Mar 2, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/01/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/01/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/01/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/01/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:08):

Hi. Good afternoon everybody. Afternoon. Apologies for the briefing start in late today. I want to start by saying happy Women’s History Month, a time when we celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity in our nation. And we reaffirm our commitment to continue advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls in the United States and around the world. The President is honoring this commitment with action. He signed into law historic legislation to advance gender equity over the last year, including to support women in the workplace such as the Pregnant Workers Family Fairness Act, pardon me, the Speak Out Act, and the Pump for Nursing Mothers Act as well. And to ensure all people can live free from violence through the strengthening and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The President is also proud of having the most diverse group of women at the highest levels of government in US history, including the first woman Vice President, and the first gender equal cabinet.

This Woman’s History Month, we remain committed to continuing this important work in service of advancing the full participation of women, a foundational tenet of our democracy. And I wanted to lift up some really good news that all of you saw this morning, and you also heard from the President as well speak to this, which is the lowering health cost for American people that we heard today. So as you know, for far too long, American families have been crushed by drug cost many times higher than the cost to make them, and what people in other countries are charged for that same prescription.. Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it as well as the President said this morning, it’s flat wrong. That’s why the president fought tooth and nail to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps the price of insulin for Americans on Medicare.

This was a critical action to lower healthcare cost for American people, but the President has been clear that the insulin cap should apply to all Americans, and that was something that we saw Congressional Republicans block at that time. In his State of the Union address, he also called on pharma companies to continue this progress and bring prices down for everyone on their own. Today, Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the United States, heeded that call and announced that they are lowering their prices, capping what patients pay out of pocket for drug makers insulin products at $35. This is great news and important progress toward lowering costs for all Americans. Unfortunately, congressional Republicans are among the few left that believe insulin costs should be sky-high. In fact, they are fighting to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which would increase healthcare costs for American people and increase the deficit as well.

And finally, last night, House Republicans voted to overturn the Department of Labor’s rule that investors make their own investment decisions free of government interference. The Senate will vote on the measure today. Republicans talk about their love of free markets, small government, and letting the private sector do its work. The Republican bill is opposite of that. It forces MAGA Republicans’ ideology down the throats of private sector and handcuffing investors as well. The bill would borrow fiduciaries from considering significant risk like extreme climate threats and poor corporate governance when they make investment decisions. It would give investment professionals less flexibility to make prudent decisions, meaning they won’t be free to maximize the retirement savings for millions of Americans. That would jeopardize the retirement and life savings for police officers, firefighters, teachers, and tens of millions of retirees all across the country.

This is unacceptable to the President and that is why he will veto this bill if it does come to his desk. President Biden is focused on protecting workers’ hard-earned life savings and pensions, and that is what he’s going to continue to do. You’ve heard him say that many times. And with that, Amory, you want to kick us off?

Amory (04:34):

Yeah, thank you. So Chicago had their first round of mayoral elections yesterday, and it’s the latest big American city where frustrations about crime was a central issue of the cycle. Does President Biden, does he feel that this administration, and I guess Washington writ large, is putting enough attention on dealing with the issue of crime, particularly in big urban areas like Chicago?

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:03):

So let me just first speak to the mayor’s race. Look, the President is committed to working with whomever the people in Chicago or the people on the ground, whichever, if it’s a city or a state, whomever they choose to represent them. So that is the case and will continue to be the case, and so I’m going to withhold commenting on any specific race, but I know you’re asking about crime specifically. Look, the President put forth, as you know, a comprehensive safer communities plan and he put that forth after inheriting a rise of crime. That is something that he has been focused on since the beginning of his administration. Let’s not forget, in that plan, he calls for more than a hundred thousand police officers to go into the community, to work with communities and make sure that communities feel safe, families feel safe. And that’s what the President has put forward.

And when you see his commitment to crime, you’ll see that in his budget next week. As you know, we’re going to release that March 9th, and it will reflect his commitment as well as we’re trying to continue to fight crime, which the President has been leading from the beginning of his administration. But what we have seen is that for years, for years, congressional Republicans have been doing the opposite. When you think about the COPS program, which is something that the President put forward, they have wanted to defund that, to take that away. And if you think about that, that leads to defunding the police. Just recently they called underfunding the FBI, and you think about the border security funding. They want to take that away as well.

So the President has been committed. And one more thing I would add, let’s not forget the banning of assault weapons. That is a key part of this, when we think about crime, we think about gun crime, that we believe will help alleviate the crime that we’re seeing, keep families safe, keep communities safe across the country. So the President has walked the talk, the President has been very consistent on making sure that communities feel safe in fighting crime, and he’ll continue to do that.

Amory (07:05):

Okay, so just one different topic. TikTok isn’t safe for federal government workers’ devices. Does the President believe it’s safe for Americans’ children’s smartphones?

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:17):

So I’m glad that you asked about that because, look, we have been clear about our concerns about TikTok, or apps like TikTok, and certainly our concerns with countries including China as they seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that can present harm and risk to our national security clearly. To your point about families, there was a piece of data, a CDC data that just found recently, that nearly 60% of teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021 and 30% seriously considered suicide. So this is something that the President has taken action on. If you look at using his executive branch authorities, when we think about his unity agenda, a couple of things that he was able to do was stop collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children and impose stricter limits on the personal data companies collect on all of us.

And so this is what the President calls on for Congress to pass in a bipartisan way, privacy legislation to hold big tech accountable. And so the President’s going to continue to take actions, but we see that in the data, how this has affected young people, especially during this pandemic in the last couple of years.

Speaker 1 (08:42):

Thanks, Karine. To follow on that, does the President believe TikTok is a threat to national security?

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:48):

Well, we have said that we have concerns. We have concerns about the app and that’s why we have called on Congress to act and including, and I mentioned earlier just moments ago, including how China is trying to collect the privacy of Americans in a way that it can present national security risks. So yes, we have concerns about that. And look, we’re going to continue to, again, to call on Congress. I just laid out the President’s unity agenda and what he’s looking to do and the actions that he wants to take from the executive branch of his authority, and so we’re going to continue to call that out.

Speaker 1 (09:25):

Do the actions include a ban on all devices in the US?

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:31):

So look, what I would say is this. The White House does not use TikTok, but we do believe that Congress took action and so therefore clearly they took action and put this into launch. Clearly we’re taking those steps as it relates to the federal government. Outside of that, we know that CFIUS has an ongoing investigation or ongoing looking at this situation, so I’m not going to go beyond what CFIUS is doing.

Speaker 1 (10:07):

I guess what I’m trying to understand is, has the President not issued a federal ban on TikTok on all devices because he does not think it’s a threat to national security or because he does not have a legal mechanism to do so?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:22):

I’m not going to get into the specifics on what he has legally to do so or to not do so. What I’m saying, and we’ve been very clear that TikTok poses a problem and an issue. And so we have concerns about that as it relates to American’s data collecting American’s data and the potential national security risk. And we’ve been very, very clear on that. Again, CFIUS has an ongoing process that they’re working through, so I’m going to let that speak for itself, what they come up with.

Speaker 1 (10:50):

And then just one more on the intelligence assessment on the Havana syndrome. The community does not believe it was a foreign adversary that is to blame for these cases, but rather things such as preexisting conditions, conventional illnesses, environmental factors. Can you elaborate on what that might mean and what else you’re doing to try to pinpoint exactly what caused it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:20):

Yeah, so a couple of things. So nothing is more important to this administration, to this President than the health and the wellbeing of our workforce. So that is a priority for this President. With bipartisan support, with Congress, we have focused on ensuring that our colleagues and their families who report anomalous health incidents receive the support and access care that they need. And so that has also, that medical treatment, the medical care that they need has been incredibly important. So we also asked the US Intelligence Company to surge resources to help advance our understanding of the AHI reports to date and examine all possible explanations. We have committed to be transparent with the workforce because we believe that’s what they deserve, and with the American people as well. But what the IC has learned, and we would refer you to, clearly, ODNI as it relates to the assessment and what the specifics of that as assess assessment and the key judgements that the IC released, that’s something that we clearly would recommend to them.

But it is important to note that what the Director of the National Intelligence said and underscored today is that today’s IC assessment does not call into action the very real experiences and symptoms. We acknowledge that and we understand that people truly went through an ordeal, and that’s something that clearly our colleagues and their families had to deal with. So our commitment and the President’s commitment to the health and safety of US government personnel remains unwavering. And this is why the departments and agency will continue to provide timely care as we look at the medical care and make sure that the reports are thorough, support research efforts, and process Havana Act payments as requested. So again, as it relates to any specific questions to their assessment, I would refer you to ODNI, but this doesn’t change the commitment that the President has in making sure that these families, our colleagues in the workforce, get the help and assistance that they need, and we’re going to continue to work through that. Thank you.

Speaker 2 (13:29):

And just to follow up on that, is the President satisfied with that report, with that assessment on the Havana Syndrome?

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:35):

Look, I’ll say this. What’s important to the President is that we take this very seriously as the intelligence community has, and you saw the assessment, they laid it out pretty clearly from ODNI. What we are committed to is making sure that our workforce and their families get the assistance that they need through the medical care. And look, the work is ongoing. It continues.

Speaker 2 (14:05):

So that extra special financial support that came from the Havana Act with the president signed, the White House still believes that the people who were suffering from these symptoms, even with this assessment now, that those people should still get that extra financial support?

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:19):

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. But I do want to send a message to the American people. Look, it is important, again, for the health and wellness of our workforce to be a priority. And that’s what you saw from the Intelligence Community assessment. And even from the assessment, that doesn’t alter that. It doesn’t alter our commitment, the President’s commitment to their health and safety. And so that’s what I would say. There is a commitment there to make sure that we make sure there is a safe workforce for folks who are working for the US government and who are clearly employees.

Speaker 2 (14:57):

If I can, just on one topic that you had brought up, the Eli Lilly news. Did the President make a personal appeal directly to any company executives ahead of this announcement to lower the cost of insulin?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:07):

So I’ll say this. I mean, the President has the biggest bully pulpit-

Speaker 2 (15:12):


Karine Jean-Pierre (15:13):

Well, I mean, I think that’s pretty important. I think when people ask what is the President doing using the bully pulpit as he did at the State of the Union and calling out or laying out how we can help the American people is critical. It’s important here. And we saw that, right? We saw that. He spoke to insulin and how costs needs to go down. And here we see Eli Lilly taking action. And so, look, this is something that he’s going to do. Using the bully pulpit as the President of the United States is an incredibly powerful tool. And the President uses that in a very important way, not just to talk to the American people and layout his platform, lay out how he’s working every day to make sure, in this case, lowering costs for Americans, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s energy, and making sure that we continue to deliver. But

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:00):

It’s also speaking directly to companies out there like Eli Lilly and saying, “Hey. You all need to change how you move forward,” especially on something like insulin that affects so many families across the country.

Speaker 3 (16:13):

One-on-one conversations with Lilly or other companies?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:16):

I don’t have any conversations to preview, but I think it is important to really speak to the importance of the bully pulpit, the and the way that The President uses that in a way that’s effective and in a way that communicates what the American people need.

Speaker 3 (16:32):

Okay. Thanks, Karine. China is going through its party congress process right now and they’re expected to implement the biggest government reshuffle in a decade over there. What will US engagement with the Chinese look like once this process is over?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:50):

The approach that we have to China hasn’t changed. You’ve heard us say we see competition not conflict. You’ve heard us say that it needs to be practical. That’s the way we approach it, calm and resolute, and that is not going to change. The President will always do what is required to defend our interests, the American people’s interests. Still believes it is important to keep the lines of communication open. As you all know, Secretary Blinken very recently when he was in Munich, had a meeting, a conversation with Wang Yi, his counterpart in China, and so. Again, keeping those lines of communications open.

As you mentioned, they’re going through their annual parliament to put in place its government representative. We maintain working level lines of communication as they go through this process, and after that’s done, as we have said, we are prepared to have high-level engagement with China from The President on down. I don’t have anything to preview. I know many of you have asked me about if there’s a conversation with The President and President Xi there. I don’t have anything to read out for you at that at this time.

Speaker 3 (17:52):

Xi is expected to further tighten his grip on China after this process is over. How is the administration viewing that? How is the administration planning to engage?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:03):

Look: I’m not going to get into how the process of their annual parliament. I’m going to let them … That’s something political. We don’t really respond to that. They’re going to go through their process. Once that is over, we’re going to continue having an open-channel conversation. As I mentioned, Secretary Blinken had a conversation with his counterpart, Wang Li, very recently in Munich when they all gathered there for the summit. And so, we’re going to continue to have those line of communications. Look: as I said just moments ago, it’s going to be resolute, it’s going to be practical, and it’s going to be calm. We have been very, very clear. Nothing will change on our approach with handling, with dealing, in our relationship with China in this past two years.

Speaker 3 (18:44):

I have one on another topic. The Ron DeSantis op-ed in the journal yesterday where he talked about signing a law that ended Disney self-governing status in Florida that essentially provided the company with the favorable tax structure; they were able to get away without paying taxes around the regional infrastructure developments. How does the White House that has been cracking down on corporate tax evasion view this move by DeSantis? Is there any line of thinking that perhaps supports what has just happened in Florida with Disney?

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:22):

I’m going to be very frank with you, NADIA. I have not read the op-ed and frankly I don’t plan to. Look: The President has been very clear here. He’s going to deliver for the American people. I talked about lowering cause; we just talked about Eli Lilly and their great announcement of capping $35 for insulin, which is going to be so important to families across the country. We just talked about, I was just asked about, crime and the work that The President has done over the last two years to fight crime in communities, something that he inherited when you think about the rise of crime in the last couple of years.

And so, we’re not going to play political games. That’s not something that we do here. We’re going to continue to stay very focused, laser-focused, on delivering for the American people, and I’m not going to read that op-ed. Go ahead.

Phil (20:06):

Thanks, Karine. There’s a bipartisan rail-safety bill that was introduced or proposed today in the Senate. Senator Majority Lead Chuck Schumer endorsed, brought out [inaudible 00:20:15] proposals. Has the White House seen it? Does the White House support in the wake of the East Palestine disaster?

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:19):

We’re glad to see bipartisan support. This is something that Secretary Pete has been calling for, and this is clearly to bring forth several rail- safety measures, which is incredibly important. The bill would increase the maximum fines for safety violations. It would strengthen rules governing trains carrying hazardous materials. It will accelerate the timeline for phasing in safer tank cars and establish a permanent requirement for two-person train cars, so this is a good first step, and we welcome it. We encourage Republicans and Democrats to continue to work together to advance these common sense rail-safety measures. It’s, again, an important first step, and we welcome it.

Phil (21:01):

Is there anything just on the executive-branch side that you guys are considering or weighing in terms of assistance to East Palestinians?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:07):

As far you’re talking about economic, more economic assistance, look: you’ve heard from Secretary Buttigieg, you’ve heard from the EPA administrator, speak to how we’re going to hold Northfolk-Suffolk accountable here, to make sure that they pay and they pay for the mess that they created on the ground in the community of East Palestine. This is something that we are incredibly focused on and serious about. You’ve even heard the EPA administrators say that if they don’t, they will have to pay this three times over. And so, look: we’re going to keep them accountable and that’s going to be our focus.

Phil (21:44):

And then, just one final one. The President nominated Eric Garcetti roughly 600 days ago to be ambassador to India. He’s supposed to have a committee-approval process next week, though I think it is still up in the air. Does the administration believe that he’ll be confirmed or do you feel like this is a make or break moment for a long process?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:04):

As you know, Phil, Eric Garcetti was voted out in a bipartisan way out of committee and so, clearly, he has had bipartisan support, which is very important in this process. We encourage and look forward to the Senate moving forward with his nomination on the floor. Okay.

Speaker 4 (22:26):

Thanks, Karine. I just wanted to circle back to crime. As soon as next week, Congress can end up overturning a new sentencing law in DC that reduces penalties for some violent crimes among other measures. Is The President prepared to issue a veto if that vote passes and it crosses his desk?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:41):

I know we’ve been asked this question before. Mm. So, look: The President takes this very seriously when it comes to crime. I’m not going to get ahead of what the decision’s going to be or what it’s going to ultimately look like. Don’t want to get too much into hypotheticals. But when I can state clearly, and I’ve said this before, The President is very committed to make sure that our communities are safer, that families feel safer. That’s why he put forth a plan very early on, making sure that we put more police in communities that work with communities so that they feel safer, and you’ll see that as it relates to funding. You’ll see that in his budget next month. I’m not going to get into too much of hypotheticals from here, but The President I believe in the last two years and throughout his career has shown his dedication in making sure that we keep communities safe.

Speaker 4 (23:37):

Okay. Just a second one: since it’s March 1st, do you have any information about The President’s planned trip to Ottawa this month? It’s been reported that he’s going to be visiting.

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:47):

I don’t have anything to share. Nothing to preview at this time. Okay.

Speaker 5 (23:51):

I wanted to ask you about the student loan arguments that were before the Supreme Court yesterday, and many justices seem to take issue with the program. I wonder if the administration has a message to those who have had loans already forgiven and are in limbo right now? Given the skepticism from a lot of the justices, are there any plans from the administration in the event that you don’t have the authority or the authority is struck down?

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:20):

So, a couple of things. The plan that we put forward in August is the plan that we have, which is also a plan that you heard the solicitor general really defend in a very strong and powerful way yesterday. That’s our plan. We believe in our legal authority to get that done, to get it implemented, and let’s not forget it is a good plan. It is a plan that’s going to give American families, middle-class families who truly need it, individuals who truly need it, up to $20,000 in relief, to give that, again, a little bit breathing room for, again, working families and middle-class Americans.

You heard, I don’t know if you saw this, but Secretary of Education sent out an email to borrowers yesterday basically saying that we have their back. I think that’s also very important. That’s the message that we sent to borrowers who need this opportunity right now as we’re coming out of this pandemic, going through this pandemic, a little bit, again, of breathing room.

Speaker 5 (25:23):

I guess my question is if that plan is deemed unconstitutional, is there a backup plan?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:28):

No. I just said that’s our plan. This is our focus right now, is getting this done. You saw, again, the Solicitor General really give a strong argument yesterday in front of the highest court of the land. There’s a reason why we took it to the Supreme Court because we believe that we have legal authority. Let’s not forget who this helps: it helps teachers, it helps firefighters, nurses, police officers, that is who we’re talking about, in giving that extra little time and extra breathing room, to make sure that they can either start a family or buy a house. Let’s not forget: when that happens, when that occurs, it actually puts money back into the community and helps the economy more broadly. Okay.

Speaker 6 (26:08):

Thank you. Follow-up on … Is it me?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:12):

No. It’s okay.

Speaker 6 (26:13):

Okay. Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:13):

You’ve got the floor, my friend.

Speaker 6 (26:16):

A follow-up on Mayor CASSIDY’s nomination. Looks like he doesn’t has the bipartisan support. As this week Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, placed a hold on his nomination along with six other senior diplomatic positions, including Richard Verma, Geeta Rao. What do you have to say on that? Is President calling these some of the senators to get these nominations through the Senate?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:40):

It’s basically what I just said. We think that Eric Garcetti is qualified to serve this vital role. That’s why The President nominated him. The President nominated him because he thought he had the experience to be the US Ambassador in India. As I mentioned moments ago to one of your colleagues, he received bipartisan support going out of committee, and we would like to see the Senate to move him forward and to continue getting that support.

Speaker 6 (27:11):

One more. Secretary Blinken landed in Delhi today to attend the G20 Foreign Minister’s meeting [inaudible 00:27:22], his Indian counterpart. Is he carrying any message from The President for the Prime Minister, any letter or message for [inaudible 00:27:28]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:28):

Yeah. On his visit, Secretary Blinken will reaffirm the strength of the US India relationship and express our commitment to continue working together and in groups like the Quad to advance economic growth for our two countries and expand cooperation as we have our shared priorities. That’s what you’re going to hear from Secretary. That is the message that he will deliver.

Speaker 6 (27:48):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:48):

Go ahead.

Speaker 7 (27:49):

Thanks, Karine. Just following up on the HAVANA Act, which technically stands for the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act. The predicate obviously of that law that The President signed is that these are attacks and now the intelligence community is saying … well, seven agencies are saying … that it was either unlikely or very unlikely that that’s the case. Understanding your position that obviously the administration wants to ensure that personnel across the government gets care, but that’s not what this law outlines. This law outlines care for those who have been the subject of attacks. Is that a concern of yours and how do you plan to [inaudible 00:28:36]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:36):

Look: I think what The President wants to make sure that occurs that that happens is that we show our commitment to government employees, to the workforce, as they’re going through a real issue here. This is a real problem that they have all experienced. And so, we want to make sure that they continue the medical care that they’re getting, that they get the resources that is needed, as they’re working for the US government. That doesn’t take that away. And so, that is a message that we’re going to send to the workforce, the US government federal workforce, and also the families who are going through, the individuals who are going through this right now.

I think that’s an important message for The President to send. They had a real experience that they all went through, that they reported, that clearly the intelligence community looked into to see exactly what it was. They’ve had a conclusion; they came up with assessment. I would leave it to them to speak directly to that, but it doesn’t take away what they went through. And so, The President is committed to that and I think that’s the message that we want to make sure it goes forward

Speaker 7 (29:40):

Just quickly following up on that, now that this assessment is in, does The President feel, does the White House feel, as if this is a settled matter or does he have more [inaudible 00:29:53]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:52):

Honestly, I would refer you to the ODNI on their specific assessment and where they are and what they concluded. I’m not going to speak to that from here. What I want to reiterate again, is that we want to make sure that the workforce, our federal workforce, understand that their health and safety is indeed our priority. Go ahead.

Speaker 8 (30:12):

Yeah. On the Federal Reserve search, the search for the vice chair, can you say, is The President looking for a more dovish counterbalance to Jay Powell, which is what some progressives would prefer? Or is that not a factor in this search?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:26):

Look: this is a priority; making sure that we fill this vacancy is a priority to this president. Not going to get into specifics on what The President’s process is, but I will tell you that he thinks it’s important to get that vacancy filled and he’s going to clearly continue to make that a priority and we hope to have something to share in the near future.

Speaker 7 (30:50):

Pfizer 702 reauthorization, what’s the White House’s position on reforms to 702 in this round? Would you be open to reforms or is the White House insisting that the section be reauthorized without any changes?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:02):

I don’t have anything new to share on that particular piece.

Speaker 9 (31:05):

Okay. If I could go back to the question about the DC Council action and the likelihood that the Senate will send The President a bill that forces him to make a decision, is it fair to say The President is at this moment undecided? Has he not yet decided what he’s going to do?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:19):

I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals from here. Just what I can say to you is The President’s commitment, just more broadly as it relates to crime, as it relates to making sure that Americans and families feel safe, and what he’s done in the past two years, but also beyond, and so that’s what I can speak to at this time, just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.

Speaker 9 (31:37):

Let me ask it this way. Basically, there are two ways to look at the question. One is to decide with the mayor, who said that the council’s action went too far and she vetoed it; the other is to decide with the members of the council, who insisted on enacting against her objections. Has the president decided where he stands? Does he stand with Mayor Bowser? Does he stand with members of the council?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:57):

Look: what I can say … As it relates to

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:00):

… to DC, I’ll say this, and the president has been very clear about this. We think that we must do more to reduce crime and save lives, and that’s why the president has taken those actions as it relates to more DC more broadly, and the president has said this as well. It’s a clear example why DC deserves statehood. That’s something that the president has called for since the campaign. But again, I’m not going to get into particulars, into hypotheticals. A Safer America Plan was something that the president has put forward to lay out how he sees making communities safer. How he sees dealing with an increase of crime that happened that he inherited, that happened before he walked into office. So I’ll just leave it there and won’t speak further to any hypotheticals. I’ll go to the back and then I’ll come back down.

Speaker 10 (32:51):

Okay, thanks, Karine. So I’m going to ask you about the Labor Secretary Julie Su, while she was a labor secretary of California during COVID, the state lost between 20 billion and 32 billion in unemployment insurance to fraudsters. Meanwhile, 5 million people had benefits delayed and a million people had them wrongfully canceled. Is the president concerned that this will impact her getting confirmed?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:14):

So a couple of things, because we got to put this all in context of what was happening at the time. It was a historic crush of unemployment claims at the onset of the pandemic. That’s what we were seeing at the design of the initial pandemic unemployment systems in years of national investments in UI modernization led to challenges, including fraud attacks, as you were just stating, across the nation in red and blue states alike. That was happening across the country during the very early stages of the pandemic.

But under her leadership, under Julie’s leadership, California took important steps to process a number of claims. We’re talking about one in five, which is in the entire nation, that’s what California was dealing with, to ensure that working people who were out of work, and this was not their fault, could continue to pay their rent, could continue to put food on the table, continue to keep the lights on. So look, she believes in safety nets and need to be strengthened. That is something that she indeed believes in. I’ll add this as well; when the president took office, he prioritized combating potential frauds of relief funds, just as he did aggressively and successfully as the vice president. So this is an issue that’s important to her, strengthening those safety nets, and also an issue that’s important to the President that he’s actually taken action on.

Speaker 10 (34:33):

So does he think she can be confirmed?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:36):

Oh, absolutely yes. She thinks that the Senate should confirm her and she is the right person for the job and has the experience to do the job. Let’s not forget, she has spent the last two years working hand in hand with Secretary Walsh.

Speaker 10 (34:50):

You talked about TikTok earlier. I’m just curious, now, why did the administration then wait so long to ban TikTok in all federal employees? 29 states have already done it, and the president, his first month in office, canceled investigation by the Commerce Department into TikTok. So why did he wait so long?

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:07):

So I’m not going to speak to any investigation. Look, the process is happening now. That’s what we’re seeing. What I can say is that the president has been very clear by his concern with apps like TikTok, and I just laid out the CDC reporting and how it’s affecting our children and the importance of making sure that we deal with this in a real way, which is why he put forth his unity agenda and laying out ways that we can deal with an issue that is affecting the emotional growth of our children. So look, unity agenda, lays out how the president wants to move forward. I’m not going to go beyond that. Yeah.

Speaker 11 (35:50):

[inaudible 00:35:47]. The White House [inaudible 00:35:51] this is kind of MAGA Republicans in closing their views on the free market. The fact that two Democratic senators say they’re going to vote for this bill, does that undermine that argument?

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:59):

No, not at all. Because this is something that Republicans have pushed forward. This is their agenda, which is in line in how they want to move forward with a very extreme ideology, the MAGA Republican ideology, and what they’re doing, again, is there really pushing down the throats of private sector. That’s what we’re seeing. This is what piece of legislation is.

Speaker 11 (36:25):

A timeline question. Any timeline on when the president would issue [inaudible 00:36:28] if we assume this bill passes today.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:30):

I mean, it depends on the mechanism of the Senate and what ultimately happens and the voting dynamics. I can’t speak to that here on the timeline. Yeah.

Speaker 12 (36:41):

Thank you, Karine. Why is President Biden afraid of China?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:46):

The President is not afraid of China at all. Did you see the president last week when we went to Ukraine, went to Kyiv. This is not a president that’s afraid of anything. It was a historic trip that many of you said was brave. So clearly this is a president that’s not afraid to go to a war zone. He’s not afraid to go there when there’s no military presence on the ground. So there’s nothing that this president fears.

Speaker 12 (37:11):

China flew his spycraft over the US. President didn’t really do anything to China. According to the FBI director, China may have created something that has killed more than 1.1 million people in this country, and President Biden is not punishing them.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:27):

So you’re giving me two things here. So let’s take them in parts as we talk about the Chinese surveillance, but the China surveillance balloon, the president did take that down, and he did it in a way that as it was on its path, we collected information from it. We protected our national security information on the ground and we did it in a way that was smart, effective, and also protected the American people. That’s what the president’s always going to put forth is the safety of the American people. So that’s what the president did with that particular issue. Look, as it relates to… You’re talking about the COVID origins, we’ve been very clear, we’ve been very clear that we need the data and we need to figure out how to get to the bottom of the COVID origins, and that’s something that the president has said since the beginning of this administration. So none of that has changed.

Speaker 12 (38:21):

But with his campaign, it was all about shutting down the virus and how hard it is for families with an empty chair at the kitchen table because of COVID. If we now know according to the FBI director who is most likely responsible for all those empty chairs at all those kitchen tables, why not do more to try to hold them accountable?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:38):

So I’m going to flip that on its head for a second. It was because of this president that took action. By the way, the last administration, did not. They did not have a comprehensive plan to actually-

Speaker 12 (38:48):

[inaudible 00:38:49]-

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:48):

No, no, no, no. No.

Speaker 12 (38:51):

… responding to COVID. But where did COVID come from? If we know-

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:53):

Peter, first of all, you can’t tell me how to answer the question. I’m going to answer it for you. So just give me a second. So because he took those actions, he actually helped to save lives because he took action to make sure that people got shots in arms and put a comprehensive plan in front of the American people and put in the work. We actually were able to get to a place where COVID is not gone, but we now are in a place, we’re in a different place in the pandemic, and that’s because of the president, and that’s because of his leadership. So let’s be very real about what the president has done over the last two years to take on COVID, to make sure that the economy is growing again, to make sure that we’re really working for the American people. So that’s number one. I want to be very, very clear on that.

Now to your question about COVID origins. As we know, we have seen many, many different conclusions from the intelligence community. Some of them have made some conclusion on one side. Some of them have made conclusions on the other side. Some of them say they don’t have enough information. So I want to be also very careful there as well. It was because of this president, very early on, the first several months of his administration, he went to the intelligence community and said, “We need to figure out how to get to the bottom of this. We need to figure out how this all occurred because who knows, we have to try and prevent any future pandemic.”

So that is the work that this president did, and it included clearly the Department of Energy that has national labs, and so now they’re continuing to double down and try to get to the bottom of this. Our relationship with China has not changed. It is very different. Let me be very clear, very different than how we’ve seen it in the last administration. All right, I’m going to continue. Go ahead, Peter, and I’ll come to that.

Peter (40:40):

Just a separate thought on China, if I can, quickly. The administration constantly described the relationship between the US and China as one of strategic competition, a point the president made himself a couple of weeks ago when he spoke about this issue. The Congressman Mike Gallagher, who is the Republican Chair of the House Select Committee on China, yesterday, referred to this relationship as an existential struggle. Does the White House agree with that characterization, and is the White House understating the threat from China right now?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:09):

So under this president, we are more prepared to out-compete China, protect our national security and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific than ever before. That’s under this president, and that’s because of work that he’s done in the last two years and also the experience. This is an experienced president. As you know, he spent more than 30 years in the Senate. He spent eight years as vice president, and so he understands national, how to deal with foreign policy relationships, foreign leaders. So that’s how we see our relationship with China moving forward. Many of our efforts we have been pursuing are bipartisan. They’re underscoring the alignment at home on key issues, and we will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans because the way we have moved forward is indeed in a bipartisan way.

Peter (41:55):

Let me follow up on a separate question that was asked by one of my colleagues in the room about the student loans and the wait for the decision from the Supreme Court as it relates to this. I know that you said earlier that there is no other plan. The plan right now is the one that’s being presented before the Supreme Court and you feel strongly in your case. Obviously those who have loans that they would owe in case this is rejected, don’t have that same ability. They have to have a backup plan in case. I know that two months would pass before they would have to pay those loans again in case the Supreme Court rejects this year. But what do you say to those Americans who have tens of thousands of dollars that they might be responsible for two months after the court makes its decision, if they choose to reject it, how should they be preparing right now for that and what would you do to protect them?

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:34):

I’ll just add that yesterday, right in front of the Supreme Court, you saw many of those Americans speaking out loud and clear and saying how important the president’s plan is to them because they’re being crushed.

Peter (42:47):

But what’s what should be the plan B? Because everybody who has their own budget home has to have a plan B.

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:49):

I hear you, Peter, and you asked me what the message was to the American people. You heard I just laid out or mentioned how Secretary of Education send an email out to those borrowers saying that, “Hey, we have your back.” This is an administration. When you think about the president and the last couple of years here, that is his motto. “We have your back.” We will do everything that we can to protect Americans and give them again, some space to actually be able to be part of this growing economy. So look, again, we do not have another plan. This is our plan. This is it. We believe that we have the legal authority. That’s why we took it to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, and we’re going to continue to fight. You saw the Solicitor General do a fantastic job and putting forth a strong argument defending the president’s plan.

Peter (43:40):

Just to be clear, though. So you don’t have another plan, and you have those individuals backs, which is to say if this is rejected though there isn’t anything in the works right now by this administration [inaudible 00:43:52]-

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:52):

What I’m saying to you, Peter, is this is our plan. It is a good plan because of how it helps Americans across the country, especially working Americans, middle-class Americans. So this is our plan, and you heard it; you heard it. The reason I mentioned the folks that were in front of Supreme Court.

Peter (44:09):

[inaudible 00:44:10]-

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:13):

I said they should know that we are going to continue to fight, that we feel strong in our legal authority here, and you heard it. You heard it from the SG yesterday, who defended the President’s plan in a forceful way in front of the Supreme Court.

Peter (44:29):

Has the president spoken to Jimmy Carter in recent days, given the fact that he appears to be doing well, considering the circumstances? Have they had any opportunity to speak?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:36):

I don’t have any call to preview or to speak to. As you know, the president, I think spoke to this when he did his ABC interview recently, that he has known Jimmy Carter for some time, was the first senator to endorse him. So they have decades of relationship behind them. So I would just say that he continues to wish him well. But I don’t have a call to read out. I’ll go to the back. All the way to the back. Behind you.

Speaker 13 (45:04):

Thank you. So shifting gears, The Daily Beast reported yesterday, that Republican Congressman James Comer invoked President Biden’s son, Beau Biden, not being prosecuted, saying, “This US attorney had had an opportunity to go after the Bidens years ago.” He goes on to say, “It was Beau Biden, the president’s other son, that was involved in some campaign donations from a person that got indicted.” So I’m wondering if the White House has a response to Chairman Comer invoking Beau Biden, and if Mr. President thinks it’s potentially appropriate that Mr. Comer investigate his deceased son.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:48):

No, it’s completely inappropriate and it’s ugly. The comments that he made, and it says a lot about the chairman, which is not good by the way, to make the statement that he did, is incredibly ugly and inappropriate. Here’s what I would say, instead of House Republicans focusing on attacking the president and his family, why don’t they actually focus on what the American people put them in office to do, which is to deliver for them, which is to actually work with their colleagues, the Democratic colleagues, the president, to actually put forth pieces of legislation or put forth policies that’s going to make a difference in their lives.

You don’t have to listen to me. You can look at the results from the midterms that said just that. They want to see Congress working for them. That’s what they want to see. They want to make sure that their Medicare is protected. They want to make sure that we’re lowering cost. They want to make sure that their family feels protected. They want to make sure that their rights are protected. But that’s not what House Republicans are doing, instead, they want to do political stunts.

Speaker 13 (46:59):

Thank you, Karine.

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:00):

Way in the back. Way in the back. Way in the back. Go ahead.

Speaker 14 (47:03):

Thank you. The Attorney General Mayor Carlin was testifying up on the hill today and he was asked a lot about Fentanyl. Have a few questions for you on that front. He was asked by Senator Graham. Senator Graham said, “Would you agree with me that whatever we are doing as it relates to sentencing guidelines is not working?” And the Attorney General said, “I would agree with that because of the number of deaths that you pointed out.” Does President Biden believe that sentencing guidelines around Fentanyl deaths need to get stricter?

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:32):

I’m going to just caught a bit of the coverage. I didn’t catch all of it. I will say that the secretary or the Attorney General spoke to a number of issues, from what I understand. What I know for sure that he did. He spoke to the Justice Department’s independent work, and his commitment to rule of law. I’m just not going to go beyond that.

Speaker 14 (47:54):

The Attorney General was asked if he opposes making

Speaker 14 (48:00):

… the senior most cartels being labeled as foreign terrorist organizations and he said he would not oppose that. [inaudible 00:48:07].

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:07):

Yeah. I’m just not … I only saw a bit of the coverage. What I can say is what he’s committed to. I’m just not going to go into this.

Speaker 14 (48:15):

[inaudible 00:48:15] little bit broader for a second. The number of fentanyl deaths in this country has doubled in the last two years. The attorney general described it as an epidemic. Can you describe what the administration has done to take on, to curb, and to try to tackle this epidemic as he put it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:34):

This administration when you think about fentanyl and you think about the work that this president has done, it has been a very much focus on getting … Making sure that we keep our families safe, making sure that we keep our communities safe, and getting fentanyl off the street. We’ve done that in record numbers.

You’ve heard me talk about that. You’ve heard me talk about the work that this president has done on fentanyl, more specifically, which I was just talking about the plan that he put forth to make sure that we keep communities safe, and that is part of that as well. We have seen record number of fentanyl come off the streets, because of the work that the president has done, because of what he has committed in protecting the border security, making sure that he put forth historic funding.

There’s still more work to be done. We would like to do that work with Republicans, they’ve refused to work with us. If anything, they want to take away, they want to take away that border security funding, they want to defund the FBI, but the president is using the tools that are in front of him right now, on the executive level to make sure that he does everything that he can, without the help of many Republicans in Congress, to make sure that we keep communities safe, and that’s what he’s going to continue to do.

Way in the back, Owen?

Speaker 15 (49:48):

Thank you, thank you, Karine. Two questions for you, please. Thank you. Number one, just recently in California, a very tragic story, Catholic bishop, David O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, he served the area for 45 years, ministering to migrants, the poor, victims of gang violence, known as the peacemaker, and he was gunned down in his home. Murdered. Again, just a few weeks ago.

I know the White House is aware of it, but do you have a statement or at least something you want to tell the faithful there in Los Angeles?

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:20):

Absolutely, and I appreciate the question. We do have something that we want to share, which is the President and the First Lady, join Archbishop Gomez, the archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the entire Catholic community in the mourning of Bishop David O’Connell. We also express our sympathy and prayers for the family and friends of the bishop, who will certainly remember his legacy of service to those on the margins of society.

Again, we offer up our condolences to the community.

Speaker 15 (50:52):

Thank you. Secondly, is President Biden aware of this leaked document that recently came out of the Richmond, Virginia field office that compared Catholics, conservative Catholics, to violent extremists? Several attorney general have written a letter and they say, “Anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering in the FBI, and the bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs.” Again, they wrote that in reaction to that leaked document. My question is is the president aware of that document? What would he tell Catholics seeing these headlines, who might be worried they’re coming after us, the feds, because of our faith?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:32):

Look, I have not seen this leaked document, I have not spoken to the … I haven’t seen it, so, therefore, I haven’t spoken to the president about it, so I just don’t want to get ahead of that.

Speaker 15 (51:40):

[inaudible 00:51:41]. Okay.

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:43):

Go ahead.

Speaker 16 (51:46):

Thank you. [inaudible 00:51:47] I have a followup question on that. Today, Senator John Tester joined Senator Manchin and he voiced his opposition to this ESG retirement rule. I understand the president will veto this bill, but what’s your reaction to his statement today? How does the White House feel about growing opposition to the ESG investment in Congress and in general?

Karine Jean-Pierre (52:11):

Well, I spoke to this at the top of the briefing, and I laid out where the president is on this. As it relates to the dynamics of the Senate, and where this is going to go, I leave that to Senator Schumer, that’s something for him to speak to.

What I can say, if this bill reaches the president’s desk, he will veto it. I’ll leave it there for now. Go ahead.

Speaker 17 (52:33):

Thanks. I want to ask you about Merrick Garland’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was asked a number of questions in regards to Hunter Biden, and the ongoing investigation that’s being conducted by the US attorney in Delaware. During that particular testimony, he said it would be a national security problem if the president’s son had been receiving payments from a foreign government as a means to influence the administration.

Do you agree with that statement from the chief law enforcement officer of the US?

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:13):

We’re going to continue to be prudent from here, and not speak to any investigation that is currently underway by the Department of Justice, and when it comes to Hunter Biden, I would refer you to his personal representative. He is a private citizen, so I will leave it there, and we’re going to continue to be consistent from here.

Speaker 17 (53:34):

Let me ask you another question on a separate matter entirely, a foreign policy matter. Two Iranian warships are going to dock in port in Brazil on Sunday. As you all know, the president of Brazil was just here meeting with President Biden, and President Biden lauded the shared values of both countries. Do you have any issues with Iranian warships docking in port in Brazil?

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:03):

We’ve been very clear when we’ve been asked these types of questions of meetings or any engagement, we just won’t speak to that from here. I would refer you to the respective countries. I’m just not going to speak to a potential meeting, or a potential engagement. I’m just not going to do that.


Speaker 17 (54:22):

It’s not a meeting.

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:23):

I’m just not going to … Clearly, there’s some sort of engagement happening. I’m just not going to speak to that from here. Go ahead, Courtney.

Speaker 18 (54:29):

Thank you. I wanted to ask you about the cases before a judge in federal court in Texas about abortion medication. We’re expecting that judge to rule any day now in the decision [inaudible 00:54:41] temporarily, permanently, depending on how the [inaudible 00:54:44] process goes, and access to Mifepristone in certain places. What’s your message to patients that are worried about this? I know that you’ve so far spoken out on how you disagree with this court challenge, but what should doctors know? What should patients know? When this could happen in any day, especially given that this judge has been relatively hostile to this administration.

Karine Jean-Pierre (55:05):

Look, I mean, I spoke to this very recently. We don’t know what the court is going to do, as you just stated. Ultimately, it’s for the court to decide, so we’re always very careful. The decision would be unprecedented, as you know, and devastating to women’s health. We may find ourselves in uncharted territory.

We are closely working with the Justice Department and DHHS on this, on how to be prepared for any range of outcome, of potential outcomes, and so we’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to be steadfast. We’re monitoring this and waiting like all of you to see where the decision goes.

But, again, we’re not taking this lightly, we’re taking this very seriously. This is going to be depending on where this go, this could be unprecedented and uncharted territory, and we’re going to continue to do our work internally to see which way how we would respond.

Speaker 18 (56:05):

I also wanted to ask you about [inaudible 00:56:07] for … Excuse me. Practitioners, doctors, who perform abortions in certain states when they’re in medical school now, it’s difficult to get practice with the procedure given that it’s so limited or restricted. Vice President Harris expressed interest in working on that issue either by sending students to other places to get practical experience or other ideas. Can you provide any update on that and if you’re engaged in that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:32):

Yeah. I know she spoke about this recently. I don’t have anything more to share than what she laid out about her concerns and the potential next steps. Just don’t have anything further to share than what the vice president laid out.

Go ahead.

Speaker 19 (56:48):

If the Supreme Court rules against the president’s student debt plan, will you all consider extending the payment pause while you come up with a plan B?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:56):

Again, our plan is what we laid out in August. That is our plan, and we believe it’s a good plan as it delivers, as it relates to the American people, middle class Americans, as it relates to working people. This is a plan that’s going to give relief to tens of millions of Americans across the country, and we heard from many of them yesterday in front of the Supreme Court.

I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals. We believe, we believe that we have a strong legal authority here, that’s why we took it to the Supreme Court, and you heard from the Solicitor General, she made a very strong case for why the president’s program is important. I’m just going to leave it there for now.

Speaker 19 (57:42):

Just another question on TikTok, you all have had TikTok influencers in the building before, you’ve briefed them before. Given the focus on the national security concerns, do you still feel like that’s an appropriate way to engage with the app?

Karine Jean-Pierre (57:56):

Look, as I’ve mentioned before, the White House clearly does not use TikTok but one thing that we do believe in is meeting the American people where they are, and the reality is, many of them, millions of them, are on this app? We engage with people who are using their own platforms. It’s up to them on how they use the content, but we’ve always said from here, this is something we have said for a long time, that we’re going to try to communicate with the American people, and meet them where they are, but we also have been clear about the concerns that we have with apps like TikTok and that’s not going to stop.

[inaudible 00:58:36].

Speaker 20 (58:37):

We just learned the TSA officers at a Pennsylvania airport stopped an explosive device from getting onto a plane Monday. Do you have any comment on that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (58:44):

I don’t have any comment from here at this time. I would have to talk to our team.

Speaker 20 (58:48):

More broadly, do you have a message to Americans who are hearing about flight safety incidents, close calls, devices on planes? How can you ensure that the air [inaudible 00:58:57] and are safe?

Karine Jean-Pierre (58:58):

Well, Secretary Buttigieg has been on the airwaves today, this morning, the last couple of months on this, speaking to our commitment to making sure that we keep Americans safe, especially Americans who are clearly flying.

We’re going to continue to do that. The president is committed to that. As it relates, for example, to the objects, the three recent objects, one of the reason the president took the actions that we took was because we wanted to make sure that we kept civilian airways safe. You’ve seen him take really bold actions in that way, but as it relates to just what we’ve been seeing in the past couple of months and just most recently, look, we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we, that Americans feel safe flying. I know there’s an FAA investigation on this most recent incident, and so we’re going to see where the investigation goes, and how we can prevent that.

All right. Thanks, everybody. See you tomorrow.

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