Mar 7, 2023
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/06/23 Transcript
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/06/23. Read the transcript here.
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On a flight, it’s just common sense. But as recently as a month ago, no U.S. Airlines guaranteed fee free family seating. Now after the Biden administration pressed the airlines to improve customer service, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Frontier Airlines have stepped forward to guarantee that parents can sit with their young children without getting nickel and dimed. Today the Department of Transportation rolled out a new family seating dashboard, as you’ll see right here, highlighting which airlines guarantee fee free family seating, and those that don’t. This is an added feature to the existing dashboard, which already includes services for delayed and canceled flights. The dashboard makes it easier for parents to avoid these junk fees and we are not stopping there. D T is working towards making this a requirement across the board. This is just the latest example of effective presidential leadership driving actions that benefit American consumers, workers and families.
President Biden is leading, Americans are supportive and corporations are responding, as you can see. Also today, the Department of Agriculture is taking a number of actions to support American farmers and ranchers increased transparency and lower food prices. Let’s start with product of USA labels. Currently, this label on meat, poultry, egg products can be used even if the product was not actually raised in the USA. We believe that labels should be only used on animals born, raised, and processed here in the United States. And now, USDA is proposing a rule to accomplish just that. This increased transparency will support American farmers and ranchers and make it easier for all of us to know where our food really comes from. Second, the USDA is announcing $89 million in new investment to help establish and expand independent meat processors.
This will create opportunities for small businesses in rural communities and create fairer markets for family and farmers, which brings down prices at the grocery store. And lastly, USDA is taking action to increase competition and innovation in important seed markets like corn. These actions show the administration’s commitment to promoting competition for farmers, ranchers, and American consumers and deliver on the President’s competition executive order. With that, Chris, you want to kick us off please?
Speaker 1 (02:32):
Sure. Two questions on the D.C. crime situation. Does the White House have a response to City Council wanting to pull back that proposal?
So as you all know, we litigated this about two days last week right here in this very room. The President expressed concerns on certain provisions of the D.C. crime bill and as we can see, the D.C. Council’s process is still ongoing, so we won’t comment on that any further.
Speaker 1 (03:01):
So also, when we were discussing this last week, you cited Mayor Bowser’s opposition to the crime proposal, but she also said that the override is indignity and Congress is meddling its affairs. Why didn’t the President or the White House give her a heads-up that the President wanted to sign this override legislation?
She also said that she understands why the president made this decision.
Speaker 1 (03:18):
No, I… Wait, let me get into it.
Speaker 1 (03:24):
I’m didn’t ask that question.
But you just asked a question. Let me finish the first question that you asked, which is first of all, she also said that she understood why the President made this decision. Our team, the Intergovernmental Affairs team, is in constant communication with her team and was last week. Don’t have anything to preview or any specific discussion that occurred, but they are in constant communication.
Speaker 1 (03:45):
Okay, so the question is, why didn’t the White House or the President give Mayor Bowser a heads-up?
I just told you that they’re in constant communication with the team, including last week.
Speaker 1 (03:53):
I’m just not going to get into specific, but I can tell you that our Intergovernmental Affairs office was in contact with her office last week.
Speaker 1 (04:02):
Okay. That doesn’t exactly address the question.
I’m just telling you that we were in contact with her.
Speaker 1 (04:07):
Why, if the White House cites Mayor Bowser’s opposition bill, why do they want to do something that she considers an indignity to our city?
Say that again.
Speaker 1 (04:19):
Yes. The White House is going to cite Mayor Bowser’s opposition to the crime bill. If you say why the President should sign the override legislation, why does the White House want to do something that the mayor considers an indignity to the city? That’s not-
But she also did not approve of the piece of the legislation as well.
Speaker 1 (04:35):
So the process by override, she says is an indignity.
So let’s step back for a second. We talked about this for two days last week and still going to tell you exactly what I said last week, which was the President… The bill was headed to the President’s desk and the President made a decision and we let all of you know what he was going to do and how he was going to move forward, that’s it. He wanted to make sure that he delivered for the 700,000 residents of D.C. in a way that was protecting the residents here. This was brought to him. This is not something that we put forward. This is a decision that was brought to him and he wanted to be very clear and communicate with the people of D.C. and with all of you and how he was going to move forward.
Speaker 1 (05:18):
One more legislative question. This resolution going forward, allowing that it would bar Retirement plans from offering ESG considerations, the President says he, or the White House says he is going to veto that. Do you have any plans for that detail?
I don’t have anything to share on that. I believe we have not received the bill yet, so just don’t have any timeline on the ESG bill at this time. All right.
Speaker 2 (05:41):
Hi, thank you. A couple questions about East Palestine, Ohio. Norfolk Southern, they announced a set of new initiatives they claim will enhance safety, a new power mechanism to help with breaking and acceleration, additional devices that can monitor hot bearings. Is the White House satisfied with these reforms?
Look what we’re trying to do and we’ve been very clear, the EPA administrator’s been very clear, Secretary Buttigieg has been very clear. What we’re doing is to make sure that the community in East Palestine is made whole again and we’re going to hold Norfolk Suffolk company accountable. They made this mess and they need to clean up this mess. We are pleased by the bipartisanship that we’re currently seeing in Congress to put forward some true common sense safety measures. That is something that we want to continue to move forward. As far as it relates to the company, we are going to do everything that we can to hold them accountable. As you know, we set up a fund to support the families and to support the community getting back economically on their feet in the future. So that is going to be our focus and that’s how we’re going to move forward.
Speaker 2 (06:45):
You say you want to hold them accountable. Norfolk Southern, they’re responsible now for four trained derailments in less than five months. Is the administration comfortable with them taking the lead on self-regulation?
So look, it’s notable and unacceptable. That’s what we are… We’ve been very clear about that. That is why the NTSB is doing an investigation that is currently happening. That is something that occurred with the first derailment, we saw within hours Secretary Buttigieg go into action and respond by making sure that the investigation started. The same thing on Saturday. The investigation has been for NTSB was just called to move forward this morning and so that’s what we are going to see. We’re going to have investigation, we’re going to see exactly what occurred, but in the meantime we have to hold them accountable to make sure the community is made whole again.
Speaker 2 (07:39):
Are there any plans for President Biden to visit East Palestine?
I don’t have anything to share on a planned visit for the President to Ohio. Go ahead.
Thank you Karine. Speaker McCarthy is planning to meet with the leader of Taiwan in California. Does the White House have a reaction to that and are you advising him at all ahead of that meeting?
So I don’t believe Taiwan has announced any travel for the President of Taiwan. Taiwan’s presidents have traveled to the United States in the past, so I would refer you to Taiwan for anything specific on that and certainly I would refer you to the speaker’s office on any potential meeting that he may be having with the President. I just don’t… From what I understand, nothing. No announcement has been made.
Preference that a meeting like that would take place in California as opposed to Taiwan to avoid-
Again, I’m just not going to comment on something-
What happened last time.
No, I totally hear your question Jeff. It’s just not something that I’m going to comment on since it doesn’t seem like it has been announced at this time or any travel has been put forward all.
And one other topic, former President Trump said over the weekend in his CPAC comments, multiple things. One thing he said to his supporters was, “I am your justice and for those who have been wrong and betrayed, I am your retribution.” Does the White House have a response to that?
As you know because he is a 2024 candidate and we are covered here by the Hatch Act. I’m just not going to comment on those words. The speech that he made, this speech this weekend.
Just want to follow up on something one my colleagues asked about last week. There were protests this weekend in Iran related to the electric poisoning of the school girls there. If the administration has any updates in terms of what they’ve seen or any investigations that may be underway at this point in time.
So as you know Phil, we are closely following this deeply concerning situation that we’re seeing currently in Iran. The continued poisoning of school girls across Iran is unconscionable. There must be a credible independent investigation accountability for those responsible. If these poisonings are related to participation in protest, then it is well within mandate of the UN’s independent international fact finding mission on Iran to investigate. Women and girls everywhere have a fundamental right to education. Time and time again, it has been demonstrated that when women and girls receive an education and are able to contribute to their economies, it benefits society as a whole. So the possibility that girls in Iran are being possibly poisoned simply for trying to get an education is shameful and it’s unacceptable and our thoughts remain with the victims and their families and again, it is unacceptable and unconscionable.
And just one more. There are reports over the weekend that there are two Ukrainian fighter pilots that are in the United States right now training on simulators, wondering if we’re supposed to read that as the potential for new capabilities the U.S. may send or what the genesis of that decision making.
So look, the President has already spoken to F-16s as you all know, and nothing has changed for what the President said, is it is not on the table for now and so that hasn’t changed. So I’ll leave that there.
Speaker 3 (10:52):
Can you speak to the incident involving four U.S. citizens in Mexico who have come under gunfire and have been kidnapped and how the administration may be able to get information out of Mexico or what the status of that is right now?
So I have a statement here that I want to read out to all of you. We are closely following the assault and kidnapping of four U.S. citizens in Matamoros, Mexico. These sorts of attacks are unacceptable. Our thoughts are with the families of these individuals and we stand ready to provide all appropriate counselor assistance. U.S. law enforcement is in touch with Mexican law enforcement. The departments of state and homeland security are also coordinating with Mexican authorities and we will continue to coordinate with Mexico and push them for to bring those responsible to justice. And again, our hearts with are with the families.
Speaker 3 (11:41):
Any early indications as to the circumstances or any efforts to try to locate these Americans?
Don’t have anything to share outside of what I just laid out. Clearly, we want to be really careful here. There are privacy concerns and so I don’t want to share too much about the information on how we’re moving forward or even the individuals. We just want to be really mindful on that, but clearly we are on top of this.
Speaker 4 (12:08):
Thanks, Karine. Does the President have a meeting scheduled yet for him to sit down with speaker Kevin McCarthy about budget or the debt?
So right now we don’t have a meeting to preview or scheduled right now at this time. I’ve said this before, our teams, their team and our team have been in constant communications since the first time that they met. Just don’t have anything to preview. As you know, the President’s going to be putting forward his budget on March 9th and we have called on Republicans in the house to do the same, to be transparent, to lay out exactly what it is that they… How they want to move forward with the fiscal year. One of the things that we have heard from them is how they want to continue or want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA. And so we want to see what is it that they want to do? How do they see moving forward in a fiscally responsible way? As we know, the President has been very clear. He’s going to continue to fight for Social Security. He’s going to continue to fight for Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA. Again, we want to see… We’re going to put our budget forward. We want to see what they’re going to do.
Speaker 4 (13:15):
But no timeline on when that sit-down might take place?
Speaker 4 (13:18):
Could it happen this week?
For this week, we don’t have anything right now scheduled at this time.
Speaker 4 (13:24):
Originally the Treasury Secretary said that she could keep extraordinary measures going through June. Then the CBO later said, actually it might be July through September. When does the White House believe that things get critical as it relates to the U.S. debt?
We basically follow what the Department of Treasury said, the secretary said through June. And that’s the timeline that we’re looking at.
Speaker 5 (13:49):
Okay. We’re reporting today that the manufacturing sector is showing signs of weakness. Obviously manufacturing jobs are a priority for your administration. Are you concerned at all that momentum is slipping there?
Speaker 6 (14:00):
… there and that that could be to do with higher interest rates?
Look, we’re going to continue to make sure that we deliver on the President’s economic policy, economic plan. And having more than 700,000 jobs that have been created under this President shows that commitment and shows how the President’s economic policy is working. Look, that’s why the CHIPS and Science Act is so important. And you’ve heard over and over from these different manufacturers who are coming back to the U.S., who are building these manufacturers, creating jobs. And so, we’re going to continue to work closely with them and make that a priority. That doesn’t stop. I don’t have any concerns right now to share with you, but, again, close to 800,000 jobs have been created under this administration, manufacturing jobs. And that is a commitment that this President has had to make sure that we’re bringing manufacturers back to the U.S.
Speaker 6 (14:53):
And you said last week you’d check on the license plate on the Beast, whether it says “Taxation Without Representation.” [inaudible 00:14:59]. Any update on that?
My homework is not on par today. We have checked in, just haven’t gotten an answer on that just yet. And so, we are diving in and trying to get an answer to all of you. Go ahead, Steve.
Staying on local matters. The D.C. Council chair said today that he thought he had the power to rescind the sending of a bill to the Senate for its review. Was there any communication between the White House and Council Chairman Mendelson’s office prior to his press conference today?
So, our team was made aware earlier this morning. As you know, when it comes to any, how the mechanics of the Senate move forward, that’s something for the Senate. I encourage you to ask them and how that will work and how that will move forward. But, yes, we were given a heads-up this morning.
The Senate intends to move forward with its vote on the resolution. The President still intends to sign it. Is that right?
Look, again, we’ve made ourselves very clear. If the bill comes to the President’s desk, he will sign it.
One other question on this. I don’t think you’ve been asked this directly before. But last week, you said that the President viewed what the D.C. Council did as “unacceptable.” You specifically talked about how the bill would reduce penalties for carjacking and you even mentioned sexual assault. So the question for you is why the President would still support D.C. statehood. If the Council is going to pass bills that the President finds unacceptable, why would the President empower the Council to have the power of a state legislature that he couldn’t check?
Because he believes, and he has for some time now, that D.C. should be a 51 state. They should have a statehood. Again, the reason why we responded to this and answered the question of if he was going to sign it or not is because it was coming to his desk, as we know from last week. And so, the President communicated that. We communicated that. But it doesn’t change that he encourages Congress to pass a bill that makes D.C. a state, and he will sign it. He believes that cities and states should be able to govern for themselves.
Last point on this. Advocates of D.C. statehood say that what has happened here in this episode is the effort has been set back significantly, that essentially what the President has done is he’s given juice to opponents of statehood. And statehood opponents say that this episode is proving them right, that the D.C. government should not be self-governing without Congress’ involvement.
Well, we disagree. Right? We believe D.C. should be a statehood. I mean, we’ve been very clear. The President has been very clear. Again, D.C. is not a state. It’s not a city. The reason why this bill was coming before the President is because that is the case. Right? It’s not a state. It’s not a city. So, doesn’t mean that it stops our support for their statehood. Doesn’t mean that the President has changed his mind on that. We still support that and want to see that happen. And we’re going to continue to encourage Congress to move in that way. Go ahead.
Speaker 7 (17:55):
There’s a bank that’s having some issues right now called Silvergate. I’m wondering if you guys are monitoring that. On Friday, they shut its crypto-focused payments network, Silvergate Capital. And they said in a filing last week that they may have to evaluate their viability after a one billion loss in the fourth quarter. Is there anything the administration is doing to monitor that or stepping in, that sort of thing?
So, we are aware of the situation and monitoring the reports. Won’t comment on Silvergate specifically. But it is obviously only the latest company in the cryptocurrency field to experience significant issues. In recent weeks, banking regulators have released guidelines on how banks should protect themselves from risks associated with crypto. As you know, this is a President that has repeatedly called on Congress to take action to protect everyday Americans from the risk posted by digital assets, and he will continue to do so. So, I won’t speak to this particular company, as we have not on other cryptocurrency companies. But we’re going to continue monitoring the reports. And, clearly, we’re aware of the situation.
Speaker 7 (18:57):
Thank you. And can I just ask briefly on the Fed Chair search, the Vice Chair, excuse me, search? Is there any update you can give us? And, in particular, Senator Warren is a critic of Chairman Powell and has called on the administration to appoint a Vice Chair that is effectively a counterweight to Chairman Powell in decisions on interest rate hikes. Do you have a view on that? Are you, in essence, trying to counterweigh the chairman in this process? And where’s the process at right now?
I’m certainly not going to get ahead of the President’s process or lay out what he’s thinking or how that process is going to move forward. What I can say is this is a priority for this President. I don’t have anything to preview on any specific candidates or announcements. But, clearly, we’ll have something in the near future. Go ahead.
Speaker 8 (19:40):
I wondered, Karine, if you could comment on some efforts in Republican states, like Florida and Texas, where they’re cracking down on undocumented immigrants. In the Florida legislature, there’s a proposed bill that looks at requiring private companies to do more to check the immigration status of their employees. In Texas, there are lawmakers considering a bill that would deny undocumented children access to public education. Does the White House have any comment on these efforts?
So, I haven’t seen these bills. What I can say is, and as you know, on the first day of the President’s presidency and first day of his tenure, he said very clearly that he took immigration reform very seriously. And he showed that by action, by putting forward a piece of legislation that was comprehensive, that dealed with the immigration issue that we have seen in this country for some time in a real way. And he asked Congress to take action as well. And so, I can speak to that. I can speak to how the President wants to move forward in a way that we’re protecting our border in a secure way, which is why he’s taken actions, whether it’s the parolee program, whether it’s putting 24,000 federal agents on the ground, and making sure that we’re doing this in a safe and humane way. And so that’s what I can speak to. That’s the way the President wants to move forward. And I’ll just leave it there.
Speaker 8 (21:00):
The Texas bill says that they would deny undocumented children access to public education unless the federal government pays for it. If this moves forward in Texas, is this something that the administration would consider intervening in?
I haven’t seen that piece of legislation, haven’t talked to our team. I’m just not going to get ahead of any state, local legislation. What I can tell you is what the President has put forward and how he sees this process moving forward on the federal level is coming together with Congress, Congress coming together with us, Republicans actually taking real action and not doing political stunts, because that’s what we see in these states, is continued political stunts and not really dealing with an issue that they can. If we came in a bipartisan way, we can actually deal with the immigration concerns in this country. But they refuse to do that. Go ahead.
Speaker 9 (21:47):
Thank you. I wanted to follow up on the issue about the four U.S. citizens kidnapped in Mexico. Has the President been informed? What was his reaction, if you can share anything about that?
I can tell you the President is aware and has been informed.
Speaker 9 (22:01):
And Ambassador Salazar is meeting today with President López Obrador in Mexico. What message does the administration want to convey, or what is the priority for that meeting?
Well, you know the President went to Mexico most recently for the summit, met with the Mexican President and also Prime Minister Trudeau. And they laid out their commitment to work together on issues that matter to the region, whether it’s immigration, whether it’s national security. And I think that summit sent a very loud message to the people of Mexico, to the people of the United States, and also Canada. As you know, just to take a step further, the President is going to be meeting with the Prime Minister later this month to continue more of that conversation that they had. Don’t have anything to preview or to lay out about the meeting that Salazar is having with the President of Mexico. But we see Mexico as a close ally, an important partnership that we have in the region. And, clearly, we want to continue it to grow. Go ahead.
Speaker 10 (23:08):
Thanks. Looking ahead to next month, April is the end of continuous enrollment for Medicaid. How concerned is the White House about these millions of Americans that could lose health insurance?
Well, that is something that is a concern to the White House, which is why we have continued to work to make sure that healthcare is affordable for Americans. You’ve seen us do that with Inflation Reduction Act. You’ve seen us do that with other policies coming out of the administration. Clearly, you’ll see the President’s budget on March 9th that will speak to some of this. Don’t want to get ahead of what the President is going to lay out in his fiscal year budget. So I’ll just leave it there. Go ahead, Zolan.
The President has said that his plan on the budget would reduce the deficit by $2 trillion over the next decade. How did the administration land on that number of two trillion? And then, does that mean that the President does believe the current path of growth in the national debt is hurting the economy? I’m trying to gauge his concern level around the growth of debt, given that we’ve heard about that two trillion number so much.
So, what I’ll say is the President understands his fiscal responsibility. He understands how important it is to lower the deficit, which is why he was able to do that the first two years by $2.7 trillion. And so, by him saying that he’s going to do that by a trillion dollars over the next 10 years continues to show that commitment. And so, that is incredibly important. And we have said, if Republicans want to have a real conversation about how to lower the debt, then he’s ready to listen. He’s ready to hear what they have to say. That’s why we have said we’re going to put our budget forward on March 9th, and we’re waiting to see what they’re going to do.
So far, their proposals have been to add $3 trillion to the debt, as you think about them giving a tax break or giveaways to millionaires and the rich and the wealthy, as they talk about wanting to cut Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, ACA. That’s what they’re bringing forward. And we’re saying, “You know what? We’re going to protect those really important programs.” He’s going to put forward a fiscal budget that is going to be responsible. I’ll say a little bit more about this week. As you know, he’s going to deliver remarks in Pennsylvania. And he’s going to show his plans to invest in America; continue lowering costs for families; protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare; reduce the deficit; and more, as you just asked that question. And so, you can expect to hear more from us in the days leading up to Thursday. We’ll have additional information on some of those pieces as we head into Thursday.
And can you just quickly explain the reasoning for traveling for the budget rollout? Going to Pennsylvania for this, obviously, that’s an important state when it comes to the forthcoming election. Why travel to roll out the budget?
So, I’m not going to get into elections. But as you know, the President, Pennsylvania is very close to his heart. He sees that as his, I don’t know, second home. And so, we believe when we go out there and travel and go to places like Pennsylvania and other states, it’s an opportunity for the President to talk directly to the American people. This is important when you think about the fiscal year budget, you think about how the President is going to lay out his plan for the American people. He thinks it’s important to do that and make sure that he talks directly to American people out there. And that’s what you’re going to see him do. And so, he’ll just happen to be doing it in Pennsylvania, a place that we travel to a lot, as you all know, those who travel with us. Go ahead, Ed.
Yeah. Thanks, Karine. I want to ask you about energy policy. So, if the President had allowed the Keystone Pipeline, the Keystone XL, to go forward, it would have been operating today or very close to being turned on today. Any regrets about canceling that project, and any consideration of reversing any energy policies for a more balanced approach going forward?
So, look, the President has been very clear about how he’s approaching the energy space. He does it in a way that is responsible. He does it in a way that delivers for the American people. There’s nothing new here, the decision that he’s made. At the same time, having one of the most important, historical climate, when it comes to climate change, investments and policies, that is not going to change on how the President moves forward here. When he walked into the administration, he talked about how climate change was one of the important crises that we needed to address, and that’s what you’ve seen from this President the last two years. And his decisions are not going to change that.
But even with the, there was a leaked memo that showed that energy, if we had charged less for certain drilling oil permits or royalties in a part of Alaska, then there would be more energy security.
So I’m not going to speak to leaked memos from here. That is not something that I’m going to do. I believe the leaked memos from the Department of Interior that you’re speaking to, just not going to do that. I encourage you to reach out to Department of Interior.
Speaker 11 (28:12):
To the back please.
Way in the back. Way in the back.
Speaker 11 (28:15):
Yes, thank you. Well, the person behind you. Yes.
Someone new. Someone new.
Speaker 12 (28:20):
Thank you. I appreciate that. Touring with Spectrum News, by the way. Karine, thank you so much.
Speaker 12 (28:24):
On the note of the budget proposal, this is happening. He’s unleashing or unveiling this proposal under the shadow of the debt ceiling. And since February was the last time, according to House Speaker McCarthy, the President has sat down with the speaker to talk about some type of deal. McCarthy says he rejects a clean increase without some concessions or spending cuts. Is the President going to come back to the table with McCarthy to talk about it? What’s the plan here?
He never came to the table to negotiate on the debt ceiling. That was not something that occurred. That is not something that’s happening. We’ve been very clear, we’re not negotiating around the debt ceiling. This is something that Congress needs to do. It is their constitutional duty. It is something that has happened 78 times since 1960. It is something that happens in a bipartisan way. They should not put the full faith and credit of this country hostage, should not keep that hostage. And so this is something that we believe that should happen without conditions. And so that’s how we’ve been moving forward. We’ve been very, very clear about that. I just talked to one of your colleagues about the thing that we are happy to talk about, is how to lower the deficit. We are happy to have, the President would look forward to having a conversation, a real conversation with House Republicans on how to do that because he has been successful in doing that. $1.7 trillion the first two years, and he’ll share more with his budget on March 9th.
Speaker 12 (29:56):
Secretary Neil has been sounding the alarm. She says we’re about three or four months away from true disaster here. Is that not at all concerning that there can’t be some deal?
Yeah, and that should be concerning to House Republicans, it should be. Because this is something that has been done again, multiple times over the last several decades. And this is something that is their constitutional duty to do is to lift the debt ceiling. And it’s been done in a bipartisan way. They did it three times, three times under the last administration. Go ahead. Go ahead.
A group of one. I am just referring to myself.
Speaker 20 (30:42):
I’m going to take that, because I’m plenty old. I have two. First of all, I’m the Taiwanese President, how does the White House feel about her proposed visit to the U.S? What outcomes do you hope to see from it? And will any administration officials be meeting with her?
Right now there is no planned travel, so I’m not going to speak to a travel that has not been planned. And as stated earlier, it wouldn’t be the first time that a Taiwanese president has traveled to the U.S, but I’m just not going to speak to a travel that has not been locked in yet.
Speaker 20 (31:08):
A second question about the International Women of Courage Awards. You’re giving an honorary award to the women and girls of Iran. Who’s going to be accepting that on their behalf? And what sort of message does it send if they can’t be here, they can’t participate? What is the point of doing this?
Well, we think it’s incredibly important to do this. First of all, one of the reasons that we’re doing here at the White House is we wanted to bring those stories of these incredible women to the White House, to a bigger stage, to the biggest stage that we could. And we’re doing it right here at the White House, which we think is incredibly important for women around the world, but also women here and young girls here to hear the stories of these incredible individuals. Girls everywhere need to know that there are women who are fighting for them, transforming their communities, and building a better world for all of us. And so we think it’s critical, we think it’s important, we think it needs to be seen, and we are really thrilled to see this on Wednesday. Don’t have anything more to share. We’ll have more to preview in the next day or two. Go ahead.
Speaker 13 (32:13):
Thanks, Karine. Just to circle back on something you said earlier about DC. You said DC, it’s not a state, it’s not a city. What did you mean?
Meaning that, what I’m trying to say is it’s not a statehood, doesn’t have statehood. And I’ve said this before, said it last week, nothing new. I’m not saying anything that’s new here. And because it’s not a statehood, the President had to make a decision. This bill was brought because this bill was about to be taken to his desk. And that’s the only reason this is happening. And so again, the President’s going to continue to support DC statehood, so that we can see it governed for itself. That’s what he believes. He believes that cities and states across the country should be able to govern on its own.
Speaker 13 (32:57):
Can you just give us, I know this was a decision made last week, but obviously affects hundreds of thousands of people here in the district.
700,000 people, yeah.
Speaker 13 (33:05):
What was the President, was there a policy process around this decision? When did the President know about it? Did he speak with the Mayor himself? Were there any sort of conversations or how did he come to this decision?
So I don’t have a timeline to lay out for you on the process and how it occurred, I don’t have a conversation to preview for you with the Mayor. As I mentioned before, our offices here, not just the Intergovernmental affairs, but other White House offices are in regular touch with the Mayor and her office and her staff, but just don’t have anything to lay out. But look, the President knew he had to make a decision. He had conversations with his team and he made that decision. In the back.
Speaker 14 (33:51):
Following up up on that, there’s another DC council disapproval approval resolution that is pending related to non-citizens voting and local elections. Is there an update on the President’s position, something more definitive on whether he would sign that bill?
So I can tell you, and I was asked this last week, the President does not support allowing non-citizens to vote in federal elections. We’ve been clear about that from here. As it relates to that particular vote or that particular bill, I don’t have any updates from here to share with you on that and we’ll update you as soon as if we have anything if that changes.
Speaker 15 (34:34):
Thank you. I have a question about the Willow Project in Alaska. What’s more important to President Biden, improving energy security or reducing fossil fuels?
So first of all, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can try to do both.
Speaker 15 (34:50):
In 2019, I guarantee you, we are going to end fossil fuel. So this project would just be dead, right?
So here’s what I can say about that. The President did meet with the Alaska delegation last week at the White House. He always appreciates me speaking and meeting with the full delegation, understand what their concerns are. So I’ll leave it there. And when it comes to that specific decision, that’s something that the Secretary of Interior is going to make, so I’m not going to get ahead of where she’s going to be. But the president has met with the delegation and I’m just going to leave it there.
Speaker 15 (35:26):
Okay. And another subject. How worried should Americans be about China spying on them here at home?
And what do you mean specifically, Peter?
Speaker 15 (35:34):
Well, there were the Chinese spy balloons and now there are these Chinese spy cranes. The Wall Street Journal is comparing them to Trojan horses in use at 80% of U.S ports.
So let me first say that what the American people could be assured of is that this president is going to protect them and making sure that we put our national security first when it comes to anything that they feel could threaten that. And the President has shown that, he’s shown that over and over again. So on the cranes, I don’t have any comment on that specific reporting. I would refer you to Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense, who’ve been tasked with Congress to study this particular issue. The National Security Council in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and members of the Intelligence Committee have been actively working to address potential cyber vulnerabilities across the marine transportation system. This includes enhanced coordination across the federal government and engagement with key stakeholders in the maritime industry. And just last month, the administration issued a worldwide maritime port vulnerabilities advisory, underscoring the potential threats posed by foreign manufacture of port equipment. So again, this is something that the president takes very seriously and will always take action to make sure we protect our national security.
Speaker 15 (36:56):
If this is a Department of Transportation lead, does Secretary Buttigieg have experience with-
It’s not just the Department of Transportation, it’s also Department of Defense. Okay.
Speaker 16 (37:09):
Thanks, Karine. Has the President had a chance to look at the Parents Bill of Rights Bill that’s being proposed by some House Republicans?
I can’t speak to what the President has reviewed or not reviewed at this time. Okay. All right, go ahead.
Speaker 17 (37:23):
Last week the Department of Justice acknowledged that in 2020 the FBI had used 702 authorities that illegally spy on a member of Congress. Can you tell us who that member of Congress was? Has that member of Congress been briefed by the White House?
I would refer you to Department of Justice. Just not going to speak to that from here. Go ahead.
Speaker 18 (37:41):
Thanks, Karine. On the budget that’s coming out later this week, you’ve referred to it as fiscal year budget, which it is. It has also been talked about in the last couple months as it relates to the debt ceiling. And we’ve heard the President in the recent months as well talk about the need to finish the job. Talked about its State of Union mentioned that phrase today. Should we view the budget that’s coming out, I know you won’t get into specifics, but in terms of this fiscal year document, in terms of needing to take on the debt ceiling, or in terms of something much bigger than that, a job that the President wants to finish in the upcoming?
So when he talks about finishing the job, he talks about looking at the first two years of his administration and what he’s been able to accomplish. You hear the President speak to how he has built an economy and wants to continue to build an economy from the bottom up, middle out. You think about the historic pieces of legislation that he’s been able to get done. We were talking about, someone just asked me about the manufacturing jobs. Almost 800 manufacturing jobs have been created under this president. That’s because of his policies. You think about the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowers costs on healthcare, lowers costs on energy. It’s going to change many people’s lives. If you think about insulin and capping that at $35 for our seniors. All of those things are incredibly important and he wants to build on that.
But then if you’ve moved forward and you fast-forward and you look at just November and what happened during the midterms, the American people were very clear. They want us to come together and continue to deliver for them. They want us to continue to fight for their freedoms. They want us to continue to make sure that we lower cost. And so that’s what the President’s talking about. He’s asking and saying to Congress, “Come work with us Republicans. Why don’t we come together and work in a bipartisan way so we can finish the job.” And that was the message that the President said in front of Congress at the State of the Union, to finish what he started. That has been historical and that is going to be transformational for families across the country.
Speaker 18 (39:39):
Secondly, a month ago on February 6th, I asked you about TikTok, whether it was a national security risk. And you had noted that there was an ongoing CFIUS review at the time. Just last week, there was some conversation about this as well. And you talked about the, “Potential national security risk.” So just if you could clarify, does the White House believe that TikTok is a potential national security risk, or is that what CFIUS and that process works itself through will determine?
So there’s a CFIUS investigation, so we try not to dive in too much because there is a CFIUS process that’s ongoing and we want to let that process go forward. But we have been very clear on our concerns with apps like TikTok, I’ve said that before. You’ve heard us say that from here. We know certain countries, including China, seek to leverage digital technologies that Americans data in ways that can present national security risks. So that has been our statement, that is what we have said for the past several months. But again, CFIUS, the committee is moving forward on looking into this, so we try not to get too far ahead of that. Go ahead.
Speaker 19 (40:50):
Thank you so much. Just following up on someone else’s question. By traveling to Philly, the President is obviously making a big thing out of this budget. But we know that many Americans find it difficult to really understand what he’s doing with the economy. It’s not very concrete. And a budget is, as you said, like big figures, trillions, billions, and maybe not relatable. So what’s his strategy to make it a little more real?
Not going to get ahead of what the President’s going to say. He’s going to give remarks. He’ll lay that out in front of the American people and how he sees the fiscal year moving forward, how he sees the budget for the American people. He’s going to be transparent. He’s going to lay that out and be very specific. We’ve talked about how he wants to invest in America. He talks about how he’s going to fight for Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, ACA. Those are things that Americans understand very personally, especially if you think about these programs that they pay into. And so that is going to be very important for him to lay that out. But it’s not just that, the President’s going to be fiscally responsible. You all will see this. He’ll communicate that directly with the American people. But we want to see what are the house Republicans going to do, and we’ve been very
… clear about that. Because what they want to do is the complete opposite of what the president’s trying to do. We want to fight for programs that’s important to taxpayers, important to our seniors, important to veterans, and they want to take that away. Think about social security again, Medicare. And so you’ll hear directly from the American people, but from the president. But in the last couple of weeks, in the last several months, the president has laid that out. You heard it at the State of the Union. He’s been very clear on what he believes in, on how he sees the economy growing and how he’s going to continue to fight for Americans.
Speaker 21 (42:33):
Thanks Karine. On student loans, the president said last week that he is not confident that the Supreme Court will decide to clear his plan. So I’m checking if you have an update on what the alternative is if his student loan plan is struck down.
So, look, he’s also said we’re confident in our legal authority and I think that matters. And of course we’re not going to know where the Supreme Court is going to ultimately decide on what direction they’re going to go. But what you saw from the SG last week was a very strong defense of the president’s plan. And right now, the plan that we have before the Supreme Court is the plan that we have for the American people. And we believe that again, we have the legal authority that the other side does not.
It does not have the standing or the merit to really move forward with what they’re trying to do. And it is unfortunate. It is unfortunate that you have certain elected officials across the country that are trying to prevent nurses and doctors and teachers from getting this type of benefit. We’re talking about 90% of Americans who are part of this program, that are considered for this program make less than $75,000 a year. 90%. And so it’s going to give that extra breathing room, as you hear the president speak to, and we think it’s very important. And the president’s going to continue to fight just like you saw the Solicitor General do last week.
All right. Wow. Go ahead, Courtney.
Thank you. I wanted to ask you about a bill that passed the Senate last week on declassifying the origins of COVID-19. The bill passed by unanimous consent in the Senate. What’s the President’s position on it?
So, I was just talking to my colleagues about that. I need to connect with the National Security Council to speak more on that. But yes, that just was a flag for me coming out before I came out.
Go ahead, Brian.
Thank you very much. King Charles is going to go through a coronation ceremony on May 6th. Foreign countries and foreign governments have been notified about that. Will the president attend? Will President Biden attend King Charles’s coronation ceremony?
So, we don’t have to announce at this time about a travel to the UK or a delegation at this time as well. But I can say that the United States will be represented at King Charles coronation and I expect that we’ll have more information to share on that soon.
If the president doesn’t attend, should it be seen as a snuff to the monarchy or a snuff to King Charles?
Not at all. There’s going to be US presentation, just don’t have anything to share at this time.
Speaker 22 (45:05):
Karine, thanks. There was a report last week about how Ford’s F-150 Lightning, their electric EV truck, is contributing to high pollution and deforestation of the Amazon. Does President Biden regret endorsing that truck back in 2021? Has anyone talked to Ford about how they should source aluminum for the frame from a different line?
No, do not regret that and don’t have any conversation to read out at this time.
Speaker 22 (45:31):
Okay, then real quick.
Speaker 22 (45:33):
I know you’re probably going to say Hatch Act is restricting you on this, but is the president annoyed, frustrated with Marianne Williamson for jumping in the race ahead of him? Did he want a clear field to run against the Republican nominee in 2024?
Just not tracking that. If I had a, what is it called, a little globe here.
Speaker 22 (45:54):
… crystal ball, then I can tell you, Magic 8-ball, whatever, if I can feel her aura, I just don’t have it here. I just don’t have anything to share on that.
Gosh, you guys are making me laugh now. Okay, in the back with the mask.
Speaker 23 (46:13):
Thank you. With regard to the budget, can you speak to if there’s been any argument against pursuing renewed COVID funding within the president’s budget? And if so, what happened?
Yeah, I’m not going to get ahead of the president’s budget at this time. You’ll hear directly from him on Thursday. I mentioned how there will have some parts of his budget that will kind of lay out for all of you ahead of Thursday. I’m just not going to get ahead of the president at this time.
Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Speaker 24 (46:49):
I wanted to ask you about the protests over the weekend near Atlanta. Dozens of people were arrested protesting the so-called Cop City. Is the president aware of this and is the White House worried about this escalating?
Wait, say that again? What was the protest?
Speaker 24 (47:08):
The protest was, it’s a facility, a training facility that’s being constructed for police officers. It’s called Cop City. It’s near a Black residential area. The protestors are concerned that this is going to lead to escalation of police militarization.
There have been 23 that have been charged with domestic terrorism, but there were 35 people arrested. So the concern is, is the president aware of this? Is the White House concerned about this escalating?
And then I also had a follow-up. The Georgia Attorney General has said that some of the people that have been arrested were from outside of the United States, from Canada, from France, from an international group that were here just to undermine American public safety.
So, is the White House tracking this and how worried is the White House about this?
No, I have not heard any discussions about this protest over the weekend. So would have to go back to the team and see where we are, where we’re standing, and a response on that. This is the first time I’m hearing about this protest over the weekend, so just would have to come back with you to you on that. All right, Steven.
Okay, thank you, Karine. I have a Saudi Arabia human rights question for you first, and then I’d like to ask you about Russia sanctions.
Regarding Saudi Arabia, there’s a 72-year-old US citizen named Saad Almadi who is in prison for a series of tweets he wrote when he was in Florida. He was given a 16-year sentence in October and you commented on the case then the Saudi appeal system decided to review the case last month, decided he needed an extra three years in prison despite the White House condemning the original sentence.
His son told me it was a middle finger to President Biden and that he wants his father to be declared wrongfully detained. There’s been some bipartisan reaction to this. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar told me that it’s quote “atrocious and unbecoming for the Biden administration not to declare him wrongfully detained.”
So does President Biden have a reaction to the new sentence and is there a reaction to this one?
We have been monitoring the case of Mr. Saad Abraham Almadi, as you know, I think I’ve mentioned this before, not just myself, but my National Security Council colleagues have as well since we learned of his arrest and have been in regular contact with his family. We have brought up and raised our concerns regarding this case at senior levels at the Saudi government.
So that is something that we’ve been very vocal about and brought up again to government officials and exercising our belief is exercising the freedom of expression, including through social media, should never be criminalized. I’m not going to get into the process here in how we move forward. That’s something that the State Department as it relates to these types of issues. But we’ve made ourselves very clear and we’ve made ourselves clear as well to the Saudi government.
Is it fair to say President Biden is upset about the new sentence?
What I can say is that we have raised our concerns and have spoken to this particular individual a couple of times from this podium.
Regarding Russia’s sanctions, I’m wondering if you could share the reason why President Biden hasn’t sanctioned the Russian billionaires Vladimir Yevtushenkov and Yelena Baturina. How is he handling the conflict of interest there, given his son was a business associate of these two people? And can you confirm that as sitting vice president, he dined with Baturina in Georgetown.
I’m just not speaking to anything that’s related to his son from here. If you want to ask question about Hunter Biden specifically, I would refer you to his family. And as it relates to any sanctions, I’m not speaking to individual persons that are from Russia.
Speaker 25 (50:57):
Thank you. I want to ask you about COVID origins. I understand that the administration has tried to get to the bottom of this. I just want to ask you if the final conclusion might look like. Is it going to look like each institution that is looking into and investigating coming up with their own conclusions? Or administration will have one final perspective on the origins?
As you know, the intelligence community is looking into this. This is something that the president has asked since few months into his administration, and so they’re redoubling down their efforts. They’re looking into the origins of COVID. Clearly it’s important. We believe he believes it’s important to get to the bottom of this, especially as we look ahead to the future in trying to prevent any future pandemics. I’m just not going to get ahead of the intelligence community. They’re working through this and I’ll just leave it there.
All right, thanks everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Speaker 26 (51:52):