Aug 21, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 8/16/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 8/16/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 8/16/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 8/16/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:00):

Good afternoon everyone.

Speaker 1 (00:02):

Good afternoon.

Speaker 2 (00:02):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:05):

Hi, apologies for the delay. The administrator was actually briefing the president in the Oval Office. We wanted to make sure that she was ready to go and the president got the briefing that he needed before we came out. Apologies for a late start in the briefing. In a minute you will hear directly from the FEMA Administrator on how the Biden-Harris administration has mobilized a robust whole of government response effort to support immediate and long-term rescue and recovery efforts in Maui, Hawaii. First, as the president said yesterday, we are praying for those who lost so much, who lost loved ones, their community, their businesses, their households.

We are also incredibly thankful to the first responders and also the very brave firefighters who are on the front lines who are dealing with this response and recovery effort. Early today, we announced that the president and the first lady will be traveling to Hawaii on Monday to meet with first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials. Since the onset of the horrific fires in Maui, dozens of federal departments and agencies have been working with state and local partners on the ground to assess ongoing needs and providing resources and personnel to support response on the ground.

Last Thursday, within hours of receiving the request, and you’ve also heard this from the governor of Hawaii himself, the president signed a major disaster declaration for Hawaii within hours and spoke publicly, as you all know, about the tragic fires. With that, as I just mentioned, the president has been kept updated on a daily basis, kept close contact with the governor and the senators in Hawaii, and obviously, the administrator has been giving him updates regularly. With that, the floor is yours.

Deanne Criswell (01:58):

Thanks, Karine. Good afternoon, everybody. As you just heard, I did just finish briefing the president in the Oval Office to give him an update on the ongoing recovery efforts that are happening in Hawaii. I will continue to provide him updates as we continue this response in support of the State of Hawaii. While I was in there, he had an opportunity to call Governor Green and let him know that he has approved the governor’s request for a hundred percent reimbursement for the emergency work that’s being done for a period of 30 days within the first 120 days at the governor’s choosing.

I will also be traveling with the president on Monday and will work with him to better understand some of the impacts that are happening. I know that the people on the ground in Hawaii, and the governor mentioned this as well on the phone, will appreciate a visit from the president. Before I give an operational update, I do just want to take a minute to portray what I saw while I was on the ground there earlier this week. The periling stories of survival, the heroic accounts of response, and the sense of community that I saw across the island. While I was in one of the shelters, I met with one young boy who was getting ready to go back to school but had lost everything.

We worked with him to find clothes and a backpack, school supplies to be able to be ready to go to school in his new facility. It’s stories like these that let you know that this is more than just the visual impact of what we’re seeing on television, more than the visual impact of the burned landscape. It’s the level of devastation from this fire and the feeling of loss from such a culturally rich community that was really palpable everywhere that I went. While the people of Hawaii are in mourning and as we mourn as a nation with them, I am filled with hope as they bravely begin to take the steps that are needed to heal and recover.

I also want to commend the heroic first responders, many of whom lost their residences while they were battling the blaze and helping to support those that were fleeing to safety. Now, it’s important to remember rescue teams are working closely with the state to help account for those who are still missing. Given the conditions and the need for additional resources, we will have at least 40 canine search teams on the island in addition to hundreds of search and rescue personnel, with more on the way. We’re working carefully to search the affected areas thoroughly and compassionately while respecting all of the cultural sensitivities.

This is a really hard disaster and this is a really difficult search operation. Because of the conditions and the fire debris, the dogs have to navigate the heat. They have to deal with issues with their paws walking through glass and debris. In these conditions, the dogs require frequent rest, which is why we are sending in additional dogs to augment the operation. In addition to them, 30 specialists from the HHS mortuary teams are already in Maui and will soon be joined by the mortuary specialists from the Department of Defense. These experts are going to be able to help identify loved ones. Now, I want to be honest with everyone.

This is also going to be a very long and hard recovery, but our federal, state, and local partners are working around the clock to help all of those who have been impacted by this disaster. From the beginning of this event, my regional administrator has been on the ground and has been leaning forward to support those in need. As he always does, President Biden directed me to move quickly and push as many resources into the area so we could help people as soon as possible that were impacted. Since the news first broke about the fire, I have been in constant communication with President Biden to provide him real-time updates of the situation.

Both while I was on the ground, and to inform him and his team of the support that we are providing to the community. I want everybody to know this, the President, FEMA, and the entire federal family will be there to support the people of Hawaii as long as we are needed. Now, just a couple of operational updates for everyone. Today, FEMA’s Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery Anne Bink and Region 9 Regional Administrator Bob Fenton are both on the ground. To date, we have mobilized millions of liters of water and food. We have deployed more than 700 personnel to the disaster with more than 600 already on the island.

We have given out $2.3 million in assistance to families, and we have approved over 1300 registrations for assistance. We launched our Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program, and this will compliment the State’s Fire Relief Housing program for residents. We also authorized critical needs assistance to make sure that we’re putting money in the hands of survivors. We also launched a joint task force to assist the state in ensuring that the housing assistance that survivors are eligible for, whether it’s through FEMA’s programs or the state programs, that it will be seamless to the survivor and they don’t have to figure out who they’re supposed to call for help.

But I also need all of your help. I need you to help us get the word out and encourage more people to apply for assistance. Please help us spread the word to residents of Maui and encourage them to register for assistance with FEMA with either our staff on the ground, through our website at, or by calling 1-800-621-3362. We also opened our first-

Speaker 3 (07:56):

I’m sorry, can you please repeat the number?

Deanne Criswell (07:58):

Yup. 1-800-621- 3362 or 1-800-621-FEMA. We also opened our first Disaster Recovery Center. What these facilities are, they are brick and mortar locations that have federal, state, and nonprofit partners that will all be co-located, where people can register for assistance and help get additional support. This is an important first step in their recovery process. We’re also cognizant of the fact that the fires have completely upended people’s lives, and that this is especially true for young children of Hawaii who are unable to return to school in their affected areas. Similar to the young boy that I talked to about.

As both a grandmother and a mother myself, my heart breaks thinking about the tragedy that they have gone through and their road ahead. Children’s Disaster Services has already deployed two teams in partnership with the American Red Cross to provide care and a safe and a reassuring presence in our shelters. I am certain that this will bring ease and comfort to the parents that are still coping with the gravity of the situation with such devastating loss and want to provide some sense of stability to their families. Additionally, the Red Cross, in coordination with Maui County, continues to support staff in five shelters where food, water, hygiene kits, and other essential resources are being provided to individuals.

We are also coordinating these services so that anybody who leaves a shelter for a hotel or other place to stay will be eligible to receive the same level of services being offered at these shelters. Our partners at HUD are also supporting the people of Hawaii by providing a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of federal housing administration, insured mortgages, and home equity conversion mortgages. This is also another very important step in their recovery process. Lastly, debris removal is going to be a critical aspect of this recovery. We have mission assigned both EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to start the process of debris collection and planning for removal.

We are also mindful, and I stress this to my team every day and every time I talk to them, that we need to continue to ensure that we have a strong respect… To the people of Hawaii, I promise you this. We will do everything we can to continue to help you rebuild on the island and the island that you call home. Together with our state, federal, and volunteer partners, we will continue to provide support to Hawaii for as long as is necessary. But the people of Hawaii, they deserve a recovery that not only addresses their immediate needs, but that positions them as an example of resilience, strength, and resolve. Thank you. With that, we’ll take any questions.

Speaker 4 (10:48):

Thanks, Administrator Chriswell. I heard everything you said about all the resources that are being brought to bear, but we keep interviewing survivor after survivor who says that either they didn’t see any government personnel or assistance for days or that they still haven’t. How do you explain the disconnect between what they’re saying and what you’re saying about all the resources that are there in Maui?

Deanne Criswell (11:13):

I think you need to understand that this community is going through an amazingly traumatic event. I can tell you that we have personnel that are on the ground year round and embedded in with the state as soon as the fire started, so we could continue to understand what resources were needed and help move them in. The Coast Guard conducted 17 rescues that day and supported 40 additional rescues, and so they were there Tuesday helping these people escape the flames that they were experiencing. We have staff in the shelters. I met with many of the individuals. They’re right there. Our staff are walking and talking to the people and helping them register for assistance.

We also have our voluntary agencies like the United Way and the American Red Cross that are there. We know that we need to get to everybody. There’s also people that are staying with family and friends, staying with residents in other parts of the island. That’s why our teams will continue to go out into the communities to make sure everybody that needs assistance can get assistance. I think the Disaster Recovery Center is going to be one way that they have a place and a focal point that they can come get their questions answered instead of just going to a shelter, which is what’s been available right now.

Speaker 5 (12:24):

I know that FEMA takes a backseat to states in situations like this, but Hawaii is a small state. Does Hawaii have the staffing and the expertise to lead a recovery effort of this magnitude?

Deanne Criswell (12:40):

Again, we’ve been embedded with them. We actually have personnel that integrate in year round with them to help maintain their capacity, but we also recognize that this is a large event for them, and they are a small state. They have asked for assistance from some of our other states, and I can say like California, Cal OES, is sending one of their incident management teams to embed with Maui Emergency Management to help give them the capacity, help give them some of the relief they need and help develop that structure to maintain this longer term response.

Speaker 5 (13:12):

Could the state turn leadership of the recovery effort over to FEMA if they wanted to?

Deanne Criswell (13:17):

I don’t think we would ever want that. This is their community. We want to be able to support them and we will be there to support them throughout this recovery process.

Speaker 6 (13:26):

Thanks, Administrator Chriswell. Yesterday we heard from the president who said he was hoping to visit soon. Obviously, the announcement was made today, but he didn’t want it to be disruptive. Can you talk specifically about what the president will see, who he’ll meet with, and what efforts are being undertaken to make sure that his visit is not disrupting the ongoing efforts to support the local communities?

Deanne Criswell (13:44):

Yeah, as I have been briefing the president, I have been explaining to him the dynamics of the situation on the ground and the ability to make sure that we give the space to our search and rescue teams to continue to be able to account for everybody that is missing. I know when the president travels, he’s going to be able to bring hope, and he’s going to speak with the governor and the State’s first lady and talk to survivors and hear their stories. It’s that level of hope-

Speaker 6 (14:07):

An interesting debate, a very difficult debate even happening among state and local leaders about the role of tourism, that whether it should be still allowed to be ongoing, the appropriateness of tourism in the community there as it relates to the economy. Does the administration, does FEMA take a view about whether continued tourism is maybe potentially disruptive to this effort, especially as it relates to providing enough housing for those who have been displaced?

Deanne Criswell (14:30):

Yeah, I would defer you to the state for any actions that they’re going to take as it relates to tourism. It does not impact or affect our ability to respond and support the state, and it’s not a factor that we take into consideration. We’ll continue to send resources in to support whatever the state needs.

Speaker 7 (14:46):

How many people so far have applied for federal disaster aid, and can you lay out the biggest barriers that people are facing? Is it just a lack of internet, phone connectivity, or is it the lack of information?

Deanne Criswell (14:57):

Yeah, I think what I said is right now we’ve approved over 1300 registrations. I don’t know what the total number of individuals that has applied so far. But one of the things that I really need your help on, it’s not as much as lack of communication and cell phone capability. It’s lack of understanding whether they should or should not apply for federal aid. We want everybody in Hawaii to know that they should apply for federal assistance. If they haven’t, we’ll have people that will be going out into the communities, that they’re in the shelters, they’ll be at the DRC. They should start that process, and we can work with them to start their road to recovery.

Speaker 7 (15:34):

Just to put the 1300 number into context. How many people, in your view, just an estimate, are eligible?

Deanne Criswell (15:40):

I don’t have that number. Certainly, we can get some of our estimates of what we think will be eligible and will apply and we can get that to you.

Speaker 8 (15:48):

Just to follow on Mike’s question about the president’s visit, can you talk about what thresholds or milestones you expect to be crossed in the recovery process by August 21st that makes you comfortable, but having the president visit then and meet his objective of not interrupting the process?

Deanne Criswell (16:09):

Yeah. Our biggest goal was to make sure that we weren’t going to disrupt the ability of our search and rescue teams to continue their operations. When I was just briefing the president and he spoke with the governor, he asked the governor if this was going to be an appropriate time, and the governor agreed.

Speaker 8 (16:26):

So search and recovery is expected, will be completed by then?

Deanne Criswell (16:26):

It will not be completed, but it will be in an area where he will not be impacting that.

Mary Bruce (16:32):

On the monetary assistance that’s available, this critical need assistance, I believe that’s just a one-time per household payment. It’s intended for consumables. But our teams on the ground are hearing from people who are concerned about making their car payment, making their basic bills now that their lives have been so upended. What do you say to residents who fear that the money that is being made available just isn’t going to cut it?

Deanne Criswell (16:55):

Yeah, the programs that FEMA has, the Critical Needs Assistance is just that. It’s to support

Deanne Criswell (17:00):

… support some of their very initial basic needs. In addition, we have our individual and household programs that can provide additional funding that covers home repairs. In this case, many people, most people lost everything, but it can also cover losses to personal properties such as vehicles or major appliances. We’ll work with each individual as they register for assistance to help understand what’s eligible under FEMA. FEMA’s program’s, again, designed to help jumpstart that recovery process. It won’t cover all of their needs. And we’ll work with our faith-based partners as well as some of the philanthropy organizations that have been giving funding to the state so we can make sure that everybody has their cases managed in a way that helps them meet any of the unmet needs that they have.

Mary Bruce (17:44):

And on your coordination with state officials, and you said when we talked to you earlier in the week, that you’ve been encouraging them to really make their requests early to try and think about what they’re going to need in a week, two weeks, three weeks. Given how understandably overwhelmed they are, do you feel they have the ability to do that, to be able to think that far in advance, to see what they’re going to need a little bit further down the road so that you can provide those resources?

Deanne Criswell (18:07):

And I think part of what we have done as we have embedded our teams in is we help them think about what their potential needs are going to be. And bringing in this additional team that’s going to support the county will help them think through strategically into the future, what are we going to need a week from now, two weeks from now? And those are the types of daily conversations in a future planning cell that are happening every day so we can make sure we have a continuous flow of resources into the area.

Speaker 9 (18:35):

I know your focus right now is on the response, but it does seem like there’s some questions emerging about how these fires began and how they were able to spread so devastatingly, including questions about the sirens that went off and also of faults in the utility grids. In your conversations with the President and in his conversations that you’ve been there for with the Governor, how interested is he in accountability for what happened? Does he want to get to the bottom of that, and is that something that he’s asking your team or other teams to look into?

Deanne Criswell (19:06):

We always want to make sure that we understand what happened and how we can continue to improve so we can minimize the impacts that other communities may have. And that’s something that the President is committed to. This is still going to be part of the state’s response to determine what level that they want to assess the cause in any of the initial response. But we as a community, as an emergency management community always want to continually learn from the events that we’re facing, especially as we are seeing a continuous rise in the number of severe weather events. That way we can put the measures in place to either make communities more fire resistant, that we can mitigate against some of the other damages or the other threats that we’re going to face in the future and we can reduce the impacts that these communities are going to see, but also help individuals understand what the future risks are that they could potentially face and they can take the proper measures to make sure that they are prepared them and their families to protect themselves.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:04):


Speaker 10 (20:14):

You said on Monday that you were going to need some additional funding so that you don’t have to push some projects into next fiscal year. Do you have an estimate for how much is going to be needed?

Deanne Criswell (20:14):

I think the administration’s supplemental request has gone up. I believe our initial request was in there for $12 billion. Again, we have enough funding to support the ongoing response efforts because we take events like this into consideration. But if we don’t have additional funding, it would delay some of the recovery projects and push them into next year.

Speaker 10 (20:38):

Beyond that $12 billion, you’re going to need more beyond that?

Deanne Criswell (20:39):

We may potentially need more beyond that and my team is assessing that now.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:43):

I’m going to take one last question way in the back.

Speaker 11 (20:47):

Hi. You mentioned there will be a long recovery. Can you talk about the mental health aspect of it, the assistance that the federal government will provide and how people can access that?

Deanne Criswell (21:02):

The mental health aspect? Is that what you asked?

Speaker 11 (21:03):


Deanne Criswell (21:04):

Yeah. This community is going through one of the worst things that we could possibly imagine and the mental health concerns are real and the mental health concerns are a priority for the Governor and his team. We have as part of our programs, the ability to bring in mental health services through our crisis counseling program. But the American Red Cross has also brought in mental health specialists. And as they continue to support the state’s sheltering operations, what they are doing is they are embedding mental health specialists to make sure that they can help address some of the immediate concerns and needs that these community members are having.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:44):

Thank you so much.

Deanne Criswell (21:44):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:44):

Thank you for doing this again.

Deanne Criswell (21:45):

My pleasure. Thank you for everything that you’re doing.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:47):

Okay, let’s move on. As you all know, today is the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act. Most one year olds can barely walk, but this one year old is up and running. I couldn’t help myself, sorry, up and running. So that’s very excited. We’re very excited about the Inflation Reduction Act and everything that it’s doing. And with that, I have two guests with me. And as you know, in a couple of hours, the president will deliver remarks at an event marking all this transformative bill has accomplished in just a year. You guys didn’t laugh in my one-year-old joke.

Okay. All right. But let me just make sure I get their titles right. So I don’t want to mess this up. And as we are going to hear from the senior advisor to the President for Climate Innovation and Implementation, John Podesta and also the Domestic Policy Advisor to the President Neera Tanden. Please come on up. And I’ll let them take it from here. Go ahead.

John Podesta (22:47):


Neera Tanden (22:49):

Thanks, Karine.

John Podesta (22:50):

Thanks, Karine. It’s good to be with you. As Karine noted, we’re marking the one-year anniversary of a truly transformative piece of legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which is the largest investment in clean energy and climate action ever in the United States, in the history of the world. But first I want to acknowledge that today’s event is coming during a time of heartbreak as the toll of extreme weather fueled by climate change is being felt across the country and the world. This summer has brought one climate disaster after another from extreme heat in Arizona and Texas and across the southeast to floods in Vermont and upstate New York to thick smoke from Canadian wildfires. And all of us have watched in horror as the Maui fires have claimed over 100 lives, the largest loss of life of a fire in the last 100 years in America.

As FEMA Administrator Criswell just explained, the administration is doing everything we can to support Hawaii’s rescue and recovery efforts. To stop these disasters from getting even worse, we have to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving the climate crisis, and that’s what the Inflation Reduction Act is all about. It makes the largest investment in clean energy and climate action in the world touching every sector, power, transportation, buildings, industry, agriculture and forestry. It’s reducing energy costs for hardworking Americans by offering $7,500 off qualifying electric vehicles and up to 30% off heat pumps and solar panels, which can lower monthly utility bills for families by hundreds of dollars a year. Already, utility companies have announced they’ll be able to pass on to their customers at least $8 billion of savings thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. And a new report released this morning by the Department of Energy shows that those savings will grow to up to $38 billion between now and the end of the decade.

And this law is putting us on a path to reach the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of reducing emissions by 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Inflation Reduction Act is tackling the climate crisis with a government enabled private sector led approach. In the one year since the Inflation Reduction Act pass, we’ve already seen more than $110 billion in new clean energy manufacturing investments from the private sector. Add to that 122 billion in investments in new utility scale, clean electricity, wind, solar, battery, storage, and more. These new investments are creating jobs and bringing economic opportunity to communities all across America. One year in this historic law is advancing Bidenomics by investing in America, lowering energy costs, advancing environmental justice and rebuilding our economy from the middle out and the bottom up. The law contains other provisions regarding healthcare and tax policy. So now it’s my pleasure to pass it on to my colleague and friend, Domestic Policy Advisor, Neera Tanden.

Neera Tanden (26:04):

Thanks, John. Thanks for those kind words and I’d just like to say it’s a great honor to be here with you. From day one, President Biden and the Biden -Harris administration have been focused on lowering healthcare costs for all Americans because we know healthcare costs can be a huge economic stress for families. That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act lowers these care costs for millions of Americans. It’s already doing so, 15 million people are continuing to save $800 a year on their health insurance premiums. Seniors are already seeing lifesaving benefits of this law, $35 out-of-pocket cap on insulin, free recommended vaccines like shingles and tetanus, lower co-insurance for certain drugs that raise prices faster than inflation. And critically, for the first time ever, we’re able to negotiate prices for prescription drugs covered under Medicare. In a couple of weeks, HHS will announce which 10 drugs are part of the first round of negotiations.

The Inflation Reduction Act also caps out of pocket spending on prescription drugs to $2,000 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. Nearly 19 million seniors will save an estimated $400 on average annually just from this cap. That’s why these benefits are really crucial. Benefits just like I laid out will save an average of $2,500 per year for people who have specifically high costs. I’ve met Americans who’ve rationed prescription drugs, they’ve rationed pills, they’ve taken two when they’ve needed four, one when they’ve needed two, sometimes they’ve not taken the drugs they’ve needed at all. That’s because prescription drug prices in the United States have been two to three times higher than any other country. For decades, we’ve been talking about lowering drug costs and giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. Only President Biden has gotten it done and it will make a real difference for millions of Americans. With that, I know we’re happy to take your questions.

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:26):

All right. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Speaker 12 (28:32):


John Podesta (28:32):

Go ahead.

Speaker 12 (28:32):

John, your area is climate change and with all the weather events that we’ve been having, of course now the disasters even putting aside perhaps what’s happening in Hawaii, do you think the American people get it about what’s happening? Do you think they understand about what’s happening? Put aside the politicians too. Do you think they’re getting it?

John Podesta (28:57):

I think the public not only gets it, I think they’re feeling it. If you’re experiencing temperatures above 110 degrees for 31 straight days in Phoenix, you know something’s amiss. Now, the politicians could argue that this is just some natural, as some of the members of the Arizona House of Representatives have argued, well, this is just natural variation. But I think the public knows that that’s not true, that we’re experiencing an acceleration of extreme weather. This is a combination of both climate change and a strong El Nino that is building as we’re witnessing it. But the science is clear. I think the public understands it. And I think most importantly across the political spectrum, they support the movement to cleaner forms of energy, cleaner forms of transportation and the other processes I mentioned, industrial processes as well. Because it has enormous benefits to the economy, to job creation, to business investment and to public health. So yeah, I think they get it. Do they know what the future’s going to be like 10 years from now? I think as more experience happen, as more evidence accumulates, I think they’re feeling this more and more.

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:17):

[inaudible 00:30:19].

Speaker 13 (30:19):

You both enumerated what this is doing for people’s pocketbooks and the broader economy. But there is this broad disconnect in what the polls have shown with how Americans feel about the president’s handling of the economy. I understand the pandemic and all the drag of inflation. At what point does this resonate with Americans? And do you expect they’ll ever give credit to the President while he’s in office for these accomplishments?

Neera Tanden (30:52):

Well, just speaking to the healthcare provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, some have been recently implemented, the $35 cap on insulin, making vaccines for seniors for shingles and tetanus and other items free. Those have just recently come on board. People will experience lower drug prices from the Medicare and drug negotiation and from other steps we’ve taken over time. So I have some experience of working on the Affordable Care Act, and it took people a little bit of time, but when people really focused on that back in 2017, 2018, people recognized the true benefit and really rose up to defend the law.

So my expectation is that as we implement these provisions, as people see in their pocketbooks that they are paying less for prescription drugs for the first time because of the inflation reduction Act, they’ll make the connection. But we should be really clear that the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act are incredibly popular, 80% of the American people, 75% of the American people, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support lowering healthcare costs support, ensuring Medicare can negotiate drug prices and other provisions as well.

Speaker 14 (32:17):

On the solar manufacturing industry and what’s next for that industry. Can you share a little bit about what the administration intends to do to build on the tax credits in this legislation? Given that the US solar industry is still dependent on foreign supply chains, manufacturers are warning about high interest rates and cheap imports and other headwinds?

John Podesta (32:38):

Well, first of all, we’ve seen a boom in solar manufacturing announcements in the United States. We expect it to increase by eight times just between now and next year from the beginning of the administration. Credit Suisse did analysis that suggested that 90% of solar deployment in the US will be a supplied by solar manufactured in the United States, solar panels manufactured in the United States. So there are issues with the supply chain and we’re working on those. But we think that the boom in home manufacturing made in America, putting people to work here is on its path to resolving that question. And I think that’s true. We saw the massive major announcement of a $2.5 billion plant by Hanwha Q CELLS in the state of Georgia, as the President likes to say, in Marjorie Taylor Green’s district, which is a full solar supply chain, working with a plant that’s producing polysilicon in Washington down to producing wafers, ingots and cells in Georgia. So this is an issue that we are taking cognizance of and we’re

John Podesta (34:00):

We’re doing what we can to support it through grants from the Department of Energy under the bipartisan infrastructure law, obviously through these… Particularly the manufacturing tax credit, so-called 45X credit, and through other policies that we’re utilizing to re-shore and build those products here in America.

But I was with the President in Columbia, South Carolina, I guess now three, four weeks ago, where a company called Enphase, which invented an important piece of technology for the solar industry called micro-inverters, was manufacturing those products in Romania, in Mexico, and in China. Now they’re coming home being made in South Carolina with two other announcements about to come of other places where manufacturing will happen in the United States.

Speaker 15 (34:54):

I was wondering, does the White House intend to sell or say brand the legislation in a different way moving forward? You mentioned that the provisions are often very, very popular, but we did see the President himself acknowledge last week that it has less to do with reducing inflation than with providing alternative forms of economic growth.

And so I’m wondering on the messaging and branding side, are you all intending to pitch this in a different way to the public?

Neera Tanden (35:22):

Well, I would say that the law itself is delivering benefits. In just a few weeks we will have HHS announce the first 10 drugs that will be negotiated. I think we need to see. We will see results in the coming months and years. As [inaudible 00:35:41] pointed out in the legislation itself, there is a framework for lowering drug costs: some this year, some next year, and for years to come.

So we have always known that the benefits will be delivered over time, but people are experiencing these benefits now. So my focus is ensuring that people understand that they will have lower drug costs because of the Inflation Reduction Act, that those drug costs will be a real difference in their bottom lines. Drug costs… Sorry, high proportion of healthcare costs, and as I said in the United States, Americans are paying more for drug costs than everyone else. We see a real salience to this. So my focus is in really ensuring that we are implementing this and delivering those results to people.

Speaker 16 (36:24):

The initial legislation that was proposed by the President was obviously a lot more expansive than what became the final product that included universal pre-K paid family leave. I’m curious where those proposals stand with the administration. Are we going to hear the President talk about achieving those in his reelection pitch or those conversations happening at the congressional level?

Neera Tanden (36:46):

Well, importantly, many of those provisions are in the President’s budget. I’ll just take, for example, the CARE agenda with our investments in childcare, paid leave, and other provisions. The President believes that those investments are critical to our economic security and to meet the needs of families, and that’s why he’s made those a priority by putting them in the budget.

The President believes in these provisions and believes in ensuring that families can balance their responsibilities at work and home. That’s why it’s a cornerstone. Just a few months ago we announced CARE EO where he said, there again, this is part of his budget and it’s something that we are championing consistently.

Speaker 16 (37:28):

But does the President think that that message resonates differently now since it was unsuccessful in kind of getting it across the finish line a year ago?

Neera Tanden (37:33):

When the Inflation Reduction Act passed, the President said many times actually, before, during, and after that his commitment, he believed that these solutions and what was called Build Back Better were important ones and that he is committed to them and he was fighting for them. And that commitment is as strong today as ever. That is why we are proud of the fact that we get a 30% increase in childcare in the last year appropriation, but we continue to fight for those provisions, and that is another reason why he took as expansive action as he could through the CARE EO.

Speaker 6 (38:09):

It didn’t take a year. In fact, there were almost immediately both legal challenges, legislative challenges to this law. We know that a new administration, whether two years, six years, 10 years, can come along and undermine significant components of this. Can you talk about as you’re implementing this law, how you’re trying to guard against future efforts to undo some of the achievements the President feels he’s been able to set into motion?

Neera Tanden (38:32):

Well, first and foremost, we are focused on delivering results for people. That is why we’re proud of the fact that the $35 insulin camp has already been implemented. The free vaccines has been implemented during this administration. We will negotiate the 10 drugs that will be going into implementation next fall.

So ensuring that we’re delivering for people is the number one focus. But I will say that I had the great honor to work on the Affordable Care Act, and I was very worried about the Affordable Care Act when the previous administration took the presidency. But we rallied the country, and the country really came to the defense of the Affordable Care Act because people experienced… They had healthcare because of it. Twenty million people had healthcare because of it.

So our goal is to ensure that legislation is delivering for people and that is the best way to ensure that legislation stands the test of time.

John Podesta (39:30):

Can I add one word to that? Yeah. So I mentioned that I thought that particularly on the clean energy side, this is government enabled, but it’s private-sector-led. We’re seeing investment across the country. You’ve reported a lot on the fact that it’s in red districts, but it’s all across the country. The battery belt stretching from Georgia to Michigan. Investments in upstate New York, in Nevada, California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. President was in Wisconsin yesterday. We were in New Mexico last week. This is happening. These jobs are being rooted, these investments are taking place, people are going to work, and those jobs are good jobs supported by the structure of the Inflation Reduction Act, with a bonus for paying prevailing wage, using certified apprentices.

We’ve seen a big increase in the number of pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs happening all across the country as a result of both the IRA, the bipartisan infrastructure law, and the CHIPS and Science Act. Once those investments happen, once those jobs are created, once those people are at work in red districts, purple districts, blue districts, it can be very hard to walk away from that. And so I am quite confident that as the public really again, as Neera said, begins to feel the presence of this law in their lives, particularly on that workforce side, it’s here to stay.

Speaker 6 (41:01):

Can you address some of the criticism from Senator Joe Manchin, who obviously was a key part of passing this but won’t be here today? He’s talked about the implementation of being manipulated to push a radical climate agenda. I wonder if you wanted to address that.

John Podesta (41:15):

Well, look, I think we appreciate the senator’s work on this. President and senator management partners in developing an approach that led to the passage of the IRA and we’re extremely thankful of that. I think we share a lot of the same goals that… He stressed energy security. I would note that the energy report I mentioned earlier today found that we will reduce our overall energy oil imports by 40% to 59%, and that’s well above baseline projections as a result of this act.

He took credit or took credit… That’s maybe not right. He supported the investments that are happening in West Virginia. Form Energy opened in the old Weirton Steel plant. Major BHE solar plant opening up in Jackson County, West Virginia. He referenced those even in his statement today. So I think the statute is working and we’re trying to implement it based on what the Congress passed, the law that was written.

Now, he has disagreed a little bit with some of those interpretations, but I think we are operating in good faith to get guidance out as quickly as possible so that these people have the confidence that they can make these long-term 10-year investments that are included in the act.

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:50):

So I’ll let Jack in and we’ll take a couple from the back before we let these guys go.

Speaker 17 (42:53):

Thank you. John, this question is for you. Initially, the White House said the Inflation Reduction Act was about bringing down costs for families. A number of economists concluded that the inflation that has come down was not a direct result of the IRA and meantime, we were told initially that the climate investments in this bill would cost somewhere around $385 billion.

Now we’ve got new estimates putting that number at least $1.4 trillion potentially, could go even higher because of the uncapped portions. I want to take another stab at Osmond’s question because I think it’s important going into 2024 where you’ve said yourselves that voters don’t understand everything the President has done. Polls keep showing that people are broadly unhappy with the President’s handling of inflation in particular, and the President has said he wished he didn’t call this the Inflation Reduction Act.

What should you call it?

John Podesta (43:47):

Well, he said following that sentiment because I think it’s a complicated bill that it also has reduced costs, and I think it’s very important to note that both on the healthcare, and as I noted on the energy side, we’ve already seen costs coming down for consumers on the healthcare side through utility rebates. On the energy side, people will be able to take advantage of the consumer tax credits when they file their taxes next year. The rebate programs that will provide substantial support, particularly to moderate and low-income families will bring their costs down. And so I think that the statute is working as it’s intended.

With respect to the cost, I haven’t heard that one yet, but I think the joint tax committee said that there has been a greater take-up of the manufacturing tax credit that they anticipated last summer when they did their score. But that’s a good news story. That means that people are investing in America, they’re putting people to work. We’re bringing supply chains home and overall in the mid and long-term, this bill, because of the other provisions on healthcare and the major tax reform that require the wealthy and the corporations to pay their fair share still is reducing the deficit over the long-term.

Neera Tanden (45:21):

I just would like to say quickly to that, I think one of the reasons we’re so enthusiastic about the Medicare drug negotiation is that it will contribute to deficit reduction, $160 billion over 10 years. Obviously, the Inflation Reduction Act, the tax provisions are also incredibly important to the Inflation Reduction Act, but we think it is important to remember that there are key deficit reduction items part of this and that they have very bipartisan support in the country, if not in the Congress.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:58):

Okay, I’m going to go to the back because there’s just a lot of interest. Go ahead.

Speaker 18 (46:02):

Thank you, Karine. So I have a question on the climate agenda of the President. We know at Arizona right now, TSMC is having trouble with the local labor union, which petitioning Congress to block visas for Taiwanese engineers. In Michigan locals are protesting on the Chinese electronic vehicle battery factory concerning China’s growing influence in the region. Those [inaudible 00:46:27] worries the White House that it might hinder President Biden’s economic and climate agenda, and is the administration actively engaging to resolve this dispute?

John Podesta (46:39):

Well, if I understood the question correctly, we’re actively trying to re-shore our supply chains. We think we’re overly dependent. The solar initiative was brought up earlier, but certainly in the electric vehicle space, critical minerals, the processing of critical minerals, we want to see those supply chains re-shored or friend-shored, as we like to say. We’ve seen $70 billion of investment in battery manufacturing in the United States. That’s a good news story, but we’re actively working to ensure that we have secure supply chains for these new clean technology products.

Speaker 18 (47:22):

[inaudible 00:47:19] working with the unions and the local people to addressing their concerns.

John Podesta (47:24):

Work with unions every day, day in and day out, and I think the President has made no bones about the fact that he believes that the middle class built the American economy and unions built the middle class, and that he wants to see as many of the jobs created here be union jobs, and certainly that people have the right to organize and fairability to bargain for their wages.

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:47):

Okay, we’re bumping up into the President’s time. Go ahead, Paul. Phil, sorry.

Speaker 19 (47:51):

It’s okay. Mr. Podesta, I wanted to return to the issue of public-private partnerships. During the Obama administration, of course, then Vice President Biden oversaw a lot of the stimulus spending but didn’t foresee the $528 million loss that was Solyndra. As President, more recently, he heralded the electric bus factory manufacturer, Proterra, but it went out of business last week.

So I’m wondering if you can speak to some of the safeguards and steps that you’ve taken to steward this public taxpayer money and ensure that there won’t be another Solyndra or Proterra.

John Podesta (48:29):

I’ll just be very, very quick. From day one, I asked that the inspectors general convene, and we’ve done that under the leadership of the Department of Interior Inspector General to ensure that each of the grant programs and loan programs had the highest level of… They are independent, but had the highest level of input from the Inspector General to avoid chasing the horse when it’s out of the barn, try to make sure that the program design kept the horses inside the barn. And I think with respect to the loan program, particularly our friends on the other side of the aisle like to talk about Solyndra. Overall, this is a very highly-performing program. It returns $500 million to the Treasury, the loan program office at the Department of Energy. It has a 4% failure rate going to be… If you’re making loans to new technology industries, you’re going to have some things that don’t work. You can’t have a hundred percent record. The 4% default rate against those loans is consistent with the highest levels of the private sector lending standards. So I think it’s operating very well and it’s producing a lot of work for the American people.

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:43):

Okay, last question, SV.

Speaker 20 (49:45):

Yeah. Thanks. You talk about the insulin costs being reduced and the caps on the prescription, and all that’s great for people who do this regularly, but for most people it’s grocery stores and gas stations. Those are the places where they’re spending money out of pocket most regularly. What do you say to them? I mean, other than just hang tight, it’s getting better because there doesn’t seem to be anything in the legislation that addresses that specifically. Is that right?

Neera Tanden (50:18):

I will say that of the stresses on families every day, healthcare costs are one of their paramount concerns. And we know that pharmaceutical costs, drug costs are driving healthcare costs, driving healthcare costs up, and I’d say prescription drug costs are very resonant with the American people, and that is why addressing prescription drugs and lowering prescription drug costs is a key part of the Inflation Reduction Act. President has fought very hard for these provisions. Many have tried

Neera Tanden (51:00):

Tried and failed and he succeeded in getting the Congress for the first time to ensure that we have Medicare drug negotiation. These prices are a big component of what people are experiencing every day in terms of high costs. We can see from public polling why there is such a great demand, and despite pharma’s attacks over the course of a year, the past Congress actually passed this legislation.

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:29):

Awesome. Thank you so much guys.

Speaker 21 (51:30):


Neera Tanden (51:31):

Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 21 (51:36):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:36):

All right, thank you guys. I just want to add, many people ask what Bidenomics is, and this is it, right? This is a key part of Bidenomics, when you think about the Inflation Reduction Act, when you think about investing in America, when you think about lowering costs, when you’re thinking about making a tax code fair, when you’re thinking about creating union jobs, good paying jobs, this is part of this.

What we’re seeing on the other side of Pennsylvania is congressional Republicans who are trying to repeal this, trying to repeal a piece of legislation that is historic and also the biggest, largest investment as we’re thinking about climate change, as we’re talking about… Clearly, you’ve heard from the administrator twice this week of FEMA talking about what’s going on in Hawaii and the extreme weather that many of Americans are feeling across the country.

They want to repeal a piece of legislation that’s actually going to make a difference and make sure we’re doing clean energy, make sure that the manufacturing companies are coming back to this country and actually doing things like electric vehicles, charging stations, as you heard from the President when he was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That is what we are trying to communicate through all of you to the American people, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. With that, I know that I think there’s a time limit at 2:05 for some of you all to leave to go to the East Room and then the President’s remarks starts at 2:15. But I’ll take a couple of questions. Okay.

Speaker 22 (53:00):

Just one.

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:00):


Speaker 22 (53:01):

On the Private King situation, North Korea state media has issued the statement yesterday asserting why Private King has left. Broadly, is there any reaction to that? Secondly, and probably more importantly, what efforts have been made to contact the North Koreans? Has there been any success, either directly or indirectly? Has there been any attempts made since this statement has been put out?

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:29):

Look, we do have a couple of things to say on this, which is we would caution everyone to consider the source here. That is incredibly important as we’re hearing the report.

We can’t verify the comments that are being attributed to Private King obviously. We remain focused on his safe return, as we have been saying for these past several weeks, and we are working through all available channels to achieve that outcome. It doesn’t change anything. We want to make sure that he gets home safely, he returns to his families safely, and that’s going to be our focus.

Speaker 22 (54:10):

Has there been any progress in contact in assessing his wellbeing?

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:10):

I don’t have anything else to share besides what the Department of Defense was able to confirm about a week or two ago. What I can say doesn’t change anything. We want him to come home safely. Certainly, we are going to make sure that we try to do this work through all available channels to make that happen, and that is certainly our focus here. Okay.

Speaker 23 (54:30):

One more on North Korea. Do you have any indication that they’re planning a nuclear test surrounding the Camp David event?

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:34):

I don’t have any information on that or any indication to share with you at this time. [inaudible 00:54:40].

Speaker 24 (54:39):

On China, does the US have independent data on China’s economic growth?

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:47):

I don’t have any new internal data or analysis to discuss or to share at this time, but we have all seen the reports of the economic weakness in China. That is something that we’ve seen from the experts, and there are private sector estimates of the PRC, the GDP growth that are very low as you all have reported on your own. As we’ve said many times before, there have also been transparency issues as we know when it comes to the PRC and on the economic data specifically. And so I’ll leave it at that. I don’t have anything new to share on any particular internal data. Okay.

Speaker 25 (55:25):

Thank you. On Niger, any update on President Bazoum’s condition? Does the White House fear that any trial by the military might be a pretext for his execution?

Karine Jean-Pierre (55:37):

We condemn the detention of President Bazoum, his family and members of the government, as well as the unacceptable conditions under which they are being held. We always raise the importance of President Bazoum and his family’s wellbeing and safety in both public and private communications, and we continue to urge for their immediate, for their immediate safe release. The United States will hold the Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland accountable for the safety and the security of President Bazoum, his family and detain members of his government, and we’ll continue to be consistent on that.

I know that you were also asking me about the trial for treason of the President in Niger. We are obviously shocked and we are also appalled by these reports that the CNSP has gone beyond, beyond unlawful detaining President Bazoum and others to threatening prosecutions. This action is unwarranted and unjustified and will not contribute to peaceful resolutions of the crisis.

It is further an affront of democracy and justice and to respect the rule of law. Such threats underscore the urgency of respecting constitutional order in Niger, and so we continue to call for the respect of democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law in Niger, as we do around the world, and we’ll continue to do so. Go ahead.

Speaker 26 (57:00):

Thanks so much, Karine. Target, the major retailer today warned that the resumption of student loan payments in the coming months could be a drag on consumer spending. How is the White House considering interest repayments, student loan repayments in its view of the economy in the coming months?

Karine Jean-Pierre (57:16):

Look, when the President put forth his student debt relief, obviously it was part of his broader economic plan, right? Giving Americans a little bit more of a breathing room, as he said, as we’re coming out of the pandemic, certainly and wanting to do that in a way that helped the people who needed it the most.

Certainly, you’ve seen us make announcements on continuing to do what we can from here on giving Americans that breathing room. Here’s who we are talking about. We’re talking about Americans that are making $75,000 or less, majority of them. That’s what we’re talking about, who deserve to have a little bit of breathing room.

You’re talking about Target. If we do this, are able to give folks that breathing room, we believe and we have seen that they then would give back to the economy or be able to buy a home, are able to do things that actually build back the economy. And so there are benefits on both sides.

I can’t speak directly to the Target question. I have not seen that reporting, but I can speak broadly to what the President thinks and how he sees that particular plan moving forward and what we’re trying to do as it relates to student loan debt.

Speaker 26 (58:28):

Are you worried that because his broader plan, though, isn’t really moving forward, it will undo some of the economic progress that he’s been out touting?

Karine Jean-Pierre (58:35):

Oh, no, not at all. I mean, we just talked about the Inflation Reduction Act. We’ve talked about the CHIPS and Science Act, we’ve talked about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. You heard the President in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and other places. We saw him in New Mexico talking about climate change and extreme weather. Podesta just talked about South Carolina, his trip to South Carolina recently.

The President has gone across the country, talking to, speaking about how some of these investments, if you will, the invest in America are actually bringing good paying jobs and helping grow the economy.

And not just that. You look at the data that we’ve seen, 13.4 million jobs created. You see unemployment nationally under 4%. Those are real data points. Inflation is moderating. Again, real data points. You think about a law like the Inflation Reduction Act that’s going to lower costs, we’re talking about healthcare, prescription drugs, insulin capped at $35 a month, when you think about our seniors.

All of these things are incredibly important. This is all part of the President’s broader plan here. Clearly, the student loan is a major factor and we’re going to continue to try to make sure that we live up to what the President promised families across the country. Okay.

Speaker 9 (59:46):

Investigators in Kansas are looking into a raid on a newspaper office there. Has the President read anything about this case? Does he have a response to it or do you have a response to it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (59:58):

We’ve seen reports. I’ve not spoken to the president about this. I know this happened a couple of days ago about the raid on the Marion County Record offices, and certainly they raise a lot of concerns and a lot of questions for us.

I don’t want to get ahead of the facts and the legal process as you all know that’s underway. But more broadly speaking, it is important to me and from here and to the President to reiterate as he has done many times before, the freedom of the press, that is the core value when we think about our democracy. When you think about the cornerstone of our democracy, the freedom of press is right there. That is our core value.

This administration has been vocal about the importance of the freedom of press here and around the globe. As we all say, the President always speaks about that, whether it doesn’t matter who he’s talking to when he’s visiting a country, talking to a head of state, and we’ll continue to reaffirm and protect this fundamental rights enshrined in the very First Amendment. You can certainly count on us to continue to do that.

As far as the legal aspect of this, I would have to refer you to Department of Justice. Okay, Michael.

Michael (01:01:07):

Thanks Karine. Can you give us a preview of the President’s trilateral summit on Friday with the leaders of Japan and South Korea? What are the President’s goals going into this? What does he hope to accomplish?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:01:18):

I will give you a little bit on this, but I also want to share that Jake Sullivan is going to be as… on Friday morning, I believe, he’s going to be talking to the pool. Our National Security Adviser is going to do a preview on that day ahead of Camp David, ahead of the trilateral. And so he’ll be briefing the press pool at Camp David, and certainly we’ll be able to live stream that so everyone will certainly hear what he has to say.

What I will share from here is, as you all know, from day one, President Biden has made strengthening alliances and partnerships a priority. And so Friday’s summit at Camp David is a historic milestone in that effort. President Biden very consciously chose to host Prime Minister Kishida and Prime Minister Yoon for the first summit of foreign leaders at Camp David in this administration, and the first visit of any foreign leaders to Camp David, as many of you know, since 2015.

The summit reflects how important these two bilateral relationships are and how important the trilateral relationship is to the United States and our security and economic prosperity. The summit is the direct result of courageous leadership from the Prime Minister of Japan and also the President of ROK who have seized the moment and helped usher in a new era for their countries. So this trilateral trilateral summit marks a turning point and recognizes that we have entered a new and more ambitious era of trilateral partnership in which we come together to address unprecedented regional and global challenges.

As I just mentioned, our National Security Adviser, ahead of the trilateral meeting, is going to be addressing the pool, and certainly we’ll be able to livestream that for all of you.

Michael (01:03:02):

And one more thing, the President said last week that he’s going to be going soon to Vietnam. Do you have any details on when he is going? Will that be part of the trip to India for the G20 or is that a separate trip?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:03:13):

I don’t have anything to share. Once we have something to share on that particular potential trip, certainly we will do so. Okay. Let me see. Go ahead. Go ahead. Way in the back. Yep.

Speaker 27 (01:03:26):

Will you [inaudible 01:03:27].

Speaker 28 (01:03:28):

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has asked the White House to declare a state of emergency over asylum seekers. Is that something the President is considering?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:03:35):

All I can say is this. We are having a conversation, regular conversation with the Mayor of New York City and obviously as well with the Governor of the State of New York, and these are conversations that we have had for some time. The Senior Advisor to the President, Tom Perez, was in New York very recently to continue those close coordination, as you all know with our state and city partners. He met with the city and state officials to discuss how the federal government can continue to work in partnership with the city, state, and other critical stakeholders to address the migrant issues.

As you know, we have provided New York City with $100 million to help that support to be available hopefully in the coming weeks. And so we take this very seriously. We’re continuing to have that conversation. I don’t have anything else to add beyond that, but we are literally in conversation with them almost on a daily basis, as you heard from Tom Perez who is an advisor to the President and briefs us regularly on those conversations.

Speaker 28 (01:04:43):

Should we include the President? Has he been in touch with the Mayor?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:04:46):

I don’t have any conversations to read out from the President. I can say that our office is here. The Intergovernmental Affairs office that’s led by Tom Perez is in regular conversation with the Mayor of New York City and also the Governor of the state as well. I think I have to roll because the pre-program is starting for the President’s remarks. Thanks everybody.

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