Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Representative Lucy McBath 9/22/23 Transcript

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:03):

I just realized. Good afternoon, everyone.

Media (00:05):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:09):

So President Biden, as you all know, has met with countless survivors of gun violence and families mourning loved ones, and the message he hears most often is do something. Today, President Biden will build upon the historic actions he’s taken through the bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the two dozen executive actions he’s taken to date and announce the establishment of the first ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. This new office will be overseen by Vice President Harris, who has been a key leader in the Biden Harris administration’s effort to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic. The office will be held by Stephanie Feldman, a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention and two leading gun violence prevention advocates, Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox. They will join the administration as deputy directors of the office.

Ahead of this afternoon’s event in the Rose Garden, I am pleased to welcome to the podium someone who has more authority to speak on this issue than nearly anyone else in this town, and I say that sadly, Congresswoman Lucy McBath, through her grief and because of her perseverance, she has become a tireless advocate for gun safety reform. For some, this is an abstract debate, but not for Congresswoman McBath. She has lived with the awful and tragic reality of the gun violence epidemic in this country. I can think of no better person to share what today’s news means to so many families across the country.

On a personal note, she’s a hero of mine. In 2018, as I was at a previous job I held, we were sitting around deciding who was going to go to the districts, different districts across the country, obviously to organize and knock on doors. I stood up and asked to go to Lucy McBath district because she has so inspired me and I know so many others out there with her strength, with her smarts and her vision for this country. I literally went door to door knocking in what is now your district for your first election, and it is a really, truly an honor to have you here today on this important, important historic moment here at the White House. The podium is yours, Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Lucy McBath (02:43):

Thank you. Well, thank you so much, Karine. While I serve as a member of Congress today, I am speaking to you first and foremost as a mother. Just over a decade ago, I was living like any other mom in the Georgia suburbs, and I dedicated my entire life to raising my son Jordan. Then on November 23rd, 2012, within the course of three and a half minutes, a man drove up next to my son and his friends as they were parked in their car at a convenience store gas station, firing 10 rounds into the car and killing my only son. In an instant, I was robbed of every dream that a mother holds for her child. I would never send Jordan off to college. I would never see him attend his high school events. He would never graduate from high school. I would never see him get married.

Nobody wants to experience what I have, but my story is becoming far too common in the United States of America. Every single day, over 100 people are shot and killed in the United States. Gun violence has no boundaries. From the suburbs to the cities to rural America, over 100 families a day are living their worst nightmare. Our kids are continually traumatized by lockdown drills while their schools teach them how to hide behind their desks and corner themselves to shield themselves from gunfire. President Biden knows the deep pain of losing a loved one, and today he is taking decisive action by declaring loudly and clearly we do not have to live this way. The historic creation of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention marks a new era in the fight to keep us all safe. The office will increase coordination between states and ensure proper implementation of the gun safety legislation that we have already passed in Congress. President Biden’s actions today truly, truly will save lives. Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:53):

Thank you, Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Lucy McBath (06:00):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:00):

A couple of things before we go into questions. Today, extreme republicans are voting in a house committee on four destructive appropriation bills as they continue to march toward a shutdown that would hurt our economy and threaten our safety. House Republicans failed multiple times this week to do their basic duty, keep the government running. Instead, they were pushed to the extremes with increasingly severe cuts to programs Americans rely on, which have no hope of passing the Senate, and having accomplished nothing, having accomplished nothing this week, they have all decided to go home. That’s not delivering for the American people. It’s chaos. It’s failing. It’s actually failing the American people. Now, you don’t have to take my words for it. As you know, we like to take it straight from the horse’s mouth, if you will, and do quotes here.

House Republicans have said it, they’ve said it themselves. Representative Frank Lucas said there are “Folks who want to use this as an opportunity to blow the place up.” Representative Jerry Carl said, “I truly think that they want it shut down.” Representative Matt Gaetz said, “We will have a government shutdown. We cannot blame Joe Biden. We cannot blame House Democrats.” That’s because House Republicans are to blame and we’ve seen that week after week after week. Now the question for House Republicans is very simple. Do they continue to pursue increasingly extreme bills that would hurt their constituents by slashing education, slashing healthcare, Meals on Wheels and much more, all while barreling toward a needless shutdown that would threaten nutrition assistance for nearly seven million mothers and children? Is that what they want? That’s a question for them. They have to answer this. Or do they keep their promise and abide by the bipartisan agreement. Two thirds, two thirds of house Republicans voted for this bipartisan agreement just four months ago back in May. It’s not complicated here. It’s truly not complicated because a deal is a deal.

Another thing before we continue. Here at the White House this afternoon, the President is taking another action to save lives, signing a bipartisan law that will make the organ transplant system work better for more than a hundred thousand people on the waiting list for organs. Everybody knows the system has been broken for years with heartbreaking consequences. Now with the President’s signature, we are taking significant steps to improve it. The law will break up the current monopoly system, harnessing competition to allow HHS to contract with the best entities to provide a more efficient system for the people it serves. The law will also eliminate the funding cap to allow additional resources to modernize the system, which is a critical lifeline for thousands of Americans. This will save lives by creating a more transparent and accountable system that allows more Americans to access the organ transplants that many so desperately need.

Finally, finally, finally, on Monday, the president will host Pacific Islands Forum leaders at the White House during the US Pacific Island Forum Summit taking place here in Washington DC. This is the second summit with Pacific leaders that the President will be doing here. It will reaffirm his support for strengthening ties with the Pacific Islands and discuss how we address complex global challenges like tackling the existential threat of climate change, advancing economic growth, and promoting sustainable development. Over the past year, we’ve taken our engagement with PIF countries to new heights and we’re looking toward to continue to deepen our partnerships. We’ll have more for all of you later this afternoon. There will be a call that all of you can jump on. I believe it’s at 3:30, and so stay tuned. With that, Will.

Media (10:16):

Thanks. I have two topics. First on Senator Menendez. Did the White House know that an indictment was coming today and does the president believe that the senator should resign?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:25):

A couple of things. I’m going to be really careful here. This is a non comment because this is an active matter. We learned about this just like all of you. But again, this is an active matter, so I’m not going to comment.

Media (10:42):

No comment on [inaudible 00:10:42]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:42):

Just active matter. I’m not going to comment.

Media (10:46):

On the UAW strike, the UAW has invited President Biden to the picket line. I’m wondering if he has any plans to go. Also, the strike is expanding to 20 states. Is the president going to feel more pressure to move both parties towards a resolution?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:03):

Yep. On your first question, I don’t have any updates to the president’s schedule at this time. Just don’t have anything to share. But certainly the president appreciates Shawn Fain inviting him, including him, certainly with all the family and friends of the UAW. The president has been really clear about this. He believes the union built the middle class. That’s something that he has says for years now. Of course, he is a union guy who will continue to fight for UAW and also union workers. That will not end. That is something that he has certainly been steadfast about for the past several years. We are, of course, in touch with the parties. As you know, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and also Gene Sperling have been in regular touch for the past several weeks with all parties. Certainly the parties continue to remain at the negotiation table, which is incredibly important and so we’ve communicated to

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:00):

… to each of them the importance of continuing to work 24/7 to get to a win-win agreement, as you’ve heard us say many times, and look, the auto industry will remain here in America. That’s what the President has been working towards, investing in that the last two years and UAW workers remain at the heart of a growing industry. And so, we will do everything that we possibly can to help in any way that the parties would like us to. But again, they are at the negotiation table and we believe that’s incredibly important. I know your dad had some thoughts about our back and forth yesterday, so maybe we should try this again.

Speaker 1 (12:41):

Same question. Same question as yesterday.

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:43):

Can you repeat the question?

Speaker 1 (12:45):

What do you call it when 10,000 people illegally cross the border in a single day?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:51):

So here’s what I will say. And you heard me say this a couple times and I’ll say it again because it is the facts. On day one, the first day of this President’s administration, he put forth a comprehensive immigration reform that we believe, we believe that was desperately needed for this country. As we know, and you’ve heard us say this many times before, we are dealing with a broken system and no action was taken from Congress. And so, what the President was able to do, he imposed consequences for those who do not have the legal basis to remain. And he has removed more than 250,000 individuals, this administration has done so, since May 12th.

And so, we’ve taken action. The President has secured, he also secured record funding. And let’s not forget this record funding that the President fought for over the last year or so was opposed by the House Republicans. This is something that they opposed and didn’t want to see. And so, what it allowed us to do is actually hire about 25,000 more, bring on CBP agents and really do something that was historic that we hadn’t seen.

And so, a broken system, it’s been broken for the past couple of decades. The last administration certainly gutted the immigration system for four years. That’s what they did. And you had Speaker McCarthy and the Republicans in Congress who continuously, continuously take step to undermine what is currently happening trying to undermine getting border security. We saw that. We saw that this week with the CR where they put forth another piece of legislation to cut to propose continuing to cut some important resources that’s needed, whether it’s CBP, 800 fewer CBP is what they wanted to do, 50,000 pounds of cocaine. That’s what it would hurt in trying to prevent that from coming in.

When you think about more than 300 pounds of fentanyl, when you think about more than 700 pounds of heroin, more than 6,000 pounds of methamphetamine to enter the country, that’s what they were trying to prevent from the work that we’re trying to do, prevent from coming into the country. So we would love to do this in a bipartisan way, but we’re not seeing that. What we’re seeing from House Republicans is wanting to defund, pardon me, DHS.

Speaker 1 (15:16):

But when you spoke last month and you said, “We are stopping the flow at the border.” Is 10,000 migrants in a single day stopping the flow?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:24):

What I will say is I just mentioned 250 individuals have been stopped who do not have the legal pathway from coming in. That has been since May 12th. And as we are looking at Eagle Pass, and I know this is where the issue is at the moment, CBP quickly surge resources and personnel to the area, and thanks to their great work, we’re able to swiftly vetted and process into custody more than 2,500 individuals and cleared the area where migrants had congregated. And that’s the work of our law enforcement. That’s the work of our law enforcement at the border. Remember, House Republicans are trying to cut that. They’re trying to cut that.

Speaker 1 (16:11):

Totally different subject.

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:12):


Speaker 1 (16:13):

There are some new relaxed standards in town. Would President Biden ever show up to an official meeting wearing shorts and a hoodie?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:25):

I’m assuming you’re talking about the Senate when you say relaxed standards.

Speaker 1 (16:29):

He used to be in the Senate for a long time, used to be the President of the Senate.

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:30):

I know, but I just want to make sure we’re clear what you’re talking about here.

Speaker 1 (16:32):

Does he think these are appropriate changes?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:34):

You know the President. You’ve seen him, you’ve seen him for the past as Vice President, as Senator. He dresses better than most of us here. And so, I’ll just leave it at that. I’m not going to comment on how Senate is running their business and the decision that they’re make, that is up to them. That is not for us to decide.

Speaker 1 (16:52):

Last one. At a fundraiser this week, President Biden told donors about how Charlottesville inspired his campaign. And then according to the pool, a few minutes later he told the story again, nearly word for word. What’s up with that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:05):

What I can tell you is, and I’m going to be careful not to talk about, because this was a campaign event for this upcoming campaign, obviously in 2024. So I’m not going to speak to that, put that out there for the Hatch Act. But what I can speak to is, look, the President was making very clear why he decided to run in 2019. He made it very clear as to what he saw in this country and what was going on. And he got 81 million votes, a historic amount of votes from Americans across the country who believed that this was a president who could help protect our democracy, get our economy back on track, and could be a leader and the adult in the room. And so, that’s what you saw. I’m not going to speak to comments that were made during a campaign event, but I can certainly speak to why the President is president today and why he decided to take on this job. And it is important for him to continue to deliver for the American people. And that’s what he’s going to do. Go ahead, Nancy. Go ahead, Nancy.

Nancy (18:09):

I know you don’t want to interfere with an ongoing investigation, but given the unique nature of the charges against Senator Menendez taking bribes from a foreign country, he’s the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, what message does it send to other countries if he’s allowed to stay in that role?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:28):

I believe from some of your reporting, I think there’s discussions happening about his next steps, the senator’s next steps. So I leave it to the leadership of the Senate and certainly leave that to the senator’s office. I have to be really careful because it is indeed an ongoing matter. And so, I cannot comment on this, but as far as his leadership role in the Senate, that is something for Senate leadership to speak to.

Nancy (18:53):

Given that this is now the second time that he’s faced really serious federal charges, would the President advise him to step down? Do you want to see him continue this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:02):

We’re going to be very, very clear about this. We’re not going to get involved. It is a ongoing matter, and so we’re going to leave it to the prosecutors to move forward with however they see fit, but we’re not going to comment.

Nancy (19:19):

On the UAW, The initial plan was the President was going to send Julie Su and Gene Sperling to Detroit. They stayed here. Why was that decision made for them to stay here? And now, given that the strike is expanding, are there plans to now go ahead and send them to Detroit? Are they going to continue to make those conversations from here?

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:40):

So there was a mutually agreed decision that was made this week that was believed to be the most productive way to move forward was for Gene and Julie to stay back and to help from Washington in the best way possible. That was a mutually agreed agreement. And look, those two are in constant conversation with all parties. They actually spoke to the parties today. And so, that certainly is going to continue. We are going to help and assist in any way that they feel necessary. But look, I think the most important thing is that they’re still at the negotiation table. That is incredibly important. They have been really focused on this the last 24/7. And so, I think that’s important. The President has always said he’s a union guy. He appreciates being called that by unions and labor leaders out there. And so, we’re going to do everything that we can to be helpful, but we are encouraged that they are continuing to have that conversation.

Speaker 2 (20:43):

Thanks, Karine. Beyond policing the blame on Congress, what’s your message to federal employees at risk of going unpaid?

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:48):

Look, our message is this doesn’t have to happen. The shutdown does not have to happen. The Republican shutdown does not have to happen. They can do their job and keep these vital programs continuing, keeping the government open, and that’s our message. Our message is this should not be happening. We should not be putting American families’ lives in turmoil. We should not be putting even their lives at risk potentially because of what this could mean for the different programs that these families and Americans need. And so, all they have to do is do their job. And what they’re doing is putting forth incredibly extreme partisan policies forward and saying, “Hey, we have to get this done in order to keep a deal that they made back in May.” And so, this should not be happening. It should not be happening. And so, look, we’re going to continue to be very clear. What we’re saying to them privately is what we’re saying to all of you publicly is that they need to do their job.

Speaker 2 (21:52):

Do you know when federal workers would miss their first paycheck?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:55):

So I don’t have the specifics on any of that. The OMB director and OMB more broadly certainly is working on plans of what this could potentially look like if there is a shutdown talking to the different agencies. So that is certainly in progress right now. I just don’t have any specifics on payments or what that would look like.

Speaker 2 (22:16):

And then, your announcement today on the Office Prevention of Gun Violence, that has been something advocates have been pushing for for years. Why do you think it took so long?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:26):

Look, here’s the thing. As you know, there was the bipartisan piece of legislation that the President was assigned, and it was the first major piece of legislation on gun violence that was able to move forward in 30 years. The President did two dozen executive actions because he took this seriously. He called the gun violence in this country an epidemic. And so, I said this yesterday, and I’ve said this many times, you’ve heard this from the President. There are people who are sitting at their kitchen table every night who is missing a loved one because of this violence. Because you can’t go to your congregation, you can’t go to your grocery store and not worry about potentially getting shut down. You have kids who are going to school, who you heard directly from the congressman, what they have to go through now because of this gun violence epidemic.

So right now is the right moment to establish this office. We want to accelerate, accelerate what the President put forward in his two dozen executive action. We want to accelerate the law legislation he was able to sign into law to continue to get the work done. And so, this was the right time to do that. But let’s not forget the work that the President has done the last two years to get us to where we are, but more work needs to be done. He’s not going to stop calling on Congress to continue to do the work that they need to do to protect our families from gun violence. But this is an opportunity to accelerate what the President has been able to do to protect communities, to really deal with gun violence. And that’s what the importance of this office is. Go ahead.

Speaker 3 (23:58):

Thanks, Karine. Did President Biden and

Speaker 4 (24:00):

…and other Five Eyes leaders raise their concerns about Canada’s allegations of Indian involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen at the recent G20 meeting.

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:13):

I know that National Security Advisor spoke to this yesterday, and I know there’s been some new reporting. I don’t have anything to, certainly… And this is something that Jake said himself, he was not going to comment about private diplomatic conversations. I’m not going to do that either. Just following what the National Security Advisor said. And so, just not going to comment on that. Obviously, we are deeply concerned, as he said, as well. And so, what the Prime Minister has referenced here, the Prime Minister of Canada. And so, we remain in regular contact with the Canadian government and Canadian partners. But, of course, I’m just not going to comment on diplomatic conversations from here.

Speaker 4 (24:56):

Jake did also say that the issue was being raised at the highest levels with the Indian government. Can you tell us if you’re staying in regular contact with them about this as well?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:08):

We have engaged, as Jake said, our national security advisor, with the Indian government, but certainly we’re not going to get into our private diplomatic conversations, as he said as well. But, yes, there has been conversations with our partners in the Indian government as Jake stated yesterday.

Speaker 4 (25:26):

And another realm of diplomatic conversations, can you say whether or not President Biden promised President Zelenskyy yesterday that the US would provide the weapons known as ATACMS?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:39):

Again, with this, I’m just not going to confirm. The reportings are out there. And Jake said this as well while he was here, the President has long said, in the past, that ATACMS are not off the table, but I just don’t have anything new to announce. But, look, I will say this, more broadly, is that what we saw yesterday, this bilat between the two leaders, between President Zelenskyy and President Biden, was really important. It sent a strong signal to the world that we will continue to support Ukraine.

And, let’s not forget, we also announced a significant weapons package yesterday to continue to show that support that we have to Ukraine, to support their counter offensive and strengthen their air defenses against Russian attacks, which is our fourth package, as you know. We’re going to continue to show our support for Ukraine with these security assistance and so that is our commitment. We will be there as long as it takes. I just cannot confirm those reports.

Speaker 5 (26:38):

Back on the auto workers strike, there’s been some behind the scenes talk about a loan or grant program to help the auto suppliers. Is there any movement on that and, if a program would happen, could that be potentially affected by government shutdown?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:50):

There’s negotiations happening right now. I’m not going to get into the details of the negotiations at this time. We’re going to give them the space. I’ll let them have the conversations. We are encouraged that they are continuing to be at the table, I’m just not going to go point to point on what’s being discussed or what’s being put forward.

Speaker 5 (27:08):

Is there any discussions in the administration about helping the suppliers as this strike continues?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:12):

Don’t have anything to share at this time from how we’re going to potentially move forward. What we are encouraged of is that they’re continuing to stay at the table and that’s what we want to see. And so, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals at this point. Go ahead.

Speaker 8 (27:25):

Thanks, Karine. A possible government shutdown would coincide with the restart date for federal student loan payments, that starts on October 1st. Is there any consideration right now to pushing that date back if there were a shutdown?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:39):

It’s a really good question. Right now, OMB is having those discussions with agencies, at the moment, to see how to move forward if there is a potential shutdown. Don’t have the specifics of what the different programs, like the student loan program, the different parts of it that we’ve announced, is going to look like because those conversations are just now happening.

Speaker 8 (27:59):

Can you say, from the White House, how worried you would be if there were education department employees furloughed, who would obviously be a part of this, but if there was a shutdown and those employees weren’t there, how concerned would you be that this would not go smoothly then, starting on October 1st?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:13):

Look, as you know, the Student Debt Relief program the President put forth is incredibly important to him. It is something that he believed. The reason he put it out there is to make sure that we give Americans a little bit of breathing room, especially coming out of the pandemic. And so, it was clearly part of his economic policy to make sure that we don’t leave anybody behind, especially, again, as we’re coming out of this pandemic.

Don’t want to get too far into the weeds into this because, again, these conversations are just now starting, that OMB is having, so don’t want to get ahead of that, but certainly we’re looking into it, we’re planning accordingly.

Speaker 7 (28:51):

Yes, Karine, also on the shutdown, you mentioned yesterday that potentially food safety would be under threat in the shutdown. I understand, in previous years, USDA has considered those sorts of inspections as essential. Is there something else that you think will change that would make it non-essential?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:07):

Those conversations are happening as to what the effects might be, to those certain programs and how these agencies are going to move forward. I don’t have anything more to share. Certainly, I laid out what the impacts would be for a shutdown because it’s important for the American people to know what this means with this Republican shutdown, that they’re certainly seeming to barrel forward with, but just don’t have any specifics on that. Again, OMB is having these conversations with agencies, to look, to see, to try and figure out how this is going to affect Americans across the country.

Speaker 6 (29:40):

Karine, thanks, can you expound on what the President is doing and what he will be doing to avoid a government shutdown? I understand you all have been saying that Congress needs to do its job, but surely the president must want to do something to avert this, and is there a possibility that he would at all alter his travel schedule?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:55):

Look, I don’t have anything to speak to on the President’s travel schedule, but the President did his job. He did. He helped broker a bipartisan agreement, back in May, to move forward with a budget that, as I mentioned, two-thirds of Republicans voted on. He did his part. A deal is a deal. This is not something we can fix. The best plan is to not have a shutdown. The best plan is for House Republicans to stop their partisan political play and not do this to hurt Americans across the country. That’s the plan. The plan is for them to actually do their job.

The President found it so important to make sure that there was a bipartisan budget agreement, that he did. He helped broker that. And, again, a deal is a deal. And so, there should not be a shutdown. There should not be a shutdown. They should keep their promise, not just to the President, but to the American people. And so, this is for them to fix. This is something that House Republicans have to fix. And then I’ll go back…

Speaker 9 (31:04):

A couple of things I’d like to follow up on. First of all, when you referenced the signing of the organ donation, if we had coverage of the signing of the organ donation, that would certainly expand attention to that important issue. Just as an ongoing request, that coverage of bill signings would be…

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:22):

I appreciate that.

Speaker 9 (31:23):

Following up on the UAW and so forth, isn’t it an acknowledgement that the offer to send Julie Su and Gene Sperling was a misstep because they have not gone and you want to give this space?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:36):

No, I wouldn’t call it a misstep because, as I said, it was mutually agreed upon that they would stay back as they continue to have the conversation. And when I mean they, meaning the parties who are a part of this negotiation process. Obviously, the big three and UAW. And so, wouldn’t call it a misstep at all. Again, it was mutually agreed that it would be most productive for Gene and Julie to stay back and do the meetings from Washington DC.

Now, let’s not forget, this is something that they’ve been doing for the past several weeks. It’s nothing new. And so, we appreciated that. Again, mutually agreed. And so, if there’s travel that needs to happen, we’ll certainly assess that when the time comes. But what is the most important thing is that all parties continue to have this conversation and to continue to negotiate, and that’s, I think, what is the most important part of this.

Speaker 9 (32:35):

Following up on Peter’s comment about the fundraiser for… We all understand these are off-camera, we were not witnesses to that, except for our pool that was present, but for the President to retell a story we’ve all heard him tell many times, in full, and stipulating that we often, as human beings, we misspeak, we do things, I’ve done it myself. Stipulating all of that, is it any concern that he would fully retell a story in the same space in the same event?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:03):

Sometimes we speak, as well, from here and retell a story, but, look, I think it’s important to note that the President was speaking, as you said, at a fundraiser, and he was speaking from his heart. He was speaking about why he’s decided to do this. And you hear the president talk about this, it’s always incredibly emotional for him. He didn’t have to. He went through a incredibly difficult time when he was deciding to jump into the race, but he saw, as somebody who served as Senator, as somebody who served as Vice President, what was going on in this country under the last President. Charlottesville…

Speaker 9 (33:44):

Knowingly and mindfully that he wanted to retell-

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:46):

I have not spoken to the President about it, certainly, but what I say is the passion that he has when he tells that story, and how important it is for him to have done something because he believed our democracy was at stake. And what he saw. You all saw what we saw in Charlottesville. It was devastating. It was a part of our country that was devastating to see. And so, he spoke to that passionately and that’s why he’s in this. He’s in this because he believes that he can help move this country forward in a way that brings it to its best when he talks about possibilities. And that’s why he was speaking too, in an incredibly passionate way. Okay. Go ahead, Gary.

Gary (34:37):

Thanks, Karine. While gun violence impacts communities all across the country, black, Jewish and marginalized communities often fall at the intersection of gun violence and hate-fueled violence. In many parts of the country, those who commit hate crimes can still have legal access to a gun. How important is it for this office, this new office, to address gun violence intersectionally?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:59):

Oh, it is incredibly important. When we talk about gun violence, it’s not one community that’s affecting, as you just laid out, it’s multiple communities. This is something that is at their intersection. It is so important that we do not forget a community here. As you know, this is going to be overseen by VP Harris, the Vice President Harris, which is going to be incredibly important. We have Steph Feldman who’s going to be the director, and she’ll have two deputies. We’re taking this very seriously. And this is about all communities. All communities. As we hear the horrible stories, we hear stories of different brown and black communities, rural communities, urban communities being affected by gun violence. And enough is enough. Remember what I said at the top of the briefing: The President hears from multiple victims, and the thing that they say to him is, “do something.” And it doesn’t matter where he is around the country, who he’s comforting during these awful attacks, that’s what he hears, because all of these communities are feeling the same thing.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:00):

… thing. They’re losing loved ones. And so it’s going to be incredibly important to make sure that we don’t leave any community behind. This is not a president that does that. This is the president that talks about being inclusive. And so that’s what you’re going to see from this office. What this office is going to do? As I said moments ago, it’s going to accelerate the work that the president has already put forth. The bipartisan law on gun for gun violence. When you think about the two dozen executive actions that he’s taken, it’s going to help accelerate all of those really critical pieces so that we can get to a place where we’re not sending our kids being frightened to school because there might be gun violence at their school, or going to a grocery store. Right?

And so that’s the importance of this office is to really get to work and accelerate the work that we’ve already been doing.

Speaker 10 (36:59):

[inaudible 00:36:57]. Okay, thanks. On Ukraine, after Zelenskyy specific yesterday, Biden said that he was counting on a good adjustment of Congress to keep approving it for Ukraine. How confident is he that Republicans are going to keep approving additional funding non-election year?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:15):

So look, this is something that Jake Sullivan spoke to, our national security advisor spoke to yesterday. As you know, he’s been very much involved in having conversations on the Hill with congressional members, both Democrat and Republicans sitting down, talking through the importance of continuing the funding. We have said over and over again how much we appreciate the strong bipartisan support that we’ve seen for Ukraine in helping them fight in this war as they’re fighting for their democracy.

So we’re going to continue to be confident. We’re going to continue to have those conversations. And that’s what, when I said earlier about how important it was for the two leaders to have this bilateral engagement yesterday. The message that it sends is that we are going to continue to support Ukraine. So we’re confident in that bipartisan support for Ukraine. And so we’re just going to continue to have those conversations.

Speaker 10 (38:11):

Also on Israel. Netanyahu said today that he believes Israel and Saudi Arabia can achieve a historic peace deal, and that President Biden can clench the deal. But he also said that we should not give the Palestinians a veto. How confident is the White House that Israel and Saudi Arabia will normalize relations? Is it possible a deal without the Palestinians? Would Biden still like it, I mean, if it doesn’t include the Palestinians?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:40):

So a couple of things, and this is something that Jake Sullivan spoke to when he spoke to normalization. So many of the key elements of a pathway towards normalizations are now on the table, as you just stated. And there is a broad understanding of these elements, which we’re of course not going to discuss publicly. So the specifics require an incredible amount of legwork, discipline, rigor. And all of the stakeholders in this are applying that as we speak. This is coming from Jake yesterday.

And that said, we don’t have a formal framework here. We don’t have the terms ready to be signed. There’s certainly lots of work to do and we’re going to work through it. Look, a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia will include a serious component dealing with the fundamental issue between Israeli and Palestinian. This is to your question. But I certainly don’t want to get ahead of a process. There’s a lot of legwork to be done. And we don’t have a formal framework. And so we’re going to work through it and certainly not going to get into the specifics from here. Go ahead.

Speaker 11 (39:47):

Thank you, Karine. Just to follow up on the new office on preventing gun violence, I was wondering if there’s an international component to the scope of this new office. For example, will it be able to help curb the trafficking of illegal guns to Mexico from bordering U.S. states?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:05):

So our gun policy has always been comprehensive. And of course, this office is going to continue to talk to and be in regular contact with NSC and Homeland Security team. And so we’re going to do everything that we can to combat international trafficking and smuggling as well. And so this is a comprehensive approach and that we’re going to certainly move forward with.

Speaker 11 (40:31):

Okay. And just really quickly, a quick confirmation if I may. Our sources say that U.S. and Chinese officials are still working towards a Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco on the sidelines of APEC in November. Can you confirm that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:43):

I don’t have anything more to what the president has shared on this. I think most recently may have been Camp David when he was asked this question. I don’t have anything to share on a potential meeting or details on that. Surely if that were to happen, we would certainly share that with all of you. Go ahead, John.

John (40:59):

Thanks a lot, Karine. A follow-up in regards to the Gun Violence Prevention Office that the president will announce in a few moments. Why can’t the Domestic Policy Council do the same work that this new office is setting up? Can you explain what the Domestic Policy Council does versus what this new office will do, and if there is any overlap between those two offices?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:24):

So look, this office is going to implement and expand upon the key executive actions, right? It’s going to zero in and focus on those key executive actions, get that moving, accelerate that, and also the legislative action. That is what it’s going to do. And look, I said it, the president has said it, you’re going to hear from him in a few moments, and the vice president. This is a epidemic. Gun violence is a epidemic in our country. And so we need to do everything that we can. And we believe having this office is showing, is continuing to show the president’s commitment, but it’s going to be incredibly important pushing what the president has put forward. And that’s what you’re going to see.

And I think having it separate and apart from the DPC shows our commitment, yes, but also shows that we are taking this an extra step on how seriously we’re taking it and how important it’s going to be. So this is the president saying, he wants to save more lives. This is what we’re going to try and do. We’re going to continue to see what we can do to save more lives.

John (42:26):

And then a separate question in regards to President Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington yesterday. He was up on Capitol Hill. He met with members of both parties. From what you’ve heard, was he able to change any minds, particularly those House Republicans that are opposed to providing any additional aid to Ukraine?

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:47):

So I’ll leave that to the House Republicans to speak to, their meetings with the President Zelenskyy. As you know, he met with them and shared certainly his… When he speaks about this as he’s dealing with this, he speaks about it in such a passionate way. And when President Zelenskyy speaks, people listen, because he knows what he’s going through every day, what his country is going through, the people in his country is going through. And we have said how bravely they’re fighting for their democracy and for their freedom. So that’s up to House Republicans to speak to or House congressional members to speak to.

What we can do is continue to do what we showed yesterday. We announced another security assistance. Again, we saw the bilateral engagement between the two leaders, which we believe showed our commitment to Ukraine. You heard from the president at UNGA speak to this in a very forceful way on what this means if we were not to continue to support Ukraine. And so the president is going to continue to do, to speak very forcefully to show how much he supports Ukraine, but that is up to Congress. But with all of that said, we appreciate the bipartisan support that we have seen for the funding for Ukraine, and we are optimistic that that’s going to continue. One more.

Speaker 12 (44:13):


Speaker 13 (44:13):


Speaker 14 (44:13):


Speaker 15 (44:15):


Karine Jean-Pierre (44:15):


Christina (44:16):

Thank you, Karine.

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:17):

Good to see you, Christina. It’s been a while.

Christina (44:18):

Yes, it has been. Thank you for taking my question. If there is so much at stake in case of a government shutdown, is the president willing to support or even broker negotiations between more moderate Republicans and Democrats to help leader McCarthy avoid the shutdown? Is there any chance for bipartisanship here?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:38):

So look, Christina. Look, appreciate the question. Really do. And I’m just going to reiterate what I said moments ago. This is something for House Republicans to deal with. It is their job. It is one of their basic duties to keep the government open. It truly is. And instead, they’re going in a very bipartisan way, in extreme ways, in putting forth policies and CRs that’s going to hurt American families. The president did his job. He helped broker a bipartisan legislation that two thirds of that legislation was voted by Republicans.

And so a deal is a deal. They need to stick to what they agreed upon, what they themselves voted on. And so that is for Speaker McCarthy to figure out, to figure out how he’s going to move forward here. But this is for them to fix. This is for them to fix. So I’ll leave it there. Have a great weekend y’all. I’ll see you on Monday. Thank you.

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