Apr 8, 2021
Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript April 8
April 8, 2021 press conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. She was joined by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
… president’s jobs cabinet joining us today. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm. Secretary Granholm is just the second woman to lead the Department of Energy where she will help America achieve President Biden’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. She’ll do this by advancing cutting edge clean energy technologies, creating millions of good paying union, clean energy jobs, and building an equitable clean energy future. Secretary Granholm was the first woman elected Governor of Michigan serving two terms from 2003 to 2011. As governor, she successfully led efforts to diversify the state’s economy, strengthen its auto industry, preserve the manufacturing sector and add emerging sectors, such as clean energy to Michigan’s economic portfolio. Today, one third of all North American electric vehicle battery production takes place in Michigan. The state is one of the top five states for clean energy patents and 126,000 Michiganders were employed in the clean energy sector prior to COVID 19. She also was the first woman elected attorney general of Michigan and served as the state’s top law enforcement officer from 1998 to 2002.
Jen Psaki: (01:08)
As always, she can take a few questions. I’ll be the bad cop. And with that, I’ll turn it over to you. Great, great.
Jennifer Granholm: (01:14)
I get to bring my binder too, have a double binder stack here. Thank you so much, Jen. I really am privileged to be able to share the podium with you today and good afternoon, everybody.
Jennifer Granholm: (01:28)
So I think that President Biden asked me to be the Secretary of Energy because I was the governor during a time when the auto industry was on its knees and when auto workers were finding themselves out of work through no fault of their own. I feel like I’ve looked into the eyes of people who have been desperate and at a loss more times than I can count.
Jennifer Granholm: (01:57)
And I was also governor when we invested to diversify Michigan’s economy to build car 2.0, which is the electric vehicle and the guts to that vehicle, the battery. And now here we are 12 years later, and General Motors is saying that their entire fleet is going to be electrified. It is a huge distance that we’ve traveled. And so much of that is thanks to the decision by the federal government to invest in saving the backbone of the manufacturing industry, which was at that point, the vehicle industry. The Obama Biden efforts really made a statement and worked.
Jennifer Granholm: (02:41)
And so we can do so much more than what we did in Michigan. And this is what the American Jobs Plan is all about. I feel so happy for America that we have a president who wants to invest in our country and in our workers and in manufacturing. And so to me, the fact that there is out there globally, a $23 trillion market for clean energy products, for products that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is a massive opportunity for this country. And you better believe that other countries are seeing that opportunity as well. And our economic competitors are working to corner the market on those opportunities. Countries like China are pressing their foot on the pedal and revving up their electric engines. And they are thrilled to see that the United States is standing still while they are working to create jobs for their people.
Jennifer Granholm: (03:45)
After I was finished being governor, I traveled to China to see their clean energy efforts. It was with a group and we went to a city and I was standing next to the mayor of the city in China. And during a demonstration, he leaned over to me and he said, “So when do you think the United States is going to get a clean energy plan?” And at this point, and this was several years ago, I said, “Oh, I don’t know. There’s so much polarization. It’s difficult in Congress to get consensus.” And he just looked at me and he smiled. And he said, “Take your time, take your time.” Because they saw our passivity as their opportunity. And it’s not just in China, it’s in other countries too. Understandably, countries want to corner this market on clean energy products because we have 195 countries who have committed to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.
Jennifer Granholm: (04:49)
So the question is where are those products going to be built and who are they going to be built by? And it’s going to take a lot of work. Literally, we need millions of people in the United States working to lower greenhouse gas emissions. And we all know that in the 21st century, making sure that we have the right infrastructure is critical. Infrastructure is yes, roads and bridges, but it is ports and airports, and it is trains. And it is the pipes that pump water into our homes. And it is the broadband that brings the world and learning to our children. It’s the broadband that brings economic opportunity to our businesses. Of course, it’s the electrical grid that keeps the lights on after what happened in Texas. Can anybody really doubt that electricity and the electric grid is part of the foundation of who we are as a nation. And we need to invest in it if we want to make sure power keeps coming to our homes.
Jennifer Granholm: (05:52)
There’s an interesting poll that was done in February by Consumers Reports. And they found that 76% of Americans think that broadband is as important as electricity and water. I mean, how can we not agree that broadband is infrastructure? And yet, we have been disinvesting in infrastructure as a nation for decades. In infrastructure, in research and development, and in manufacturing, all of them, we have been disinvesting.
Jennifer Granholm: (06:29)
And infrastructure, as you know, is now the smallest share of our economy since World War II. We are at a 72 year low with respect to manufacturing. Research and development has been dropping since the 1960s. China and our economic competitors are investing in research and development because they want to seize the future. They want to surpass the United States. And if we allow that to happen, we will be weaker as a nation and we will fall, and we cannot do that. And that’s what this American Jobs Plan is all about. So we can’t just sit around saying, we need to do this. It’s bi-partisan. We know that Republicans and Democrats, it’s a joke in Washington. Infrastructure week, Democrats and Republicans have been making that joke, but it’s not a joke anymore. We need to get it done. And there is bi-partisan support for these elements, these basic elements.
Jennifer Granholm: (07:28)
So starting on an Inauguration Day, just to say a word about what DOE, Department of Energy has been doing. We’ve been rolling out efforts to research and development, and deploy clean energy technologies, with an eye toward creating jobs. And if the American Jobs Plan passes, this will be able to be put on steroids. So in the past two weeks, just as an example, we made two announcements on research, one on research, and one on deployment of offshore wind. The research one was to cut the cost of solar by half yet again in the next 10 years. And on offshore wind, it was to add 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy on the Atlantic seaboard. Again, within 10 years.
Jennifer Granholm: (08:15)
Today, we are announcing another two funding opportunities for clean energy technology. One of them is to create next generation biofuels for airplanes and ships, which are very hard to electrify. And the second is to announce clean energy technology, funding opportunity to reduce methane emissions from the coal oil and gas industry. And as many of you know, methane is an extremely potent and dangerous greenhouse gas. But these investments are really just a down payment on what we need to as a nation. And the American Jobs Project will take us the rest of the way. And I want to emphasize the, because I’ve been meeting with so many stakeholders on this, the true importance of ensuring that 40% of the benefits of the American Jobs Plan go to communities that have been left behind or unseen, people who have been in the shadows of power plants and whose children have to gasp to breathe or use an inhaler. We need to remedy a moral wrong and make those investments. And the American Jobs Plan will allow us to do that.
Jennifer Granholm: (09:36)
It’s a once in a century investment to seize a once in a century opportunity. That’s what the people elected Joe Biden to do, and we’ve waited far too long to do it. So we’re going to get it done and we’re going to put America to work and I’m happy to take any questions.
Thank you, secretary. If I can shift gears a little bit, one of the things in the president’s infrastructure package was investments in nuclear, advanced nuclear development. One of the things I know you mentioned, you reiterated during your confirmation hearings, the president’s opposition to funding for a nuclear fuel repository [inaudible 00:10:09]. Where does the Biden administration plan to store the nation’s radioactive nuclear fuel? And what’s the ongoing process of [inaudible 00:10:17].
Jennifer Granholm: (10:18)
Some of you may recall there was a bipartisan commission on what to do about spent nuclear fuel. There has to be a consent based process to be able to do that. We are beginning that work inside of the Department of Energy. We have to find a solution, but it has to be based on community agreement.
Jen Psaki: (10:41)
We’ll make an announcement. We’ll be making an announcement on that, not ready to say yet.
And then just to change gears again, the last administration invested heavily in the nation’s nuclear triad, into the development of new and improved nuclear weaponry. Is the policy of this administration [inaudible 00:11:00] development falls under your department to continue that and that RD that’s expensive already. The modernization of the nation’s arsenal.
Jennifer Granholm: (11:05)
We have to modernize the nation’s nuclear arsenal. We have to keep and maintain the stockpile to make sure that it is safe and effective. And we will continue to do that, to ensure that we can deter nuclear aggression from other countries. So our nuclear deterrent is important and it is embedded in the values of that stockpile. And we will make sure that our people are safe.
Jen Psaki: (11:31)
Speaker 1: (11:31)
Thank you so much. After you talk about the corporate tax rate and what they want to do with this infrastructure bill, can this infrastructure bills be successful with a 25% corporate tax rate?
Jennifer Granholm: (11:42)
As the President has said, this is a negotiation. And he really does want to hear from Democrats and Republicans about what would be acceptable to get this across the line. There is room for negotiation that his point is that it has to be paid for. And so if it’s not a 28%, what else is it? And we’re very encouraged by those who have been bringing ideas forth. And we are hopeful that especially when Congress gets back next week, that those discussions can begin in earnest.
Speaker 2: (12:14)
Thank you. You’re one of the five cabinet secretaries that the president has tasked with engaging with Congress on this. You mentioned the president’s willing to negotiate. He says he’s open to alternative ways to pay for this if Republicans put forth any. In your conversations at all, have you heard any such alternatives from Republican members?
Jennifer Granholm: (12:31)
Speaker 2: (12:35)
Jennifer Granholm: (12:36)
Yeah. I’m not going to make announcements for them. They obviously want to bring forth their own ideas, but I have heard alternatives. Yes.
Speaker 2: (12:42)
And the president also asked you to help engage the public in selling this plan. You haven’t hit the road yet, though. Is that something that you plan to do in the coming weeks?
Jennifer Granholm: (12:50)
Well, we’re going to be taking our guidance from the White House in terms of what’s safe, et cetera. We’ve certainly been hitting the Zoom and making our case through that and the phones. So we’ll see how it goes. There is a period of time that we have to be able to do this, but we want to make sure that it’s safe.
Speaker 3: (13:12)
Yeah. In terms of the negotiations, the discussions with Congress, is there a deadline, is there a timeframe where this turns into a pumpkin or you just go it alone?
Jennifer Granholm: (13:24)
I mean, I don’t know if you want to answer that, Jen.
Jen Psaki: (13:26)
[inaudible 00:13:26] briefing after that.
Jennifer Granholm: (13:29)
Yeah. I mean, I know that they said that they would like to see progress by Memorial Day and hopefully we can start to see that, but obviously those meetings have to begin in earnest next week.
Jen Psaki: (13:38)
Thank you. What do you say to Americans working in the oil and gas industry in California and elsewhere who say that these have been good paying jobs that have given them access to the middle class? And what, if anything, can the federal government do to ensure that these clean energy jobs like the ones that you described are as good as the ones that they’ll be replacing?
Jennifer Granholm: (13:58)
This is a great question. And this is why the American Jobs Plan is very specifically targeting communities in coal and power plant areas in gas and natural gas. There are billions of dollars in this bill for the technologies that will reduce CO2 emissions in those industries. For example, carbon capture use and sequestration. I don’t mean to get too technical, but hydrogen deployment and demonstration projects. I’ve been talking with my counterparts around the world. There is a huge appetite for a partnership with America on these next generation technologies that will reduce CO2 emissions from that kind of baseline power. Those jobs in those kinds of technologies are good paying jobs. Those jobs that are going to be for welders and sheet metal workers and all of the trades. And we’re going to, as we put out funding opportunities, ensure that there are project labor agreements that the people who are working in them are paid, under Davis-Bacon, are paid prevailing wage. So we want to create good paying jobs all across the country. And there will be millions of them if this is passed. The opportunities, this is why we’ve been having a huge number of discussions with our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, in the building trades, to make sure that we do this in a way that gives their workers opportunity and it will. And that’s why they’re supportive of it.
Jen Psaki: (15:35)
You mentioned the next generation biofuels for airplanes and ships. When should we would expect something like that to come online? So you’ll see planes flying on biofuel.
Jennifer Granholm: (15:44)
Yeah, well, it’s going to take… I mean, obviously we got to get started on it and this is a research opportunity. It is not a deployment opportunity, but because funding opportunities really accelerate so much appetite for the technology, and because there have been a lot of breakthroughs, in fact…
Jennifer Granholm: (16:03)
… technology and because there have been a lot of breakthroughs. In fact, the airline industry itself has been investing in next generation biofuels to be able to demonstrate that it can be used. So without saying specifically, I think certainly within five to ten years, we will be able to see this deployed and available for both shipping and for air.
Last question, Nancy.
Thank you. You’re talking about how the American Jobs Plan could [inaudible 00:16:32] create good jobs. I’m wondering what levers that the federal government has to ensure that those jobs will be at a certain wage scale or have benefits. What can you do to enforce that?
Jennifer Granholm: (16:43)
Yeah. I mean, as we know, the federal government has many mechanisms for pushing out funding. That includes bidding on projects, and that includes passing it through in competitions, et cetera. In those opportunities, you can attach strings to make sure that these are good-paying jobs, that they have project labor agreements, et cetera. It’s true with respect to the federal government’s buying power as well, its procurement power. We want to make sure that we create good-paying jobs for all kinds of people in every pocket of America, and that means good-paying union jobs. So we’re going to use every lever possible to be able to do that, including if you want to bid on this, you’ve got to make sure that you have a project labor agreement.
Thank you, Secretary Granholm [crosstalk 00:17:33].
Jennifer Granholm: (17:32)
All right. Thank you. Appreciate it. Good luck.
Jen Psaki: (17:37)
Thank you so much.
Jennifer Granholm: (17:37)
Wait, I’ve got to grab-
Jen Psaki: (17:38)
Oh, go ahead.
Jennifer Granholm: (17:41)
Jen Psaki: (17:41)
A couple items at the top. As President Biden noted in a proclamation issued on Sunday, we’re marking Holocaust Remembrance Day this week. Today, we rededicate ourselves to standing in solidarity with the Jewish people in America, Israel, and around the world and to remembering the horrors of the Holocaust. An estimated six million Jews perished, alongside millions of other innocent victims around the world. We honor the memories of precious lives lost, reflect on the incomprehensible wounds to our humanity and the lessons learned, and mourn for the communities broken and scattered. We embrace Holocaust survivors, some of whom are still with us. They deserve our continued support to live in dignity. With that, [inaudible 00:18:32] only had one today. Go ahead, and a secretary.
So when the President gave that announcement, [inaudible 00:18:39] Congress to take action to repeal gun manufacturer liability protections.
Jen Psaki: (18:46)
That had been a day one [inaudible 00:18:48]. When should we expect to see that text sent to the Hill? If it was a priority, if it is as big a priority as he said it was for him just a few minutes ago, how much effort is the President willing to put into gun control right now, when so much of the administration’s focus right now is on the infrastructure plan?
Jen Psaki: (19:07)
Well, first let me say that there has been legislation introduced in past Congresses, and we certainly hope and he’s calling for members to re-introduce legislation on gun liabilities for manufacturers. It is an issue that he talked about on the campaign trail, and he continues to believe that addressing that, holding manufacturers to the same account as other industries is pivotal in keeping our community safe, keeping our families safe, and addressing the threat of gun violence across the country. So what he is calling for is for the introduction of legislation, of which there has been past versions.
Jen Psaki: (19:43)
I will say that this has been an issue that the President has been working on for decades throughout his career. He helped pass the Brady Bill. He helped ban assault weapons back in the ’90s. He believes that taking additional steps on background checks, that putting in place an assault weapons ban, again, are pivotal to keeping our country safe. He strongly supports the background check bills, the two that have passed the House. It is imperative for any President to walk and chew gum at the same time to continue to push for, to advocate for, to use the bully pulpit of the Rose Garden to push forward a range of agenda items, and he certainly will continue to do that on putting in place common sense gun safety measures.
A couple of weeks ago, [inaudible 00:20:28] President sort of said sequencing is important here, but essentially acknowledging that maybe the President can walk and chew gum. Maybe Congress can’t, and the President decided to put infrastructure before gun control, before climate change, before some of these other issues. Why are guns now going before infrastructure?
Jen Psaki: (20:45)
Well, Congress plays the role, the Senate and the House, in moving legislation forward. At any given time, there are multiple pieces of legislation moving their way through committees, moving their way through the House, moving their way to the Senate. There are two background check bills that have passed the House that can move to the Senate. He certainly is an advocate for those, while at the same time being an advocate for moving forward on the American Jobs Plan.
Then finally, just a different topic. On Afghanistan, should we expect to hear from the President before May 1 about what he will do with the American troops still there? I mean, it seems they’re going to stay there beyond … Sort of time’s running out for an order of withdrawal for troops still there. Right now, is that an accurate assessment that there will be trips there on May 2nd? Then in terms of what is the President’s message to the American people? Why is it in their interest for their troops to be serving in harm’s way overseas beyond next month?
Jen Psaki: (21:39)
Well, I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s decision and announcement. I expect you will hear from him before May 1st. He has been consistent and clear that it is operationally challenging to get troops out by May 1, which is not a deadline he put in place. It is a timeline put in place by the prior administration, and there are certainly conditions on the ground, including diplomacy efforts to negotiate with the Taliban that have been underway for the last several weeks. But you will certainly hear from him. Once you do, we can absolutely have a conversation about where we go from here. Go ahead.
Speaker 4: (22:15)
Thanks, Jen. Given the narrow majorities in the House and the Senate right now, does the President think enacting universal background checks this year is doable?
Jen Psaki: (22:25)
I think the President is going to leave the analysis of what’s viable and doable to all of you and people on the outside. Certainly he’s not vote-counting himself, but he is also clear-eyed about the challenges in moving forward with legislation with the current makeup of the Senate. He is going to continue to advocate for that, as he did just today, just this morning in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest and most courageous advocates for gun safety legislation in the country. But he also is not going to wait. That’s why he took action, announced several steps that can be taken in the form of executive actions, in the form of guidance, and in the form of nominating someone to lead the ATF, because he feels you can’t wait, and he’s going to use the power of his presidency to take steps forward.
Speaker 4: (23:15)
This gets a little bit at what Zeke was getting it. I mean, we have a jobs cabinet. Now we have face-to-face and Zoom meetings ongoing with Republicans and Democrats about infrastructure. Should we anticipate a gun control cabinet or meetings with Republicans about this issue?
Jen Psaki: (23:30)
I certainly would anticipate the President will raise this issue in a range of conversations he has with members of Congress. This obviously is slightly different, given the role of the Attorney General in measures on gun safety, as is evidenced by the fact that he was present there today. So it’s a bit different from a jobs cabinet, but I can assure you for members where this is appropriate or it’s an appropriate role for them to play, for members of the administration in the White House and otherwise to communicate with members of Congress, that will certainly continue to be at the top of our list.
Speaker 4: (24:01)
Two other unrelated things real quick. The US and Iran are engaged in indirect nuclear talks this week. Will Americans detained in Iran be part of those discussions?
Jen Psaki: (24:10)
Certainly Americans detained in Iran is an issue that we have raised with partners around the world and those who are having direct discussions with the Iranians. In terms of the focus and content of these discussions, I know they’ll do a readout when they conclude the meetings, likely tomorrow.
Speaker 4: (24:25)
Beyond what Secretary Blinken, I know he held a meeting with families or representatives of them early on, can you give us a sense of what else may be ongoing in this regard?
Jen Psaki: (24:34)
In the effort to get Americans who are detained-
Speaker 4: (24:38)
Americans [crosstalk 00:24:39].
Jen Psaki: (24:39)
… the efforts would certainly be led by our diplomats and our negotiators out of the State Department, hence your reference to Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Obviously, these discussions are often raised through different channels we have with the Iranians, given the fact that we’re not currently having direct talks on even issues like the nuclear negotiations. But I’m not going to have an update beyond that from here.
Speaker 4: (24:59)
Then tomorrow, the Army Corps of Engineers will be in a federal court hearing regarding the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Is it the administration’s belief that construction of that pipeline should continue?
Jen Psaki: (25:12)
Our view is that we would look at each pipeline through each individual pipeline separately and do an analysis of the cost and benefits on the environment and jobs, which is my assumption would be happening here. So I don’t have an assessment of that, but we look at each of them individually.
Speaker 4: (25:27)
Conceivably, we get that tomorrow with the court hearing. [crosstalk 00:25:30] I guess in considering this, given that the administration asked for more time, so I’m trying to figure out if we may get that tomorrow.
Jen Psaki: (25:38)
It wouldn’t come from the White House, presumably, but I can certainly check if there’s an expected timeline that we can share from here. Go ahead.
Speaker 2: (25:45)
Thanks. Following up on Zeke’s question on the manufacturer liability bill, the President just said that if God granted him one item on his to do list, it would be to get this done, to make it so the gun manufacturers can be held liable. It is something he promised on day one. It is day 78. What’s the hold up here?
Jen Psaki: (26:02)
There’s no holdup. Legislation needs to be reintroduced. There are a number of members in Congress who are strong advocates for exactly what the President supports, share his view about the impact, and we’re certainly hopeful and encourage them to move forward on that legislation, reintroduce it.
Speaker 2: (26:18)
But the President promised to send his own plan. Yeah, it’s clear that you’re waiting to see how this works its way through Congress, but why not put out your own bill, lead the charge on this?
Jen Psaki: (26:28)
He is leading the charge by advocating for this moving forward, by using the bully pulpit of his presidency and of the Rose Garden to advocate for this legislation moving forward. It is the role of Congress, of course, to push legislation forward, to vote on it, to move it through committees, and he certainly is hopeful they’ll do exactly that on this issue.
Speaker 2: (26:47)
The President did suggest recently that tackling this as a long-term issue, as he put it. Given the recent shootings, does he still see it that way? Does he still see this as a long-term issue?
Jen Psaki: (26:57)
I think he certainly sees it as an issue that we won’t solve overnight. So yes, he sees and is encouraged by the actions that we’ve seen across states. Take red flag laws as an example. There are 19 states. Many have implemented those laws in just the last few years. We know that they’re impactful. In many places, there’s bipartisan support for that. One of the announcements he made today was that we will be putting forward guidance to make it easier for states to put forward those laws. He knows that sometimes the first action doesn’t happen at the federal level. It can happen at the state level. We’ve certainly seen that on a range of issues, and we’ve seen that on gun safety legislation as well. So he’s encouraged by that, but knows that it can be a long journey.
Speaker 2: (27:42)
Has he been in touch with Leader Schumer about the next steps forward, especially on these bills that have passed the House?
Jen Psaki: (27:48)
As you know, he’s regularly in touch with Leader Schumer, who shares his commitment and concerns about the impact of gun violence on our communities, on this country. They certainly discuss this, among a range of other issues.
Speaker 2: (28:01)
The President does actually have here the list of all the promises that he made during the campaign of gun actions that he wanted to take. Obviously, you’re doing what you think you can unilaterally, waiting for these measures to work its way through Congress. Does the President feel that he’s doing everything he can to meet the scope of these commitments right now?
Jen Psaki: (28:18)
Well, today the administration announced initial actions to address gun violence. There will be more. That is absolutely his commitment. He also will use the power of his presidency, his voice, his political will to advocate for actions in Congress. He also recognizes that there are incredible roles to be played by many of the gun safety groups and leaders that were here today, who have helped pass laws in states across the country on everything from background checks to red flag laws, efforts that have had a measurable impact in States to reduce incidents of gun violence, of homicide, of suicide as a result of guns. So he will remain engaged with those groups and those leaders as well, and he will work on this through many levers.
Go ahead, Caitlyn.
With these ghost guns that can basically be bought, printed, and assembled at home, so how is the President confident that this rule can be enforced?
Jen Psaki: (29:19)
Well, it’s a rule that is being put in place by the Department of Justice. It is certainly a step to make that more difficult, to regulate an area of gun production that has not been regulated previously. So it’s something that will have to be worked through through law enforcement officials around the country, through the Department of Justice.
Right. But if you’re doing it at your house, how are they going to know to be able to enforce that?
Jen Psaki: (29:42)
Well, there’s the purchase of kits, of course. That’s part of it. But certainly putting in place steps to make it more difficult, to make it harder, to regulate the ability to gain access to ghost guns, ghost gun kits is certainly a step forward, in our view.
Okay. My other question is on the ATF nominee. When is he expected to formally nominate David Chipman to this role?
Jen Psaki: (30:07)
You mean put forward his nomination to Congress? I would expect quite soon. I don’t think there’s any reason for a delay of that. I will say that David Chipman, for others who are not as familiar with his background, because I know there’s been a Twitter about him out there, but he has 25 years of experience at the ATF. He has helped with the 1993 World Trade Center bomb. While he was there, there were investigations into the World Trade Center bombing and Oklahoma City bombing. He’s overseeing complex firearms trafficking cases, and he is a gun owner himself. So the President sees there’s no one better to lead the ATF. He’s certainly looking forward to putting his nomination forward, and I expect there would be no delay on that.
Given his history as gun control advocate, is the White House worried that this is going to be an uphill battle to get him confirmed?
Jen Psaki: (30:57)
Well, it’s up to Congress. He’s also somebody who he has certainly been an advocate for gun safety measures, but he also has 25 years of experience at the ATF. He’s played a pivotal role in investigations. He is a gun owner himself. So he has a broad swath of qualifications, and certainly we believe he’s somebody who’s should be seriously considered by Congress.
So you’re confident he can get confirmed?
Jen Psaki: (31:20)
Well, that’s up to the Senate. The President gets to pick who he wants to nominate. He’s nominated somebody who is qualified, who has decades of experience, who is a gun owner himself, and it is up to the Senate to decide if they move forward with his nomination.
My last question, sorry, is on the refugee cap that the president has proposed raising to 62,500, but he’s not actually formally signed the paperwork yet. Is the White House still committed to raising that cap to 62,500 by this fiscal year?
Jen Psaki: (31:49)
So we should expect that before October, and it’s not going to change from 62,500 is my other question.
Jen Psaki: (31:55)
I don’t anticipate that, that it would change, I should say. The President remains committed to raising the cap. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (32:02)
Yeah, following on Caitlyn-
Jen Psaki: (32:03)
… committed to raising the cap. Go ahead.
Speaker 3: (32:03)
Following on Kaitlin, have you counted the votes? Do you think that shipment can be confirmed by Democrats alone? It seems as though there may be at least one Democrat who I can think of who has a decent grade with the NRA and may not support an ATF director. Are there any Republicans that you could win over or is this going to be a nomination that languishes like so many other ATF directors have in the past?
Jen Psaki: (32:27)
We’re certainly familiar with the history. The president would not have nominated him if he didn’t think he was qualified and didn’t think he was someone that the Senate, members of both parties should give fair hearing to, seriously consider confirming. But we just announced his nomination today. So I don’t have an assessment of the legislative outlook quite yet.
Speaker 3: (32:46)
Okay. Quickly, when is the address to a joint session of Congress? Have you figured out that or the logistics on that? What it’ll look like?
Jen Psaki: (32:55)
I can’t wait until we can announce this. I’m with you. We can all share a joy on that. We are still working through and finalizing the date, the logistics. The president remains committed to delivering a joint session. We’re working with leaders in Congress to finalize that. We certainly hope we’ll have more to say soon.
Speaker 3: (33:12)
On another matter, General Motors has halted production in North America at several factories and extended shutdowns because of this semiconductor chip shortage. It’s disrupting the auto industry. And I’m wondering, are there any short-term measures that the federal government can take to help with the shortage? Is there anything that can be done?
Jen Psaki: (33:36)
Well, let me first say that we fully recognize that this is an issue that is impacting industries across the country including the auto industry. Earlier this year, the president held a meeting in his office with a bipartisan and by [inaudible 00:33:49] group. He continues to work. He feels there’s opportunity to work with members of both parties on addressing what is a very challenging issue for many industries. There’s a 100 day review that is ongoing, which we plan to share the outcome of with the American people soon. And we’re certainly looking through that review at undertaking… The review is focused on, I should say, on undertaking the first ever whole of government approach to building a resilient, diverse, and secure supply chain to help address this issue for the longterm.
Jen Psaki: (34:21)
So that we’re not just dealing with a short term emergency. The president’s also proposed, included I should say, $50 billion to create an office at the Commerce Department dedicated to monitoring domestic industrial capacity because he recognizes that this is an issue that we will need to continue to address. And finally, next week there’s going to be a meeting led by our NAC director and our national security advisor with a number of companies. We should have more details on hopefully by tomorrow for all of you to help discuss, get some private sector input on how to address this issue. So this is something that there is a great deal of focus on at the highest across government. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (35:01)
Just following on what Tim said, the president’s supposed to meet with the Japanese prime minister next Friday. And I’m wondering if he’ll ask Japan to place restrictions on exports of semiconductor chips to China.
Jen Psaki: (35:13)
Well, he is meeting with the Japanese prime minister, as we’ve confirmed, next Friday. I certainly expect semiconductors and the shortage to be a part of that discussion, but we’re just not going to get ahead of the agenda of that. I expect they’ll have remarks and take questions following the meeting.
Speaker 6: (35:29)
And just one more thing, Jen, the president has said that next week he intends to host lawmakers in the Oval Office once they’re back from recess. I wonder if you could give us any preview of whether or not that will include Democrats, Republicans, what type of outreach that will look like?
Jen Psaki: (35:43)
I expect he’ll have both Democrats and Republicans attend or join. And once we have confirmation of attendees, we’ll share that information with all of you. Go ahead.
The meeting next week on semiconductors, do you expect that to lead to some recommendations on what to do about this problem?
Jen Psaki: (35:58)
I would say, Steve, that it’s part of our effort. And again, it’s led by the national security advisor and our director of the National Economic Council. So it shows you what a priority this is to the president to have a discussion about best practices, how the shortage is impacting their industries. Take that information back as part of our 100 day review. I wouldn’t say I’m predicting an outcome or an announcement immediately coming out of it. As much as it’s part of our consulting processes, we’re working to address an issue that’s impacting a range of industries.
Is there’s some complication to raising the refugee camp cap? We’ve been hearing about this for a couple of months now.
Jen Psaki: (36:34)
No. We remain committed to it. And I know there’s a question about signing the paperwork, but it remains a commitment. And when it’s signed, we will update all of you on that as well.
Lastly. There’s been an escalation of violence in Northern Ireland. Are you aware of this? You haven’t [crosstalk 00:36:49] touch with the parties?
Jen Psaki: (36:51)
We do. We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland, and we joined the British, Irish and Northern Irish leaders and their calls for calm. We remained steadfast supporters of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard won peace. We welcome the provisions in both the EU UK trade and cooperation agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which helped protect the gains of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. At this point, I would expect that engagements and discussions are at the level of the state department. And I expect my colleague over there, we’ll see if he has an update on those engagements today in his briefing. Go ahead, Francesca.
Thanks, Jen. Florida governor Ron DeSantis announced a lawsuit today against the CDC and the federal government demanding that cruise liners be able to operate again. And Florida’s attorney general said the suit was filed this morning against those entities and HHS pushing to have the government’s conditional sale order declared unlawful. Does the White House have a response to Florida’s lawsuit?
Jen Psaki: (37:53)
We don’t have a direct response to a lawsuit nor a comment on a specific legal action. But I will just reiterate that the CDC guidance is based on data and health and medical guidelines hence that’s why they put it out and why they regularly update it.
The president has set forth July 4th as the date he’d like to see Americans who are vaccinated to be able to gather in small groups. At the same time, the CDC said last week that there’s a low risk for vaccinated Americans who travel. So does the president think it’s an appropriate timeline of July 4th? That’s what the cruise industry, specifically Norwegian travel is asking for, is a July 4th date here.
Jen Psaki: (38:34)
We would defer to the CDC on any updated guidelines, but I don’t anticipate that. But I would defer to them on any expectation they have of changing those guidelines. Again, they base them on health and medical experts who work at the CDC. They base them on data. The president’s announcement on July 4th has nothing to do with cruise lines as you know, it has to do with incentivizing, encouraging Americans to get access to the vaccine when they can get vaccinated. As we know, by the end of May, we will have enough vaccine supply to ensure every adult American can be vaccinated. So that’s more about small gatherings in your backyards, which is quite different from cruises of course.
Well, the reason I brought her July 4th is because that’s the date that Norwegian Cruise Line is asking for them to be able to allow vaccinated individuals to be able to cruise. So that’s where the July 4th date comes from. But also more broadly speaking, they’re asking in this industry for them to be able to be treated the same way that planes and airlines are able to be treated. So is there any specific concern that the White House has about allowing people who’ve been vaccinated to be able to resume?
Jen Psaki: (39:45)
Again, we rely on the guidance of the CDC, health and medical experts. There’s a return to science in this administration. They have guidelines they’ve put out on cruise lines. If they decide to update them, that is their prerogative to do, but that’s not a decision made by the White House. Go ahead.
Jonathan Salant: (40:03)
Since the last time you were asked about the state and local tax deductions-
Jen Psaki: (40:06)
Jonathan Salant, by the way. I recognize you by your voice, I can’t see your mustache. He has a good mustache for anyone who doesn’t know. Go ahead.
Jonathan Salant: (40:16)
Last time you were asked about state and local tax deductions, since then speaker Pelosi has now come out in favor of removing the cap. [inaudible 00:40:24] stands on the cap. And we also know [inaudible 00:40:29] House Democrats mainly form New York and New Jersey have said they won’t support bills without removing the cap and they could sink the bill if they [inaudible 00:40:37]. Given that, are you working with members of Congress now to try to find a way to address their concerns on deduction cap?
Jen Psaki: (40:44)
Well, we certainly know this is a proposal that a number of members have and they’ve advocated for eliminating the SALT deduction or returning the SALT deduction, I guess I should say. It is not a raiser as you well know. But we are open to hearing their ideas, whether it’s this or whether it is different proposals or different numbers for the corporate tax rate, what it could be raised to, or whether it is different ways we can approach expanding broadband access or rebuilding our roads, railways bridges, and helping our caregivers. So we expect this to be a part of the discussion. We expect members to continue to bring forward ideas, including around issues like SALT. And that will be a part of the negotiations moving forward.
Jonathan Salant: (41:26)
The other question is before President Biden took office, he got a letter from safety advocates who lost loved ones in truck crashes. Truck crash up about 35% of the last 10 years. They asked him to support certain provisions, technology to reduce crashes. Those technologies including automatic breaking systems, speed limiters were recommended on Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. Is that something the president supports, you’re going to have people in the agencies look at trying to impose some of those new safety restrictions?
Jen Psaki: (41:58)
I’d certainly have to talk to him about it, but the good news is our secretary of transportation is coming tomorrow to the briefing room. So it sounds like a good question. Somebody can ask him as well. But we’ll see if we can get something more for you before then as well.
Jonathan Salant: (42:09)
And one more thing. I know under the Obama, Biden administration, they began a rulemaking to address sleep apnea which was implicated in several fatal crashes. It was dropped in 2017. Is that something you guys are looking at resurrecting that rule?
Jen Psaki: (42:24)
I remember that rule well. I would have to check with our team who works on rulemaking as it relates to transportation. And again, these all sound like good questions for our secretary of transportation, but we’ll work in between now and then to get you some answers as well. Go ahead, Ann.
Just back on the gun maker liability issue again, at the risk of flogging a dead horse. I’m just wondering if you can explain what changed between when as a candidate Biden said that he would send legislation himself on day one to now day 70, whatever it is, when your position is that Congress should do this on its own. Is that right? What-
Jen Psaki: (43:08)
I don’t think we’re saying on their own. Just like there’s legislation on banning assault weapons that the president supports, there’s legislation on increasing, expanding universal background checks, which he supports. There’s also been legislation, many cycles of Congress on holding gun manufacturers to the same liability standards as other industries. So all I’m conveying is he would certainly advocate for that as he did today. There is an opportunity to reintroduce legislation. We’re certainly hopeful that members do that, and he would advocate for it and certainly use the power of the presidency to move it forward.
But has he ruled drafting something himself, or you guys yourselves?
Jen Psaki: (43:51)
Well, I think it’s not perhaps necessary given there have been a range of bills proposed that would address exactly this issue and a range of leaders in Congress who have been advocates for putting in place common sense gun safety measures. I wouldn’t rule anything out. All I’m conveying is that there has been a range of bills put forward in the past that he would support that would address exactly this issue. Oh, go ahead, Ann. Okay. Go ahead.
So there’s a spike in coronavirus cases in Japan and vaccines are in very short supplies. With the prime minister coming next week and the Tokyo Olympics as a huge priority for the Japanese, is it still the US position that American athletes should attend those games? And are you persuaded, is the president persuaded that they will be safe?
Jen Psaki: (44:44)
Our position hasn’t changed. Obviously we work in close coordination with the US Olympic Committee on assessing and with our health and medical advisors in the US government on assessing. But our position has not changed in their attendance at the games.
One more very quickly. Is there any update on announcements for ambassadors? We’re now past March, which you had said would sort of when many other administrations had done so and you haven’t put any big ones forward yet?
Jen Psaki: (45:11)
I don’t have an exact update other than to convey that I would expect that career nominees will probably be in the first slate of nominees for ambassadors as you’re planning. Go ahead.
Speaker 7: (45:25)
Thank you, ma’am. A couple of questions on the president’s gun safety executive orders. I’m wondering, does the administration have data on how many crimes have been committed with these ghost guns that your team could share?
Jen Psaki: (45:39)
I’m sure we can get you some data. Sure. But I bet you a range of the experts who are joining us here today have a bunch of data that they could share with you as well, even maybe on their websites.
Speaker 7: (45:49)
Very good. All right. Then following up the president said a moment ago, “You go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want, no background check.” Is there a special exemption in federal law that he was referring to, or just do FLA dealers not have to do background checks when they’re at a gun show?
Jen Psaki: (46:08)
Are you asking me if he was referring… No. It’s okay. Were you asking me if he was referring to a specific circumstance or? I’m sorry, just tell me a little bit more about you question.
Speaker 7: (46:16)
I mean, is it the president’s belief that you do not have to undergo a background check when you are at a gun show?
Jen Psaki: (46:23)
No, it’s not his belief. He believes that background checks should be universal.
Speaker 7: (46:27)
Right. But he says no background check.
Jen Psaki: (46:30)
Well, we know what his position is, right? So let me reiterate that, which is that background checks are something that should be universal. They’re supported by more than 80% of the public. He supported legislation, advocated for that and advocated against loopholes as well. So that’s his position. And I appreciate you asking for the clarification. Go ahead.
Speaker 7: (46:49)
One more here. I know the DOJ is working on this regulation, and then we’re going to have to wait. But with regards to the stabilizing braces, what’s the message to people who earlier on before this was an issue, law abiding folks who bought these and who weren’t criminals, according to the Congressional Research Service, there’s something like 40 million currently in circulation. What should the law abiding American do as they await that regulation? I mean, should they expect buybacks or should they be prepared to turn those in? Or is this a confiscation situation?
Jen Psaki: (47:26)
I don’t think that’s what we’re suggesting. There’s obviously going to be some time to put in place this regulation, as you refer to and take a close look at the most effective way to do that. And what the effort here is that’s under way is to put in place measures that make the country safer and make communities safer. And obviously there are impacts. Every step that he announced today, we believe would do exactly that.
Speaker 7: (47:49)
And I circle back from last week, in terms of the scheduling of [inaudible 00:47:52] and Schedule One, I know it’s a difficult issue with a lot of moving parts. But given that, that scheduling is set to expire in May, is the administration taking a closer look at-
Speaker 8: (48:03)
… in May. Is the administration taking a closer look at the scheduling of fentanyl analogs?
Jen Psaki: (48:06)
I know you asked about this, and I’m sorry we failed to get you a good answer on it. We will venture to do that before… May 1st is the deadline? Not your deadline, but the timeline. The timeline of the expiration. Is that correct?
Speaker 8: (48:19)
I believe it’s the first week of May.
Jen Psaki: (48:20)
Okay. We will check that and we will venture to do a better job getting back with you on that. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (48:25)
[inaudible 00:48:25] today’s print puller. I’m going to ask [inaudible 00:48:27] for myself. One of my colleagues can’t be here because of COVID restrictions. Then I have a wildcard question.
Jen Psaki: (48:33)
Okay. I like the setup. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (48:37)
All right, let’s start with me.
Jen Psaki: (48:38)
Speaker 9: (48:39)
Despite warnings anti-transgender bills are an illegal form of sex discrimination, a number of states have enacted into law measures against transgender youth, including a measure the Arkansas legislature enacted into law this week by overriding a veto of the governor. Will the president reach out to the attorney general for legal action against these measures?
Jen Psaki: (49:05)
I don’t know that I can stand here… I can’t stand here and predict legal action. Obviously, that would be a decision made by the Justice Department and the attorney general. What I can say is that the president’s view is that all persons should receive equal treatment under law no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s fundamental to how he will make laws. Advocate for laws, I should say. How he will communicate about his views on the rights of transgender individuals in the country, and certainly, what his view is as it relates to any actions by the government. But in terms of legal action, I would point you to the attorney general and the Justice Department.
Speaker 9: (49:41)
Well, I understand that, but why not… why shouldn’t the president be able to communicate with the attorney general on the [crosstalk 00:49:48]
Jen Psaki: (49:48)
He certainly can. I don’t have anything to predict for you on that at this point in time.
Speaker 9: (49:52)
The question for my colleague is next. How involved is former President Obama and First Lady Obama in the Biden-Harris Administration? Is President Biden seeking to bring back the often bipartisan portrait unveiling events at the White House?
Jen Psaki: (50:06)
I’m certain we will have bipartisan portrait unveiling events at the appropriate time when COVID allows. I don’t know when that will be, but that certainly would be something I know the president would support. In terms of is engagement with President Obama, they are not just former colleagues, I guess you’d call them, as president and vice president, but they also remain close friends and they talk regularly about a range of issues from policy issues, to bouncing ideas off of each other, to their families. So, they are in close touch, but we just don’t read out those specific calls. We keep them private.
Speaker 9: (50:42)
And now my wildcard question.
Jen Psaki: (50:43)
Speaker 9: (50:45)
There’s a lot of construction going on the South Lawn. What’s up with that?
Jen Psaki: (50:49)
Oh, I like that. I’m happy to get you kind of a more official response on this, but it is kind of regular maintenance. I think we expect it to be going for eight to 10 weeks, but we can get you a more official-
Speaker 9: (51:02)
[inaudible 00:51:02] new construction going on. There’s something that’s really… as opposed to regular happenings. I mean, is this something that is consistently going on, or is this something like new construction for a new event or a new thing on the South Lawn?
Jen Psaki: (51:16)
No, it’s not, but I can get you a more official statement from our team that is overseeing the updates and the maintenance.
Speaker 9: (51:26)
Jen Psaki: (51:27)
Go ahead in the back.
Speaker 10: (51:28)
Thank you, Jen. Three questions on gun violence. Does President Biden have a deadline for Congress to act, and if they don’t meet that deadline, is he prepared with more executive action?
Jen Psaki: (51:38)
First, the president’s not going to wait for Congress to act to take additional executive actions. This is the beginning. He will continue to have his team review both from a policy and a legal standpoint additional executive actions that are possible to take. I would just remind everyone that he also led the effort to put in place nearly two dozen executive actions under the Obama- Biden Administration, and he fully recognizes that the only way to put in place permanent long-term measures to keep our children, our communities, and families across the country safe is by passing legislation, so he is also committed to that. But he is not going to wait. He can move on both levers at the same time.
Speaker 10: (52:20)
And how soon does the president expect or hope to see change due to the executive action today?
Jen Psaki: (52:27)
Change? In what way?
Speaker 10: (52:29)
I guess, how soon does he expect to see some of his policies in place?
Jen Psaki: (52:32)
Well, there are certain periods of time of reviews for different components of this. Obviously, things like the guidance on red flag laws is something that states could use as soon as that’s prepared and distributed to move forward on putting in place red flag laws. There are certain components of this that require 30 days, 60 days, et cetera, so I would say it just depends on the component of what he proposed this morning.
Speaker 10: (52:57)
My final question for you. President Biden mentioned Fred Guttenberg by name in the rose garden today. What role did Fred and other gun safety advocates play in crafting this executive action?
Jen Psaki: (53:07)
Well, first, I would say that people like Fred Guttenberg, and Shannon Watts, and Gabby Giffords, I mean, these are people who are absolute heroes on getting gun safety measures in place. They have led the effort when there was no appetite in Washington and none at the federal level to move forward on putting in place laws around the country, and the president recognizes that. And he has a huge respect and value for the role that they have played. That’s why they were here today.
Jen Psaki: (53:35)
He’s had conversations. Our team has had conversations at a range of levels with a number of these gun safety leaders through the course of the president’s presidency. And they have ideas, they have proposals, and certainly, that’s taken into account as we were considering policy options to put forward today.
Jen Psaki: (53:54)
Go ahead. Oh, go ahead.
Speaker 11: (53:56)
German Chancellor Merkel spoke with Vladimir Putin today and demanded a withdrawal of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. What is the US position and has there been any contact between the US and Russia in the recent days about this issue?
Jen Psaki: (54:11)
I don’t have any additional contact to read out, aside from, I think, the last high-level contact was at the defense minister level that took place at the end of last week. But since you gave me the opportunity, let me just convey that the United States is increasingly concerned by recent escalating Russian aggressions in Eastern Ukraine, including Russian troop movements on Ukraine’s border. Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014. Five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed this week alone. These are all deeply concerning signs.
Jen Psaki: (54:44)
We are, of course… The president spoke with President Zelensky, as you know, last week. In addition to reassurances to Ukrainian officials, the United States, we are also discussing our concerns about the increase in tensions in ceasefire violations and regional tensions with NATO allies, so that’s another part of the conversations that is ongoing, but I don’t have any engagements with the Russians to read out.
Speaker 11: (55:07)
After issuing a multitude of sanctions in the last years, and even after calling Vladimir Putin a killer, as the president did, in general, what do you think… How is the influence? Does the US and does the rest, in general, have any influence on Vladimir Putin?
Jen Psaki: (55:25)
Do we have any influence on Vladimir Putin? Look, I think that is perhaps in some ways suggesting that just because someone does bad behavior we shouldn’t hold them accountable unless we know it’s going to immediately change their behavior. That’s just not how we see foreign policy or how we see our engagement in the world. Look, I think our focus is on there’s still an ongoing review. Weeks, not months. Weeks, not months, and that we are assessing as it relates to the troubling actions of Russia and this Russian government where there will be consequences, as the president has conveyed, seen and unseen. And we hope to have more on that soon.
Jen Psaki: (56:03)
Speaker 12: (56:04)
Just to follow up on your answer there regarding former President Obama, because you said they are in touch fairly regularly.
Jen Psaki: (56:11)
Speaker 12: (56:11)
Can you more clearly define fairly regularly?
Jen Psaki: (56:14)
No, that would be violating their friendship.
Speaker 12: (56:17)
Okay. Is it fair to say he is-
Jen Psaki: (56:20)
The privacy of their friendship, I should say.
Speaker 12: (56:22)
Sure. Is he fairly regularly in touch with any other former president?
Jen Psaki: (56:25)
I would say he is the president he is most frequent… former president he is most frequently in touch with.
Speaker 12: (56:29)
Are we talking a few times a week? A few times a month?
Jen Psaki: (56:35)
I’m not going to give a more defined… I’m not going to define it more other than to say that they engage not just about important moments in our country but also about their own families. They have a connection on a personal level, so they discuss a range of issues when they connect.
Speaker 13: (56:53)
Jen Psaki: (56:53)
Go ahead, Caitlin.
Does the president agree with Senator Manchin that budget reconciliation should not replace regular order in the Senate?
Jen Psaki: (57:01)
Well, first, for those of you who read the op-ed today or didn’t read the op-ed, either way-
I think we all read it.
Jen Psaki: (57:07)
Did you all read it? Oh, surprised to hear. Surprised to hear. I will say there’s a couple of principles the president has as it relates to engagement with Congress and how Democrats and Republicans should work together. The time has come to end these political games and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we can find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation. He also believes the issues facing our democracy today are not insurmountable if we choose to tackle them together, and he definitely believes that Republicans have a responsibility to stop saying no and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats.
But does he agree with this line?
Jen Psaki: (57:46)
Well, let me just say, those are all lines in Senator Manchin’s opinion piece. Look, the president believes that there is a path forward to get this American jobs plan passed with bipartisan support. That’s why he’s going to invite Democrats and Republicans here. That’s why he’s going to hear from them on their ideas that they’ve already put forward. We’re going to leave it to leaders in Congress to determine the mechanism for moving things forward, but we think there should every opportunity to do this on a bipartisan basis.
Speaker 14: (58:17)
Hey, Jen. Just one more thing.
Jen Psaki: (58:17)
Speaker 14: (58:17)
Can you rule out those Russian sanctions coming this week?
Jen Psaki: (58:21)
Coming this week? Yes.
Speaker 12: (58:25)
How about next week?
Jen Psaki: (58:25)
I’m not going to rule out further. I’m just trying to give you some sleep tomorrow. We already have the budget guidance coming tomorrow. We can’t overload you on a Friday.
[crosstalk 00:58:36] about infrastructure. I know that you mentioned Secretary Buttigieg would be here tomorrow. Unfortunately, due to social distancing, I will not be, so when it comes-
Jen Psaki: (58:44)
We will take your questions with one of your colleagues.
We will email the print puller, but with regards to the 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets that are in the president’s infrastructure plan, it also says it will fix the 10 most economically significant bridges in the country. And it specifically says it will repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges. So, the White House, to this point, has not released any sort of a list of these, so why isn’t there a list that you can share with us? And presumably, there is some sort of a list because otherwise, where did you get the 20,000 and 10,000 numbers from?
Jen Psaki: (59:18)
In terms of roads and railways that need to be repaired?
Yes. Where did those numbers come from?
Jen Psaki: (59:23)
We can certainly get you a citation. What I did the other day, but I’m happy to reiterate is explain that we expect that the package and the funding will come through a combination of grants. Formula grants and competitive grants, right? And formula grants are allocated to states based on certain criteria, like the number of miles of an interstate highway or population in a given urban area. Most of our existing transportation funding flows through formula grants, so with past infrastructure funding bills that have gone through Congress in the last several decades. This gives states a lot of flexibility in covering how they repair roads, how they repair things that need to be repaired in their state.
Jen Psaki: (01:00:05)
The other type of funding is competitive grants, which those 10 bridges you talked about, they would be through competitive grants. So, these direct funding to certain policy goals, like the Tiger Grant program that was a part of the Recovery Act. So, there’s just different… We expect that to be how it’s structured. That will all be discussed and finalized through our conversations with members of Congress, with leaders in Congress about what the combination of those funding components should be.
[inaudible 01:00:34] one final question.
Jen Psaki: (01:00:36)
The vice president talked a little bit back… The president talked about his role as vice president leading the Obama Administration’s action with guns. We’ve seen a lot of conversations about gun control legislation in that rose garden before. Why does the president think that this time will be different than any other time, including when he was in the vice presidency for this legislation? And is committing that it will be different, I should say.
Jen Psaki: (01:01:01)
He is committing that it will be different, and if the president was just defeated, every time he was defeated on an objective or a goal, he wouldn’t be president, so here he is. He remains an advocate throughout his life to putting in place gun safety measures and it something that he has been committed to not just through words, but through action, and he believes it’s something that as president he can help move forward and put in place more action.
Jen Psaki: (01:01:29)