President, it’s not going to sign the bill until next week, likely, when members of Congress can join him. But why is there not a more urgent effort to have him, and members of his staff and cabinet out on the road, selling and explaining the various components of the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:41)
Well, I’ll say this; the President is doing local media, as Alex was just asking me about Cincinnati, and that is a way that’s really important to hear the President’s voice, to talking directly to the American people who will see more of that. The President’s going to be going to Baltimore tomorrow, and we’ll continue to see the secretaries that we listed who are going to be out there really selling this bill, as you say. But let me just add a few things. So it’s going to be the cabinet is Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Transportation, Energy Secretary, Jennifer [inaudible 00:30:19], Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who is just here, clearly. Interior Secretary, Deb Holland, and EPA Secretary Michael Regan, who’s actually at COP26 right now, as well as cabinet members, administration officials who will play a major role implementing this agenda. And you’ll see them out there over the next coming days and continue. I mean, that’s one of the reasons we had Secretary Buttigieg here, that’s one of the reasons we had Secretary Raimondo, because you all are writing about this, and people are watching, and we want to make sure that they hear directly from us.
Speaker 5: (30:49)
Understood. And I know that there is going to be an effort to get people out into the various communities across the country, but you do have some of your fellow Democrats who say, “We want the President to be more vocal. We want him to be out there, and explaining this and explaining the various components,” because you are talking about these big pieces of legislation and you still have the second piece of it, which hasn’t passed-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:10)
Working very hard on, and we’re very optimistic as the President says.
Speaker 5: (31:13)
[crosstalk 00:31:13] opportunity though, to not have him and other top officials out in a more robust way, right now?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:18)
But the President is out tomorrow. He’s going to be in Baltimore. He’s going to be talking about this. Yeah, and he’ll continue to do more. And I would actually argue that he has been out there. Anytime that I’ve traveled with him, many of you have been part of the pool where he talks about both, the infrastructure bill, and he’s talked about the Build Back Better Act. And he’s been into multiple states doing that over the past several months. Look, that’s going to continue. But I think what he wants to make sure is that get this signed, having all the parties, both on the Republican side and the Democratic side who are very, very instrumental in getting this done. And then, we’ll continue making sure that we’re selling this talking into the American people. And you’re right; this is a complex piece of legislation, but they’re also very popular. We know that the American public wants infrastructure. It is very popular. They want to see the modernization of that hit hard infrastructure. So we’re going to continue to push forward.
Speaker 5: (32:18)
And one more, if I could? And Secretary Raimondo was asked about this, but I’m curious for your take; some of what was announced today and what Secretary Raimondo was talking about is an effort to create jobs as well. But you are dealing with worker shortages right now, so how do you deal with the worker shortages, given your ultimate goal of creating jobs?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:39)
Yeah. So are you talking about the [inaudible 00:32:42] action plan that we… Okay., I just want to say a couple of things about that, and what it’s going to do in the short term, which is critical and important. So, while we’re moving record amounts of goods, through our ports to shelves, we understand the frustration that Americans feel when backlogs lead to high prices, or delayed goods. So today’s announcement builds on the steps we’ve already taken to help address the supply chain challenges we’ve seen globally because of that pandemic. So I just wanted to make sure that was clear. And that is kind of part of what the President has already done, which is partnering with the ports LA, Long Beach, along with leading re retailers and shippers like FedEx and UPS, to move goods in and out of those ports, 24/7.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:29)
So within weeks, the port of Savannah, the third busiest port in the country will have five popup sites in Georgia and North Carolina that will help ease congestion on the shipyard. So within 45 days, we’ll be launching $240 million in grants to improve ports. And in the weeks and months that follow, billions of dollars, additional money will be flowing to improve our critical port infrastructure. And bolstering this work is historic levels of investment we’ve secured through the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which includes, as I mentioned, $17 billion for ports, and tens of billions of dollars, more for roads, bridges, rail, and other links in the supply chain. Combined, these steps are going to create good paying jobs, fix our supply chains to generate to come, and lower prices for working families. And so that’s a really important, the good paying jobs, when we talk about that the labor shortage, I think the President has talked about this, the importance of making sure that we’re paying people wages that are competitive, so are able to come back into the workforce. So that’s a mission critical there as well. Good.
Speaker 2: (34:44)
Thank you, Karine. During that interview yesterday with the Cincinnati TV station, the President apologized for being late, he said it was due to, “Little foreign policy issues.” What was he referring to?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:56)
So as you can imagine, we’re not going to read into every aspect of the President’s day. He meets regularly with his National Security Council and advisors. Some meetings go right on time, and some meetings go a little longer, but I’m not going to read anything specific to that, or I don’t have anything to share on that.
Speaker 2: (35:16)
Okay. And do you expect him to be doing more of these local TV interviews as part of his sales pitch for infrastructure?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:23)
Yes, we do. I don’t have anything to preview. The one that he did last night with Cincinnati was the first, but we’re hoping to get him out there more as we’ve been talking about, so the American people can hear it directly from the President of the United States.
Speaker 2: (35:36)
Can you just one more on the funding for infrastructure, and I apologize because maybe it is just me.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:41)
Speaker 2: (35:41)
But I still don’t really understand how all the money is going to be allocated for the broadband piece. The Secretary made very clear states are going to get a finite amount of money, they’ll distribute it, the rest will be allocated based on need. For all the rest of the money, how will be distributed? Does it go to states first, and will the federal government determine what projects that they will be assigned to?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:09)
So I don’t have the specifics for you right now, but I can tell you the agencies that’ll be involved on the specific components, right? So Department of Transportation, we’ll be in charge of how this improve our ports, rails, bridges, and our supply chain, right? That’s kind of obvious there. The Department of Interior is going to be on strengthening the climate resilience, and the impact of Native communities. We have the Department of Energy, it’s going to be focusing on repairing our electric grid. Department of Commerce on getting high speed internet to every American, as we just heard from the Secretary herself, you have the Environmental Protection Agency, and they’re going to be replacing lead pipes and addressing pollution. So those are kind of how it’s going to be broken down into agencies. The specifics on that, I don’t have to share with you today, but I promise, the Secretary talked about this just now, which is transparency is going to be key here. And so, we’re going to make sure that the American public and all of you know how we’re going to move forward on implementing this.
Speaker 10: (37:13)
Thanks Karine, as the President promotes this infrastructure bill, we know that Leader Schumer wanted a vote in the Senate on the much larger social spending bill by Thanksgiving, that’s what you said before. Are there any details you can provide about any outreach the President will be doing to Democrats this week? I know they’re away and out of town on recess, but any outreach that he’s doing to those key moderates, like Senator Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:34)
I don’t have anything to read out for you today on any calls that he’s made, or any scheduled meetings or anything in that nature. But as you can imagine, White House officials, my colleagues are constantly in contact with members and also staff. And as you know, last Friday, they voted on a rule in the House to make sure that the Build Back Better Act was voted on the week of November 15th. So, as the President said himself yesterday and in the last couple days, he’s very optimistic on making on getting that done. And we’ll continue to talk to Leader Schumer, we’ll continue to have those conversations on the Senate side as well, to make sure that we [inaudible 00:38:15]
Speaker 10: (38:14)
Does he see that as a feasible timeline with moderates wanting to see more information from the CBO?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:20)
I mean, he sees this as an urgency, right? And we’ve said this before; members understand how important it is to get this out, to get this done. We got the bipartisan infrastructure deal, this once in a generation investment, very historic. And now we’re going make sure that we get the Build Back Better Act.
Speaker 10: (38:38)
Just really quickly on COVID. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is vowing to fight against the President’s vaccine mandate for private businesses. He outlined today a few bills that he would like, which would include opt-outs for that vaccine mandate. And he said, quote, “We need to stop bossing people around.” Does the White House have any to this? And then is there any concern that this can move a state like Florida in the wrong direction?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:00)
So, I’ll say this, as I said yesterday, DOJ will be defending these lawsuits, these individual lawsuits. We’re confident in our authority to protect American workers as this virus is killing about approximately 1100 Americans a day. This is an obligation that the Department of Labor has to protect workers, face grave danger, and it’s derived from a law passed by Congress that’s been around for more than 50 years. So this is an authority that the Secretary of Department of Labor has. When you think about grave danger, when you think about 1100 dying a a day, that is I think, an authority that he can use to make sure that people feel safe in their workplace and that they don’t get sick.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:49)
So, what we continue to advocate with from here is to push businesses to move forward with their policies now. These are policies that are protecting workforces and avoiding disruptions related to employees getting sick with COVID, as I just mentioned, expanding the workforce and saving lives. That’s the business that we are in. That’s why we put together, this President move forward with this comprehensive vaccination effort very early on in his administration, to make sure that we get to a place that we can get out of this pandemic. And the question, really that I have is, why are these legislators, these Republicans getting in the way of that? Getting in the way of saving lives? Getting in the way of us, making sure that the economy is working as well, and getting out of this pandemic? And so, that’s the question for them. Go ahead.
Speaker 10: (40:41)
Follow up on that-
Speaker 8: (40:42)
So after Congress has passed the infrastructure bill, how much can the American people expect that inflation will be reduced as a result of that over the next 12 months, say?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:52)
Yep. I don’t have a specific number for you. I’m happy to talk to our economics team, and get something more granular there. But as we’ve heard from experts, whether it is a economist expert or the 17 noble [inaudible 00:41:08] economists have said that it, this bill, the Built Back Better Act and bipartisan infrastructure will ease inflation. So, that’s really important. That’s something that, when we hear members are afraid of going big, we say, “Well, this is going to actually help us in the long run.” Especially as, with price is going up, we see the inflation continuing to be out there. And so, that is really important message that we have. I don’t have, like I said, a granular number for you, but we know this from economists who have said that these two bills will help do that.
Speaker 8: (41:43)
Okay. Another topic; election integrity. A couple of my colleagues wrote a piece documenting nearly a dozen cases where people have violently intimidated or threatened US election officials. There was one example where a man told election officials in Vermont, that he would put a pistol in their mouths and pull the trigger-
Speaker 8: (42:03)
… officials in Vermont that he would put a pistol in their mouths and pull the trigger. None of these cases that we documented, in none of them were any of the people arrested, charged, or prosecuted. Are we living in a country where there’s impunity around these kinds of issues, and what level of confidence do you have in the Department of Justice to actually police these issues?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:23)
Well, we have all the confidence in Department of Justice. On these particular issues, clearly I can’t speak to them here. So I would refer you to the Department of Justice on any specifics there, but we have complete confidence in the Department of Justice. Okay.
Speaker 11: (42:37)
Thanks so much. Yesterday, some Senate Democrats sent the president a letter on high gas prices and how to combat those, including suggesting banning crude oil exports. Is President Biden considering banning those oil exports?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:51)
Which, the oil exports from?
Speaker 11: (42:53)
The Senate Democrats wrote a letter asking the president to ban crude oil.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:57)
Okay, got it. The crude, got it. So the administration is closely and directly monitoring the situation. As we’ve said before, we’ve communicated with FTC to crack down on illegal pricing and are engaging with countries and entities around OPEC plus on increasing supply. We’re looking at all the tools in our arsenal. We’re very concerned about the impact of high energy prices on consumers, especially as we enter the colder months. So we’re continuing, like I said, to monitor the situation and we’re going to do everything that we can from here to address.
Speaker 11: (43:35)
So is that something that President Biden is considering?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:38)
I don’t have anything specific for you. I can just tell you what we’ve been doing here, which is calling on OPEC to increase their supply. We’ve been looking at monitoring the situation. I mean, one of the reasons why the president said no to paying for bipartisan infrastructure bill with a gas tax is because of this. So we’re going to continue to just keep an eye on this. And like I said, we have tools in our tool belts that we can potentially address this with.
Speaker 11: (44:08)
So, the only other tool that we’ve heard mentioned though from the administration is maybe tapping the strategic petroleum reserve. We haven’t really heard anything else specific that the president is considering. Is that because he feels that his hands are tied when it comes to what he can actually do to try to combat high gas prices?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:23)
No, I wouldn’t read it that way. We just don’t have anything right now to announce, but like I said, we’re monitoring this and we’re working through how we can actually address this.
Speaker 11: (44:34)
And one logistical question. Is there a summit happening next week between the United States, Mexico and Canada here at the White House?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:41)
I don’t have any information on that. I’m happy to with the National Security Council.
Speaker 11: (44:47)
Okay. Thank you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:47)
On OSHA authority.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:49)
Thanks, Karine. With respect to the Line 5 Pipeline replacement, is one possible outcomes from whatever happens after this study reduced output?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:02)
So I’m going to use this opportunity to have some clarification here. So I think there was some confusion yesterday about the Line 5, so I just want to clarify again. So Peter’s question yesterday was about the current Line 5, your colleague. And on the current pipeline, as you know, the state of Michigan is objecting to the continued use of its easement for the current pipeline. Additionally, Canada has decided to invoke the Dispute Resolution Provision of the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty on the current pipeline. We expect that both the US and Canada will engage constructively in those negotiations. Canada is a close ally and a key partner in energy trade, as well as efforts to address the climate crisis and protect the environment. These negotiations and discussions between the two countries shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than that, and certainly not an indicator that the US government is considering shutdown. That is something that we’re not going to do. As it relates to the current pipeline, in addition to those negotiations, the current pipeline is subject to litigation between in Enbridge and the state of Michigan, and those parties can speak more to the process. So, what I think confused some folks here is that there are, as a result, a consent decree, as a result. There is a suggested potential replacement for a portion of Line 5. The Army Corps of Engineers announced an environmental impact study of that potential replacement in June, which is what I was talking about yesterday. And that’s the study I mentioned. So that was announced in June, and is about the potential replacement, not the current line, which is what Peter had asked yesterday. So again, nothing new to share on the current line. We expect the US and Canada to engage constructively on it. I don’t have anything else to share about that.
[inaudible 00:46:55] that the current pipeline needs to be replaced and that there is this study ongoing. Would a possible outcome from that study be a choice that limits output? And also what’s the timeline for that study? I had seen some reporting that a decision could come after the reconciliation vote, and that could be as soon as next week.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:13)
I don’t have a timeline on this study. Again, this is the Army Corps of Engineers who are taking this under. I don’t have anything more to share.
And I want to ask you about another story that’s just breaking from our Justice Department reporter. Two sources are telling Fox that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is the foreign policy advisor mentioned in the former Clinton lawyer, Michael Sussman’s indictment. I understand that this just came across while you’re at the podium. So you haven’t probably had a chance to read into that, but what is the White House comment on that? And is there any conflict here? Given that there has been news around the indictment, is there any conflict here that would preclude Sullivan from being able to carry out his duties?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:53)
As you just said, Jackie, I’m just now hearing this. So, I don’t have a comment for you at this moment. I don’t know anything about what you’re just mentioning, so I have to talk to our team.
And there has been news around the dossier though over the last couple of weeks and this feeling that’s falling apart after the revelations of the Clinton tied lawyer had lied to the FBI. Now, knowing what we know about the dossier, is there any concern that there was a lot of focus or too much focus on that during the president’s campaign?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:25)
So, Jackie, I refer you to the Department of Justice. I’m not going to comment on that from here, from the podium. Go ahead, Sabrina.
Thanks, Karine. What kind of outreach has the White House done specifically to the six House progressives who voted against the infrastructure deal?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:40)
I don’t have any outreach to speak to at this moment. As I’ve said many times before, we are in constant communication with members on the Hill, but I don’t have anything to share at this moment that’s specific.
And also a Republican member of Congress today shared a video on Twitter in which he appeared to be shown attacking Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and the president. Twitter’s put a disclaimer on his tweet now. Does the White House have a position on how social media companies should be moderating this type of content?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:15)
So, I’ll say this. There is absolutely no place for any violence of any sort in this political system. And I don’t want to go any further than that. I leave it to the social media platform on how they’re going to move forward on that, but there is no place for any type of violence or that type of language in the political system, and it should not be happening, and we should be condemning it.
Speaker 12: (49:46)
Thanks, Karine. A question on another topic, but first on infrastructure, obviously the administration has had months, as we were watching this bill go through the process of making its way through Congress. Why don’t we have a concrete list of projects that will be pursued first? And why don’t we have a clear timeline on when those will be implemented?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:07)
We’ll have something soon. I mean, this is something that clearly, as you said, we’ve been working on for a long time, and there was a process. There was a legislative process that was happening. And now we’re in a place where the president’s going to sign this legislation soon into law. And once that is done, we will lay out our plan. We will be transparent. That’s one of the reasons why we’re bringing the secretaries here for the different components of the bill to talk to all of you, to take your questions on how they’re thinking about this, how they’re going to be implementing this to the American public. And we’ll have more. We’ll have more to share.
Speaker 12: (50:45)
And then we were told much earlier this year that the president would be getting his annual physical later this year. It’s obviously later this year. The year is almost up. So when will he be getting that physical, and will we get the full results of that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:56)
I was just thinking, you’re right, it is later this year. It’s November. The year is flying by. I don’t have anything for you. As Jen has said, and we have said, that is going to happen. And once it does, we will be transparent about it.
Speaker 12: (51:10)
But it will for sure be done before the end of the year?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:13)
I think that’s what we have said in the past. We would get this done. We’ll make sure to get this done and share it with all of you when it gets done, when it happens. Go ahead.
Speaker 13: (51:21)
I have a seasonal question that I apologize for in advance, but will the president be pardoning turkeys this year?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:27)
Speaker 13: (51:33)
A lot of people have asked me. I’m now asking you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:34)
I mean, it is a regular tradition, so I’m assuming that will be happening. I don’t have any news or any schedule to share with you on that particular pardoning of the turkey event, but I’m sure that we’ll have something soon.
Speaker 13: (51:49)
Okay. On a much more-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:49)
But thank you for the question.
Speaker 13: (51:50)
Yeah. Very serious subject. But actually on a more serious note, parents will be getting their second to last child expanded tax credit payment later this month. What message does the White House have for them? Many families have come to count on this. It’s obviously part of BBB, but there are no guarantees, and this is sort of a cliff that’s hanging out there.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:15)
No, that’s a very good question because that child tax credit has really benefited families, giving families that tax cut, that middle class tax cut that’s so critical. It’s cut poverty by 50%, children poverty by 50%. So it’s been an incredibly important, but this is why the president is going to continue to fight for the Build Back Better plan. This is why he’s going to continue to talk to members on the Hill to make sure that this has happened. But he is optimistic. We talked about this rule that was voted on last Friday for November 15th, to make sure that the Build Back Better Act is voted on in the House that week. So he’s very optimistic. But you’re right, this Build Back Better Act is about, it’s pro families, it’s pro people, and it gives people that breathing room that they so need that they haven’t had in many, many years that. We haven’t seen that investment in people.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:17)
So the president’s going to continue to work for the child tax credit. He’s going to continue to fight for the paid leave. All of the things that are in this bill, we think about childcare, elder care, making sure that prescription drugs are affordable and not taking a huge chunk out of your paycheck. So all of these things that’s part of the Build Back Better Act, he’s going to continue to fight for it. And that’s the message. And there’s a reason that he put the child tax credit in the American Rescue Plan, another historical piece of legislation, because he was trying to meet the moment of what the American family was going through during this pandemic.
Speaker 14: (53:57)
I’m told we have to wrap.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:58)
Oh, okay. I’ll take one last question.
Speaker 15: (54:02)
Two quick questions. As of yesterday morning, the president said he hasn’t spoken to the Governor-Elect of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. Has he tried calling him again?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:10)
I don’t have anything more to read out from what I said at the podium last week. I don’t have anything more.
Speaker 15: (54:18)
And also, obviously when a president goes on something like a sales tour of his infrastructure plan, where he goes matters and sends a message. So can you talk about why specifically the port of Baltimore was picked versus a lot of the other ports like Savannah or Los Angeles?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:31)
He’ll speak to that tomorrow, so I want to get ahead of the president. But he’ll lay that out for all of you as to why he’s there, but as you can imagine, it’s very important to the supply chain and all the work that he’s doing to make sure that we deal with the issue that we’re having currently.
Speaker 16: (54:51)
Do you have an update on Ethiopia?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:51)
That’s all I have for you guys. Thank you.
Speaker 8: (54:52)
Thank you, Karine.
Speaker 11: (54:52)
Thank you, Karine.
Speaker 16: (54:52)
You forgot the back.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:56)
I called on the back. We had Raimondo take questions from the back, guys.