Dec 1, 2022
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 11/30/22 Transcript
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 11/30/22. Read the transcript here.
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All right. Bonjour.
Speaker 1 (00:07):
Oh, nice. Okay. Get into the spirit, folks. Okay. So we are pleased to welcome President and Mrs. Macron and the delegation from France to the United States. Above all, this visit is a celebration of the strong French-US relationship and the personal relationship between President Biden and President Macron. Just a few hours ago, President Macron joined Vice President Harris for a briefing at NASA headquarters. The visit underscores are deepening collaboration on space and came on the heels of the very first US-France comprehensive space dialogue, which was held in Paris last month, and it delivers on a commitment made by Vice President Harris and President Macron during her visit to Paris last year. Looking for towards tomorrow, I know everyone is eager to hear more details about the state dinner itself today. The First Lady is actually… Happening right now, is hosting a media preview with the White House Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo, followed by presentations from White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison. At that preview, they are sharing information about the menu and the decor for the state dinner.
I also wanted to share some good economic news. First this morning we learned that our economy grew at even stronger pace in the third quarter than we previously thought. American consumers continued to spend and American businesses continue to invest here at home at even stronger pace. Second, as of today, the average price of gas is now below $ 3.50 a gallon for the first time since February, before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And the most common price for gas is $2.99. Gas prices are down about $1.52 per gallon since June for a savings of $160 per month for American families with two cars.
Finally, American consumers showed continued strength with record holiday spending, including on Black Friday and also this week on Cyber Monday. According to the National Retail Federation, a record number of holiday shoppers returned to stores from Thanksgiving through Monday, and Adobe Analytics reported consumers spent a record $35,000,000,000 online over just five days.
It will take time to bring inflation back down to normal, but the American people showed that they still have confidence that the President’s economic plan is indeed working. As the President said yesterday, he’ll work with anyone, Democrat, Republican, or independent, with ideas on how we can provide working families breathing room and build a stronger, more resilient economy for the long haul. That’s what the American people voted for in November. With that, Colleen, you want to kick us off?
Sure. Thank you. There are reports that the Islamic State leader has been killed, and I wondered if you could confirm that and also whether the US was involved at all in an… If it was a US attack or… I’m sorry, operation.
So earlier today, ISIS publicly announced the death of al al-Qurayshi, the overall leader of ISIS. This follows the same fate of his predecessor, Haji Abdullah, who was killed in a US-led raid in February in northwestern Syria. We are pleased to see the removal of ISIS’s top leaders in such quick succession. The United States remains committed to countering the global threat from ISIS and stands ready to work with international partners who share that same goal. We will build on these counter-terrorism successes and we’ll keep that pressure on, for sure. As far as any involvement with by us, by the US, as it relates to the death of al-Qurayshi, it was not a result of any US action, I can confirm.
Okay, thank you. And then another question on Indiana. The Indiana Attorney General has asked the State Medical Board to sanction the doctor who spoke out about performing an abortion on a 10 year old girl from Ohio. I just wondered what the White House’s thoughts were on that effort, whether it could potentially cause a chilling effect to other doctors, whether doctors should be speaking out about this. I just sort of wondered where the warehouse stood on this.
So I can’t speak about the details of the Indiana AGs request to the medical board, but there’s a couple things I do want to lay out and take a step back because it’s a truly horrifying situation. We’re talking about a 10 year old child here who was raped and could not receive healthcare in her home state of Ohio and was forced to travel because she was raped and had to go to another state, clearly, as some of you have reported. A doctor who provide a reproductive care to a child that was raped is now being accused of violating patient privacy by an elected official. That is what we’re seeing and that is what is currently happening. And if that was not enough, if that weren’t enough, he is asking the State Medical Board to discipline the doctor for speaking out about patients in desperate need of care. And this is not about the concerns of the victim, this is not about the victim at all. This is an elected official going after a doctor for helping a child who was raped and seeking healthcare.
And broadly speaking here, and you’ve heard us say this before, I know there was a lot of concern in here back in October on whether there was too much focus on women’s losing their constitutional right. And, as you can see, there should be more concern. And these types of situations are very real and they are very much a interest of the American people. We saw that in this past election. This is something that the American people care about. This is something that women care about. They want us to continue to fight for their rights, to fight for the freedom that they’ve had for almost 50 years when Roe was in place.
So the facts that Americans do not want politicians making their healthcare decisions for them, and we saw that from Kentucky to Michigan. Americans rejected, they rejected backwards dangerous proposals. But what we continue to see from Republican officials just across the country is that they want to take away that right, to take away that freedom. So the President is, and the Vice President is, going to do everything that they can to continue to fight for Americans’ freedom and for their rights.
Okay, one more quick one. Sorry. The Prince and Princess of Wales are going to be in Boston this Friday, I think. Will the President meet them or see them or hang out with them?
Hang out? Okay. So the President intends to greet the Prince and Princess of Wales when he is in Boston. We are still finalizing and working through the details, so I don’t have anything more to share, any more specifics to share on that. Go ahead, Mary.
The President released a statement praising the House for passing this bill to avert a shutdown of the rails. He says he wants it on his desk immediately, but he didn’t mention this separate bill guaranteeing seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers. Does the President also back and support this legislation? Does he also want that on his desk?
So I just want to say a couple of things that the President believes that a bill averting a rail strike needs to reach his desk by this weekend. He is very clear about that because we need to protect the American families from a potential devastating effects of a rail shutdown. And we have talked about that numerous times and the President was really clear about that when he put out his statement earlier this week. The President, of course, he supports paid sick leaves for all Americans, including rail workers, but he does not support any bill or amendment that will delay getting this bill to his desk by this Saturday. And he’s been very clear about that. Again, he’s a President for all Americans and he believes that we need to avert this potential shutdown that would have a devastating effect on our economy, a devastating effect on jobs, a devastating effect in our communities across the country, and our farms as well.
What is the President’s message to union workers, rail workers, across the country who backed the President, who helped him get elected, believed that he was standing with them, and who feel that he has betrayed them?
Look, the President, as you know, has been called by unions and labor leaders as a pro-union President. And he takes that very seriously. He is the most pro-union President in history and he’s worked tirelessly to secure victories for unions and for workers since he was first elected to the Senate. So when it comes to labor, when it comes to union, this is something that he has worked towards in making sure that he delivers for what he called yesterday. If you listen to him during his Michigan statement, he said they were the backbone… They build our middle class. They were the best workers that we have in this country.
And so, as a proud, pro-union President, he’s reluctant to override the ratifications procedures of individual unions. We have to remember, there were 12 unions involved in this when the tentative agreement was done. When that agreement came out, it was praised. He received praise from rail unions, and from folks, and from the companies as well. And once that agreement came to fruition, because of the work that this President did on September 15th, there was a cooling period and it was ratified by eight of those four… Eight unions of the 12. And so look, we have to remember there are really good pieces in this deal. There’s a 24% pay raise and a 5000 bonus. No changes in co-pays, deductibles, or co-insurance cost. Some time off for routine, preventive, and emergency medical care, and protecting the two man crew. This is a deal that has a lot of benefits. But again, he wants to make sure that we avert a shutdown that would be detrimental to our economy.
April Ryan (11:23):
Thanks, Karine. Europe and France are concerned about Buy America provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and President Macron is expected to raise that during this visit. What will President Biden say in response to this?
So I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about what may come up in that conversation-
April Ryan (11:41):
I think they flagged [inaudible 00:11:42].
Yeah, but still. Well, it’s hypothetical because it hasn’t happened yet. They may have flagged that. I’m not going to speak for France clearly. I’m just speaking for this President, I speak for the President of the United States. So right now it is a hypothetical that it will come up, right?
But I will say this, the Inflation Reduction Act, as we know, is historical. It is a historical investment that will deal with climate change in a real way. It will lower costs for American families, if you think about healthcare, if you think about energy cost as well. And just a couple of things, there’s a number of provisions that will contribute to the growth of clean energy sector globally, and that is important to note. It presents significant opportunities for European firms, as well as benefits to EU energy security. And this is not a zero sum game for us. And so we see a constructive path of engagement with the EU on this, and we continue to discuss this issue at all levels of the US government. Again, I’m just not going to get ahead of what will be on the agenda in their conversation
April Ryan (12:46):
It sounds like, from your prepared response, that you’re prepared to talk about it.
We’re always prepared to talk about issues that may come up. Certainly with our allies. As you know, France is
… our oldest ally. And the President looks forward to meeting with President Macron.
We read the news reports and your reportings as well. We’ve heard President Macron’s comments. So, of course, we’re ready to have that conversation, but just don’t want to get into a potential hypothetical. Maybe it comes up and maybe it doesn’t. But the President is very proud of this Inflation Reduction Act. It will have true benefits for American families, and it’s historical.
Speaker 2 (13:32):
Do you have a response to Fed Chair Powell’s remarks about inflation today?
I have a little bit of what we wanted to say about that. Give me one second here.
When it comes to his comments, as you know, we are very clear about the Fed having their independence and respecting that independence. As we know, prior Presidents have not made that clear. It was not something that they did, many of them did not do.
So, we want to give the Fed the space to do the work that they need. They have the best monetary tools to deal with inflation.
Our economic team continues to believe that thanks to the President’s economic team and his economic plan, we can bring inflation down without giving up the historic gains that we have made. Our economy has added 10 million jobs, and unemployment is near a 50-year low.
And so, as I just stated, we saw that economic growth last quarter, that was even stronger than previously estimated. It was previously estimated at 2.6%, and now we’re seeing at 2.9%. So, again, as the Chair said today, bottlenecks in goods production are easing and goods price inflation appears to be easing. And so that is important. But I want to be very clear: We’re going to give them their ability to work in an independent way, and not going to interfere. Bless you, Emilie.
Speaker 3 (15:04):
Thanks, Karine. Just to follow up a little bit on Mary’s question. Given the close ties the administration has to the labor movement, have there been conversations, maybe behind the scenes, kind of explaining the why, here, or detailing the decision-making process with the labor movement?
I mean, look, and we’ve said this; I said this the other day. Secretary Walsh has been in touch with the rail union. Secretary Buttigieg has been in touch with the companies. The President has been, clearly, in touch with congressional leaders and his administration. And Secretary Vilsack has been in close touch with the agriculture sector.
But just to just give a little bit of a timeline here, the President and his team have been directly engaged in supporting negotiations and averting a shutdown for months now. In July, as you recall, we’ve talked about it right here in the briefing room, the unions asked him to constitute a Presidential Emergency Board, a request they made because they know he is indeed a pro-union President. And he did just that.
After the PEB, he brought the full weight of his administration to bear to keep the parties at the table and to get employers to make concessions, and they did. So, he made it possible for the unions to secure tentative agreements in September that secured a higher pay, I just mentioned 24%, and you’ve seen that also in the President’s statement, and a $5,000 bonus for workers.
Those tentative agreements kept our rail system working and prevented a disruption to our economy. And just want to add, there was a cooling-off period once that September 15th tentative agreement was made. In that cooling-off period, those 12 unions were given the opportunity for them to ratify or vote for that tentative agreement. Again, eight of them ratified it. That’s a majority of the 12. And so, we wanted to give the last two unions who voted in late November their opportunity to make their voices heard.
And so, that’s how you saw the process the last couple of months. We’ve been engaged. We’ve been, certainly, working with them on coming to this tentative agreement. And now we’re at a place where the President has been very clear that we have to avert a rail shutdown. And he’s asking Congress to act. He’s very pleased by what the Speaker and the leadership was able to do today in the House to move that forward.
Speaker 3 (17:41):
Just one more quick one. This happened just an hour or two ago, so it may be a little bit too new. But there were roughly a dozen Republican senators threatening to block the annual defense policy bill, which you guys need to finish before the end of the year, unless they get a vote on an amendment that would end the military’s COVID vaccine mandate.
One, do you have a response to that push? And two, more broadly, is there any thought to making changes on that anytime in the future?
Look, this is the first I’m hearing of this. As you said, it’s very new. And so, I will, certainly, let the Department of Defense speak to their own COVID vaccine requirement. And so, I’m just not going to get more into that. I’ll talk to the team further as to exactly what the specifics are of these members and what they’re saying.
Speaker 3 (18:25):
Speaker 4 (18:25):
I just want to go back and clarify. On the proposed seven-day paid leave amendment or stand-alone that was passed by the House, however it’s taken on in the Senate, does the President support that proposal?
The President, again, believes that it is important to avert a rail strike, and that is what he’s focusing on. And he wants to make sure that there’s an agreement that’s brought to his desk by the weekend to again, to protect American families, to protect jobs, to protect farms, and to protect communities across the country.
The President, of course, supports, he supports paid sick leave for all Americans, including rail workers. This is something, as you have seen him over the past almost two years, talk about that and try to move forward in making sure in getting paid sick leave. But he understands there are not 60 votes, right? There are not 60 votes in the Senate to make that happen. His number one priority is making sure that we get this done. So, does not support any bill or amendment that will delay a bill that’s getting to his desk by Saturday.
Speaker 4 (19:37):
All right. Two other quick ones. Does he have a plan to meet with the new House Democratic leadership?
I don’t have anything to preview for you at this time on a meeting.
Speaker 4 (19:45):
He hasn’t spoken with them yet today?
I don’t have any calls to preview at this time.
Speaker 4 (19:48):
And this was brought up on a background call yesterday previewing today’s Tribal Nations Conference, and those on that call said they didn’t have anything on it. I’m just curious, maybe, if you do.
Does the President support the Cherokee Nation’s push to get a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives, which would make good on an 1835 treaty that was supposed to seat one?
I’m just going to repeat what you heard on the background call. We just don’t have anything to share on that at this time.
Okay, go ahead, Peter.
Thank you, Karine. Kevin McCarthy says that he invited President Biden down to the border. Has the President RSVPed?
Well, we know the President has never been down to the border. The possible next Speaker says that he wants him to go with him. So, is he going to?
Look, he’s been there. He’s been to the border. And since he took office-
When did he go to the border?
Since he took office, President Biden has been taking action to fix our immigration system and secure our border. And that’s why, on day one, he put forward an immigration reform, a piece of legislation to deal with what is currently happening at the border. But we’re not seeing that from Republicans. We’re not seeing a willingness to work with us on fixing a situation that’s been around for decades now. Instead, they’re doing political stunts. That’s what they want to do. That’s how they want to take care of this situation.
But, in the meantime, the President has secured record levels of funding for the Department of Homeland Security. We have over 23,000 agents working to secure the border. We’ve taken thousands of smugglers off the streets, and we’re cutting down on asylum processing times. And the number of individuals arriving unlawfully from northern Central America and Venezuela is coming down significantly because of the actions that the President has taken.
Okay. On another subject, when are you guys going to delete the White House Twitter account?
Why would we do that?
Well, you’re saying that you’re keeping an eye on Twitter because it might not be a suitable platform. So why use it?
Look, I want to be very clear here: The President has always said and he has been very, very clear in his belief that it is important of social media platforms to continue to take steps to reduce hate speech and misinformation. And we’ll continue to say that, but media platforms make independent choices about their information that they present.
And so, look, I don’t have anything to share on any policy or any changes that we will be making. We have multiple platforms, as you know, that we utilize to communicate with the American people.
When you say that you’re going to be monitoring some of the speech on there, if you see something that you don’t like, would you try to shut Twitter down?
Look, when you talk about monitoring, it is… I hate to break it to you, Peter: Just like everybody else, we very much monitor the news. We pay close attention to everything that you all are reporting, and Twitter is in the news a lot. And so that’s what we’re paying attention to. We’re paying attention to what is in the news and what is being reported on the misinformation that’s out there. Let’s not forget there’s groups like NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and the public health leaders have been very vocal about their concerns as well.
So, yes, we are reading what you all are writing and looking at what you all are reporting about the misinformation that is out there. But I would hope that all Americans, including social media companies, civil rights organizations, as I just laid out, including Fox as well, will agree that we need to call out hate speech and misinformation.
Speaker 5 (23:43):
Hi, Karine. Thank you. Was there any consensus among the leaders yesterday about how to deal with the debt ceiling in the meeting the President hosted?
I don’t have anything beyond what we laid out for you all in our readout. And as you know-
Speaker 5 (23:57):
Was it a topic of conversation?
Again, I don’t have anything else to lay out. I’m not going to go beyond what we talked about. We talked about the… As you know, the President talked to them about, the four leaders, about the rail situation, the rail strike, and averting that, making sure that we don’t put the American people through potential economic downturn, and also the government funding. Those are the things that I can tell you that they did definitely speak about.
Speaker 5 (24:24):
Just ticking off a couple fast ones here. Earlier, we heard from John Kirby on this issue, but as hours matter here, I’m just going to ask for any update. Has the US had any new contact with Paul Whelan in the course of today to get a better sense of his wellbeing, his whereabouts?
I don’t have anything else to share beyond what you heard from my colleagues. Our embassy in Moscow has been working to understand exactly Paul’s condition and why his family hasn’t heard from him. It is a concern. We’re all worried, very much worried about Paul and about Brittney Griner as well.
As we have said repeatedly, they shouldn’t be detained in the first place. They should be home with their families today. But we’ll keep working on bringing them home. Just don’t have anything further to share.
Speaker 5 (25:09):
Let me ask you, you said the President is going to have a chance to greet, in some form, the royals when they’re in Boston later this week. He’s supposed to be in Boston this week for a greeting with them and, it turns out, for a Democratic fundraiser that’s taking place there to help support Democratic candidates. Why is the President attending a Democratic fundraiser in Massachusetts and has no plans, as best we understand at this point, to go to Georgia where there is a Democratic candidate who’s facing a tight challenge?
First, let me just say, the Hatch Act, I want to be really careful; this is an ongoing race that’s current, and so want to be careful on how I-
But about his schedule, I guess, I can [inaudible 00:25:41].
No, no, I just want to state that out there, the Hatch Act. I am covered under the Hatch Act.
One of the things I would argue, Peter, that we saw over the last several months is that it didn’t matter where the President went; his message very much resonated, his message on his economic policy, how he was delivering for the American people. We talked about
… About the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. We talked about the American Rescue Plan and how that was able to bring our economy back on track. We talked about the Inflation Reduction Act, and we made that contrast very clearly with Congress and what Republicans in Congress were trying to do, and that worked. That worked. It was [inaudible 00:26:19]
Speaker 5 (26:19):
Can I ask a quick one maybe to follow, which is-
Speaker 5 (26:21):
… not yes, no. Does the president believe it would help or hurt Raphael Warnock for him to campaign with him in Georgia?
Look, I’m not going to get into any political strategy here. That is not my place here to do that at the podium. I have said many times before at the podium, the president is willing to help Senator Warnock any way he can and however the Senator wants him to get involved.
Speaker 5 (26:41):
Thanks, Karine. Is the administration getting involved in helping an American citizen who was arrested on a visit to the UAE? He’s facing possible extradition to Egypt. He’s criticized the Egyptian President in videos he made in the U.S.
I don’t know much about this particular individual that you’re asking me about. When it comes to wrong wrongfully detained U.S. citizens, the president has been very clear that his administration is going to do everything that they can to bring them home. This particular individual, I don’t have any information for you at this time. We’d have to check with the team.
Speaker 6 (27:19):
Karine, let me ask you this. The president last night had a statement praising the Senate for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. As you know, there are members of the LGBT community who argue that the bill is weak sauced. It doesn’t go far enough to protect the rights of same-sex married couples in the event that Obergefell does get struck down. What’s the White House’s message to those who are concerned that the bill doesn’t go far enough?
Look, you saw the president’s statement last night. This is a huge step forward, and it is historic that we saw this movement from Congress in a bipartisan way to protect same-sex marriage. I think in the time that we’re in, when we are talking about the differences between Republicans and Democrats and how we’re not able to get things done, we’re seeing that right now in an issue, a key issue that matters to this community. Again, it’s a step forward.
There’s still work to be done to get it across the finish line, but I do think, and we do think it’s something to celebrate. There’s always going to be, need to be more work to do in any legislation that’s passed, right? We’re always going to want it to be perfect, but I think it is important to note that we are taking, again, a historic step forward. The president is very proud of the work that Congress is doing, doing this in a bipartisan way to deal with an issue that he has fought on for many years. You’ve heard him say, people should be allowed to choose who they love, and love is love.
Speaker 7 (28:47):
Can I follow up with that, Karine? Thank you. I want to follow up on the rail issue. Senator Sanders and about a dozen other Democratic senators released a statement earlier today, essentially saying that President Biden did well in the initial negotiations, but Congress should do better. They called out the rail industry specifically for making record profits of more than $20 billion over the past three quarters, and essentially said that they should use some of those profits to put it back towards their workers and make sure their workers have paid sick leave. I wonder what the president makes of those comments. We’ve heard the president before call out industry, called out the oil and gas industry for making record profits and not putting that back towards consumers. Does he feel the same way about the rail industry?
I want to be very clear here, the temporary agreement that the president was able to secure in September, on September 15th, as you know, that’s when we announced it, had some real wins for workers. It really did. Again, the concessions he secured for workers included a 24% pay raise and a $5,000 bonus, no changes in co-pay, deductibles or co-insurance cost for the operating crafts, some time off for routine preventative and emergency medical care and protecting the two-man crew.
The victories he helped secure for workers is why the deal was ratified. It was ratified by eight of the 12 unions. We have to remember, if we were to be in a rail shutdown, it will hurt the very families that we’re talking about, that you’re asking me about. It would hurt the union families as well and union workers. So he was asked to get involved in July, he did. He put together the Presidential Emergency Board and he put the full weight of the administration to get to this temporary agreement. Again, I just listed out some real concrete gains that we saw because of the president’s involvement.
Speaker 7 (30:52):
So this message from Democrats that there’s corporate greed involved and that’s one of the reasons why they can’t have an agreement here, the president doesn’t agree with the rail industry.
What I’m saying is that the President was able to put together a temporary agreement that prevented a downturn, a disruption in our economy that would’ve hurt all families. There are some really true wins that came out of this agreement because of the work that this president did. But look, I’ve said this many times and he has said this many times, he’s the president for all Americans. It is important that we avert a rail shutdown. It is unacceptable. It would hurt farms, it would hurt jobs, it would hurt communities across the country, and so that is what the president is focused on. How is he going to help all Americans here? Okay.
Speaker 8 (31:48):
Thank you, Karine. Again on the IRA issue and the Macron’s visit, it seems like both sides have been in public have been towing around this issue a bit because no one wants to spoil the public face of this state visit. But during his lunch today, Macron said some pretty harsh words about the IRA. He said, for example, it was super aggressive against French competitors and it would quote, “kill jobs in the EU.” I know you’ve said that you’ve taken it into account and you’re considering and so on, but does the president, he’ll be meeting with Macron for hours, I guess tomorrow, does he have some kind of sympathy for the straits that Macron seems to say that he’s in on this and in others? Is he really taking this on board as a very acute problem, the president? ‘Cause that seems to be the way Macron’s putting it out there.
Look, I’m not going to get ahead of what’s going to be on the agenda for their visit tomorrow. I’m not going to get ahead on what they’re going to talk about, the topics that they will be discussing. I’ve been very clear, France is the United States oldest ally. This visit is about reaffirming their relationship. You’ve seen yourselves the relationship in person when they’ve met a few times during this president’s almost two years tenure here. They have a very warm friendship. It is an important relationship and that the president takes very seriously. I know that President Macron does as well. But look, there’s a number of provisions that we think will contribute to the growth of the clean energy sector globally, as I’ve mentioned already, in the Inflation Reduction Act.
It presents significant opportunities for European firms and as well as benefits to EU energy security. This is not a zero sum game, but we have to remember the Inflation Reduction Act is a historic piece of legislation that’s going to lower costs for the American people. It’s also going to invest a historic investment into dealing with climate change in a real way. So not going to get into hypotheticals about what’s going to be said or how the president’s going to deal with X, Y, Z. What I can tell you is we welcome the president of France and his wife, and the president’s looking forward to having conversations with him.
Speaker 8 (34:11):
Just a quick scheduling kind of thing. The French press people put out that the two are having dinner tonight with their spouses, I guess at a restaurant, a private dinner they’re going to. Can you confirm that? [inaudible 00:34:24]
I don’t have anything to preview at this time. Go ahead, April.
April Ryan (34:28):
Karine, I want go back to the rail strike or potential there. I want to drill down on what you continue to say hurt, the hurt. This White House, this administration on the Hill, you guys are rallying the economy as some are concerned about what the end of the first quarter could look like in 2023. Could you qualify and quantify what that hurt looks like-
April Ryan (34:56):
… because you keep talking about the union people and their families, but it’s broader than that.
Yeah. Absolutely. Let me break it down exactly what this could look like, and a rail shutdown would have a grinding effect on our economy to halt and touch the lives of nearly every family across the country. Even in the days before a rail stoppage, a series of disruptions will begin to occur. A couple of examples here. By Friday, class one railroads will likely begin to notify their customers of the wind down process. Just the announcement would disrupt supply chains as companies begin to reschedule shipments from rail to truck. As soon as this weekend, class one railroads may begin to refuse to transport hazardous materials like chemicals necessary to treat drinking water and waste water.
Oil and gas refineries unable to ship out hazardous byproducts will stop producing diesel and gasoline creating supply constraints. The auto sector could also be disrupted as soon as this weekend as well. Last time around, the railroad began refusing to transport automobiles about a week ahead of the shutdown deadline. Again, Congress must get a bill to the President’s desk this weekend to protect families and from these potential devastating impacts. So this is what we’re talking about. These are real-life changes and impacts that we can see here.
April Ryan (36:29):
With that said, and thank you for all that. I didn’t expect you to have it, thank you. But at the end of the day, you are fighting inflation. This White House is fighting inflation, and it sounds like the numbers will go up again. What is in place? What are you guys working on in case there is a strike? In understanding those numbers and all the things that you qualify and you quantify, what is in place to cushion the American taxpayer’s pocketbook or the American consumer’s pocketbook with this knowledge that you have?
Let me just, on inflation for a second, and I do want to point out that we’ve seen in recent months, which is inflation slowing in the third quarter compared to first and second quarters, so that’s good news. The last CPI, we’ve seen prices fall for used cars, apparel, inflation moderation for housing, food and services, all welcome news as we head into the holidays. So we have seen that in the data points in the past several months, so that’s important to note. As I’ve said many times, when it comes to the president’s economic plan, inflation is lowering costs and dealing with inflation. Fighting inflation is the president’s number one priority. At the beginning of the briefing, I laid out gas prices, how much it’s fallen. The gas price that you’ll see is about 2.99. It’s gone down by more than a buck 50 per gallon, and that’s because of the work that this president has done with the strategic petroleum reserve, taking historic action, so that matters as well. We are certainly working towards that. But look, the president is confident that Congress is going to act on this, that we are going to work to avert a railway shutdown. That’s why you saw the House today, he complimented the House, the speaker, and the leadership to moving the bill forward. It included Democrats and Republicans, so we saw a interest of getting this done across the spectrum. So we’re going to continue to work towards that. It’s going to go to the Senate next and the president and his team is going to continue to encourage members to get it done.
Speaker 9 (38:59):
Speaker 9 (39:00):
… to that. Is the administration still engaged with the rail companies, the unions, to keep talks going in the event that the Senate is either unable to get this passed, or maybe is delayed in getting this passed?
Again, we are confident, and we are going to continue to push to get this done. The President and his team is going to continue to work Congress to make sure that we avert a rail shutdown. As we know, it will have catastrophic effects and impacts to our economy, so we’re going to stay on track there.
Yes, is our administration continuing to having those conversations? I’ve laid out, Walsh has been talking to unions for the past several months. That continues. I’ve talked about Secretary Buttigieg, Department of Transportation, talking to the companies; that will continue. And also Secretary Vilsack is doing his part with the agriculture sectors. So those conversations are always going to continue, but right now our priority is working with Congress. The President has talked to the four leaders, as you know, yesterday about this particular issue. He’s going to continue to talk to congressional members. Our team is going to continue to work on that to make sure that we avert this, make sure we put legislation forward that averts this rail shutdown.
Speaker 9 (40:20):
Just to clarify, there are ongoing negotiations between the unions and the rail companies?
I mean, look, I can’t speak for the unions and the rail companies. They’re going to have their conversations, I’m not speaking for them. I’m speaking for the President and what he’s trying to do for the American people, and it’s to avert a rail shutdown.
Speaker 10 (40:41):
Thanks, Karine. Going back to tomorrow’s state dinner, can you tell me what kind of COVID precautions will be in place, and are people attending this dinner required to get a COVID test?
So I can say this: as always, we will follow the CDC guidelines. So I point you to the CDC guidelines as it relates to COVID protocols. And I’m just going to point you to their website.
Speaker 10 (41:04):
As far as testing, do people…
Again, I’m just going to point to the CDC guide guidance on this.
Following up on the Powell comments: I know you can’t comment on Fed policy, but can you just tell us, how confident is the White House right now that the US will be able to avoid a recession?
I mean, look, I just laid out the data points in the beginning of my briefing, when I talked about how the third quarter, there was a revision in the third quarter, and how much it’s growing, right? It was first said it was going to be estimated 2.6%, and we’re seeing it at 2.9%. Look, we believe that this is an economy that’s resilient. We believe that… and it’s resilient because of the President’s work, because of the President’s economic plan, because of what he did walking into this administration, putting forth the American Rescue Plan that got schools open, that got shots and arms as it relates to the vaccine, put forward a real, comprehensive plan so those schools could be open, so that small businesses could open up again. And it’s continued, right? With the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, creating jobs with the Inflation Reduction Act; this has been all part of the President’s plan to make sure that we build from the bottom up and the middle out.
And that work has been able to create 10 million jobs in this administration. And we just saw the President in Bay City, Michigan, where he talked about the manufacturing jobs, bringing jobs back to the country because of the Chips and Science Act. Right? More than 700,000 manufacturing jobs that have been created in this President’s administration, because of the work that he’s done. And so now what we’re seeing, and you’ve heard us talk about this, is we’re seeing an economy that’s going into a transition to more stable and steady growth. So we do not foresee a recession. The data that I just laid out that we have seen the last couple months does not show a recession.
Separately, House Democrats made history today when they elected Hakeem Jeffries as the first black leader. What’s the President’s reaction to the new leadership party in the House?
Well, as you know, the President’s… Well, the President, I should say, sends his heartfelt congratulations to his friend, Congressman Jeffries, as he marks profoundly important history, becoming the first black leader of either party in either chamber of Congress. This is wonderful news for our country and highlights the promise of the American dream for all our people. He has worked with Congressman Jeffries for many years delivering for the American middle class, as I just laid out when we talk about the President’s economic policy, standing up for fundamental constitutional rights like the right to choose, and standing up with law enforcement to keep our communities safe in the fight against gun crime. So he also congratulates Catherine Clark and Peter Aguilar on their elections as well. He looks forward to working with all of them and building on the progress that we have made in the last almost two years.
Speaker 8 (44:13):
[inaudible 00:44:13] back on the border for a second. Congressman McCarthy also said that it was the President who brought up the border in the meeting. Is that accurate?
I’m not going to go beyond the readout.
Speaker 8 (44:23):
Did you take it as a good faith invitation to go to the border, or something less?
I’m just, I’m telling you right now, I’m not going to go beyond the readout that we provided yesterday.
Speaker 8 (44:31):
Okay. And not related: you might have seen the foreign minister of Belarus died suddenly this week at 64. He’s somebody who could maybe be a conduit to the West, but it’s also, as you know, that regime is kind of tight with Putin. What does the White House make of this?
I don’t have any comment at this time on that.
Speaker 11 (44:50):
Thank you. India tomorrow formally takes over the presidency of G20. It has announced the theme of one family, one earth, and one future, announced it’s agenda. But from the US perspective, what should be the G20’s top priority for next year?
So the President’s… We look forward to supporting India’s G20 presidency next year on a range of issues, including addressing current food and energy security challenges, while continuing our efforts to build a resilient global economy. I know that Jake was, Jake Sullivan was asked this question when he was here probably most recently, about if the President is going to be attending. As you’ve seen the President has attended, has been participating in the G20 in his tenure here. Don’t have anything specific to announce or any specifics to announce on travel.
Speaker 11 (45:42):
I just said I don’t have anything specific to announce on his travel, but as you have seen the past almost two years, he has been certainly participating in the G20.
Speaker 11 (45:52):
And [inaudible 00:45:53] in Pakistan there has changed, a new army chief has taken over, General Munir. Do you have anything on that?
So the United States values are long-standing cooperation with Pakistan, and has always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to US interest. We look forward to continue to work with Pakistan to promote stability, prosperity for the people of Pakistan and the region. I will take one last question from the back. Someone in the back.
Speaker 12 (46:22):
The back? Follow up the…
Go ahead, sir. You.
Speaker 12 (46:24):
Thank you. Thank you. So I’ll follow up on the…
I just… go ahead.
Speaker 13 (46:24):
On the potential… oh, sorry.
Speaker 12 (46:24):
Okay. [inaudible 00:46:27]
Speaker 14 (46:27):
I’m interested, why hasn’t the President been more involved in helping the DNC decide [inaudible 00:46:31] presidential primary states. Obviously there’s four or five potential states, and there’s been a sense that the White House hasn’t been public enough about which states it wants to go first.
Look, I was asked this question recently. It is a political question. It is about the 2024 elections. I cannot speak to this, so I would refer you to the DNC. It’s not something that I can speak to from here. One last question. Go ahead young lady in the back. Go ahead.
Speaker 15 (46:54):
Thank you. On the potential rail strike, some representatives today putting blame on the Biden administration, saying that it should have never come to this. What went wrong from the administration’s point of view in September?
We don’t think anything went wrong. We believe that, if you think about the timeline that I laid out and what the President and his team has been doing, for the past several months we’ve been directly involved, engaged in supporting negotiations and averting a shutdown. And we’ve been doing this for months. And it was because of the President’s action back in July, the unions asked him to constitute a Presidential Emergency Board, a request they made because they knew, as a pro-union president, he would be able to get to an agreement.
And he did. On September 15th, he came through with a temporary agreement that had an increase in pay by 24%. It had a 5,000 bonus, it has a 5,000 bonus for workers. And let’s not forget, when that agreement came out on September 15th, it was lauded and praised by the unions and union leadership.
So again, this is a president that has delivered for the union, and he sees themselves as a pro-union president. That term has been given to him by labor. And again, what is so important right now is that we need to make sure that we avert a rail shutdown. And that’s what the President is calling on Congress to do. This is something that would have a direct effect on those union families. It would have a direct effect on communities across the country. It would have an impact on farms, on jobs, on agriculture, as I just mentioned. So this is incredibly important that we avert this, and that’s why the president is calling on Congress to act. Thanks everybody.
Speaker 16 (48:48):