Oct 25, 2022

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 10/24/22 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 10/24/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 10/24/22 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 10/24/22. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:00):

Hi, hi, hi. Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Monday. Okay. This morning, another shooting, another school shooting, this time in St. Louis, Missouri, has reportedly left at least three people dead, including the shooting suspect, and injured several others. Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by today’s senseless violence, particularly those injured and killed, their families, as well as the first respondents. In the wake of Newtown, Parkland, Buffalo, Uvalde, and countless other shootings in communities across the country, we need additional action to stop the scourge of gun violence. Every day that the senate fails to send assault weapons ban to the President’s desks, or waits to take other commonsense actions, is a day too late for families and communities impacted by gun violence.

Today in South Africa, African union-led talks kicked off to address the conflict in Northern Ethiopia. We commend South Africa for hosting the talks and stand ready to support African Union high representative, Obasanjo, and AU panel members, former South African deputy, [inaudible 00:01:27], and former Kenyan president, Kenyatta, in facilitating an agreement. As President Biden told the UN General Assembly last month, a peace process is needed to end the fighting at Ethiopia and restore security for all its people. United States has been intensely involved diplomatically in supporting the launch of this mediation effort. Our Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Ambassador, Mike Hammer, has been in the region the past several weeks and will be participating as well.

After nearly two years of conflict, the crisis in Northern Ethiopia is one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. With humanitarian access largely blocked since August, emergency nutrition and health supplies have completely run out in many areas. Severely malnourished populations, particularly children under five, will start dying at alarming rates without immediate additional supplies. There is no military solution to this conflict. We call on the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan authorities to engage seriously in the AU-led talks to achieve an immediate [inaudible 00:02:44] of hostilities, unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Ethiopians in need, prevention of further human rights abuses and atrocities, and Eritrea’s withdrawal from Northern Ethiopia.

The United States urges the parties to resolve their differences through dialogue and prevent further human rights abuses. And, as we have made clear directly to the relevant parties in recent days, those who commit atrocities will be held accountable.

Now, with respect to the news from the United Kingdom today, as you all know, it’s protocol for the President to wait until after an incoming British prime minister has met with the monarch and been invited to form a new government to offer his congratulations, but President Biden looks forward to speaking with Minister Sunak in the upcoming days and into our continued close cooperation with United Kingdom.

I wanted to also give a quick update on the work the President is doing to lower prices and give hardworking Americans a bit more breathing room. The Biden Administration is continuing to charge full speed ahead in implementing the student debt relief plan in compliance with the Eighth Circuit’s order. As I said on Friday, the temporary order does not prevent, does not prevent, borrowers from applying for student loan relief at studentaid.gov. Again, that’s studentaid.gov. The order also does not reverse the lower court’s dismissal of the case, or suggest that the case has any merit at all. It merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court makes a decision.

The Department of Education will continue reviewing applications and preparing them for transmission to loan services. As of Friday, 22 million student borrowers have already applied for this game-changing relief. The President’s message to borrowers is to apply for student debt relief, again, at studentaid.gov if they haven’t already. He will continue to fight efforts by Republican officials to block relief from getting to middle-class families.

We have also seen continued progress bringing down prices at the pump. Gas prices are declining for a third week, with prices coming down in every state across the country. Nationally, prices are down by a dollar and 22 cents per gallon since their June peak. That is saving American families with two cars about 130 bucks a month on average. According to an industry analyst, the most common price at gas stations across the country is now 3.49 per gallon.

Some states that saw increases in recent weeks are now experiencing steep declines. For instance, the price of gas fell by 31 cents in California over the past week. In Oregon and Washington, it has come down by about a quarter per gallon. Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan have also seen prices drop by 13 to 15 cents per gallon over this past week alone. The President will continue to do everything he can to lower prices.

At the same time, energy companies, who are taking in these record profits, as you all know, also need to pass on their lower cost to consumers at the pump, and that is something that the President’s going to continue to call on.

Finally, we wish a happy Diwali to the millions of Americans who celebrate. This evening, the President and the First Lady will host a Diwali reception at the White House. They will be joined by the Vice President, who is, of course, the first ever South Asian American vice president in history. The President is looking forward to celebrating this festival of lights here at the White House along with millions of Americans who observe this sacred holiday and who have made it an important part of American culture. With that, Coleen, want to take the first question?

Speaker 1 (06:48):

Thanks, Karine. So, you mentioned the St. Louis shooting, and the President just a little while ago was talking about how he’d like to pass an assault weapons ban. What’s the way forward if the Democrats don’t control the House?

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:06):

Well, let’s not forget the President was about to do something just this past couple of months that hadn’t been done in 30 years, which is passing a bipartisan bill on getting to that next step of dealing with gun violence. So, that is something, because of the President’s leadership, that he was able to do. And so, he’s going to continue to work on that. [inaudible 00:07:27] 30 years ago, he was one of the leaders to ban assault weapons, so he knows what it means to get it done. He knows the work that needs to get that done as well.

But, look, I think this is part of… You ask us all the time, every time you ask me here at the podium, “What is the President’s message to Americans?” His message to Americans is there’s a choice. There is going to be a choice that Americans are going to have to make, without me getting into elections or getting into politics from here. But it’s very clear. If you think about what democrats want to do, if you think about what congressional democrats in this present have already done, lower costs. If you think about what we’re doing with our economic policies, creating jobs, making an economy that doesn’t lead anybody behind but builds it from the bottom up and the middle out, that is so incredibly important. What congressional republicans want to do is take that all away.

But, there’s also, how do we look at the future? How do we look at the things that we want to continue to do? And that’s one of them, right? Banning assault weapons. How do we look at how we’re going to protect women’s health, right? Women’s right to choose. That is making sure we codify Roe. What congressional republicans want to do is they want to go ahead and codify Dobbs. They want to make that a national ban. They want to make abortion a national ban, which means that it doesn’t matter if you’re in red or blue state, that right is going to be taken away from you.

Speaker 1 (09:00):

One other question. How concerned is the Administration about security around elections this upcoming cycle?

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:08):

That’s a very good question, and that is something that clearly we’re monitoring very closely. Just a couple of things that we want to share with all of you on this, is that the Federal Government is committed to working with our state and local partners to ensure the security of our election system from voter registration, all the way to vote tabulation. Recently, FBI and CISA issued a joint PSA focusing on America’s election security and preparedness. They assess that any attempts by cyber actors to compromise election infrastructure are unlikely to result in large-scale disruptions or prevent voting.

As of the date of October 4th, the FBI and CISA had no reporting to cyber activity has ever prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot, compromised the integrity of any ballot cast, or effected the accuracy of voter registration information. Any attempts tracked by FBI have remained localized and were blocked or successfully mitigated with minimal or no disruption to election process. That said, we’ll continue, as I said, monitor any threats to our elections if they arise, and work as a cohesive, coherent inter-agency to get relevant information to the election officials and workers on the ground. Okay.

Speaker 2 (10:34):

Thank you. You just mentioned that 22 million people have applied to have their student loans forgiven. They are expecting to have some or all of their debt cleared. You called it game-changing. How confident is the White House in your authority to actually clear this debt? And, do you have any concern that you may be giving millions of Americans false hope?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:52):

Look, the President was very clear that what he was trying to do. He was trying to make sure that we gave middle-class Americans who are feeling a tight squeeze, especially coming out of dealing with this pandemic, an opportunity to be able to take away the student debt that really holds people down, if you think about, in order to start a family, in order to put money down on a house. And so, the President’s going to do everything that he can to make sure that we get this done. Again, I mentioned 22 million people have signed up, but this could help up to 40 million people. This is what this can do. Give almost 40 million people an opportunity. 90% of them make less than $75,000. That is a big deal. That is a game-changer. So, we’re going to continue to work and make sure that people continue to apply. I’ll leave the legal process over to our counsel’s office and the DOJ actually. But again, it’s not going to stop our message. We know that there are opponents out there who don’t want us to help middle-class Americans, but it’s not going to stop us.

Speaker 2 (12:03):

This legal fight could drag out for some time, is there any chance that the President is considering extending the pause on federal student loan payments which are said to expire in January? Or is that off the table?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:16):

I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. We have to let the process play out and see where the process goes, so we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves from here. It is a temporary-

Speaker 2 (12:26):

[inaudible 00:12:27]

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:26):

… order, right? So just want to make sure. Don’t want to get ahead of any of this. It does not reverse the fact that the court dismissed the case, let’s not forget that, or suggest that the case has any merit at all. As I was saying at the top of the briefing, we’ll continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations and compliance with this order, of course. And, we’ll continue to urge borrowers to apply at studentaid.gov. [inaudible 00:12:52] we’re not going to get ahead of it. It’s a temporary order, and so we’re just going to let the process play out.

Speaker 2 (12:57):

Is that even on the table, considering extending it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:59):

I don’t have anything to announce if anything’s on the table on extending the pause. What I can say it’s-

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:00):

… to announce if anything’s on the table on extending the pause. What I can say, it’s a temporary order and we are going to do everything that we can to continue to do our outreach and make sure that people apply. But again, it’s a temporary order, it doesn’t suggest that it has any merit. And so again, we’re just going to continue moving speech straight ahead. [inaudible 00:13:24].

Speaker 3 (13:23):

Karine, over the weekend the Chinese president won a third term, what does this mean for US/Chinese relations? And will they meet at the G20 Bali?

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:32):

So I don’t have any, to take your first question last, your last question first, sorry, I don’t have any meetings or anything to preview to you at this time with the president or the President of China. But as we have said many times, we’re not going to comment on internal party politics of the PRC. President Biden and our administration are focus on responsibly managing our competition with China while cooperating on areas where our and the world’s interest align, which is important to us, from climate change to health security. We continue our efforts to keep lines of communication open, including at the leader level as we have. We’ve had about five calls with President Xi, as we have announced to all of you in the past 20 months. As you’ve seen, President Biden has spoken to Xi, again, as I’ve said, several times. And we believe it is important to keep those conversations ongoing and we will continue to do that. As far as a meeting at the G20, I don’t have anything to share at this time.

Speaker 3 (14:34):

And just to follow up, today, the US Justice Department says four Chinese nationals, including three intelligence officials, are charged in a spy recruitment campaign. Is there any reaction from the White House to this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:46):

Again, DOJ has a standard process, as I’ve mentioned many times, for notification of law enforcement actions. And I can check to see if there’s anything else that we can share for you at this moment with this with their announcement today, just moments ago, I would refer you to the Department of DOJ.

Speaker 4 (15:04):

Thanks, Karine. The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress are in, and they show serious setbacks in math and reading for fourth and eighth graders. The government mobilized a whole of government effort including legislations to respond to the economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic, are there any plans to mount a similarly widespread, wide ranging and comprehensive effort to respond to the educational consequences of this pandemic?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:31):

So as you all know, from when the president walked into this administration, it was a top priority for him to safely reopen schools, and he did that, especially for our kids across the country, millions of kids. And let’s not forget, when he walked into this administration, the COVID response was incredibly mismanaged by the former administration. And he understood just because it was mismanaged, that action could not come at the expense of our children. So he said he’d get to work and the first step was reopening schools, which he did. It was about 46% of schools were open, and in short period of time, we were able to open schools fully in just a few months after the president walked into the administration.

Look, we understand, as Secretary Cardona said this morning, the results of this data are unacceptable. That is something that the president believes, and you heard straight directly from Secretary Cordona today. So we always knew that getting schools open would not be enough, that’s why it was the first thing that we had to do. A once in a Generation virus has had profound impacts on our students, as we’ve seen from the data. And thankfully, the American Rescue plan, to your point, that was a government approach to make sure that it provided essential funds to help students catch up academically and address the pandemic’s impact on their mental health. And let’s not forget that the American Rescue Plan was something only Democrats voted for, no congressional Republicans voted for that piece of legislation, which was critical to getting our economy back up, including opening up schools.

So we’re focused on ensuring schools across the country to use the American Rescue Plan funds to help students recover, and we have already launched nationwide efforts to get students recovered with efforts we know that work, to hire more high quality educators and expand tutoring, summer and after school programs bolstered by these very, very funds that the first major piece of legislation that this president was able to pass when he walked into the administration.

Speaker 4 (17:40):

And then the president said last week that he’s gotten 16 to 18 requests to campaign in these closing weeks. But other than a trip to Pennsylvania, he’s got no campaign travel scheduled for this week. So I’m wondering with two weeks to go, does the president feel like he’s doing everything he possibly can to get Democrats across the finish line in these midterm elections?

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:58):

So look you just heard the president, just moments ago, at the DNC, of course, I have to be careful of what I say because we do respect the Hatch Act here in this administration. And look, when the president speaks, he has a large bully pulpit and he has been able in the past several weeks to set that national conversation, to be able to talk about what’s at stake, what the choices that the American people have to kind of decide on, if you will. And he’s talked about student debt relief, he’s talked about the economy, he’s talked about infrastructure, he’s talked about abortion, what it means to make sure that women have to be able to make a decision on their health, abortion rights.

And so almost every day, almost every day, you have seen the president in front of the American people talking exactly to that, what is at stake. And let’s not forget, we are actually laying out issues and policies that are very popular with the American people, that are issues that the American people want to see. When you think about lowering cost, and you have congressional Republicans who want to take that away, who do not want to see Americans have lower healthcare costs, who do not want to see Americans have lower energy costs. The first thing that they said that they would do is repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which by the way, pieces of that, if you look at it in its parts, every part of that is popular with the American people.

Speaker 4 (19:31):

But as it relates to travel, are there any plans for the president to ramp up his travel? I mean, we have just two weeks in the month left.

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:36):

Well, I’m not going to get ahead of the president. There will be more travel that we certainly will be announcing. As you mentioned, he’s going to go to Pennsylvania this week. We announced that he’s going to be doing the DNC, I shouldn’t say we, the DNC announced that he’s going to be doing a rally on November 1st in Florida, and I would say stay tuned. Yeah.

Speaker 5 (19:54):

With the Israeli president coming for a visit, that comes at a time when there has been a notable uptick in some prominent antisemitism and some questions about how Republicans are responding to that, how the culture is responding to that. What is the president’s view of how that might even influence the visit or be a subject of the visit or how he believes the country should be responding to that? Kanye West has been a part of it, others have been asked and responded, the corporate side of those sort of notable instances.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:27):

So I could just speak for the President and how he feels, and he feels that our administration and himself should respond to this. Let’s not forget the president ran on healing the soul of our nation after just years of division, years of hatred and so he’s been very clear on that and how important it is to make sure that he does that in this administration. So when racism or antisemitism rears its ugly head, he is going to call it out, and he has called it out. We should not allow that conversation to be existing, not just in the political discourse, but in our everyday lives. And so that is something that we’re going to continue to call out, that the president’s going to call out. It is ugly, it is dangerous, it is despicable and he believes that we should as leaders, leaders in the political party, it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle that you sit in, we should be calling this out. And that is something that, again, he’s going to condemn and he’s going to be very, very clear to call this out, in the strongest terms.

Speaker 5 (21:43):

Does he think others have been timid in that area?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:46):

Well, I’ve talked about this before when we saw the situation in Los Angeles and I was asked about the city council members specifically in Los Angeles, and they were Democrats, and we were very clear, it doesn’t matter if there’s a D or an R after your name, but that we should call this out. And what is sad about this is you see Republicans in Congress who make these horrific, and not just in Congress, but across the spectrum, make these really violent, despicable comments about racism and antisemitism and they don’t call it out. And that is not going to be how the president is going to handle situations like this, he is going to call it out regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, regardless of, again, if there’s a D or a R after your name, there is no place, no place at all for that type of vile belief or language in our political discourse. Go ahead, Jackie.

Jackie (22:52):

Thanks, Karine. On student loan forgiveness-

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:55):

I’ll come back to you.

Jackie (22:55):

Okay, sorry. I’m sorry. [inaudible 00:22:58].

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:57):

No, it’s okay. It’s hard. It’s hard.

Speaker 6 (22:58):

[inaudible 00:22:59] student loans. If the legal challenges are resolved, do you expect that anyone will get their loans forgiven before the midterms?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:05):


Speaker 6 (23:05):

[inaudible 00:23:09].

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:08):

Look, we’re not doing this… That’s not our goal here is to get this done before the midterms, that’s not something, just want to make sure to clear that up. We want to make sure that we give American borrowers who are able to get this benefit of this program, the president’s program, relief as soon as possible. Clearly, there is this case before us and so what we’re going to do is continue to do outreach to make sure folks apply online and to make sure that they know if they are eligible to get this relief. Again, this is not about, for us, for this president, this is not about the midterms, this is a campaign promise that he has kept. This is another way to make sure that we are giving Americans a little bit more of a breathing room. This is another way as we’re dealing with high cost, Americans are dealing with high cost, that they have an opportunity in this regard with student debt relief to give, again, a little bit more space to breathe and a little bit more opportunity to get things done for their families.

Speaker 6 (24:14):

And very quickly, we saw the First Lady in a Phillies t-shirt yesterday, should we expect that they’re going to go to the World Series?

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:20):

I don’t have anything to announce, but as you know, the First Lady is very excited about her team going into the World Series. I don’t have any scheduling to announce.

Speaker 7 (24:30):

[inaudible 00:24:32].

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:32):

I don’t know. I don’t have anything to share at this time, but clearly there is some excitement in the Biden household. Go ahead, Jackie.

Jackie (24:40):

Thanks, Karine. Today, the president seemed to be countering some of this GOP messaging on the economy. And he told people that Republicans like to call Democrats big spenders, and people should look at the facts, but the facts don’t seem to be exactly how he’s painting it on some of these issues. He has claimed repeatedly that the administration reduced the deficit, but if you break it down, spending was high because of the pandemic, those programs expired and that brought down the deficit and then that deficit reduction was spent on canceling student loans. And then on the jobs claims that he made, he said that President Trump was the first since Hoover to lose jobs during his administration, and he claimed that he had created 10 million new jobs. But in reality, those jobs have mostly been added back and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has only about 514,000 jobs have been newly created. So how are people supposed to take this kind of messaging on their most important issue seriously, when some of this feels like smoke and mirrors?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:44):

Well let me tell you what the American people should take very, very seriously, let me remind you of the Trump tax cut of 2017, $2 trillion that was not paid for, not paid for. So I want to be very clear about that. And let me also remind the American people of what was happening in January of 2020, January 20th…

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:00):

… happening in January of 2020, January 20th of 2021, which was that American businesses, small businesses were shutting down. I just talked about schools. Only 46% of schools were shut down. There was not a real comprehensive COVID response in making sure that people got shots in their arms. And because of the American Rescue Plan, which is something that Republicans refused, refused to work on, refused to vote on, the American Rescue Plan got those schools open, got those small businesses open again, and really put us in a place where the economy turned back on. And we saw historic… Don’t listen to us, you’re giving me data, but there’s also data that shows that unemployment is the lowest that it’s been in 50 years. It also shows that what we were able to do, even with the strong labor market, that was because of the plan, the economic policies that the president put forth.

So he put in the work. And here’s the thing, and I’ll add more and I’m happy to hear your next question. Congressional Republicans have been very, very clear on what they want to do. And this is the choice that the president talks about that Americans have to decide on, they have to make. They have said that the first thing that they’re going to repeal is the Inflation Reduction Act, which actually lowers cost for American people. They have said that if they are not able to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping box, they’re going to essentially hold us hostage. If that doesn’t happen, they’re going to shut down the government. That does not help inflation. That makes it worse. That does not help the economy. That makes it worse. And so that is the stark difference here of what we are talking about, about what congressional Democrats and this president want to do.

Jackie (28:00):

So why doesn’t he lean more on some of that language than continuing to repeat this we reduced the deficit thing that feels like sort of irrelevant?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:12):

No, the reduce the deficit is real, $1.4 trillion. That’s what he talked about just last week. And that is historic as well. In one year, that’s what the president has been able to do. Those are real numbers that matter. As we talk about inflation, as we talk about the economy, the deficit-

Jackie (28:29):

It just happened on its own.

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:31):

No, but it is actually the policies that he has taken that has helped reduce the deficit. Let’s not forget Trump 2017 with the $2 trillion that Republicans were very happy to vote on and was not paid for. So there is a difference here in how we approach the economy, how we approach what Americans are going through right now, how we approach dealing with middle class families that you are not seeing currently. You’re not seeing currently from a focus. I got to move on because we don’t have a lot of space. Wait, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Speaker 8 (29:04):

So as the president talked about his economic policies on Friday and today in the context of the midterms, he said he thought there would be a shift for the Democrats. Can you provide any clarity about what he meant by shift? Shift from what to what?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:22):

So one of… Also be very careful here in talking about elections or politics. Look, there’s going to be many, many polls in this short term that we have left in these next couple weeks. I’m not going to get ahead of them. And as we know, polls go up, polls go down. It’s a rollercoaster. And so I don’t want to get ahead of that. I’ll just let his words stand because again, he was talking about the midterm, so I don’t want to dive too much into it. But again, there’s going to be a lot of movement in the next couple weeks and I think that’s what he was speaking to.

Speaker 8 (30:01):

Okay. I have a question about the war as well. Secretary Blinken has already said that the US believes that Russia’s claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb are false claims. Does the US have any reason to believe that the accusations are a signal that Russia is preparing a false flag attack?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:24):

So let me just get on the record on a couple of things. Basically just kind of reiterating what the secretary said. We reject Russia’s transparently false allegation that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. Just today you saw Foreign Minister Oliva of Ukraine put out a statement about his call with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA. Foreign minister officially invited the IAEA to send experts to study the peaceful facilities in Ukraine, countering Russia’s false claims. The IAEA has agreed to do so. We welcome this commitment to transparency and the assurance it will provide to the international community. The world will see through any Russian attempt to use this allegation as pretext or for escalation. So obviously to your question, [inaudible 00:31:22] and welcome back. I’m so sorry. I should have said welcome back. Welcome back and congratulations to you and your growing family. But obviously we are concerned about the false allegation being used as a pretext for further escalation. And we’ve made clear we reject these allegations and so we have not seen any reason to adjust our own, for example, nuclear posture. Nor do we have indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons. But obviously we are going to condemn what we’re hearing and call it out.

Speaker 9 (31:55):

Thanks Karine. Late Friday, the Department of Homeland Security released the latest numbers on interactions with border patrol. They show that over the course of fiscal year 2022, 2.4 million encounters happen on the southern border. That’s the most ever on record. Republicans have their arguments about that. What’s the White House’s explanation as to what happened and why?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:17):

So I’ve said this before at this podium in the briefing room, what we’re seeing, this new migration challenge is driven by people who are fleeing falling regimes and economic collapse, as you know in Venezuela and Nicaragua and also Cuba. It’s impacting the entire western hemisphere. What we’re seeing currently, the number of individuals arriving from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba was up 245% from September of last year.

Oh, okay. There you go. As you know, we love charts and meanwhile the number of migrants from Mexico and Northern Central America is down nearly a quarter compared to just last year. So we’re seeing, again, a different challenge ahead of us that we’re dealing with. And we’ve talked about this. While we’re trying to deal with the challenges, as you all know, you have Republican governors who are using these migrants, using these folks who are trying to flee communism, falling regimes and economic collapses, as I just mentioned. They’re using them as a political pawn, which you’ve heard us call out many times from here. And you’ve heard the president call out.

We are hard at work in driving toward a regional solution to manage this new challenge. As you have heard from us, on October 12th, we announced, the Department of Homeland Security announces a series of actions with Mexico to provide an orderly and limited way for Venezuelans nationals to arrive in the United States and encourage them to stop putting their lives in the hands of smugglers. So since the launch of these joint enforcement actions, we have seen the number of Venezuelans attempting to cross the southern border decrease sharply by more than 85%. So we are doing the work every day to make sure that we deal with what we’re seeing in the southern border.

Speaker 10 (34:13):

Good. Thank you, Karine. I’ve got two questions for you. Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people inside the Saudi government essentially saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman regularly mocks the president in private making fun of his gaffs and questioning his mental acuity. The reporter also noted that MBS preferred former President Trump to President Biden, and I wondered if you got any reaction to that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:40):

I don’t have any comments to that.

Speaker 10 (34:42):

I’ve got another question about the economic message that we’ve been hearing from the president. He obviously has talked about the stark choice that the country faces between allowing Democrats to remain in power and putting Republicans in power. He’s talked about how Republicans will crash the economy, they’ll shut down the government, go after Medicare, Social Security. It’s a pretty stark choice that he’s laid out. And I wonder if this president who’s talked about how he can work across the aisle, work in a bipartisan manner, work with Republicans. Believes that if we get to a point of divided government, if it’s just going to be chaos or if he actually thinks that things could actually work between a Democratic president and a Republican Congress.

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:18):

So let me actually say something about your first question. I’m not going to comment about kind of ridiculous statements. I’m not going to comment on that, but I’ll be very clear. The President has been very clear from the beginning of this administration that we needed to review our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And so that is something that we are going to continue to review. And once we have something to share, we’re certainly going to share that. The decisions that OPEC Plus made recently, we saw it as them aligning with Russia. And that is going to hurt many economies across the globe. And so the president is going to have more to say on that. And when he does, you’ll hear directly from him on your… I’m not going to give it any more light, I’m just saying that more broadly and on your second question… Look, don’t take my word from it, of it what they’re going to do the economy, the congressional Republicans have been very, very clear.

They have said that they want to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block. They have said that. That is their plan. And if they do that, that is going to hurt Americans. And if they don’t get that, they said that they would shut down the government. That is what Republicans have said. They also have said that they were going to repeal Inflation Reduction Act. Again, that’s going to… If they do that, it will take away the power that Medicare has to negotiate… That they now have to negotiate prices for seniors to lower those prescription drug prices. They would take that away in a time when middle class families are dealing with inflation. They want to take that away. This is also a plan, as you know, that deals with climate change in a real way and they want to take that away. So that’s them. That is them saying that, that we are laying down the choice between congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans. Okay.

Speaker 4 (37:35):

Is the president ruling out any budget cuts, including discretionary spending cuts or just Social Security and Medicare?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:42):

I don’t have anything else to share on any policy updates.

Speaker 4 (37:46):

And then on deficit production, the fact that the White House is celebrating deficit production to build on Jackie’s question, does that mean the president thinks that the deficit should be reduced even further next year? Would more deficit reduction be economically good at this point?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:58):

So he’s going to do everything that we can to continue to reduce the deficit. I don’t have any number to share, but he’s going to do everything that he possibly can.

Speaker 11 (38:09):

Okay. Karine, back on the China meeting, I know you guys are still working through that and you don’t want to weigh in on internal politics there, but can you say from your point of view, if this meeting is to occur, given what we’ve just seen play out in Beijing, what kind of goals do you have going into that given that the Chinese leader seems to be doubling down on a lot of isolation policies?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:30):

Again, I’m not going to get ahead of the president and what a meeting that could potentially happen or not happen and what the agenda would be. As you know, the president has talked to President Xi several times. We’ve given a readout of that conversation of how the conversation has gone and what has been the agenda on those several conversations. I’m not going to get ahead of the president on this.

Speaker 11 (38:53):

Can you just say right now, following the Pelosi visit China, shut down a lot of channels of communication. Are you confident right now that you have enough channels open to actually-

Speaker 12 (39:00):

… Are you confident right now that you have enough channels open to actually plan this meeting and make sure that you convey exactly what you’re trying to get out of it and hear the Chinese side?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:09):

Like I said, we continue our efforts to keep lines of communication open, including at the leader level. So that is something that we have been doing for some time now, and we’re going to continue to make that happen.

Speaker 12 (39:21):

[inaudible 00:39:23].

Speaker 13 (39:24):

Thank you, Karine. Two questions. First, it’s been tradition for presidents of both parties the day after the midterms to hold a news conference to talk about what the voters America had decided the night before. Can you commit that the president will do that this time around?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:37):

I don’t have anything to read out to you or to lay out on a schedule for the president post-election. I’m certainly not going to get ahead of him or ahead of any announcement that we’re going to make.

Speaker 13 (39:49):

Okay. And on another matter, earlier today, a group of 30 House liberals sent a letter to the White House urging the president to shift to strategy on the Ukraine War, saying that more direct negotiation, direct contact with Russia was needed. That’s something the White House to this point has not done being deferential to the Ukrainians. So my two questions on that. Does the White House plan to shift course? And secondly, is the White House concerned that there may be some fracturing here of Democratic support for the war effort?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:17):

So look, we’ve been very clear nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. We have been very, very clear. This is a decision that President Zelensky is going to have to make when it comes to any type of conversation with Russia, any type of negotiation. That is something that Ukrainians need to make. We will continue to support them as long as it takes. And again, this is, and I’ve said this many times, this is a war, an unprovoked war, a brutal war that President Putin has started, has created. He can end this war at any time. He can end it today if he wishes.

And we are going to continue to support the brave Ukrainians who are fighting every day for their freedom and who are fighting every day for their sovereignty. Again, that is up to President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people.

Speaker 13 (41:11):

Is there any concern though about this being the first time that a group of Democrats is questioning the White House’s strategy?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:15):

So I have not seen this letter. I will say this, that we’re certainly very thankful of the bipartisan support that we have seen over the past several months during this war from Congress. And we’re going to continue to keep those lines of communications open and continue to have conversations with members of Congress. I don’t have a direct response at this time to the letter. Okay.

Speaker 14 (41:40):

Thanks, Karine. Two questions on COVID. Can you give us a preview of what the president’s going to say in his remarks tomorrow when he gets his updated shot?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:47):

Yep. I do have something for you all for tomorrow. So for the president, it’s important for him to publicly receive his updated COVID vaccine tomorrow. As you all know, it’s the right time for him to get it after his infection this summer. And he wants to send a signal to the American people that the vaccine is safe, effective, widely available, and also free. Ahead of the winter and as more sub variants arise, there is a real urgency to getting the updated vaccine right now. And you can expect him to make that point very clearly to all of you tomorrow.

And fortunately, the vaccines we’ve invested in targeted BA.5 and will be effective against these types of sub variants that we see thus far. We’ll have more detail to preview ahead of his shot and remarks. But what I can say is that we’re continuing to see encouraging trends in vaccinations. For example, in the first three weeks, we saw about 7.5 million shots. In the last three weeks, we’ve seen almost 12 million. That’s a nearly 60% increase. That’s important progress and we know numbers are higher after the weekend.

The big administration focus is on reaching those at the highest risk, particularly our seniors. And there’s good progress there. Half of shots have gone to seniors and that means almost 10 million seniors, nearly one in five seniors have already gotten their updated vaccine. We’re doing outreach on the ground. We’re using existing funds for targeted paid media and continue to push everyone with a platform to spread the word, which will be a portion of tomorrow’s event as well.

Speaker 15 (43:28):

Can I follow up on COVID?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:29):

Go ahead.

Speaker 16 (43:32):

Thanks, Karine. Going back to the president’s meeting coming up this week with the president of Israel, can you give us some sense about what topics are on the agenda? What is the president’s called for this [inaudible 00:43:45]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:45):

Well, the president is looking forward to hosting the president of Israel. I don’t have anything specific to share on what’s going to be on the agenda or what’s going to be discussed. But again, he’s looking forward to that meeting. And as we get closer, we’ll share more to all of you, for sure.

Speaker 18 (44:07):

Thanks, Karine. There’ve been some slightly conflicting reports about Elon Musk. On one side, there’s been a report that he might be subjected some kind of national security review. There’s been these, he’s been kind of trolling on Twitter, communicating with Medvedev on Twitter. So there’s been little bit of confusion about what his role is there. And on the other side, there’s been reports that he’s in discussions or the government is in discussions with him about providing [inaudible 00:44:36] to Iran or to the people protesting in Iran.

So could you give an overview of what’s the administration’s dealings with Elon Musk, who’s obviously not somebody, he’s an important person.

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:49):

No. I know there’s a lot of interest in this. We’ve heard those reportings. Those reportings are not true. So we’ll leave that there. The national security review, that is not true and I really don’t have more to say on that piece as well, on the Elon Musk and what he’s choosing to do and not to do. Not going to say more from here.

Speaker 17 (45:14):

Thank you. Two questions. One on pertaining the UK. What kind of relationship the president wants to have with the new British Prime Minister and does the President think that the British democracy is turmoil right now?

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:26):

So look, the United States and the United Kingdom are strong allies and have an enduring friendship. And that fact will never change. And so we know they will continue to be reliable partners on a range of issues, including holding Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine. And we will be working very closely, we believe, with the new Prime Minister.

Speaker 17 (45:51):

One on the [inaudible 00:45:53] by the president this afternoon. When did the president, president has a strong relationship with the Indian American community. He has spoken about it in the past. Do you remember when the president celebrated Diwali for the first time and when was that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:10):

With whom? When was that? I don’t have anything to share. As you know, when he was vice president, he would hold these receptions and events at the vice president residence. But as far as how early that started, I don’t have anything to share. We’re happy to check in with folks.

Speaker 17 (46:28):

[inaudible 00:46:29]

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:30):

Happy to do that. Happy to do that. All right.

Speaker 19 (46:34):

On the event tomorrow with the vaccines, is the White House shifting it all in its ask for additional COVID funding now that this rollout has been done, sort of a reassessment of what may be needed? And to that point, is there any sort of light with Congress that you guys see on a way forward to get that funding before the midterms, after the midterms? [inaudible 00:46:56].

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:55):

Well, we believe getting that additional funding is going to be critical.

Speaker 19 (47:01):

Is it still that 22?

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:03):

It’s still the same at 22 billion, and we are going to continue to have those conversation with Congress. That has not ended. We’re going to continue to make sure we get that additional funding. As we know, we made this a priority to make sure that this new vaccine, the Bivalent, we had funding for that going into the winter months because we understood how critical it was to make sure that people got vaccinated. But in doing so, as you all know, we had to really pull money away from example from folks getting free tests.

And so we’ve been very clear with Congress for the past several months on how critical it is to continue this funding to have our front foot, if you will, on making sure that we have new vaccines and making sure that we have the treatment, continued treatment to offer that to people for free. And so we’re going to continue to have those conversations again, keep those lines of communication open. We believe it’s incredibly important. What we are doing right now, this campaign that we’re doing for this Bivalent vaccine is for the winter months.

And after that, there is no funding available. And so we have to make sure that Congress acts. Congress needs to act on getting more funding for COVID.

Speaker 15 (48:26):

Follow up on COVID.

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:28):

I’ll take one last one. Go ahead, Phil.

Phil (48:30):

Thank you. There’s reporting out of Forbes that TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance plan to use the TikTok app to track the physical location of specific Americans. My question is does the administration still believe that it’s safe for Americans to use TikTok? And does the White House believe that TikTok presents a security threat to our coming elections, given that they are partnering with organizations like the Federal Voting Assistance Program to provide information about elections?

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:01):

So I’ll say this, haven’t seen those reportings, but I’ll say this more broadly, that the president’s concerned about the power large social media platforms have over our everyday lives and has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms that they cause. And so the president has been very consistent on that and the president has long been a supporter of fundamental reforms to achieve that goal, including reforming Section 230. As you’ve heard us say many times, his stance on Section 230 is not new and it’s something he made clear on the campaign trail as one, this continues to be his position on that specific story.

I can’t comment from that from here. And so I’ll leave it there as how he sees social media more broadly.

Phil (49:47):

Well then to follow up, I understand that there are these concerns about big tech and social media, but the TikTok and national security implications seem to be unique. And this isn’t the first time that TikTok’s ties to China have been scrutinized. I know the administration has made use of TikTok several times over the course of the last two years. Will the president and the White House continue to make use of this platform given that there are serious red flags?

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:11):

So again, let me talk to the National Security Council team on that specific report that you are laying out this at this time and then we we’ll respond.

Phil (50:21):

Thank you, ma’am.

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:22):

All right. Thanks, everybody.

Speaker 20 (50:24):

Concern that-

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:24):

I’ll see you guys tomorrow.

Speaker 20 (50:25):

Press conferences has led to misinformation ever contributing-

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