May 15, 2022
Jen Psaki’s Final White House Press Briefing 5/13/22 Transcript
Jen Psaki delivers her final White House Press Briefing on 5/13/22. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Okay. It would not be a briefing without some special guests. So I have some with me today, today, President Biden is welcoming mayors, chiefs of police, a county commissioner, and a community violence intervention expert to the White House to talk about how the Rescue Plan is providing historic levels of support to make our communities safer. The president will encourage even more communities to use Rescue Plan funding to invest more in fighting violent crime and to deploy American Rescue Plan funding, to make our communities safer as quickly as possible as we head into summer.
Speaker 1: (00:36)
As we announced earlier today, over $10 billion has been [stipend 00:00:41] or committed already on public safety through the Rescue Plan, including by over 300 communities and more than half of the states. The money is being put to use keeping cops on the beat for community policing, investing in mental health and substance use disorder services, crisis responders, community violence intervention, and other programs to address the causes of crime and ease the burden on police.
Speaker 1: (01:06)
These are stories from across the country about how this money is already making a difference and we wanted you to hear about it directly from the leaders on the front lines. First is Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Missouri who has leveraged Rescue Plan money to avoid public safety layoffs and has used it to invest $10 million for new police technology.
Speaker 1: (01:26)
Because of the fiscal space provided by the Rescue Plan, Kansas City is also working to hire 150 new police officers. Mayor Lucas was elected in 2018 and previously served on the city council. Next is police chief James White of the Detroit Police Department. Together with Mayor Duggan, Chief white has used over $110 million from the Rescue Plan to invest in body cameras, new gunshot detection technology, and $30 million for enhanced police patrols among other strategies. Chief White is a veteran of over two decades at the Detroit Police Department and since he was sworn in last year and with the help of the Rescue Plan, Detroit has recorded an 18% decrease in homicides compared to the previous year. They’ll each speak briefly, we’ll take some questions. They’ll have to go to meet with the president, which is a good reason. So I will turn that over to Mayor Lucas. Thank you so much.
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (02:19)
Thank you so much and it’s an honor to be with you all today. I’m here to discuss public safety, not just in Kansas City, but in many of America’s cities. If we think back just a few years, we had a challenge of tight budgets and rising crime, the American Rescue Plan has filled an important and vital gap for us in Kansas City. If not for the American Rescue Plan officers, would’ve lost their jobs, salaries would’ve been frozen, and our city would’ve become more dangerous. Instead, we have been able to invest in a number of vital and important areas. First of all, we’ve heard much discussion in recent years about community policing. There is no community policing without the police. The American Rescue Plan funds have allowed us to invest in more police officers and not only more police officers, but salary increases so that we can make sure that we are recruiting and, importantly, retaining good officers in Kansas City.
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (03:10)
In addition to that, communications technology in Kansas City of $10 million from the American Rescue Plan allows us to invest in so many deferred technology areas so we can continue to be smart about how we solve crime, keep our officers safe as they’re looking to solve crime, and, importantly, make sure that we’re spending those additional funds in areas like recruiting, in areas like intervention. As a mayor, I’ve had the chance, not just to have experiences with my own police department, but I’ve done ride-alongs in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington, and a number of other American cities.
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (03:40)
In each of those, you’re hearing from people and mayors and leaders that are saying that this support has been key in terms of making our cities safer and making sure that everyone in our community has police officers, but has police officers who have the time and have the opportunity to get involved in our neighborhoods each and every day. So I thank the president for giving us this opportunity with the American Rescue Plan. I look forward to our conversation this afternoon where we’ll continue to talk about how we can work together. Police politicians, so many other folks in Washington in terms of making sure our cities stay safer as we go into the summer. Thank you so much.
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (04:18)
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m James White, Detroit Police Chief. I took the role of police chief in Detroit, June 1st of last year, after serving 24 years in the city of Detroit, having gone through bankruptcy in Detroit, retiring to take a job with the state and then coming back to lead this great department of some of the hardest working men and women in law enforcement. Certainly a humbling and honoring experience for me coming back and recognizing what’s happening in our country with law enforcement. Police chiefs, police departments have to be innovative, you cannot arrest your way out of crime. There has to be community services, community programming, mental health support, and a number of other different programs. Having been an assistant chief at a time when Detroit went through bankruptcy and knowing what that felt like I’d much rather be the chief when there’s the type of investment that we see from the American Rescue Plan for cities like Detroit.
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (05:09)
It’s enabled us to do a number of different things. Number one, put officers in high areas of crime, put officers around our city where we are looking at, statistically, gun violence being higher in those areas than in other areas in our city. But in addition, it’s to provide our officers with state-of-the-art training, being able to develop training protocols based on best practices, and use our training facility and bring it up to standards that are necessary in this day and age in law enforcement, making sure that our officers are best equipped to deal with the programming and the issues that we’re seeing in our community.
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (05:50)
One of the most exciting programs that we have is our crisis intervention training and our crisis intervention cars. When I took this role, we had crisis intervention officers in three of our precincts, happy to say that today, as a result of the American Rescue Plan dollars, we’re able to put it in six of our precincts and by the end of the year, we’re hopeful that we’ll be in all twelve precincts.
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (06:12)
And what that does for us is provide a very specific layer of safety, not just for the officers, but for the citizens who are in mental health crisis, by having a trained mental health professional on that car with a trained officer who is trained in mental health intervention, recognizing what they’re looking at, recognizing what they’re dealing with when they come upon someone who is in crisis and perhaps engaging in violence or erratic behavior.
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (06:42)
Having those trained officers is a incredible layer of success and layer of equipment that we just did not have prior to this. And one last thing is the training facility and the opportunity to recruit. Right now, in policing recruiting is difficult, and having a state of the art training facility and recruiting opportunity has been instrumental in what we’re trying to accomplish in our city. So with that, thank you.
Speaker 1: (07:08)
All right, go ahead.
Reporter 1: (07:10)
Hello, Mayor, it’s good to see you again. The Missouri General Assembly just passed a bill just now that increases the percentage of Kansas City’s budget that needs to be spent on policing. What’s your reaction to the bill, but more importantly, what’s your reaction to them passing it over here on the [inaudible 00:07:28]?
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (07:29)
I think it’s always important to have locally driven solutions to local problems. I think that’s why the American Rescue Plant was so helpful. Money coming directly to cities and to states so we could solve public safety problems. I do not think necessarily that someone in out state, Missouri has better answers for policing than somebody in the core of Kansas City. And what we’ve been able to do, both with American Rescue Plan funding and our collaboration with folks at the state and federal level, is come to solutions like more officers that my friends and the legislature and the governor are asking for. And so, I do not support anything that takes away our ability to work with our local police department and neighborhood leaders in terms of how we get to better solutions for violent crime.
Reporter 3: (08:07)
This administration has often described, talked about funding the police as crucial to not just lowering crime, but also for police reform. I heard talk about crisis intervention training, but did any of the ARP investments that you allocated also go towards implicit bias training or programs that require diversifying the rank and file or acted bystander training? Anything that specifically goes towards accountability or oversight?
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (08:34)
Yeah, I’ll take that. And so in Detroit, we’re in a process right now of building out, just hired a diversity equity and inclusion director. We’re constantly looking at our policies. It’s enabled me to incorporate a number of different components of diversity, equity and inclusion, which we already have, but just expanding out and recognizing that we can make improvements we’ve been able to do that.
Reporter 2: (08:56)
Did that come from the ARP fund?
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (08:58)
What it came from was the fact that we did not lose money or we didn’t have a budgetary shortfall, so we were able to do some things without losing the dollars if we did not have the money.
Reporter 3: (09:08)
But that’s essentially, one, you’re talking about a coordinator, somebody that’s hired on to-
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (09:13)
You’re talking about really a process because for us, it’s for all of our officers, there’s a coordinator and then there’s a programming from that coordinator that goes out department-wide.
Reporter 3: (09:22)
And do you see that as the main method of accountability when it comes to ARP investments or a program that enforces accountability?
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (09:30)
No, that’s just one of many. When we talk about community engagement, we can’t fight crime without our communities. Communities have to have trust, they have to believe in police officers, and certainly this is a time where police trust is super important. And so, when you talk about transparency and policing, that’s what these training opportunities provide us, to look at best practices, to be innovative, and to work on transparency with community.
Speaker 1: (09:59)
Last one there.
Reporter 3: (10:00)
Thank you. Just to follow up on that a bit, going forward in your community and other communities like yours, what do you think is the most needed, underfunded need that you have going forward?
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (10:12)
Reporter 3: (10:14)
Reporter 3: (10:14)
Among everything we were just talking about.
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (10:17)
In terms of community trust, I think there was a reason that both of us have talked about recruiting and retaining officers. We want officers that actually have the time to be engaged in communities, time to actually interact with neighborhoods, time to get known by people in the neighborhood. In most cities in America, you’re not catching people saying, “We want to get rid of all the police.” In fact, I’ve caught very few people who have said that. They said they want the way they interact with police to be different. They want somebody who has time to do community interaction.
Quinton Donald Lucas Mayor of Kansas City, MO: (10:47)
That’s why these investments, in my opinion, are so important, because then you build up community trust, which helps you solve crime. It helps you actually build the relationships that you need to long term and so, there’s not a single kind of magic program that I think works in terms of getting to any of these issues. It’s instead making sure that you’re investing somewhat holistically in police departments, having enough officers that you can address things like having an event at the community center, making sure there are people that are following up in neighborhoods, making sure that you have social workers in departments, which many of us have. And that’s where these funds I think are largely helping us invest in areas where without them we’d be laying off police officers, cutting social programs, cutting everything that’s actually needed to get people to trust the police more.
Speaker 1: (11:30)
Do you have one more, Z? Go ahead.
Reporter 4: (11:30)
Thank you. We’re sitting here and violent crime, gun crime in particular, across the country is at an elevated level heading into the summer. We talked about the risk there. When you go to meet with the president in a few minutes, is there any specific requests that you have from him from the federal government for resources or tools that your department, your city need heading into the summer?
James White, Detroit Police Chief: (11:50)
Sure. Certainly, we’re only one part of the judicial process. We make the arrest, there’s our courts, the prosecutor’s office, we have a number of different needs and then there’s the intersection of crime with mental illness. And then we certainly recognize that we have a literacy problem in our country and so, there are a number of different factors that drive crime. By the time someone commits a crime, there’s a number of failed systems that has caused that to happen. So we’re not going to simply arrest our last person and solve the problem, we have to do a lot of work. So, I’ll be talking about those types of investments, community support, which we’ve been able to do with our Ceasefire Detroit and provide those community programming. Because I think that’s super important. Mental health is super important, engaging the courts at a high level is super important, and certainly supporting police officers and making sure that they’re properly trained in some of the areas that we’ve talked about today.
Speaker 1: (12:50)
Thank you, mayor Lucas and Chief white for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Speaker 1: (12:54)
Okay. Oh, I don’t want you to, here you go. I’m sorry. Okay. Okay. I just have a couple more toppers for all of you, just really getting it all in on the last day here with the toppers for everybody. The president spoke earlier today with Abu Dhabi ruler, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to convey condolences on the passing of UA president, Khalifa bin Zayed. The two leaders agreed to honor Sheikh Khalifa’s memory by continuing to strengthen ties between the governments and people of the United States and the UAE. I also wanted to provide an update on infant formula and where we are and some updates on steps that we have taken. Yesterday, we announced a slate of actions to increase safe infant formula supply following Abbott’s voluntary recall. The president also spoke to major retailers and manufacturers to hear about what they are doing and what they need to help increase availability.
Speaker 1: (13:49)
One of the top issues, the very top issue they asked us to act on, was getting states to increase, increase WIC flexibility so they can get more formula on the shelves faster. Basically how it works now is each state has a contract with a manufacturer, whether it’s Abbott or any of the other manufacturers, and they want flexibility so that, if you use WIC and you get WIC assistance, you can purchase any kind of infant formula. This afternoon, Secretary Vilsack sent a letter to all states, urging them to adopt all possible flexibilities in the WIC program. That is actually a step we’d encouraged them to do the day following the recall back in February, but some states took the step and other states did not take the step at the time, so this is an extra urging to do that.
Speaker 1: (14:33)
He directed all states to review their practices and the agricultural department is reaching out to states throughout the day, building on months of conversations. And next week, USDA will follow up on the letter and calls to provide states with help to issue waivers. That’s what helps obviously, consumers, people who have WIC, who are WIC recipients, and they go to the store. What we’re also doing at the same time to help create this flexibility that these store retailers asked for is, today Abbott also committed to provide critical flexibility to states through the end of August in the form of rebates. And that means that these states can plan ahead and they can purchase supply ahead from a range of manufacturers, not just the ones that they have contracts with. This means that families on WIC can purchase any available product in the months to come through August and states and retailers can plan ahead, as I noted.
Speaker 1: (15:22)
The FDA also just issued a statement about importing formula from abroad. The FDA committed to providing additional information early next week that will facilitate importation to get more product on US store shelves, as soon as possible. And last, we recognize that parents have a lot of questions. Mary asked about this yesterday, I think MJ asked about this too, about where to go and who to call if they cannot obtain formula right now. HHS has just launched a new webpage that provides resources and places that parents can go to obtain formula, including contacts with companies, food banks, healthcare providers. You can find this at hhs.gov/formula. This work is far from over and in the days ahead, you’ll hear about new actions we’re taking to increase safe infant formula. We’ll give you a week ahead. On Sunday, the president will deliver remarks honoring the law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2021 at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the west front of the Capitol.
Speaker 1: (16:22)
On Monday, the president will award Public Safety Officer Medals of Valor for extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty. Later in the day, the president will welcome the prime minister of Greece to the White House, where they will affirm our strong bilateral partnership and celebrate 201 years of Greek independence. The leaders will discuss ongoing efforts with allies and partners to support the people of Ukraine and impose economic costs on Russia for its unprovoked aggression. After the bylaw, the president and the first lady will host a reception in honor of the prime minister. On Tuesday, the president and the first lady will host a reception in the rose garden to celebrate Asian American, native Hawaiian, and Islander heritage month. This month, we honor our diverse Asian American, native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
Speaker 1: (17:09)
While the rich histories, cultures and struggles of the AA and NHPI communities may be different, their futures are woven together through a shared American experience. And finally on Thursday, the president will depart for Seoul, with many of you, South Korea for his first trip to Asia as president, Karine and the team will have more to announce early next week. And national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, will join the briefing on Monday to preview the trip. Last thing I wanted to just say, so I have one more topper. This is my last briefing [inaudible 00:17:45]. It is, Brian, and I wanted to start with a series of thank yous. I promised myself I wasn’t going to get emotional. Whew. Okay.
Speaker 1: (17:58)
Thank you. I want to say thank you to the president and the first lady. They entrusted me in serving this role for the last 15 months. And I’ve talked about this a little bit before, but during my first conversation with them, which was in November of 2020 after the election, I was very nervous when I went to see them in Delaware. And really what we talked about for the majority of our conversation was the importance of returning integrity, respect, and civility to the White House. The small sliver of my job here in engaging with all of you that doesn’t not mean that we haven’t let our Irish side show, mine and the president’s as well from time to time, I recognize that.
Speaker 1: (18:40)
But on my best days, and as I look back, I hope I followed the example of integrity and grace that they have set for all of us and do set for all of us every day. And I’m incredibly grateful to them. I’m not going to get everyone here, but I want to thank, there is a Biden family that is extended and expanded far beyond the Biden named family. And that includes people who have worked with the president and for the-
Jen Psaki: (19:03)
… family. That includes people who have worked with the president and for the president for many years, Ron, Anita, Bruce, Cedric, Kate, JOD, Donald N. Richetti, Susan Deese, Jake, Evan, Annie, Elizabeth Alexander. There’s so many others. The reason I mention them is because part of my job, or that anyone’s job in this role, is to represent and talk about the policies and the work of any administration. They have integrity, grit, commitment to trying even on the hardest days and worst days to make the world better for the American people. I am very grateful to them now. I’m not going to cry about the press team. Whew. Okay.
Jen Psaki: (19:38)
Thank you to the press team. Many of them are here. Some of them are not here because they’re taking much needed days off. It has nothing to do with me personally, I promise. You all know a lot of them. For those who don’t know them, they are incredibly tough, smart, hardworking, and deeply, deeply good human beings, deeply good public servants. People always ask me… And I’m sure you guys get asked this too… about whether Washington is rotten, whether everybody is corrupt here and nothing good happens and we all just argue with each other.
Jen Psaki: (20:13)
I, having done this job, believe the absolute opposite is true because I have worked with and engaged with all of these incredible people across the administration and this amazing team, many of whom are here, that I get to work with every day. As I said about Karine last week, these people are already the stars of the team, but they’re going to be shining stars in the future and I’ll miss them a lot. Okay. Whew. I promised myself I was going to keep it together. I’m not.
Jen Psaki: (20:37)
This is the last part of this. I want to thank all of you in this room. You have challenged me. You have pushed me. You have debated me. At times, we have disagreed. That is democracy in action. That is it working. Without accountability, without debate, government is not as strong and you all play an incredibly pivotal role. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for making me better. Most importantly, thank you for the work every day you do to make this country stronger. I am very grateful to all of you as well. Thank you for your role and to the role of your colleagues here and around the world.
Simon Ateba: (21:14)
Jen, I have a question.
Jen Psaki: (21:16)
With that, Zeke, go ahead.
Simon Ateba: (21:18)
Thank you, Jen. We wish you well. Hope you enjoy [inaudible 00:21:22].
Simon Ateba: (21:20)
Since this is your last press briefing, can you do a different press briefing?
Jen Psaki: (21:22)
Can I do one more thank you? Because my husband is here and I think anybody who is married with kids knows that without a remarkable spouse, you would never be able to do it. I know many of you have kids. I’m just looking at Ashley, Ed, Mary, so many, MJ. He has not only been a supporter, an advocate of mine, but he is an incredible partner and dad. I wouldn’t be here without him. Okay, go ahead. Now, let’s talk about serious issues.
Simon Ateba: (21:49)
Jen, I have a suggestion today for your last press briefly. Why don’t you take question from across the room?
He suggested the administration was aware of the formula shortage for some months now.
Simon Ateba: (22:03)
Because that is what you’ve not been able to do for the last 15 months.
Is there a reason why the administration waited until this week, once the issue was in the limelight, to take some of these actions that you had discussed? Clearly that website, those are resources that people might have benefited from greatly over the last several weeks and months.
Jen Psaki: (22:17)
Well, Zeke, we have not waited to take action. What we have done since the day after the recall was announced, we actually took steps working with these producers and working with states to ensure both, one, we were pushing states and encouraging them to expand flexibility as it relates to WIC, which is again the biggest ask of most people we talk to. Then we’ve been working with manufacturers and that has resulted in Gerber increasing production by 50%, on Reckitt’s increasing production by 30% and, over the last four weeks, more production of formula than there was in the four weeks prior and in comparison with last year.
Jen Psaki: (22:53)
This is all work that has been underway for the last several months, since this recall was enacted. On the website… This is a website… We saw the need, of course, over the last 24 hours as people had questions and they needed more information. We wanted to make it readily available and accessible to people, but prior to that period of time, we had not seen, obviously, what we’ve seen over the last few days.
On a different topic, did the president see and the White House has any reaction to the disturbing images out of Israel this morning of Israeli police beating mourners of Al Jazeera journalist, American citizen, Shireen Abu Akleh… Including briefly dropping the casket. Does the White House have a response and is president taking any action in response?
Jen Psaki: (23:40)
Well, I would say first that we have all seen those images. They’re obviously deeply disturbing. This is a day where we should all be marking, including everyone there, the memory of a remarkable journalist who lost her life. We know that there is. With this disturbing footage from the funeral procession today in Jerusalem, we regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful procession.
Jen Psaki: (24:05)
We’ve urged respect for the funeral procession, the mourners and the family at this sensitive time. We’re also in close touch with Israeli and Palestinian authorities, have been, and obviously will continue to be, especially given the images we’ve seen today. We’re not currently involved in the investigation, but we are working to bridge cooperation and available to provide assistance as needed.
Simon Ateba: (24:27)
If I might ask-
Is there a reason why the president’s meeting with [inaudible 00:24:30] this morning was not open to the press? Usually, the president’s meetings with foreign leaders are open to [inaudible 00:24:35] asking questions.
Jen Psaki: (24:36)
I understand completely. It’s a private meeting. It wasn’t meant to be a bilateral meeting of discussion. They’ve known each other for some time. Go ahead.
Simon Ateba: (24:43)
Can I ask you a question from the back?
Thank you. On the issue of the formula-
Simon Ateba: (24:45)
Jan, can I ask you a question from the back?
Speaker 2: (24:45)
Simon, please stop.
Simon Ateba: (24:50)
I understand, but for 15 months, you have not [inaudible 00:24:52].
Simon, please show some respect to everyone else in the room. Thank you.
Simon Ateba: (24:53)
I’m saying that for the sake of [inaudible 00:24:55].
First of all, thank you for your service and thank your husband for his service as well. On the issue of formula, if anything, this crisis has reminded everyone-
Jen Psaki: (25:02)
Simon, if you could respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated. Go ahead, Mary.
Simon Ateba: (25:09)
[inaudible 00:25:09] question for 15 months. That’s what I’m asking you.
If anything, this…
Speaker 2: (25:11)
Simon Ateba: (25:12)
If you can spread the question from across the room and all of us at the back would be able to ask a question.
If anything, this is reminded I think the entire country and the world that this is not a luxury item, but an essential.
Speaker 4: (25:18)
Not today, not today. Not today.
Speaker 4: (25:19)
Formula’s not a luxury item. It is an essential. It is something that families across the country rely on. Is this such a valuable commodity that the president thinks that we need some kind of backstop, some ability to surge in the way that we do for other essential items, perhaps even some kind of stockpile?
Jen Psaki: (25:36)
Well, I would say there have been discussion and some members of Congress have raised questions say of the Defense Production Act. That would be something which is on the table. We’ve not made a decision about, but would help address issues over the long term. What we are doing here is we’re trying to ensure that states and others can plan over the long term as in the coming months.
Jen Psaki: (25:59)
But it is certainly a reminder that not only do we need to continue to work closely with manufacturers, continue to work closely with retailers and providers, but ensure that everybody knows what they can do to get access over the longer term. There’s not a discussion of a stockpile. What we need to do is ensure we are addressing any issues in the supply chain and addressing any issues with speeding up manufacturing.
You mentioned the Defense Production Act. Forgive me if I’m not understanding how this works, but how would that actually work? Because you say you’re exploring it, but it seems that the issue here is really not having enough manufacturing capacity. Is it really a matter of just looking for other sites that can produce this?
Jen Psaki: (26:41)
Well, that’s exactly right, Marion. The reason why it would have a longer term impact is because the production of baby formula is so specialized and so specific that you can’t just use the Defense Production Act to say to a company that produces something else produce baby formula. It just doesn’t work that way exactly. That is something that could be a consideration over the longer term.
Jen Psaki: (27:04)
Certainly, there are ways that the Defense Production Act has been used in other industries as it relates to a chemical that is needed or a specific tool or part that is needed. Right now, of course we’re keeping that option under consideration, but our focus primarily is twofold. One is increasing supply and the other is making it readily available.
Jen Psaki: (27:27)
Obviously, production is working with these manufacturers and also imports, making sure we’re making more baby formula available through imports and then making it readily available. The biggest step we can take is this WIC flexibility component, which obviously we took two steps, not just pushing states, but also working with Abbot to ensure they’re providing a rebate for longer term planning.
Just lastly, you said that the FDA is going to have more on easing imports and some of those steps next week, but does the president believe that parents should be allowed to buy formula directly from abroad?
Jen Psaki: (27:58)
Well, there have been difficult… There have been limitations on this because of course we have a very high level of FDA approval processes to ensure that we have the best formula that is safe for babies. Of course, whatever formula would be imported would meet those standards, but we think the best steps we can take is to work with Abbott and Abbott has a responsibility here too to work closely with the FDA in doing the steps that are necessary to get back and operational online.
Jen Psaki: (28:28)
We have a great deal of manufacturing capacity here in the United States. That’s less the issue. The issue is obviously this was a recall in February that as a reminder was done because there was a factory in Michigan that had tainted formula that killed two babies, but we have a range of manufacturing capacity here. This import step would be not forever or necessarily even long term. It’s just to address the current need. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (28:53)
Thank you, Jen. Thank you for your work here the last 16 months.
Jen Psaki: (28:56)
Speaker 5: (28:57)
You said yesterday that the United States would support Sweden and Finland’s application to NATO. Turkey is a current NATO member. The president of Turkey is saying that they would not… His country would not look positively on that. What is the US reaction to that and will the US intervene on the Nordic country’s behalf?
Jen Psaki: (29:14)
Yeah. We are working to clarify Turkey’s position. We would refer you to the Turkish government for more information on their views. I think there’s no question… You’ve seen this from the public statements of a number of NATO leaders… That there is broad support from NATO member countries in Finland and Sweden’s desire or interest, stated interest, in applying to join NATO. But we are continuing to work with Turkey and I would point you to their representatives.
Speaker 5: (29:41)
Also any White House reaction to Elon Musk saying today that his deal to buy Twitter is on hold while getting information on fake bot accounts?
Jen Psaki: (29:51)
Yes, I would say this is a transaction… A potential transaction I guess we can call it at this point… from a private investor. We don’t have any comment on private transactions. Our views, broadly speaking, on the role of social media platforms and the need for reforms certainly still stands, but right now it’s a reported view of a transaction of a private investor. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (30:15)
Thank you, Jen, for what I’m told is episode 224 of the briefing.
Jen Psaki: (30:19)
Yes. That is true.
Speaker 6: (30:21)
Thank you for doing this as you’ve done.
Jen Psaki: (30:24)
Has time gone as quickly for you?
Speaker 6: (30:27)
I haven’t been here for all the episodes.
Jen Psaki: (30:28)
That’s true. You’ve been here for a lot of them.
Speaker 3: (30:30)
A few things. Back to the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh, I’m curious, does the president himself plan to speak with her family? Given especially in part that she is an American citizen.
Jen Psaki: (30:41)
We have obviously reached out and engaged through national security officials with her family. I don’t have any cause to predict or preview at this point in time, but if that does happen, we will of course make that information available to all of you.
Speaker 3: (30:53)
Does the president of any plans to speak with the Israeli government directly about the death and the ongoing investigation?
Jen Psaki: (30:58)
Well, certainly, we have been engaged with them and have offered support and if they need specific support from us, we will provide that, but I don’t have any cause to predict at this point in time.
Speaker 3: (31:07)
Then two quick ones on immigration. There could be a ruling today in federal court on the future of Title 42.
Jen Psaki: (31:13)
Speaker 3: (31:14)
And whether or not it gets delayed beyond the May 23rd deadline. Can you give us a status report on ongoing preparations for the end of it should that deadline hold and how they might change if they get delayed by a court?
Jen Psaki: (31:27)
Well, the preparations have been ongoing led by the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Mayorkas. As we’ve talked about in the past, he has outlined a plan that he’s been preparing since last fall to ensure we’re increasing capacity at the border, that we are taking steps to ensure that we are prepared for the lifting of Title 42. Those are proceeding. Obviously, I’m not going to prejudge a court ruling that hasn’t quite happened yet and what it will mean or prejudge what the Department of Justice may do in response. I’m sure there’ll be more discussion about that if and when they rule today.
Speaker 3: (32:03)
You may remember last fall there were questions about court cases brought by families that were separated at the border. At the time the White House said if it saves taxpayer dollars and puts the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation behind us, the president is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation.
Speaker 3: (32:26)
CBS News review of court records published this week, however, finds that the Justice Department is actually seeking to dismiss all lawsuits filed by migrant families requesting compensation over the separations during the Trump years. Just curious how do the justice departments moves to dismiss those cases line up with what was said here last fall and the overall commitment to bringing justice to these people. Is the administration willing to return to the negotiating table to try and afford some kind of a settlement with them, since the president among others has called that policy criminal?
Jen Psaki: (32:56)
It was, and the president believes it was horrific and inhumane. Our statement made last fall stands. Now, these are negotiations and discussions being led by the Department of Justice. I don’t have any confirmation of that report. I’d certainly point you to them for the status of any discussions with the families. Go ahead.
Thanks Jen. Thank you for always taking my questions. Happy to catch your last briefing.
Jen Psaki: (33:19)
Of course Jackie.
Thank you from all of us. You must have some information on baby formula from these manufacturers, from the discussions that the president’s been having. The administration’s been saying that more formula’s been produced in the last four weeks than the four weeks preceding the recall and the shutdown. What is the best sense of a timeline for parents on how long this is going to be an issue and when in stock rates are going to get better?
Jen Psaki: (33:46)
There’s a couple of issues at play here, Jackie, and this is a really important question, but it’s hard for us to make an assessment from here. What we’re seeing is that the supply shortages can be regional and sometimes they can rotate. Sometimes the issue at play here is that bigger retailers have a more streamlined process for stocking the shelves than smaller retailers.
Jen Psaki: (34:08)
Now, a lot of people go to stores in their community to go buy baby formula. It may just be that there’s a bit of a delay in stocking some of those shelves. It is certainly a good sign and a positive sign that there has been this increased production from these other retailers. Our hope is also that because there’s going to be more flexibility with WIC and the ability of WIC recipients to purchase different kinds of formula and enabling many people who are maybe waiting for their states to make that decision…
Jen Psaki: (34:38)
Also that states will have this rebate opportunity, will provide the incentive to further provide flexibility, that will also help, and of course, imports. We’re working to not just address… We’ve been working to address for months, but we’re working to ensure that there is greater supply, consistent supply in the shelves as long as possible.
Jen Psaki: (34:58)
Now, what we know, and I know from feeding formula to two kids, is that typically you have one formula that you give your kid, right? The challenge here is also for parents when they’re reliant on one formula… And maybe their child has certain needs because they’re sensitive to dairy products or other products.
Jen Psaki: (35:16)
The other part of this that we’re trying to address is providing these resources so that if people of questions about what kind of formula they can take as an alternative… The ones that will be imported are not necessarily formulas that people know, but there maybe ones that are parallel to the formulas that people are taking or giving to their children. We are working on every lever here to expedite addressing this and to ensure that when people go, when mothers go to the grocery stores in the coming weeks that they will see the shelves stocked.
I did just go through the HHS website that you guys put out. One of the suggestions for emergency situations would be to call your pediatrician, see if they have in-store samples or in-office samples, or go to a local food pantry. Clearly you’ve outlined there’s going to be a range of sort of timelines depending on where you live in the country and where you shop.
But say for big box stores… I mean, the Walmarts and Giants and Krogers, can you give us sort of a ballpark window for just realistically how many weeks or months parents are going to be having trouble finding it or in-stock rates would start to improve?
Jen Psaki: (36:32)
Well, let me first say that the reason we suggest calling your pediatrician is because of this question I just touched on. When you’re feeding your child formula, typically they won’t recommend changing formula necessarily, but there are ways to do it. if your child has specific needs or is intolerant to certain ingredients, a pediatrician can help advise on that.
Jen Psaki: (36:52)
But obviously there are a lot of other resources through public health sites as well. I would say for the bigger retailers, some of whom the president spoke with yesterday, their number one biggest ask was the flexibility on WIC and their feeling was that would help them take steps, given the increased supply of these other manufacturers, to help stock the shelves more quickly.
You guys aren’t comfortable giving any sort of ballpark window of time basically?
Jen Psaki: (37:19)
As quickly as possible is our objective, Jackie, but it’s going to be different store to store.
Speaker 4: (37:23)
Okay. Then one more also on baby formula. It seems like when there’s a crisis, you often call in the FTC to look at price gouging. I recall this administration doing that with gas prices. I didn’t seem to really bring down gas prices and did not increase supply. How is it going to be different this time around with baby formula? How quickly are they going to be cracking down on people who are reporting? What are the ramifications? When are we going to see that play out?
Jen Psaki: (37:50)
Well, the FTC is an independent agency. By us calling for them to look at price gouging, they obviously haven’t taken a step on oil companies. Otherwise, you would be fully aware of it, but it is something that we can all watch even as non economists and-
Jen Psaki: (38:03)
… of it, but it is something that we can all watch even as non economists and even as non oil experts. When the price of oil goes down, the price of gas should go down, and that is not what we have seen consistently. I would say as it relates to baby formula, what we know is that we are certainly seeing and we have seen hoarding happen. We are looking for that to be looked into. We think that’s an issue where if there’s caps… This is something we have been working to institute… on the number of containers that can be purchased, that will help, but also we are taking every step we can to ensure that that is tracked and that can be addressed if needed in the pool of doing everything we can to address this. Go ahea.
Speaker 7: (38:45)
Thanks for your service, and thanks for delivering on your commitment to return the daily briefing. All of us in this room are grateful for that. I want to ask you, if I can, about crime that the president’s going to be addressing a little bit later. We had one of the mayors and one of the police chiefs here a short time ago. Beyond directing dollars, can you sort of detail the level of concern with this administration about bail reform right now and about some district attorneys being too lenient in their prosecution of criminals? I guess beyond that, what other points of leverage do you have to encourage stronger prosecution efforts or any efforts to change that?
Jen Psaki: (39:18)
Well, I would say first on bail reform, on the campaign trail, the president said that, “Cash bail has become the modern day debtor’s prison. No one should be held just because they are poor and a person who is dangerous, but has the money to pay bail shouldn’t have a get out of jail card.” That continues to be his view. What we see is there are a couple of big issues as it relates to crime. We’ve inherited from the previous administration the largest year-over-year jump in murders in record history in 2020. Our focus from here has been putting more cops on the beat. You heard the police chief talk about that through the American Rescue Plan, backed up by more federal agents to take violent crime off the streets, cracking down on firearm traffickers.
Jen Psaki: (40:01)
77% of violent crime in the last assessment of data we have is a result is with guns. To get illegal guns off of our streets and stemming the flow of ghost guns, something the president has taken a number of actions on and investing through the ARP and community programs to prevent crime by interrupting disputes before they spill into violence. I will note… And you heard the police chief just talk about this, but in cities like Detroit and Houston, who have both used Rescue Plan funds to invest in fighting crime, we’ve seen declines in certain categories.
Jen Psaki: (40:34)
Our view and the president’s view is if you fund and have more cops on the beat working with communities, that is going to help address this issue. I’d also note that as it relates to guns, which is a huge concern of ours since, last summer, we obviously initiated these, announced these DOJ-led strike forces. They’re an integral part of the president’s plan to keep our community safe. As I noted, 77% of homicides committed in 2020, the last year we have data, were done with a firearm. Since the launch last summer, the DOJ strike force has already seized 5,100.
Jen Psaki: (41:05)
One of the steps that can be taken is of course, to confirm Steve Dettelbach, a very qualified person, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Arms. The present has also called for an additional $30 billion in new funding in his 2023 budget to fight crime. That is a step that he is hopeful there will be bipartisan support for.
Speaker 7: (41:24)
A lot of questions in the room, so I’ll limit mine to two today. The other one is about ASEAN that’s here. What commitments has the president secured from the leaders of ASEAN to condemn Russia?
Jen Psaki: (41:33)
Well, there will be a communique that comes out later this evening. I know communiques are very exciting to everyone, but there will be interest.
Speaker 7: (41:42)
Talk about the unique challenge.
Jen Psaki: (41:43)
And certain in this one. Ukraine and Russia would not typically be a major topic of discussion at ASEAN, right? You all have covered them before, you’ve visited, you’ve traveled to cover ASEAN summits. It certainly will be a topic of discussion and was last night and will continue to be today. There will be a broad discussion of Ukraine and Russia. United States in these meetings will continue to lay out our approach to Russia’s unjustified and illegal war. We believe the ASEAN leaders are very interested to hear more about our approach, both where things stand and in terms of the next steps. We expect that the leader statement will also have a reference to Ukraine in it as well, but that is still being finalized in the coming hours. Go ahead.
Speaker 8: (42:25)
Will President Biden address the abortion rally tomorrow?
Jen Psaki: (42:29)
He has no plans to address the rally tomorrow.
Speaker 8: (42:31)
Separately, does he have any plans to meet with abortion advocates or rights advocates at the White House here?
Jen Psaki: (42:37)
We are very engaged with women’s rights advocates, abortion advocates, and other advocates, as well as members of Senate, members of the Senate and members of Congress. I would note that this is an issue that is much broader than abortion advocates. They are, of course, marching in the streets and having their voices heard and peacefully protesting. We respect the right to peacefully protest, but two thirds of the country does not want Roe to be overturned. This is an issue that we are engaged very broadly with across the spectrum about what steps we are considering, what steps we have the capacity to do and what we would do if the final opinion looks like the draft that was leaked last week.
Speaker 8: (43:15)
The families of Americans detained in Iran have appealed directly to the president for help in getting them out. They don’t seem to have much faith and or hope that the nuclear negotiations are going along fast. Is he receptive of that? Is there an effort ongoing to free those people?
Jen Psaki: (43:36)
There is an ongoing effort led by our negotiating team from the State Department to bring every American home who is detained or held in a country and wants to be, of course, home with their families. It has always been a separate channel than the Iran nuclear negotiation talks. It is not in the same channel, but certainly the president is committed to and will do everything possible to bring Americans home who were detained in Iran. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (44:00)
A question on Brittney Griner. Does the White House have a response on her detention being expanded?
Jen Psaki: (44:05)
Yeah, there was a report on that this morning. I would say first that while we don’t have a comment on this specific development, I would just reiterate that the Russian system wrongfully detained Ms. Griner. We take our responsibility to assist US citizens seriously, and we will continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for all US citizens when they’re subject to legal processes overseas. Now, because the State Department recategorized her as wrongfully detained, it means that our special presidential envoy for hostage affairs… It’s quite a title and a well deserved one… is going to be overseeing this case and leading the effort. Because it’s a deliberative process and we know from experience of bringing other Americans home, we’re just not going to detail what those efforts look like at this point in time.
Speaker 9: (44:57)
And last question. You said that the president won’t participate in any of the activities tomorrow. Will anyone from the administration take part in any of the protests tomorrow [crosstalk 00:45:06]?
Jen Psaki: (45:05)
Hearing as an official representative from the government? I will let you know if there’s someone that we have officially representing. I’m certain that people in their private time will participate and attend. Go ahead.
Speaker 10: (45:15)
As we sit here, there doesn’t look to be a lot of appetite right now for more COVID funding in Congress. There have been warnings of course from the White House about what that will mean. Are you able to say what the plan B is? If there is no funding, is there money in the couch cushions to order the stuff that you say you’re not going to be able to order or when… Maybe give us an update on when things will start running out in the coming months.
Jen Psaki: (45:37)
Sure. Well, I would say there is no plan B. While there is a limited amount of funding that we have to work with, it’s very limited. It will require us making tough choices about what remaining tests, treatments, and vaccines we can get. We are continuing to work the phones, hold briefings, make our case publicly, of course, as you noted. We are having bipartisan, bicameral discussions about why we need this funding, what the consequences will be if we do not have it.
Jen Psaki: (46:06)
Those are significant. I mean, obviously more Americans will die needlessly, which is the biggest heartbreaking issue. We’re going to exhaust our treatment supply. We’ll lose out to other countries on promising new treatments. This is one of the biggest components that is of concern to the president and all of us because, as you know, how we’ve approached this to date is we have ordered ahead so that we are first in line and we have the supply needed when there is a better booster or when there’s a better vaccine or a vaccine that will treat specific variants.
Jen Psaki: (46:35)
We are putting ourselves essentially at the back of the line without this funding. Yesterday, we hosted a global summit. We requested five billion dollars for funding to help continue to be the arsenal of vaccines in the world. We will no longer be able to provide that funding. We also will be unable to maintain our supply of COVID tests, and we will be unable to ensure that there will be an ongoing supply of free treatments for families across the country.
Speaker 10: (47:06)
Is it possible you will cut short previous orders to either… Either because you can’t pay for them or because you want to reallocate the money.
Jen Psaki: (47:12)
We will have to end programs, and some of that will feel abrupt.
Speaker 10: (47:17)
Can I pivot and ask a little bit about… We’ve got the baby formula challenge right now. Everyone’s 401ks are not looking hot at the moment. Maybe I’m speaking for myself. Consumer sentiment today hit a fresh low since 2011, at its lowest point since then. Inflation of course is high. Gas prices are surging again. There’s a sense right now that there’s a lot of challenges in the economy in the US. What do you say to voters who are frustrated by that? In particular, those who voted for this president because he sort of promised to be a sort of capable steward in contrast to the previous presidency. That was sort of the pitch that he made to voters.
Jen Psaki: (48:00)
Well, I think first we would say to families, we understand there are challenges you’re dealing with every day. Costs are too high. It is too expensive to fill up your gas tank. Food is too expensive at the store. Our focus right now is on taking every step possible to address those issues. We know that the president… That the big driver of this was the pandemic and the impact on supply chains and then the uptick in the pandemic with Delta last summer. Then we had an additional challenge… You’ve noted some of these, but with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which drove up energy prices. That is the biggest driver of inflationary costs at this point in time.
Jen Psaki: (48:40)
Now, we saw a downtick a bit earlier this week, but what we would also say to families is, one, we are at record economic growth. The unemployment rate is 3.6%. We’re seeing encouraging business investment. Those are all good signs. What our focus is on is doing everything we can to lower costs. That includes a range of steps the president has taken just over the last couple of weeks, making sure we’re lowering the price of high-speed internet, giving farmers the tools and resources they need to boost production.
Jen Psaki: (49:11)
He led the release of a million barrels of oil through the strategic petroleum reserve, issued a waiver for E15 gasoline, so thousands of gas stations in the Midwest could have an additional 10 cents cheaper option at the pump. Fix the family glitch. He is mindful and focused on doing everything he can to give people breathing room and lower costs. What we’d say to Americans also is look at the alternative. We all acknowledge inflation and cost is a challenging issue. What is the Republicans… What are they presenting as the option?
Speaker 10: (49:42)
Is he frustrated by this? I mean, he likes to say the buck stops with him. Things aren’t working. Is he frustrated with the circumstance? Is he frustrated with his team? Is he frustrated he hasn’t been able to get them under control.
Jen Psaki: (49:53)
I would say when you’ve served, as the president has, as vice president for eight years, you’re pretty clear eyed about the fact that leading the country means that the buck stops with you and that every challenge we face is on your desk. He’s very aware of that. Go ahead.
Speaker 11: (50:09)
You’ve said that some states have not done this WIC waiver. Which ones?
Jen Psaki: (50:14)
I can see if we can get you a rundown. That was not meant to be a naming and shaming. There are some states that just didn’t take that step when the recall happened, and we encouraged them to do that in February. Today is an opportunity for the Secretary of Agriculture to say, “Now’s the time to do this. If you want to make sure that people in your state who benefit from WIC are getting helped, this is the way to do it.”
Speaker 11: (50:36)
Okay. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, she tweeted something I will read to you, but several other Republican politicians have also gone along this line. She says, “Joe Biden continues to put America last by shipping pallets of baby formula to the Southern border as American families face empty shelves.” She says this is unacceptable. Do you have a response to that?
Jen Psaki: (50:57)
Well, we do like facts here. Let me just give you a little sense of the facts on this one. There’s something called the Flores Settlement, which she may or may not be aware of, that’s been in place since 1997. It requires adequate food and elsewhere specifies age appropriateness, hence formula for kids under the age of one. CBP is following the law, that law that has been in place and been followed, by the way, by every administration since 1997. This has been a law in the United States for a quarter century. It’s been followed by every administration, but I would also note that we also think it’s morally the right thing to do. This is a difference from the last administration. It is the law, but we believe that when children and babies… Or babies I should say… are crossing the border with a family member, that providing them formula is morally right. We certainly support the implementation of it.
Speaker 11: (51:53)
Just one last question. The governors of Colorado and Massachusetts have sent a letter to the president urging him to urge the FDA to hurry up and consider Moderna’s application for a vaccine for children under the age of five. Would the president do such a thing? Does the administration have any view on the apparent delay in consideration of that vaccine?
Jen Psaki: (52:14)
I would say the parents in here have a view and we all are very eager to bring our children and get them vaccinated who are under the age of five, but science… This is the president’s view most importantly… moves at the pace of science. The FDA is the gold standard for a reason. We want to ensure that when those vaccines are available, when we are taking our kids, bribing them if needed, to get their shots, that it is safe and we know it’s safe. Go ahead.
Speaker 11: (52:38)
Jen Psaki: (52:39)
I’ll come back. I’m sorry about that. I’ll come back to you. Go ahead.
Speaker 12: (52:41)
As you know, the anniversary of George Floyd’s killing is a little over a week away. As a candidate, President Biden embraced some of the messages about police reform. Later he even promised George Floyd’s family that he would get something done on the issue, but now police reform has failed in Congress. There’s no executive order. Today, he’s basically asking cities to pump money into police departments. What is the administration’s message for people who had hoped the Biden administration would actually significantly reform policing?
Jen Psaki: (53:07)
Well, first, I would say he’s actively considering a police reform executive order and has every intention of doing that. It just takes some time. I understand that since it was a version of it came out into the public, which happens, back in January, it feels like a long time, but these take a long time. There’s a legal review, a policy review, and he has every intention of doing that. We actually paused because there was bipartisan negotiations happening. Obviously, that was always the preference because that would make it more permanent.
Jen Psaki: (53:33)
I would say that it’s not just about pumping funding into police departments. It’s about ensuring that there are enough cops on the beat to crack down on violent crime, to crack down on illegal guns that are the cause of 77% of crimes across the country. What he’s also done and the Department of Justice has also done is implemented federal steps like bans on choke holds and other steps that the president would certainly like to see implemented across the country and a part of federal law.
Jen Psaki: (54:01)
He is going to continue to support the funding of police. He hopes Republicans will join him in supporting his budget. Now, they did not support the 10 billion he announced today because they voted against the American Rescue Plan, but he also supports accountability and a police reform executive order will be a part of that.
Speaker 11: (54:18)
Pivoting briefly, what advice do you have for Karine as she prepares to step into your role?
That you can say in public.
Jen Psaki: (54:27)
I can say… We’re very transparent here, Brian. Some of the lessons I’ve learned that I would tell anyone, including Karine… Obviously we’ve had many discussions about this… would be, one, the most important job that you have in this role, I think… Tied with another one, but I’ll get to the point… is to project, convey the positions, the policies, the views of the President of the United States. Every opportunity you have to speak with him, to engage with him, to ask him questions…. Often times I will tell you, there are questions that you all have asked me in the briefing room or otherwise. It will make you better equipped and even more effective because our job is to speak on his behalf.
Jen Psaki: (55:08)
The second thing I would say… In my heart, I’m a bit of a policy nerd, but I would tell this to anyone… is that the more you know about policy issues and the more you can go in depth on it and spend time digging, pushing, and questioning the policy teams, the better able you will be to answer tough questions, to answer the 12th question and hopefully provide information to the public. The last thing I would say is that it can be repetitive in here from time to time. That’s not a critique. You are all doing your jobs, but in the age of social media, always provide the context and all the details because you never want to be a meme with one line. That would be my treat, but otherwise be yourself. Karine, as I said last week, is going to bring her own magic, her brilliance, her style to this briefing room. Always for anyone who comes after me or Karine, it’s to continue to make it better and do better for the president and the American people.
Speaker 13: (56:05)
Jen Psaki: (56:05)
Speaker 13: (56:06)
… expect that under Karine there will still be daily briefings?
Jen Psaki: (56:10)
I will let her speak to that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:11)
Jen Psaki: (56:11)
But yes, that is the plan. Go ahead.
Speaker 14: (56:15)
Thank you. Thank you, Jen. The 10 billion that’s being announced today, where does the president and the White House kind… Does the president see that as something to celebrate? When I look at the original pool and I realize it’s an initial tranche of 350 billion… I know there’s different kind of competing priorities here. I’m wondering if the White House sees today as sort of another call to action to states to spend even more on police departments.
Jen Psaki: (56:40)
That’s part of it.
Speaker 14: (56:41)
Or is this kind of saying is he impressed by that they’ve already spent all this money?
Jen Psaki: (56:46)
Well, I would say part of it is he thinks that it’s important that it has been spent and he has seen… We have seen the impact of it in some states that I mentioned, Detroit and Houston for example, but part of it is also about the need to spend more. We know 245 billion is what’s been spent-
Jen Psaki: (57:03)
Spend more. We know $245 billion is what’s been spent to date, there is more funding left from the American Rescue Plan package. Certainly, he thinks keeping community safe, making sure police departments have the resources they need, is an important way to spend the money.
Speaker 15: (57:15)
I just have a quick clarification on the DPA, too.
Jen Psaki: (57:18)
Speaker 15: (57:18)
You said the administration’s considering the DPA to ramp up manufacturing.
Jen Psaki: (57:22)
It’s one of the options under consideration, sure.
Speaker 15: (57:24)
I think there’s two titles under DPA. One would prioritize contracts, and say, “Companies, you need to develop this.” Another would allow the federal government to distribute loans, to distribute actual money to companies, so that they can ramp up manufacturing. Is the administration considering that title of DPA, to actually give money?
Jen Psaki: (57:42)
There’s also options beyond that, about the use of specific…there’s a range of ways you can use DPA. I don’t have specifics about how it might be used. I would say that we are already working, and we have been working with manufacturers, to increase production. That is already effectively happening. The challenge, which I mentioned before with baby formula, is that it’s complex, and you can’t just say to a manufacturing facility that makes cereal, “You need to make baby formula now.” It’s a bit challenging, and different in that regard. But, it is an option. There are a range of utilities and ways you can use it, and it remains under consideration.
Speaker 15: (58:19)
You said it’s already happening? Title three is already happening?
Jen Psaki: (58:21)
No, we’re already working with manufacturers to increase production. That’s one of the aspects, or one of the ways to use DPA. But, we’re already doing that effectively. That was the point I was making. Go ahead.
Speaker 16: (58:33)
Hey Jen, thank you. The FDA commissioner, a little while ago, said that he intends to announce plans next week to help streamline the import of baby formula into the U.S. Is there anything you can preview for us on that front, and maybe explain some of the hurdles that currently exist, that this process would be fixing?
Jen Psaki: (58:51)
Sure. Right now, every kind of baby formula that’s made in other countries is not allowed to be imported here, necessarily. It’s cutting red tape, and easing those restrictions. Now, as I noted a little bit earlier, what that may mean is that, when moms go to the grocery store, they may see a form of baby formula that they have not seen before. They may have questions about what that is, and, “Can I feed it to my baby?” That’s why we have a range of resources and hotlines that people can call, to get those questions answered. Overall, what it’s trying to do is provide more supply, so that there can be a range of options, and a range of supply on shelves, so that mothers don’t have to fear not being able to have formula to feed their children.
Speaker 15: (59:34)
I know you said that the administration has been on top of this issue since this issue emerged with the Abbott plant back in February, and you’ve been working on this issue since then. Can you explain why something like this, in terms of streamlining the import of products, wasn’t done sooner, wasn’t done before parents arrived at the supermarket to find empty shelves?
Jen Psaki: (59:52)
We believe that part of what’s happening right now is that, there was supply that a lot of the larger retailers had, and it was six to eight weeks where they had that supply, and they haven’t been able to restock it quickly enough. We would not be where we are with Gerber increasing production by 50%, or Ricketts increasing production by 30%, had we not been working on this from the beginning. I would note that, what the retailer said yesterday they need the most is this flexibility on WIC, because that’s where they see the challenges coming up. That is actually something we did the day after, and something that we’re continuing to push states to do.
Speaker 15: (01:00:28)
Is there more you think you could have done sooner?
Jen Psaki: (01:00:31)
Hindsight is always 2020, but I would say that what’s important to note, as much as this wasn’t being reported on, because people were not seeing shortages at the stores as much, there was an announced recall back in February. There were steps we have been taking every single day since then, with the FDA in the lead, to help address any potential shortage.
Speaker 16: (01:00:51)
Lastly, just a quick follow up on your comments about the images we saw in Israel today. You called these images, “Deeply disturbing,” of Israeli police beating mourners who were carrying this casket. You said, “We regret the intrusion.” Do you condemn these actions by Israeli forces? Do you believe that they had any justification for actually beating these mourners and these pallbearers, as we saw in these images?
Jen Psaki: (01:01:15)
I think when we said they were disturbing, obviously, we’re not justifying them, but I think I will leave my comments at what I said. Go ahead.
Speaker 17: (01:01:22)
Thank you Jen. I wanted to ask two quick policy questions here. On the house floor earlier today, the Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “It is unfortunate that, in a time of war, that we spend all the time blaming our own president.” Just a clarification, it’s not the White House’s belief that we’re at war, or we’re engaged in any kind of conflict?
Jen Psaki: (01:01:44)
I did not see the full context of his comments, what I’m betting he was referring to was the war happening in Ukraine with Russia, that, obviously, the U.S., has a stake in, given the amount of military, humanitarian, and economic assistance we’ve provided. As I’ve said before, of course the Ukrainians deserve the greatest accolades for their bravery, and their courage. But, the American people also deserve a lot of gratitude for their sacrifices, and their support of this war.
Speaker 17: (01:02:11)
One more. The president supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, which did not pass in the Senate. Of course, that would codify Roe, but it would also go beyond that. Some opponents, like Senator Susan Collins, have pointed out that by codifying a federal right to abortion, the bill would necessarily strike down some state laws restricting certain procedures, for instance, banning sex-selective abortions, and laws that require parental notifications for minors seeking an abortion. Should we read into the president’s support of that legislation that he also supports overturning state laws that would ban sex-selective abortions, or require parental notifications?
Jen Psaki: (01:02:49)
The president believes in codifying Roe, and there are a range of ways to do that.
Speaker 17: (01:02:53)
That’s not an answer to the specific policy question. Where is the president on these specific restrictions? No one here doubts the president supports Roe V. Wade, and codifying it. But, there’s allegations that this proposed bill goes farther. Where does he stand on that specifically?
Jen Psaki: (01:03:07)
The bill failed. The president supports the bill. Go ahead.
Speaker 18: (01:03:10)
Thank you Jen.
Speaker 19: (01:03:11)
Jen, thank you.
Jen Psaki: (01:03:12)
Oh, go ahead Nadia, and then I’ll go to you, Ed. Ladies first.
Thank you Jen, and thank you for your service, and good luck with your new adventure.
Jen Psaki: (01:03:20)
I have a question, and a follow-up. The question, the Russian ambassador to be announced today that, under different circumstances, Russia probably could have provided it’s good offices to the two sides, but not now, referring to the Iran talks. The EU foreign policy chief said that there is enough positivity for the talks to resume. Do you believe that Russia is an obstacle to going back to the deal, and do you think that there is actually a chance that we can go back to it?
Jen Psaki: (01:03:51)
I would say that, our view on the deal is that Iran needs to decide whether it’s going to continue to insist on extraneous conditions, and whether it wants to conclude a deal, or not. We believe that concluding a deal would serve all sides interests. While we have certainly condemned the actions of Russia in Ukraine, and the actions of a war criminal in invading Ukraine, the biggest obstacle to an Iran deal moving forward is Iran.
And, I want to follow up with what [inaudible 01:04:26] mentioned, about the shooting of Abu Aqleh. And, I want to emphasize, she is an American citizen.
Jen Psaki: (01:04:28)
When American journalists are killed in Ukraine, nobody waits for an investigation. They pinpoint their hands to the Russians. Why Israel get away with this? Why not calling for an independent inquiry, since Palestinians do not believe that Israel is capable of investigating itself. This journalist was fully covered in the vest, in the helmet, yet, she was targeted under the ear. That means it’s a professional job, by a sniper, and many people believe that it was an Israeli soldier who shot her.
Jen Psaki: (01:05:02)
As we understand it, there are investigations by both sides. We’ve offered our assistance to the Israelis, to the Palestinians, and we are prepared to provide that, should they want it.
Speaker 20: (01:05:12)
Thanks Jen, two questions. One: do you have a comment on the Texas Supreme court ruling allowing state officials to conduct abusive investigations to parents of transgender kids?
Jen Psaki: (01:05:26)
I’ve not looked into the specific court case, but I would tell you that any efforts to discriminate against, to bully, to put transgender kids at risk, would be something we would oppose. But, I have to check out more about the specific court case.
Speaker 20: (01:05:43)
On the Summit of the Americas, you’ve mentioned a couple of times that invitations have not gone out yet.
Jen Psaki: (01:05:49)
Speaker 20: (01:05:50)
It is assumed that the president of Mexico and president of Brazil are invited. You recognize Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. Why is it not assumed he’s getting invited? Why the mystery?
Jen Psaki: (01:06:05)
There are a range of conversations going about the final invitation lists, I just don’t have a final conclusion on those. And, as soon as we do, we will make those information available to all of you.
Speaker 20: (01:06:16)
And, just to bookend our time at the State Department, I wanted to ask you about Israel, a broader question on how the president seems to be the first in the modern era not to put quite an emphasis on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has not appointed a special envoy for the conflict, he has assigned the portfolio to the top administration official. What should we read into that? What priority is it of his, especially as we see these images coming out of Jerusalem today, to personally get involved in dialogue?
Jen Psaki: (01:06:56)
I would say, first, as it’s always been the case, any envoy would be working out of the State Department. It was the case when I was at the State Department, and we knew each other there. Certainly, you’ve seen the Secretary of State, and also the president, talk for decades about the need for a two state solution, how that is the only viable way to end an ongoing conflict in the region, and I would certainly say that remains his view, remains his policy. But, I would point you the State Department for any updates on negotiations or on engagement. Go ahead.
Speaker 21: (01:07:26)
I have a follow-up on Brittany Griner. Does the president have plans to meet with Brittany Griner’s family, like he met with Trevor Reed’s family?
Jen Psaki: (01:07:35)
We are in touch with her family, but I don’t have any planned meetings to preview for you, at this point in time.
Speaker 21: (01:07:42)
And, I have a follow-up on Title 42. Sure. I know a judge’s ruling hasn’t been made yet, but if he does rule to continue to temporarily delay Title 42 from being lifted, does the Biden Administration plan to appeal that?
Jen Psaki: (01:07:58)
That would be an announcement made by the Department of Justice.
Speaker 21: (01:08:01)
One more question, just regarding that. It seems that the Biden Administration has been challenged by the court several times on immigration efforts that they’ve tried to overturn from the previous administration. What concerns does the administration have that this will continue, as immigration is pretty much a pretty big policy, that the Biden Administration and President Biden himself has said that he would try to overturn some of these policies that were implemented under the previous administration. How does the president feel about some of these roadblocks that the administration keeps hitting, with judges and the courts not allowing, or further delays?
Jen Psaki: (01:08:50)
I would say the biggest roadblock is the fact that the president put forward an immigration bill in his first day in office, and we haven’t been able to move it forward. There have been efforts to move it forward through the Senate, through the reconciliation process. There have been efforts to try to engage, in a way…we’re very open to engaging, have been very open to engaging, in a bipartisan way. There are aspects of his proposal, many aspects, that should not be controversial at all. The effort to invest in smarter security, to fix our broken asylum processing system. Those are our biggest obstacles. What is deeply unfortunate is that, the need to implement immigration reform, to fix a very broken and outdated system, has become so political that there’s an unwillingness to engage, from the other side, on what solutions should be, where we can work together. It wasn’t that long ago when there were bipartisan bills that were being discussed, and even almost passing. Go ahead Ed.
I want to build on Josh’s question here. CPI inflation is 8.3%. We know it’s hard to get baby formula. Gas and diesel fuel is now at record prices again today, house staffers are getting free Peloton memberships. A Monmouth poll says-
Jen Psaki: (01:10:00)
Wow, there’s a lot packed into that list there, you have. I don’t know how it’s related. It’s a potpourri.
Yeah, it is a potpourri. It’s a wider view. A Monmouth poll shows that 79% of Americans believe the country’s going in the wrong direction. My question is, is the president, as the head of the country, as the head of the Democratic Party, out of touch, economically, with Americans?
Jen Psaki: (01:10:20)
There was a lot packed in there, and I’m not entirely sure of the root of your question, but I will do my best. I would say, first, the president’s top priority, and you heard him say this the other day, is addressing costs, and addressing inflation for the American people. He laid out a specific plan to do exactly that. He has taken a number of steps that to do exactly that, including lowering the cost of the internet, ensuring we’re taking every step we can to bring down the cost of gas, taking steps to ease the supply chain, something he’s been working on from his first day in office. He has proposed, and advocated for, and continued to fight for a reconciliation package that will lower significant costs for the American people.
Jen Psaki: (01:11:01)
I would say the contrast here is what the other side is offering, which, as you’ve heard me say many times, but it’s worth repeating, is a plan by Chairman Scott that would raise costs on 175 million Americans who make less than $100,000. I would say, for the American people, what they can know and understand is, we all agree inflation is an issue. We all agree costs are too high. The question is, who has a plan to address it?
On gas specifically, the Interior Secretary testified before the House Appropriations committee that there was no plan to go forward with a five year plan for oil drilling in the Gulf. They need that plan in order to open up leases down the road for that. We saw the Department of Interior cancel a lease sale. Are there signals to bring down gas prices?
Jen Psaki: (01:11:45)
We know the Department of Interior made quite clear that they canceled the Cook Inlet project because there was a lack of industry interest. That’s not actually the issue. The issue, if we take a step back, is that leasing and production offshore is a lengthier process, taking up to 10 years. Of the more than 10.9 million offshore acres currently under lease, industry is not producing on 8.26 million acres. That’s 75% that is non-producing. Of the 24.9 million onshore acres under lease, industry is not producing on 12.3 million. That’s almost 50%. And, there are almost 9,000 onshore permits. The issue is not permits. There are plenty of places for oil companies to drill on. There’re not. That is the issue. Go ahead.
Thank you Jen.
Jen Psaki: (01:12:31)
Okay. Go ahead Patsy.
Thank you Jen. Thank you for your service, and good luck for your next career.
Jen Psaki: (01:12:36)
I have two questions on the U.S.-ASEAN summit. As I understand, there are no bilaterals scheduled with the president, but he did have quick private time, as we were told, with each of the leaders. I have two questions on that. Did the president use the opportunity for his private time to press Indonesian president Joko Widodo to dis-invite President Putin from the G-20 Summit, as number one. Number two, which leader did he specifically press on human rights, if any?
Jen Psaki: (01:13:04)
The president never holds back in raising human rights issues. I don’t know how long these brief pull asides were. I don’t know the range of topics that were discussed. Certainly, his publicly stated position is that it should not be business usual at the G-20, which is six months away, and that he believes that President Putin should not be a part of that.
A follow-up on the human rights though, Jen. There’s a lot of criticism coming from human rights activists that the White House hasn’t been strong enough in terms of condemning some of the human rights concerns in the Southeast Asian countries. You’ve given out statements on the initiatives, you’ve given out statements on maritime security, in terms of regional security, maritime cooperation, but nothing, so far, on human rights. How does the administration-
Jen Psaki: (01:13:48)
I stated very clearly the other day, on Cambodia, that we had past concerns about human rights. We have made those clear, and we never hesitate to raise concerns about human rights, when warranted.
Speaker 22: (01:14:00)
Thank you Jen.
Jen Psaki: (01:14:03)
Thank you everyone.