Apr 12, 2021
Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript April 12
April 12, 2021 press conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
We released 50 state-by-state fact sheets, in addition to fact sheets for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, laying out the critical necessity of passing The American Jobs Plan, so we can invest in vital infrastructure, create good paying jobs, and grow our economy.
Jen Psaki: (00:14)
On the screens behind me, you’ll see some of the needs outlined and the tangible difference the jobs plan will make in improving the lives of Americans. For a few highlights here, from 2010 to 2020, Florida has experienced 22 extreme weather events costing the state up to a hundred billion dollars in damages. The President is calling for $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure. Of course, there are many states across the country that have had weather events and have been impacted, but this is just one of the examples. In Michigan, there are more than 1,200 bridges and over 7,300 miles of highway in poor conditions. That’s clearly an area that could benefit from funding, including the $115 billion for repairing roads and bridges in the plan.
Jen Psaki: (00:58)
In South Dakota, 13% of South Dakotans do not have access to acceptable broadband speeds. That’s something we’d love to improve. Why there’s a hundred billion dollars to propose, to bring universal, reliable high-speed and affordable coverage to every family. And in Nevada, finally, 243,000 renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent. One of the reasons we’ve proposed, the President’s proposed investing over 200 billion to increase housing supply.
Jen Psaki: (01:26)
These are, they’re state by state. You should all have them. But what they really do is identify the needs in these states and how this package could benefit. As we’ve talked about a bit in here, there are different types of funding for infrastructure that would be worked through with Congress as the discussions proceed.
Jen Psaki: (01:44)
Finally, I also wanted to highlight a significant win for American workers in the American auto industry over the weekend, late Saturday night into Sunday morning. As you know, a key part of the President’s Build Back Better Plan includes a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles and batteries built here in America. We need a strong, diversified, and resilient US-based electric vehicle battery supply chain, so we can meet the growing global demand for these vehicles and components.
Jen Psaki: (02:10)
And the settlement we announced over the weekend, or I should say, was announced by USTR and others, by SK Innovation and LG, is a positive step that builds confidence in their reliability and responsibility as suppliers to the US auto industry. It’s great news for many people in the country, including people of Georgia and other states that are impacted a great deal by this issue.
Jen Psaki: (02:32)
With that, Alex, kick us off.
Thanks, Jen. I wanted to ask about the attack on Iran’s nuclear facility. Is there concern within The White House that this will derail ongoing talks to re-establish the Iran Nuclear Deal, and has there been any effort by the administration to reach out through intermediaries, or any other way, to Tiran and make clear that the US wasn’t involved in these attacks or in the attack?
Jen Psaki: (02:55)
Well we, of course, have seen the reports of the incident at the Natanz enrichment facility. The US was not involved in any manner. We have nothing to add on speculation about the causes or the impacts. I will say on your first question, though, we are focused on the discussions. That we expect to proceed this Wednesday in Vienna, the diplomatic discussions that have been taking place and took place last week. We expect them to be difficult and long. We’ve not been given any indication about a change in participation for these discussions.
And with respect to the Semiconductor Summit, are there any actions in The White House or the federal government can take immediately to address the chip shortage or is this just the kind of thing that you need reforms and more funding for? Then, does the President see the shortage as a national security issue?
Jen Psaki: (03:45)
We certainly do. I will say there are a number of steps that we believe we can take as a federal government. We believe there needs to be a holistic long-term across government approach. In the near-term, we’re engaging with industry as is evidenced by the meeting that’s taking place shortly later this afternoon, as well as our international partners to ensure that American companies are operating on an even playing field.
Jen Psaki: (04:10)
Even before this meeting today, I should say, we have also proposed major investments. That’s something we feel the federal government could also do. We’ve called on Congress to invest $50 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research as called for in the Bipartisanship Act. We have also called for additional funding.
Jen Psaki: (04:31)
There’s also bipartisan proposals, I should say, like an investment of $50 billion in the National Science Foundation, which would create a technology directorate that will focus on fields like semiconductors and advanced computing to help increase our competitiveness at home. So, our view is that this is certainly something where we need to work closely with industry. We need to work closely with Congress, Democrats and Republicans. There’s agreement on this issue, being one that’s impacting industries across the country, also with allies and partners in how we can prevent this shortage from happening in the future.
Speaker 1: (05:03)
Go ahead. Thank you, Jen. Just to follow up on the chip shortage and short-term solutions. Any conversations, perhaps, with chip manufacturers? Like for example, Samsung, to prioritize US borders for automakers or any thoughts on, perhaps, getting rid of regulations that’ll help kick in supplies for automakers? Any sense of what you can do now?
Jen Psaki: (05:30)
Well, one of the reasons the President is stopping by this meeting that our National Security Advisor and our NEC Director are holding this afternoon is to hear directly from companies about the impacts, what would help them most through this period of time in this shortage that, as you all have reported on, has impacted a range of industries across the country. So, this isn’t a meeting where we expect a decision or an announcement to come out of, but part of our ongoing engagement and discussion about how to best address this issue over the long-term, but also over the short-term.
Speaker 1: (05:58)
A couple of questions on immigration. We understand that there was an agreement with Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala to place more troops at the border, and we understand that the Vice President was able to secure these commitments and have seen some numbers on how many troops will be placed at these borders. But when were these agreements struck and if you can just give us any sense of what this plan really entails?
Jen Psaki: (06:27)
Well, there have been a series of bilateral discussions between our leadership and the regional governments of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Through those discussions, there was a commitment, as you mentioned, to increase border security. So Mexico made the decision to maintain 10,000 troops at its Southern border resulting in twice as many daily migrant interdictions. Guatemala surged 1500 police and military personnel to its Southern border with Honduras and agreed to set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory route. Honduras surged 7, 000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants.
Jen Psaki: (07:04)
As with any diplomatic discussion, these discussions happen at several levels. And certainly, as you know, we have an envoy who has discussions with the region. We’ve had Roberta Jacobson working for a period of time to help have these discussions with the region about what steps can be taken to help reduce the number of migrants who are coming to the US/Mexico border.
Speaker 1: (07:25)
Is it fair to characterize it as these agreements were struck recently? I mean, in the past few weeks, would it be fair to say that?
Jen Psaki: (07:31)
I think that’s fair to say, but I would also say that they, often, these discussions are ongoing over a period of time and take place at several levels of the government, both here and within these countries.
Speaker 1: (07:44)
Is the plan to apprehend these migrants who were trying to cross the border or as they’re already on their way to the United States, is the plan to stop them there? How will this work?
Jen Psaki: (07:57)
You’d have to speak with these countries about how they will be implementing. I think the objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey and make crossing the borders more difficult.
Speaker 1: (08:07)
Jen Psaki: (08:08)
Go ahead, Kelly.
On Minnesota and another officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of an African-American man, has The White House been in touch with Governor Walz or are there any resources from the federal government that are being offered? And this comes at a time when obviously the Chauvin trial is progressing, is there a federal plan for when the trial reaches its conclusion, whatever the outcome may be? And thirdly, I’m racing through them because we’re short on time today. The President had promised as a candidate, a police commission that Dr. Rice says will not go forward at this time. It seems, obviously, that officer-involved interactions with the public are intensely important at the moment. So first on Minnesota, and if you could address the police commission [crosstalk 00:08:56]-
Jen Psaki: (08:55)
Sure. Sure. Just check me, if I don’t get to all of your questions. I will try to do my best. Let me first say that we are incredibly saddened. We were-
Jen Psaki: (09:03)
Let me first say that we are incredibly saddened, we were incredibly saddened to hear about the loss of life at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota yesterday. The President has, of course, been briefed. He’ll have a few words he will share at the top of the semiconductor event that will be starting shortly. Hence, we’ll be moving through our questions here about his own thoughts. We are also in touch with the Governor, in touch with the Mayor, in touch with local law enforcement authorities as well. I would say it is a reminder of the pain, the anger, the trauma, the exhaustion that many communities across the country have felt. As we see, these incidents continue to occur within just a few miles of where the tragic events happened just a year ago.
Jen Psaki: (09:46)
In terms of the Police Commission, we have been in very close contact over the course of several months, back to the transition, with both civil rights activists, with law enforcement authorities, and the law enforcement community, about what would be most effective moving forward. And as Dr. Rice conveyed, or I think the statement we put out, I should say, conveyed, we have made a decision in coordination that the best path forward is to work to pass the George Floyd Policing Act. That has a great deal of the content of the policy changes of the necessary reforms that we would all like to see in place. So that was a collective decision, and that’s where our focus will be.
Speaker 2: (10:28)
And is this a delay, or do you expect it to just not go forward at all?
Jen Psaki: (10:31)
We expect for the time being for our focus to be on moving the legislation forward and not on the Policing Commission. Go ahead.
Speaker 3: (10:40)
On that, you mentioned the focus is now on passing the George Floyd Policing Act. It’s been over a month since we’ve heard the President talk about this, though. We haven’t seen a big push, at least not publicly, from this administration. What kind of steps are you taking to pressure Congress on this? And should we expect to see this sort of rise on the list of your priorities? You obviously have a very full plate.
Jen Psaki: (10:59)
We do, but I would say that the President was addressing racial equity, ensuring that we are putting in place long overdue reforms. Real change is a priority for him. It is something he looks forward to continuing to discuss with members of Congress. He believes that there is a path forward, that this piece of legislation offers that path forward, and he certainly will use the power of his presidency to move it forward.
Speaker 3: (11:29)
You mentioned that civil rights groups recommended against this commission. Did they put forth other recommendations, steps that the White House can take while you try and pressure Congress and wait and hope that the Senate will act on that?
Jen Psaki: (11:39)
Well, we of course are in very close touch with them. I should say more specifically, we’ve been in touch with a range of groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Leadership Conference, I’m sorry, as well as leading experts. And the strong consensus from all of these groups is that the work should be focused on trying to pass the George Floyd Act, and the commission would not be the most constructive way to deliver on our top priority. So we are working together collectively to do exactly that. There are steps that we certainly will work in conjunction to take, as they are possible. And some of them we’ve signed through executive orders, and we’ll continue to communicate with these groups about what is most effective.
Speaker 3: (12:21)
Just quickly on infrastructure. The President is having this bipartisan meeting today, but what is your message to some Congressional Republicans who have expressed skepticism about whether the White House is authentically interested in negotiating here, given how things played out with the COVID relief bill?
Jen Psaki: (12:35)
Well, I would say that the President, you don’t use the President of the United States’ time multiple times over, including two infrastructure meetings, bipartisan infrastructure meetings he’s already had, or the meeting today, if he did not want to authentically hear from the members attending about their ideas about how to move forward this package in a bipartisan manner.
Speaker 3: (12:54)
So is he willing to negotiate on the scope and the price tag or just on ways to pay for this?
Jen Psaki: (12:59)
He absolutely is. He looks forward to hearing their ideas, and his objective is to find a way forward where we can modernize our nation’s infrastructure, so we can compete with China. He’s proposed a way to pay for it, which is what he thinks the responsible thing is to do, and he hopes they’ll come to the table with ideas. Go ahead, Josh.
Might I ask for an update? On March 18 you said that there was a stockpile of seven million AstraZeneca doses, some of which were loaned to the Canadians and Mexicans. Can you give us a current number and say whether the President is considering sending more either to those countries or other countries?
Jen Psaki: (13:32)
I don’t have anything to predict in terms of sharing the stockpile at this point. I can assure you that we don’t want that stockpile to expire, and obviously we don’t have control over the FDA approval process, but I don’t have anything more to preview for you at this point.
Do you know when the first made doses that are in that stockpile would expire? How much normally is there?
Jen Psaki: (13:52)
I’m happy to check for you, Josh, and see if there’s more we can share. And AstraZeneca themselves, of course, could share more details, probably.
Does the White House know whether any US-made shots have left US soil other than those loans, in other words, shots made on US soil, but not for the US government companies?
Jen Psaki: (14:06)
From the companies?
Correct. So can the companies sell, export currently, as long as they’re meeting their US obligations?
Jen Psaki: (14:14)
I think that’s a question about their contracts. And we’ve had this discussion before. There is an obligation under certain contracts to deliver on the commitments made in the contract with the US government, especially when the Defense Production Act has been invoked, but I would send you to the companies for that.
Okay. Can I ask just a couple of personnel things? You mentioned Roberta Jacobson. Why did she make the decision to step down from that post? And can you say whether it’s accurate that Cindy McCain is being considered for the UN Food Ambassador Program?
Jen Psaki: (14:43)
Sure. On the first, I would say it was always Ambassador Jacobson’s intention to stay for about 100 days. She’s been a diplomat serving in a range of roles around the world, from Ambassador to Mexico, to Assistant Secretary for WHA for decades. And she is retiring, as she has certainly paid her time to do. And so that was always her intention, to stay for a period of time.
Jen Psaki: (15:07)
In that period of time, of course, we have also announced the naming of an Envoy, Ricardo Zuniga, who has played a prominent role in the western hemisphere in the past for the US government. He’ll be playing that role. The President’s asked the Vice President to play an elevated role in engagements and negotiations with the Northern Triangle, hence our earlier discussion about her role there and the path forward there. So there are a range of officials who will continue to do this work. We were fortunate to have the work and the expertise and experience of Ambassador Jacobson as long as we have.
Jen Psaki: (15:40)
There is an ongoing process on ambassadors. I know that there’s a lot of eagerness and interest in learning more. It’s ongoing. The President has not made the decision about the vast majority of his ambassadorial nominations.
Jen Psaki: (15:53)
Speaker 4: (15:53)
Thanks, Jen. President Biden has made very clear that two of his top priorities for the infrastructure plan is to create jobs and to stimulate the economy. Last night on 60 Minutes, Jerome Powell said he and other forecasters already see that happening. So I wonder if the optimistic outlook changes the President’s priorities in the plan at all, and offers more wiggle room for negotiation in certain areas.
Jen Psaki: (16:19)
Do you mean we don’t need as many jobs?
Speaker 4: (16:22)
I mean, the goal of the plan is to create jobs and stimulate the economy, and they are saying that’s already happening, which is a great thing. So is he willing to scale back on some of these items, because we’re already seeing growth?
Jen Psaki: (16:41)
Unfortunately, I regularly watch 60 Minutes. I did not see the whole episode, so I don’t know the whole context of his remarks, but I will say that part of what economists feel is that we are still behind. That we need to still do more. Because if you look at our last jobs report, we were still about 8.4 million jobs in the red, that we needed to create, that we needed to … Americans we needed to put back to work. There are still parts of the American population, high levels of unemployment among African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans that we need to work to address. This is definitely a jobs package, hence the American Jobs Plan. But what it also does is it helps modernize, invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and do that in a way that will help us compete over the longterm and help us have jobs for the future. So there are many objectives of this package, but certainly we feel there is more work to be done to put more Americans back to work, and we are not in the clear on that front.
Speaker 4: (17:43)
And on the state-by-state fact sheets that you released this morning, can you just share how that process happened, including who was involved in putting together the state-by-state reports, and what the metrics were to assign that final grade for each state?
Jen Psaki: (17:59)
Well, it was done by a collection of smart and brilliant people on our economic team. They-
Jen Psaki: (18:03)
… done by a collection of smart and brilliant people on our economic team that you probably wouldn’t necessarily identify on the streets, but sounds like a good profile piece to me, but they work to identify what the needs are in the states. I don’t know that I have the exact process to outline for you, but maybe you can-
Speaker 4: (18:17)
[crosstalk 00:18:17] work with state officials and local departments as well to decide what each state-
Jen Psaki: (18:25)
What the needs are? I’m happy to check and see if there’s more about the process that we can share.
Speaker 4: (18:29)
Okay, great. Thank you.
Jen Psaki: (18:30)
Sure. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (18:31)
Yes. You talked about paying for the infrastructure bill. Is the president set on raising the corporate tax rate as the way to do that, even though Republicans are saying it’s a red line or is that also open to negotiation?
Jen Psaki: (18:42)
It’s all open to negotiation. But I will say that having corporations pay more, pay their fair share, raising the rate to a rate that is still lower than it has been, aside from a few years, since World War II, the president feels this is an entirely reasonable, appropriate, effective way to pay for this package.
Jen Psaki: (19:03)
There are other proposals that have been put out there, including user fees. The president doesn’t feel that we should pay for this package on the backs of the American people, but he’s certainly eager to hear ideas from Democrats and Republicans on alternatives.
Speaker 5: (19:16)
Then, Senator John Cornyn called Joe Biden’s tweets, “Unimaginably conventional,” and said that his comments were largely scripted and questioned whether he was really in charge. Does the White House have any reaction to that?
Jen Psaki: (19:28)
Well, I can confirm that the president of the United States does not spend his time tweeting conspiracy theories, he spends his time working on behalf of the American people.
Jen Psaki: (19:37)
Go ahead. Oh, go ahead. Josh, you went. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (19:41)
Jen Psaki: (19:41)
Yep, go ahead.
Speaker 6: (19:41)
Great, thanks Jen. So just to piggyback off … on the corporate tax rate, Senator Manchin said that he only supports raising it to 25%, that that’s his line in the sand. What’s the White House response to that and has the president or Secretary Buttigieg spoken to Manchin about the corporate tax rate?
Jen Psaki: (19:58)
Well, we are in regular touch with a range of officials, senators, members of Congress. There’ve been dozens and dozens of meetings and briefings. I don’t have a specific readout of our engagements with Senator Manchin, I’m sure he could share that with all of you.
Jen Psaki: (20:11)
But I would say that we’re certainly encouraged to hear that Senator Manchin is open to raising the corporate tax rate as a means of potentially paying for a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and most importantly, to creating jobs and the president is happy to hear ideas or alternatives for how this plan and package should be paid for.
Jen Psaki: (20:31)
His primary focus is on this investment, on creating jobs, on helping put back to work the millions of men and women who don’t have college degrees, on ensuring we’re evening the playing field, on doing what we can to compete with China over the long-term. There are disagreements about how to pay for it. We’re happy to have a discussion about that.
Speaker 6: (20:52)
Then two more quickly. There appears to be a large deployment of Russian land forces towards the border with Ukraine. What is administration prepared to do if Russia moves to invade Eastern Ukraine?
Jen Psaki: (21:03)
Well, first let me say we are concerned, as I’ve said in the past, but we’ve been, of course, watching it over the course of the weekend about the increasing aggression of Russian forces on the border. Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin are in Brussels this week meeting with their NATO partners, and of course, I’m sure this will be a topic of a discussion. We also remain in touch with Ukrainian officials at a range of levels, but I’m not going to get ahead of their discussions that they’re having on the ground.
Speaker 6: (21:33)
Then just on police reform. Again, you mentioned on Friday that the president is meeting with CVC tomorrow, is police reform going to be the topic of discussion? Criminal justice reform? What exactly will they be discussing?
Jen Psaki: (21:44)
I’m sure there’ll be a range of issues discussed. The primary purpose from our perspective is to discuss the American Jobs Plan and how to move that forward. But as is always the case, there will be a range of topics we expect discussed during the meeting.
Do we have to gather? It’s 12: 45.
Jen Psaki: (22:01)
I think it’s one o’clock.
Speaker 7: (22:02)
Yeah because at 12:55 is when-
Jen Psaki: (22:03)
12:55. Okay. 10 more minutes. Alex is so responsible for keeping track. She is.
Jen Psaki: (22:09)
Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.
Speaker 8: (22:11)
When can we expect to see the president announce the American Family Plan? That was supposed to be coming soon? When can we look for that? Also, there’s some talk about making the expanded childcare tax credit permanent, or is the administration looking at extending it or making it permanent at this point?
Jen Psaki: (22:26)
So the president believes there’s a huge benefit of the child tax credit. That’s why he put the child tax credit in his ARP, American Rescue Plan because he feels it’s important. It’s vital. It will help get the 2 million women who are out of work back to work, hopefully back into the workforce. I expect you’ll hear more on the American Family’s Plan in the coming weeks, but I don’t have an exact date for you quite yet.
Speaker 8: (22:55)
And nothing on whether or not the administrations considering making it permanent or just extending it?
Jen Psaki: (22:55)
I don’t have anything more to preview for you on the American Family’s Plan, although just to reiterate, the president believes the child tax credit is a way to help American families, and especially, all of the working moms out there who are trying to make ends meet. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (23:10)
Jen Psaki: (23:10)
Yeah, go ahead.
Speaker 9: (23:11)
[crosstalk 00:23:11]. So I want to follow up on a question I asked, I feel like it’s a month ago now.
Jen Psaki: (23:15)
It may have been.
Speaker 9: (23:16)
The New York Times last week came out with the story that Mississippi was having a hard time getting folks vaccinated, but it’s not just Mississippi, it’s a bunch of other rural States, Ohio, Oklahoma. They’re at 34% vaccination rate, even so, opening up vaccines to out of staters.
Speaker 9: (23:37)
I know we talked a little bit about before, the preliminary steps, but has the White House been in touch with these governors to see what they can do now, because of course, this impact herd immunity and the goals of the White House just to get these shots in arms.
Jen Psaki: (23:51)
Well, there are a number of steps that we’ve taken in the recent weeks, including launching the community CORE, which is our program to provide fact-based messages into the hands of local messengers. So we’re now working with more than 4,000 organizations that have signed up so far across the country, including in a number of the states that you mentioned.
Jen Psaki: (24:11)
We’re also investing $3 billion to states and community-based organizations to strengthen vaccine confidence in the highest risk and hardest hit communities. Often, people think of that as just black and brown communities and that is not. As you’ve noted that as also conservative communities, white evangelicals, it’s a range of communities around the country.
Jen Psaki: (24:29)
What we found to be most effective is to work with these local organizations. So faith-based organizations, community health organizations, civic leaders, and others who can really get this message deeply in communities.
Jen Psaki: (24:42)
We’ve also had a number of our members of our COVID team from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins participate, as an example, participate in a range of media interviews. An example is Dr. Collins participated in the 700 Club, Dr. Nunez-Smith hosted a faith leaders round table. We’re also looking for … We’ve run PSAs on The Deadliest Catch. We’re engaged with NASCAR and Country Music TV. We’re looking for a range of creative ways to get directly connected to white conservative communities. We won’t always be the best messengers, but we’re still trying to meet people where they are, but also empower local organizations.
Speaker 9: (25:20)
And just quick follow up, does the White House endorse these states opening up their vaccines to folks from out of state? You know, these do expire, so rather than them sitting on the shelf, they’re going to go to somebody else-
Jen Psaki: (25:30)
Well, these states are all going to have their own implementation plans and we certainly work with them to advise how to distribute the vaccines as equitably as possible, and as effectively and efficiently around states. No state is a hundred percent vaccinated, as we know. So our focus has been working with them on how to get them to the communities that are the hardest hit.
Jen Psaki: (25:52)
Go ahead and go ahead. Sorry, go ahead and then … Go ahead.
Speaker 10: (25:55)
Thanks. So why hasn’t President Biden signed the presidential determination that would lift former President Trump’s immigration policies, including the 15,000 person refugee cap?
Jen Psaki: (26:07)
It’s an issue he remains committed to, as he announced, I just don’t have an update on the signing of the paperwork.
Speaker 10: (26:13)
Okay. And equity was cited as the reason for which the White House decided against surging vaccines to Michigan, the administration is surging female vaccinators. What makes the vaccine different?
Jen Psaki: (26:27)
Well, I would say, I think it’s important to understand how we’ve approached vaccine distribution from the beginning. It’s done with equity in mind, it’s done with the population, the adult population in mind. We don’t pick by our friends. We don’t pick through a political prism. We pick through what is most effective to be fair and equitable around the country.
Jen Psaki: (26:49)
We also made an announcement during the transition that we were not going to hold on to a big supply. We distribute and get the supply out as quickly as possible. So that’s why our focus is on working with states like Michigan to …
Jen Psaki: (27:03)
done working with States like Michigan to search testing, search tracing, search the distribution of therapeutics, areas where we have the ability to provide additional help, additional resources. But we’re not in a place nor will we be in where we take supply from one state to give it to another.
Speaker 11: (27:21)
Jen Psaki: (27:22)
To follow up on Brittany’s question about vaccines. Do you think that the White House has had any part in this in having maybe pessimistic message towards some Americans who are skeptical of this administration, who for partisan reasons or otherwise, to see vaccinated people in the cabinet or the president continuing to wear masks around each other or hearing that things won’t be back to normal as the vaccine continues to be distributed? Do you think that that is having a negative effect at all?
Jen Psaki: (27:52)
Make sure I understand your question. On people not taking the vaccine?
Yeah. People who are skeptical of the vaccine and who don’t trust the Biden Administration.
Jen Psaki: (28:00)
Well, look, I think one, we recognize we’re not always the best messengers. That’s why we’re working with these local organizations and groups, because we certainly know that President Biden and Vice President Harris may not be the right voices, and a range of communities across the country. Two, we believe that part of our objective is to model public health guidelines. And that means continuing to wear masks, continuing to hand-wash, social distance, because there is still ongoing research on what is most effective and how to prevent distribution. And, I’m sorry, the pandemic traveling further. So I’m not sure I’m understanding your question maybe.
The question is, how do you strike that balance between being a model of the public health guidelines and also not contributing to the sense of hopelessness, perhaps, among people who are skeptical of the vaccine and maybe feel like getting it would not make a difference in their lives anyway?
Jen Psaki: (28:52)
Sure. Yeah. I think a big part of what we’re trying to do is provide accurate information about what getting a vaccine will enable the American people to do. Hence, the President gave a prime time address where he said, “When the vaccine’s accessible to you and you get it, we can work towards having backyard barbecues.” He we’ve also had a number of officials out there to convey, and we’ve had, obviously the CDC has put out guidance that says, “If you’re vaccinated, if your neighbors are vaccinated, you can have dinner inside together.” It’s a pandemic. We don’t think it’s easy. We know it’s difficult, it’s required a lot of sacrifice, but at the same time, we’re trying to provide accurate public health based guidance on what people can do once they have taken the vaccine.
Jen Psaki: (29:37)
Go ahead in the back.
Speaker 12: (29:38)
Thank you very much, Jen. To East Asia question. Okay, from John Kerry’s potential visit to Shanghai, what’s President Biden’s expectation of that?
Jen Psaki: (29:50)
Of John Kerry’s visit?
Speaker 12: (29:52)
Jen Psaki: (29:53)
Well, certainly he’ll be focused on discussing climate and how we can work with leaders around the region to get control of the climate crisis. But I would send you to the State Department because they that’s where he works.
Speaker 12: (30:07)
And also of the chip summit. According to South Korea media, Korea Economic Daily, quote, “Industry watchers said following the White House meeting, Samsung may be forced to make a decision on its new US factory sooner and build the production line for automotive chips given the dire shortage of such chip in United States.” What’s the-
Jen Psaki: (30:35)
Well, we’ll put out a readout after the meeting, but the purpose of the meeting is really to consult with these business leaders about how we can help address the shortage. Let me just get around to the back and then [inaudible 00:30:44] we have to gather soon.
Jen Psaki: (30:44)
Quick follow up. Iran, immigration [inaudible 00:30:48] follow ups. On Iran, the foreign minister’s vowing revenge against Israel for its alleged attack on its nuclear facilities. Israel’s not denied this. How concerned is the White House, is the President, that the actions of an ally potentially may be derailing efforts by the White House to get Iran back into compliance under the JCPOA?
Jen Psaki: (31:12)
Well, I think I answered a version of this question earlier, but let me try again.
[inaudible 00:31:16] specifics to Israel this week. We haven’t talked about [inaudible 00:31:18].
Jen Psaki: (31:19)
Well again, we’ve seen the reports. We don’t have anything more to speak to as it relates to the causes or who is responsible. Our focus is of course, on the diplomatic path forward. We have not been given any indication that attendance at the discussions that will proceed on Wednesday has changed. So, that’s where our focus is.
But is there concern that the actions of an ally are derailing the US-
Jen Psaki: (31:41)
I think I’ve answered your questions. Did you have another one?
I didn’t think it was an answer.
Jen Psaki: (31:45)
Okay. I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve answered it a couple of times.
Okay. Let me just quickly follow up. Let me try in Ukraine, the Secretary of State said that there will be consequences if Russia continues its escalation on the border. Can you give us a sense of what those range of options are? And then also, at what level does this escalation require President Biden to reach out to Vladimir Putin?
Jen Psaki: (32:10)
Well, I would say that what we’ve long said is that there will be some consequences that are seen and some that are unseen. I’m not going to give you a menu of the options. When we’re ready to announce them, we will announce them and share the details with all of you.
Very quickly on immigration. With regard to the militarization of the borders in Central America, the agreements that have been secured, did the White House in any way secure any, or is the white house concerned given the record number of children that have been making this track, that they are at greater risk, given the fact that these are soldiers not daycare workers?
Jen Psaki: (32:48)
Well, I think the objective is to deter the journey. And so that’s why our discussions with these countries involved increasing law enforcement capacity at the border.
Is there worry though about this increased militarization, given this [crosstalk 00:33:03]
Jen Psaki: (33:02)
I didn’t call it that. Those are your words, not mine. We worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey where many lose their lives. I think we have to gather. Thank you so much. Okay.
Speaker 13: (33:16)
Can we expect anything on Afghanistan this week?
Jen Psaki: (33:19)
I don’t have anything to preview for you on the timeline. Okay. Thanks everyone.