Jun 15, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/14/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/14/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/14/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/14/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:05):

Good afternoon, everybody. Come on guys. Good afternoon. Okay, thank you. All right. Okay. Give the girl some love here. All right. So I wanted to start with some news at the top. Earlier today, President Biden vetoed SJ resolution 11, the most recent attempt by Congressional Republicans to pollute the air our children breathe. Just think about it. While millions of Americans were taking shelter to escape unhealthy wildfire smoke made worse by climate change, Congressional Republicans were pushing a bill to repeal the president’s efforts to make our air cleaner and safer. Their Environmental Protection Agency put forward sensible standards to limit the pollution our trucks and buses emit into the air we breathe. The standards will prevent nearly 3000 premature deaths, more than 6,700 hospital emergency room visits, and more than 18,000 cases of asthma attacks. They’ll also deliver up to tens of billions of dollars in annual public health benefits over the next two decades. So look, we just saw this month how disruptive climate change can be to our lives, our communities and our economy.

Schools were closed, outdoor events were canceled, flights were grounded, masks were back on, and many people had to remain indoors. That’s what we saw very recently that you all reported on. So this is not the future we want for ourselves or our kids. President Biden won’t let Congressional Republicans take us backwards in our fight for cleaner air. He vetoed this health harming bill today. As I just mentioned, he just defended, as you all know, during the budget negotiations, the biggest climate protection bill in history, his inflation reduction act from Congressional Republicans who were intent, they were intent on repealing it. And he’s going to keep protecting and strengthening his Investing in America agenda, which is bringing clean energy jobs and manufacturing back to America.

So another piece of good news, I know he’s been on some of your airwaves already. Last night, the Senate confirmed Jared Bernstein as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. Our economy continues to show progress tackling inflation while unemployment remains at historic lows. While there is still more work to do, which we acknowledge, but jobs are up, wages are up, and inflation is down, and Jared is someone who uniquely understands that as the President often says, a job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about dignity of work, which is something that the President has been consistent on saying. So we look forward to Jared’s continued leadership as we build an economy that works for working people. Along those lines, today we learn annual producer inflation is below pre-pandemic levels at 1.1%. In fact, producer prices actually fell last month, led by falling energy and food prices as well. This is on top of yesterday’s news, as we all discussed in this briefing room yesterday, the consumer inflation has fallen by more than half over the last 11 months.

And as I mentioned as well yesterday, wages rose over the last year and that is accounting for inflation. This is all evidence that the president’s economic plan is working to lower cost for families, invest in America and grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down, not the trickle-down economy that we see from Republicans in Congress. And finally, last thing for all of you. Tomorrow, the President and the First Lady will host a screening of Flamin’ Hot. Guests for the evening will include Eva Longoria, who directed the film, the cast, families, Latino Leaders and members of the community, and a special performance by Mariachi Vargas. The Biden Harris administration continues its effort to lift up and engage the Latino community by showcasing their stories and celebrating their contributions to our country. With that, Colleen, I haven’t seen you in a while. How are you?

Speaker 1 (04:19):

I’m good. Very good. I’m hanging in there.

Karine Jean-Pierre (04:22):

Good. Okay, what you got?

Speaker 1 (04:23):

Okay. So President Erdogan today indicated that NATO should not bet on Turkey approving Sweden’s application before the summit. And then The Post was reporting that Senator [inaudible 00:04:36] halted a US Armed Sale to Hungary as punishment over its refusal to approve Sweden’s application. So I wonder is there concern over it being delayed ahead of the summit?

Karine Jean-Pierre (04:48):

Look, we have been very consistent here. We encourage Turkey to approve Sweden’s application for NATO membership and we have said that and been really clear and they should do this without delay. I mentioned this yesterday, I’ll reiterate it here. Sweden has fulfilled its commitment they made under the trilateral memorandum of agreement, agreed with Finland and Turkey on the margins of the NATO summit that happened just last year in Madrid. As you all know, Sweden is a strong, we believe, a strong capable defense partner that shares NATO’s values and will strengthen the alliance that NATO currently has and also contribute to European security. So again, we believe Sweden should become a NATO member as soon as possible without delay and will continue to be very, very public about that as the president has been for the past several months and continue to be very clear.

Speaker 1 (05:39):

Do you think there’s a possibility it won’t get sorted out before this summit? I think the administration had sort of hoped it would be figured out by then.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:46):

Look, we are still hopeful that this will get done. I don’t have a timeline. Certainly the sooner the better, as I said, without delay. And so we’ll continue to be very clear. We’ll continue to communicate that with Turkey, but I just don’t have a timeline to share.

Speaker 1 (06:01):

Okay. One other question. So former President Donald Trump, I think yesterday or possibly yesterday maybe said that if he were reelected he would appoint a special prosecutor to go after Biden. I wondered if there was concern about this kind of rhetoric, especially considering sort of what we saw on January 6th after a lot of certain inflammatory rhetoric by Trump.

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:28):

So look, just a couple of things there. As you know, President Trump is a candidate, so I want to be very careful because right now he’s speaking as a candidate. So we just don’t want to comment on 2024. What we will focus on, what the President will continue to focus on is delivering for the American people. I just laid out the PPI numbers and what that means for our economy, what that means for the president’s economic policy and how we believe his plans and his policy has continued to work the last two years. And we’ve created historic number of jobs as President in the last two years than any other president. 13 million unemployment is at under 4%. These are all really important and that’s what the President’s going to focus on.

He’s been very clear when he ran in 2020, it was about bringing the nation together, the soul of the country. That’s something that’s still a priority for this President. He’s had multiple remarks on that particular issue. We know for a fact, right, this is something that Americans care about. We saw that in the midterm election. So the President’s going to continue to be steadfast. He’s going to continue to focus on what the American people want to see and want us to deliver on and we’re just going to stay steady.

Speaker 2 (07:37):

Secretary Blinken is heading to China later this week. When his initial trip was canceled, you all said he would go when the time is right. So why now? Why is this now the right time?

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:46):

So, a couple of things. I know my colleagues at NSC and State did a 8:00 AM on the record call at 8:00 AM so certainly would refer you to and they spoke to Blinken’s trip. So certainly refer you to that and my colleague if it hasn’t happened already at the State Department, Matt Miller was supposed to give a briefing and I’m sure he got a lot of back and forth on this particular trip. I’ll say a couple of things about this. The administration has strengthened America’s ability to out compete China for the next decade and beyond. And we’ve done that as I was just iterating, by building an economy that works for all and doesn’t leave anybody behind. And you see this, you see the investments that we’re seeing in America, especially with manufacturing. And you see this with 800,000 manufacturing jobs, all incredibly important.

So China will continue to be around and a major player on the world stage as we are putting ourselves on that stronger footing to compete. They have and will continue to take provocative steps. We understand that, and you’ve heard the President say it’s important to have that diplomacy with world leaders. It’s important to have that discussion. So we believe intense competition requires intense diplomacy, and that’s what you’re seeing from the State Department. Lastly, it is a responsible way we believe to manage tensions, clear up, misperceptions and miscalculations even. And it is in our interest to try and figure out a way to work together. And this is what you’re seeing, this is what you’re going to see from Secretary Blinken’s trip when he heads out on Saturday.

Speaker 2 (09:20):

You know that the President feels it’s important to have this kind of in-person diplomacy. What exactly is the President hoping that the secretary will be able to accomplish? And is it the President’s hope that these meetings pave the way for an in-person meeting between the president and President Xi?

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:34):

So I can’t speak to an in-person meeting with President Xi right now, with our President. What I can say is there are a couple of objectives that we are hoping, and this is something that the State Department said, so I certainly would refer you to them. But the three main objectives for the visit is one, to establish communication channels, to help manage competition so it does not veer into conflict, which is something that we have said. Keeping those lines of communication open. Two, to stand up and speak for American values, that’s something that the president leads with and also interest. And the third thing is it is in our interest that we believe to explore potential cooperation and transnational challenges. And so those are the three objectives that came directly from the State Department. I would refer you to the State Department on anything more specific about the trip.

Speaker 2 (10:24):

I know you don’t have any kind of future meeting to announce, but do you view this as laying the groundwork for a potential visit?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:30):

Well, we view this as an important part of our diplomacy in our conversation that we believe that we need to have with China. As we have said, they’re going to be a major player for a long time. We believe that we are in a right footing, especially of the work that the president has done the last two years. When you look at the economy, when you look at the competition, you look at what we have been able to do. And so we want to continue to have those open line of conversation. And this is about diplomacy, which is why the Secretary of State is heading to China on Saturday.

Speaker 3 (11:02):

Thanks, Karine. Does the White House have a reaction to the Federal Reserve’s decision to pause interest rate hikes [inaudible 00:11:08]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:09):

As you know, we do not comment on the Fed’s actions. They are independent. We respect the independence of the Fed and we do not interfere in any way in their policies. The President has made it very clear that he wanted to give the Fed the space so that they can make these monetary decision and make these monetary policy obviously. And as I laid out at the top, and I actually talked about this as well, it’s with the CPI data yesterday. We believe that the President’s plan, the economic plan is working. When you look at the last 11 months and you see inflation has gone down by more than 50%, when you see that wages rose over this past year when you include inflation as well. And 13 million jobs I just mentioned, the 800,000 jobs, manufacturing jobs, which is incredibly important for American families. So these are the things that the president’s going to focus on. How do we continue to create an economy that works for all? But I’m just not going to comment on the Fed’s response.

Speaker 3 (12:14):

One question on China as well. Is the White House aware of Bill Gates’s trip to China and his plan meeting with Xi Jinping and have you or has the White House advised him about it at all or requested a read out after his meeting?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:27):

So I don’t know if Bill Gates has reached out to us or if we have reached out to him. I don’t have any information or intel to give about any conversation with Bill, but certainly I’m sure he can speak for himself about his trip to China.

Speaker 4 (12:43):

Thanks, Karine. Wanted to give you an opportunity to perhaps correct the record or at least respond to something former President Trump said last night. Last night he called his arrest, “The most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country.” And he accused the current President of having him arrested, effectively directing his arrest. Your response?

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:02):

I’m not going to comment to that.

Speaker 4 (13:07):

I wanted to ask you about Senator Tuberville, who is currently holding up the promotions of about 250 senior officers. He has reportedly rejected the most recent offer by some of his Republican colleagues to address this issue as part of the annual defense authorization bill. And he is maintaining that he wants to vote on the Senate floor to reverse this Pentagon policy that pays travel costs for service members seeking abortion or other reproductive healthcare. So Senator Tuberville says that he hasn’t heard from the White House at all on this issue. I’m wondering why not? And what’s the White House’s view on what the path forward is here. Should the Senate begin holding individual votes on senior military promotions to start advancing some of this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:50):

So a couple of things at the top, which is I think incredibly important what the Senator is doing by holding these nominations, it’s a threat to our national security, period. That’s what he’s doing.

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:00):

These are important nominations that we need, that the American people need to keep our country safe. And not only that, they risk our military readiness by depriving our armed forces of leadership and hurt our military families. That’s doing by holding these DOD nominees, all our military nominees that Senator Tuberville is blocking need to be confirmed quickly. And we have been consistent about that. This is something that has come up in the briefing room multiple times at this point. Senators should not play politics. They should not play politics with our military assistance, with our military readiness, and with our military family. And so look, I’m not going to get into the specifics of what the mechanics should be in getting us done. We’ve been very clear that it needs to happen, and I just don’t have anything else to share about a conversation with the Senator.

Speaker 4 (14:55):

Well, but why hasn’t the White House spoken with him? And what does the White House see with the path forward here? You guys have said it’s in a matter of national security. I presume that means it’s a [inaudible 00:15:04]

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:04):

First of all, it’s shameful that he’s doing this, right? He needs to be asked a question, is why is he putting our national security at risk? That is something for a senator to be able to answer to. We’re trying to do the right thing by moving forward and protecting our military readiness and protecting our military families. And so look, I can’t speak to conversations. I have to talk to our Office of Ledge Affairs. I do not know when the last time that they spoke to the Senator. What I do know is what he’s doing is putting our national security at risk, truly.

Speaker 4 (15:36):

And then very quickly on something that was brought up earlier, Senator Risch and his blocking of a 735 million arms package to Hungary in order to get them to approve Sweden and to NATO. Did the White House coordinate at all with Senator Risch? Do you guys agree with that strategy? And do you believe that he should maintain that hold until Hungary approves?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:55):

No, I heard the question from Colleen. I don’t have anything to add or anything to elaborate on that. Go ahead, Joe.

Speaker 5 (16:00):

Yeah. Thanks, Karine. For months, the White House has declined to discuss a possible plan B if the president’s student loan debt forgiveness program is overturned by the Supreme Court. Now with a SCOTUS decision expected this month, perhaps in a matter of days, several constituencies are urging Biden to be ready to act. The NAACP, in a letter today to Biden wrote, “Should the Supreme Court fail to uphold student debt relief, black America demands that your administration pursue all legal pathways to make a permanent solution on student loan debt.” Is the White House prepared to transition to an alternative method for student loan forgiveness if the president’s plan is rejected in court?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:41):

So look, we continue to be confident in our kind of legal pathway here. So I’m going to leave it to the Department of Justice to continue protecting a plan that the president believes is incredibly important for American families. And I want to also be clear that the President recognizes, he recognizes the burden student debt has on tens of millions of black Americans. That is something that he gets. That is something that he certainly has talked about, which is why he secured the largest increase to Pell Grants in decades. That’s something that he did very early on in his administration, and that is why he vetoed the most recent attempt by Congressional Republicans to block his student debt. Remember, that was part of a major piece of contention during the budget negotiations, and the president protected that. And so he is certainly understand how important his plan is, which is why he put it forth, which is why he understands how much that means to everyday families, working people who makes less than $75,000.

Remember, 90% of that plan is going to help those very people. So we believe in our kind of legal pathway here. And so I’m certainly not going to get ahead of the Department of Justice.

Speaker 5 (17:58):

So as for whether there is a plan B, if it is struck down, you still can’t say whether there…

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:01):

I’m just saying that we’re going to focus on the fight that’s in front of us right now.

Speaker 6 (18:06):

Local outlets in Connecticut are reporting that president will attend a national gun safety summit later this week. There seems to be little momentum in Congress for any sort of new bill that we saw recently. Right now, is the White House purely in an implementation sort of phase when it comes to gun control, or is there’s anything else the White House can do in the meantime besides just calling on Congress for additional action for gun control?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:38):

[inaudible 00:18:38], I appreciate the question, but let’s not forget what this president has done that has been historic when it comes to dealing with gun violence. Let’s not forget that more than two dozen pieces of executive actions that he’s taken because Congress has not acted in the way that we fully believe that they can. We appreciated the bipartisan bill that was passed almost a year ago. It’s going to be on, I believe on Friday will be a year ago that the president signed out into law. That’s great. And it was 30 years in the making really, right? Took 30 years before we got there. But there’s more that needs to happen. There’s more that needs to happen to keep our community safe. And so to your question, look, he’s going to use the bully pulpit. He’s going to go to Connecticut. He’s going to continue to talk about the importance of Congress moving forward. But also, states have taken action.

Let’s not forget, Connecticut has taken actions, and there’s been multiple states have actually done the work to ban assault weapons, do red flags, and do other things that are incredibly important that’s going to protect communities. And so we’re going to lift that up as well. Now what we’re asking for, obviously, is for the federal government to take additional actions, but let’s not forget what states have been able to do over just the last several months on protecting their community.

Speaker 6 (19:49):

What we’re asking is for the federal government to take additional actions.

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:52):

That’s exactly right.

Speaker 6 (19:53):

But can any of those actions, at this point, while noting the legislation that was passed already and the implementation ongoing of that package, can any of those additional federal actions at this point be done solely through executive action?

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:06):

So look, the president’s always going to look for ways to take additional actions, obviously, right? When you do more than two dozen executive actions, clearly we’re always going to figure out what else we can do to protect communities. So that is something that certainly our team is going to look at. But let’s not forget that states have been able to take action, which is really important too. And that’s been just over the past several months. And so we’re going to continue to ask Congress to act. I’ve been asked what other priorities that this president has as it relates to legislation. That’s one of them. We just got to continue to build on what he was able to sign last year. Anything additional, I just don’t have anything to share at this point. Okay, Tyler.

Speaker 7 (20:47):

Thanks, Karine. Last night, Fox News ran a chyron that referred to the president as a want to be dictator, and I’m wondering if White House has any comment on that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:55):

So look, there are probably about 787 million things that I can say about this that was wrong about what we saw last night, but I don’t think I’m going to get into it.

Speaker 7 (21:06):

There’s no comment the White House has on…

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:08):

I think I just commented.

Speaker 1 (21:13):

Thank you, Karine. So without talking about the decision today by the Fed, obviously the hikes impact the US economy. So can you talk about the delayed effects of previous hikes, and when you think you’ll be able to have a very clear picture of how the economy and inflation are doing?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:36):

I’m just not going to get into economic forecasting from here. What I will say, and this is something that the president has said himself, we believe that recent data is more proof that his economic plan is working. When you think about PPI, you think about CPI, you think about the jobs numbers. We believe that what he is doing is creating jobs, and also helping to lower costs, and that is the most important thing that we think the Americans want us to see. And so look, fighting prices certainly continues to be a main priority for Americans, and also certainly a top priority for us, and so we’re going to continue to do that, to do everything that we can to lower costs. But we are encouraged by the data. I’m just not going to get into forecasting any type of data points on the economy. I’m going to leave that to the experts.

Speaker 1 (22:30):

And then on Saturday, president Biden is scheduled to go to Philadelphia. So I wonder, since he’s going to be there, does he plan to survey the I-95 collapse?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:40):

I don’t have anything to report at this time or to share about a change in his schedule. Thank you. [inaudible 00:22:49].

Speaker 8 (22:49):

Karine, this White House is recognized on Juneteenth, which is Monday. And with that said, the issue of reparations continues to be something that is being parced out on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue. And with that said, the late John Conyers started with a study. Now, you have Congresswoman Bush not just asking for a study, but she’s creating a resolution to push forward or reparations. What does this White House believe when it comes to this controversial issue of repairing a wrong for the descendants of Africans in this nation?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:27):

So look, as you mentioned Juneteenth, there was a concert here yesterday, and we saw how powerful and how moved the president was by the concert and by kind of the story that was laid out through the concert about Juneteenth and how important that moment was. Opal, as you know, was here and it’s always moving to hear her and to see her. And as you know, the president signed Juneteenth to be the most recent holiday about two years ago. So I think that shows, from that action… I’ll give you more. I think that shows, from that action, how important the President thinks this moment is, how important he thinks that it is important to continue to lift up the African American community, and he’ll continue to do so.

As it relates to reparations, I saw just moments ago, Cori Bush’s resolution, we haven’t reviewed the proposal yet. It’s a new proposal, so we’ll take a look at it. So I can’t comment on that specifically. But the president has been really clear as it relates to reparation. He wants to see a study of reparations and studying the continuing impacts of savory. He believes that is incredibly important.

Speaker 8 (24:44):

So after the study, if the study concludes what many thought leaders and civil rights leaders have said, what next? Does the president support a payout? Because the nation is divided on… This has been one of the biggest issues over the decades about how to repair the enslavement over generations of Africans brought to this country for free labor. So what does the President do after? What will he lean in on after a study, which is expected to basically say what many of the civil rights and black thought leaders have said? Does the President believe in a financial repair for the descendants of Africans in this nation?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:32):

So look, I will say this. We got to let the study move forward. We got to let to see what the study shows, and we got to continue to study the impact of slavery. That is something that the President believes that we need to do. So that’s incredibly important. But I will say, April, and you now this, you’ve covered this since we’ve walked into this administration, when we think about the crises that we see in our country, the president called out how race inequality is a problem, is a crisis for us in this moment, which is why he’s taking comprehensive action. When you think about what he did on the first couple of days that he walked in, signing an executive order to make sure at the federal level that we put equity at the center, at the center of this. And it is important that we continue to do this.

How do we deal with the inequalities that we see in this country? And he’s trying to do that on the federal level. So let’s see what the study shows. It is important to continue to study the continuing impacts, if you will, on slavery. And I think because of the president’s action, he’s been very clear. He’s been very clear how important it is, even just looking at his economic policy, how important it is to leave no one behind, have equity at the center of everything that he’s done. If you look at every piece of historic piece of legislation that has passed that he has signed, it has equity at the center of that. And that’s because the president has that in mind, to make sure that we have equality, to make sure that we leave no one behind. I’ll keep going.

Speaker 9 (27:03):

Thank you. Karine. Why did the White House matter inform us of the president, [inaudible 00:27:08] visit yesterday? It wasn’t on the schedule. I presume that these bilateral meetings are planned in advance. So when did you decide that the meeting was going to happen?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:16):

So look, it was a drop-by. That’s what it was with the president. And I would have to talk to the National Security Council to talk through how the meeting actually happened and landed. I don’t have that information for you, but we believe it was important for this drop-by by to happen. Clearly, I just talked about how the president sees diplomacy, having in-person those in-person conversation, how critical they are. And that’s what you saw yesterday. I can’t speak to the process on landing this meeting.

Speaker 9 (27:49):

Can you give us a sense of how long the meeting was?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:53):

I’ll give you a little bit of how we saw this meeting went. I don’t have a timeline for you, or a timestamp, if

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:00):

… if you will on the meeting, so during their meeting, President Biden lauded Uruguay as a regional and global model for democratic governance and congratulated him for receiving the Gold Insignia Award from the Council of the Americas.

President Biden and the president of Uruguay also discussed their support for Ukraine, a principle defense for fundamental freedoms in Venezuela and commitment to ensure the Americas partnership for economic prosperity accelerates regional integration, inclusive economic prosperity, and greater opportunity through sustainable trade and investment.

The two presidents also explored ways to expand our bilateral economic relationship, increase joint efforts to combat climate change, and further strengthen a security operation and that is what came out of this meeting.

Speaker 9 (28:48):

Thank you for that. Just on the US/Iran talks, I saw the exchange at the State Department briefing yesterday and I’m still unclear and I hope you can help me, is the administration, at this point, talking to Iran, asking Iran not to enrich uranium above 60% in return for the release of some funds, some frozen funds, and possible prisoner exchange?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:12):

Look, I would have to refer you to the State Department. They had the readout. If it’s unclear to you, I would just refer you back to them and they can actually lay out exactly what those conversations were.

Speaker 9 (29:24):

[inaudible 00:29:22] principle. I know that you say that JCP [inaudible 00:29:27] is not the priority for the administration at this point, so what are these diplomatic channels that are going on?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:33):

Look, again, having open channels of conversation is important, and I’ll just reiterate our policy on Iran has not changed. As we have been very clear about that, we remain focused on constraining Iran’s destabilizing behavior through pressure, close coordination with our allies, and deescalation in the region, obviously, right?

That’s including ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. That has not changed, of course, right? We’ve been consistent about that during this past two years in this administration, so we’re going to always watch closely Iran’s enrichment activities and the United States prefers diplomacy, right? That’s what you saw from the State Department. That’s what you see from this president. But we are preparing for all possible options and contingencies in full coordination with our partners and allies, so that has not changed. We’ve been consistent. Go ahead, Karen.

Speaker 10 (30:26):

Thanks, Karine. To go back to the Philly event on Saturday, the president is attending a political rally hosted by union members and we’re told it’s not a Biden campaign event. Should we expect the president to take part in more of these things called political rallies over the next couple of months? What’s this going to look like on Saturday?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:42):

I just don’t have anything to share on that. It is a political rally, so I would refer you to the DNC, so I’m not going to speak to it from here. I’m just going to be very careful and not speak to that.

Speaker 10 (30:53):

And not about this one but will he do events like this that are not … I mean, the White House advertised this event in a release? But other entities hosting a rally that could look like a campaign event, that the president goes to, will we see him doing this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:09):

I don’t have anything to share on this schedule at this time. I just don’t. Okay. Let me see.

Speaker 11 (31:14):

Yeah. White House officials, including you, I think, are meeting with state legislators over the next couple of days about reproductive rights and abortion access and I’m curious what you’re trying to accomplish and they are coming from Republican states where they’re definitely in the minority in the legislature.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:39):

Look, Tam, we believe these conversations are incredibly important. That’s why they’re here, these state legislators are here. Let’s not forget, the one year anniversary of Dobbs’ decision is about less than 10 days away, if not less, and so we thought it was important for White House to host state legislators to discuss the state level attacks, as you just mentioned, we’re seeing on reproductive rights and the work led by Democratic elected officials to safeguard access to care.

We’re going to convene another one tomorrow, as you mentioned. I had the pleasure of participating in one this morning or participating or talking to them this morning, including Jen Klein, the director of gender policy council, Mayor Steve Benjamin, the director of office and public engagement here at the White House and it was incredibly powerful.

You’ve got to remember, these are folks who have been on the frontline dealing with an issue that is incredibly important to their constituency, to the people that they work on behalf of but also the country, and so we’re talking about how Republican elected officials in these very states have taken steps to roll back reproductive care, to roll back freedoms that we should have, that women should have and so, again, we’ll have more to share. We’ll be convening another one tomorrow.

We thought it was important to do this as we head to the first year anniversary of the Dobbs decision.

Speaker 11 (33:00):

Are you just producing videos out of it? I guess the White House convenes all the time but I’m just curious, what-

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:08):

I don’t have any output from it, besides the fact that these are state legislators who have literally been on the frontlines of a freedom that has been eroded to women, reproductive healthcare that has been taken away.

It’s important to bring them in and to tell them, “Hey, we have your back”, that we see you, we appreciate the fight that you have been doing, and we are partners with you on moving forward. Hey, we think that’s important to do, especially as we’re talking about freedoms, we’re talking about Americans’ freedom here. Okay, go ahead.

Speaker 12 (33:44):

Thanks, Karine. Can you say whether the president has actually read that letter from the NAACP on student debt relief, and if he has, what his reaction is?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:52):

I have not spoken to the president if he has read the letter or not, so I can’t answer that question but I have laid out just the last few minutes about what the president has done and how he understands how his student debt relief plan is important to this community, and so he’ll continue to fight for it as we see DOJ doing, and so this is something that we think is so important.

If you think about what American families have had to deal with the last two years, giving them a little breathing room, you hear the president talk about this a lot, and this is what the student debt relief is going to do. It’s part of his economic policy to make sure that we do everything … How we move forward on building back the economy deals with it in an equitable way.

Speaker 12 (34:39):

I’m going to try again one more time on the Fed. Is the White House concerned that the Fed is pausing rates at a time when inflation is still high and still above that 2% target?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:49):

I am just not going to comment on the monetary decisions that the Fed makes. They are independent. We respect that independence. I’m just not going to comment on their actions.

Speaker 13 (34:58):

Thank you, Karine. I saw on Iran since the United States seems to be trying to ease tensions with Iran, is the White House optimistic on the possibility of making progress to release the American hostage? I saw a few months ago, [inaudible 00:35:14] one of the American hostages made a desperate plea from the [inaudible 00:35:22] prison on CNN. Has the president been in touch with [inaudible 00:35:25]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:26):

I don’t have any update on any conversations that the president had with any of the family members. Look, when it comes to Americans being wrongfully detained or held hostage, this is something that this administration takes very seriously. This is something that this administration has made a priority.

As you know, there’s been more than a dozen Americans who have been held hostage or wrongfully detained that we have been able to bring home over the last two years, so that shows you our dedication and our focus on this. I just don’t have anything else to share. I would actually refer you to the State Department on anything specific on any particular hostage.

Speaker 14 (36:10):

On the Federal Reserve, without commenting on their policy, does the decision that they made on interest rates signal to the president or the economic team here that any change is needed in proposals that are putting forward, especially now as you work with Congress and the appropriations process in funding levels?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:30):

I’m just not going to comment on their actions, specifically- Hold on. Hold on. You’ve got to give me a second. You’ve got to give me a beat here. Let me just say what I need to say and I’ll try to answer your question in the most effective way possible. I’m going to be careful about responding to any actions that the Fed makes. They are independent, we respect that.

But, look, we believe, again, our economic policies are working, because we have seen inflation is now the lowest in more than two years, and that has fallen for the past 11 months and you think about wages, that has gone up, right? Which is incredibly important, over the past year, that accounts for inflation.

When you think about that, that is important for American families. Who does that help? American families when you see wages that have gone up. 13 million jobs, that’s important and that’s because of how this president has moved forward with the economy.

You’re asking me if we need to change anything, the president has always said when it comes to economic policy, he’s going to put lowering cost a priority, and so we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to continue to find ways.

I’m just not going to comment on the monetary decision that the Fed has made. Go ahead.

Speaker 15 (37:44):

Thanks a lot, Karine. You described some of the accomplishments the president has made and the investments in the country, and yet the president’s polling is still in the forties, in the low forties. Does the president believe he’s not getting enough credit for some of the investments like the Chips Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act that are going out in the country? What’s he going to do in the coming months to try and reach Americans to describe what kind of impact it’s going to have on-

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:08):

Our focus is going to be the work, the work to get this done, the work to lower costs, and we know that there’s more work to do and we know that sometimes Americans, there are some Americans here in this country, who are feeling the economy a little bit differently, who feel like that there’s more work that can be done.

Here’s what we’re going to continue to do, we’re going to continue to take on Big Pharma, to lower prescription drugs, and that is something that we have been able to do and that’s capping insulin at $35 a month, investing in America to lower energy costs, fuel our manufacturing reinsurgence, and create jobs, more than $470 billion in private sector investments, in manufacturing and clean energy. That matters, and so that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

Look, it’s completely opposite of what Republicans in Congress want to do. They want to reward the wealthy, the corporations, give them a tax break. That’s what we have seen from them and that’s why the bipartisan budget deal that the president was able to do is so important, because he was able to protect programs that are so important and critical to American families, critical to veterans, critical to seniors.

What they can expect from this president is a president that’s going to continue to fight for them and he has shown that by his actions. Go ahead, John.

Speaker 16 (39:24):

Thanks a lot, Karine. The Secretary of State’s upcoming two day visit to China is very noteworthy in the sense that a US Secretary of State hasn’t traveled to China since 2018. What’s the overall goal?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:40):

Look, State Department has talked about it. I just spoke about it from this podium just moments ago about the objectives and the goal. We think it’s important. This president thinks it’s important to have diplomacy, to continue to have those conversations with a country that’s going to be a major player on the world stage, right?

But we’ve been very consistent. We believe we’ve strengthened America’s ability to out-compete China, because of the economic actions and policies that we have taken and we think it’s important to have those open lines of conversation, keep those channels open.

We’re going to continue to do that. Diplomacy is important. He is, as you just stated, Blinken is the Secretary of State, that is one of his jobs, right? To have those conversations, and so those are the objectives and we’re going to continue to move forward in that direction.

Speaker 16 (40:28):

A very complex relationship, the US and China, there’s trade, there’s national security, there’s human rights. I’m curious, do you, as the administration, view China as you described, the competitor, or are they also an adversary?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:43):

Look, what we see right now is that they’re certainly going to be a major player, right? They’re going to continue to be around. Because of that, we need to do our part and have that diplomacy, have those conversation, and continue to strengthen our hand. America’s ability to out-compete China, which we believe we have put ourselves in a good footing to do that.

We’re going to have the conversation, continue to open the channels to have those conversations, and I think that’s what matters. I think that’s what the American people want to see. Go ahead, Courtney.

Speaker 12 (41:16):

Thank you. What’s the status of the pandemic preparedness office now that Dr. John is leaving?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:21):

As you know, we are looking to hire a director of that office. One of the reasons that office exists is because it was mandatory, clearly, as you know, by Congress and we think it’s important to make sure that, certainly, we have the right person to do the job. As it relates to the COVID response team, there is a small team, that still very much exists, and so we’re going to continue to do the work that this president has done these last two years to beat COVID back, which we have been able to see, which he has been able to accomplish, and so I’ll just leave

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:00):

… there.

Speaker 17 (42:00):

On artificial intelligence, I also wanted to ask, I know that most of the activity at the White House on that has been going out of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. They don’t have a ton of staff on AI. Their AI advisor just recently left, person under him who does AI left a while ago. Can you talk about who’s advising the president on this topic inside the White House? Are you mostly relying on your agencies?

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:24):

So look, let me just say that we are committed to fostering responsible AI to benefit society while actively working to mitigate the risk. That is something that you’ve heard. We’ve been very clear about the risk associated with AI, which is why we’ve actively engaged. You’ve seen the Vice President most recently engage with CEOs, engage with companies to ensure that we are working together and develop an advance AI in a responsible way. So we have taken action. You’ve seen the President meet multiple times with his team. You’ve seen the Vice President do this as well, as I just stated. And so we’re going to continue to have those conversations. We’re going to continue to do that work. The President certainly takes advice from his advisors here, senior advisors and others who are prolific in this space, and he’ll continue to do that. Don’t have anything more to share specifically on that. But you’ve seen us, you’ve seen the president convene his team. You’ve seen the Vice President convene his team and to talk specifically about AI.

Speaker 17 (43:25):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:27):

Yes, sir.

Speaker 15 (43:28):

Thank you. Last week, the President said that state lawmakers who were enacting bans on gender transition surgeries or therapies for minors were, in his words, hysterical or prejudiced. I’m curious, will he withhold Medicare funds or restrict federal healthcare dollars in some way in response?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:50):

I don’t have anything to add to that. I just … Okay, go.

Speaker 15 (43:53):

And then when the President made those remarks, he was standing next to the Prime Minister from the United Kingdom, and afterwards the United Kingdom announced that they were going to be placing a ban on puberty blockers for minors in most cases. Will the President raise this human rights issue with his UK counterpart?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:12):

I didn’t see those comments, so I can’t respond to that directly, and I’m just not going to go beyond what the President said in those comments.

Speaker 15 (44:17):

Okay. And then I don’t have a question about the Fed, but I [inaudible 00:44:25]

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:24):

Happy to take one though. The answer is pretty consistent.

Speaker 15 (44:29):

So not about the Fed, has the President entrusted a message to Secretary Lincoln on his trip to Beijing, specifically to the Chinese, about that Chinese spy facility that was on the Cuban Island?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:45):

So look, I am not going to get into private conversations that the President has with his secretary. And so I’m not going to get ahead of what’s going to come up in this visit. I kind of laid out the objectives, which I think is verily important, to have diplomacy. This is what the President has said, and I’ve laid out even more about how we want to move forward with our relationship and clearly our competition with China. Just not going to get ahead of that. Anything specific that you want to know about the trip, I certainly would refer you to the State Department.

Speaker 15 (45:18):

Thank you, Karine.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:18):

Okay. Way in the back. Yeah, way in the back. Go ahead.

Speaker 18 (45:18):


Karine Jean-Pierre (45:18):


Speaker 18 (45:20):

On abortion access and the state lawmakers that were here at the White House today, more are going to be in town tomorrow. Some say that they want the administration to provide more support in red states to protect access. So what more is the White House looking to do or considering doing?

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:39):

So, look, the President has been pretty clear. The Vice President has been pretty clear that they’re going to do everything that they can to fight for the right for women to make the decision on their own body, and also to fight to make sure that, and call on Congress to make Roe … put legislation forward so that he can sign Roe into law. And so that’s something that he’s been pretty clear about. He took actions very early on, almost over a year ago, when the Dobbs decision was made. He put together the present task force on reproductive healthcare, making sure access is working across the federal government to protect access to care. The President has signed two executive orders to protect access to abortion and contraception, support a woman’s right to travel for medical care, strengthen privacy measures and address discrimination in healthcare. And President Biden also issued a presidential memorandum on what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade, that is aimed at protecting the safe access to medication abortion in particular.

But the bottom line is what we’re seeing from Republicans, they want to continue to ban a freedom that women should have. They want to do a national ban. We’ve seen the bans in states across the country, and the President and the Vice President have been very clear; they’re going to continue to fight. You’ve heard from the Vice President multiple times, he’s led in this space and has been incredibly powerful and I think impactful in speaking on this issue. You’ve heard the President speak on this as well. And so I think by having, we believe, not me, but we believe by having the state legislators here today and tomorrow to listen to them, to hear what it is that they’re experiencing on the ground, to get a sense of how else we can be helpful and what ways we can partner is actually really important. And so that’s what you’re seeing from this administration and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. I think we’ve taken action. We’ve been very loud and clear about this and we’re continuing to do so.

Oh my gosh. I’m trying to call on people I haven’t called in a while. Go ahead. Go ahead. No, no, no. Right. Yep.

Speaker 19 (47:55):

Come on, let me go [inaudible 00:47:57].

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:56):

No, I just called on you last earlier this week. Go ahead.

Speaker 20 (48:00):

So just one follow up on the abortion meetings today. Were President Biden or Vice President Harris in those meetings and why were they or were they not there?

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:10):

So, look, I can say that, and I just mentioned, I listed out who some of the leaders of the administration who was part of this meeting. And so they were in attendance and convening this really important conversation that we’re having with state leaders, as I mentioned, today and tomorrow, I mentioned I had an opportunity to stop by. It was incredibly powerful. And again, these are people who’ve been fighting this on the front lines, but the President and the Vice President is committed to protecting these rights. They’re committed and doing everything that we can from the federal government. So I don’t have any readouts clearly to offer with this event or anything new about tomorrow. But look, we believe we need to do as much as we can as we head into the sad one- year anniversary of the Dobbs decision. And so we’ll continue to have these conversations as we have been for the past year, and we think it’s important to do so. So don’t have anything to read out about the Vice President or President. Sure.

The poor guy thinks you’re laughing at him. It’s terrible.


Dennis House (49:23):

Hi Karine, I’m Dennis House with WTNH, the ABC Station in Connecticut. And as you mentioned, the President is coming here on Friday for Senator Murphy’s Gun Summit at the University of Hartford. And I’d like to know why is Connecticut so important to the President to make this argument for more gun control and more gun safety?

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:41):

Okay, and just Dennis House, right?

Dennis House (49:44):

Yes, Dennis House.

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:45):

Okay. Good to see you, Dennis. Thanks for-

Dennis House (49:47):

Nice to see you and thanks for your time today.

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:50):

Okay. So look, we were talking about earlier, moments ago, about the importance on the work that we need to continue to do to talk about the work that we need to continue to see on protecting communities. And so the President believes that this is a critical trip, an important trip as we see the anniversary, upcoming anniversary of the Bipartisan Safer Community Act, which resulted in decades of work. We hadn’t seen bipartisan legislation on really dealing with gun violence in 30 years. And this is something that the President was able to do. Let’s not forget the more than two dozen pieces of executive actions that he was taking. So he’s going to highlight the progress at the state level and call for state legislators across the country and Congress to take additional action. That’s what you’re going to hear from the President.

Connecticut has been a leader on gun safety legislation in the decade following the tragedy, as you know, at Sandy Hook. And just over a week ago, the governor of Connecticut, Governor Lamont, signed a gun violence prevention bill, which contains more than a dozen measures to improve gun safety, including strengthening the state’s ban on assault weapons and secure storage requirements. So the President believes it’s important to highlight the states that are actually doing the work and getting this done since we’re not seeing more action from Congress. And so this is going to be an important, we think, conversation, an important opportunity for the President to highlight in what ways that we can protect our communities, protect our schools, protect our grocery stores, protect our churches, as we’ve seen continuous gun violence in our streets.

Dennis House (51:35):

Well, we welcome you into our great state and Karine, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:39):

You so much, Dennis. Have a good rest of your week.

Dennis House (51:42):

You too.

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:42):

All right. Okay. I think I have to go. I’ll take one last question. I haven’t seen you in the briefing room before. Hello.

Speaker 21 (51:49):

Hi. I’m wondering if you could comment on the planned endorsement from the AFL CIO on Friday, the earliest that that union has entered into the endorsement business in the presidential race.

Karine Jean-Pierre (52:02):

So, as you know, I can’t speak on the 2024 election because of the Hatch Act, as everyone knows in this room, and we discussed fully yesterday. So I’m going to continue to stay focused and steadfast on that. So I would refer you to the DNC or the campaign. Thanks everybody. Appreciate it.

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