Jul 6, 2021

Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript July 6

Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript July 6
RevBlogTranscriptsJen Psaki White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript July 6

July 6, 2021 press conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Read the transcript of the full news briefing here.

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Jen Psaki: (00:26)
Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday. Happy July 4th Week. Okay, a couple of updates for you all at the top here. After the President is briefed by his COVID-19 Response Team this afternoon, he will speak to the American people about the strong progress that the country has made in recovery, because of its robust vaccination campaign. As well as the importance of every eligible American getting vaccinated, especially as the Delta variant continues to grow among unvaccinated people across the country. By the end of the week, the United States will be nearing 160 million people fully vaccinated, which the President will touch on today as well, which is critically important, as fully vaccinated people are protected against the Delta variant. He will also stress how the administration will continue its efforts to work with governors, local leaders, and across the public and private sector to get more Americans vaccinated by making vaccines available in more healthcare settings and respond to hotspots.

Jen Psaki: (01:26)
The President will outline five areas his team is focused on to get more Americans vaccinated. One: a targeted community by community door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated, by ensuring they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is. Two: a renewed emphasis on getting the vaccines to more primary care doctors and physicians, something that we’ve seen as a very successful tactic with reaching groups with lower vaccination rates in the past few months. Three: stepped up efforts, which is complimentary to my last point, to get vaccines to pediatricians, and other providers who serve younger people, so that adolescents age 12 to 18 can get vaccinated as they go for back to school checkups, or get ready for fall sports. Four: continue expanding efforts to make the vaccine accessible for workers. Access is an area where we’ve seen as a challenge, and one where, as we’ve worked to address that we’ve seen increasing rates. So that includes setting effects to nation clinics at workplaces and PTO or leave that employees can take off to get vaccinated. And finally, expanding our mobile clinic efforts, meeting people where they are, and making sure we’re taking the vaccine to communities.

Jen Psaki: (02:38)
Another COVID update: this week, both Guatemala and Vietnam will be receiving COVID vaccine doses from the Biden-Harris administration. Guatemala will receive 1.5 million doses of Moderna, and Vietnam will receive 2 million doses of Moderna. Also today, as part of the President’s forthcoming executive order on competition, stay tuned, the US Department of Agriculture announced it will engage in a series of rule makings to increase competition in agricultural industries to boost farmers and ranchers earnings, fight back against abuses of power by giant agribusiness corporations, and give farmers the right to repair their own equipment how they like. The President’s executive order will follow through on a campaign promise by directing USDA to issue new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act, making it easier for farmers to bring and win claims, stopping chicken processors from exploiting and underpaying chicken farmers, and adopting anti-retaliation protections for farmers who speak out about bad practices.

Jen Psaki: (03:36)
Second, the EO will direct the USDA to issue new rules, defining one meat conveyor product of the USA labels, so that consumers have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to know where their food comes from, and to choose to support American farmers and ranchers. Something I learned, that I found a little outrageous, we’ll see what you all think is that under current labeling rules, most grass-fed beef labeled, “Product of USA,” is actually raised and slaughtered abroad and then imported to the US for processing. The President and the USDA believe it is unfair for domestic farmers and ranchers to have to compete with foreign companies that are misleading consumers.

Jen Psaki: (04:14)
Third, the EO directs USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmer’s markets and developing standards and labels that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers and agricultural workers fairly. These are just a few examples of actions USDA will take under the new executive order, and the entire federal government’s mission, which will be help move forward through this executive order to help increase opportunities for small and independent businesses to boost the earnings and to lower prices, increase options for consumers.

Jen Psaki: (04:50)
I think I have one more item. Yes. A number of you had asked me on the last trip I was on if we could do a little more to preview trips farther in advance. So I’m going to try to do that today. As you all know, tomorrow, the president will travel to Crystal Lake, Illinois, which is located in the district of Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. There, he will visit McHenry County College, a community college that has a Workforce Development Program, and a Childcare Center Programs, which his Build Back Better agenda invests in, and the American Families Plan we’ve talked quite a bit in here, has proposals in. As the President presses for the bipartisan infrastructure framework, he’s also pressing ahead on a dual track for the full breadth and scope of the Build Back Better agenda, which includes his Critical Climate Priorities, and the American Families Plan. The President’s Build Back Better agenda provides a once in a generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity, education, healthcare and childcare, from making education more affordable and expanding key provisions like the Childcare Tax Credit to providing economic security through programs like paid leave to families. The President will continue advancing his entire economic agenda to Build Back Better. Congresswoman Underwood, many of you may know, is a registered nurse, health policy expert, and committed advocate for expanding access to high quality affordable healthcare, which the Build Back Better agenda accomplishes by permanently lowering health insurance premiums for those who build coverage on their own, saving families an average of $50 per person per month. As a result, 9 million people would save hundreds of dollars per year on their premiums, and 4 million uninsured people would gain coverage. He’ll also of course, engage with elected officials on the ground. We’ll have an update for you as the schedule is being finalized on that. With that, Zeke, why don’t you kick off?

Zeke: (06:34)
Thanks Jen, first, with respect with COVID [inaudible 00:06:36]. The rate of new vaccination in the US has been continuously declining over the last seven months, as the access has increased, as promotions, giveaways, all sorts of efforts on the front of the administration practice centers to get people to get vaccinated [inaudible 00:06:51] as well. Is there a point for the administration where people were to very simply acknowledge that people that have not been vaccinated are choosing not to, and then that the administration will stop sort of throwing money at them, or giving speeches, encouraging them to get vaccinated, that’s their choice?

Jen Psaki: (07:05)
Well, first, let me say Zeke, that we had always noted that at a certain phase in the vaccination process or in our fight against COVID, when we had more supply than we had demand, which was about a month and a half ago, that the numbers would go down in terms of the number of people who were vaccinated each day and each week. More than 2 million people per week are getting their first dose, and millions more are getting their second dose, so our focus now is on doubling down on our efforts as we continue to vaccinate millions of people across the summer months. And that includes as we’ve noted in here in the past, young people under the age of 27, who are being vaccinated at a lower rate than people who are 27 and older, and we believe that we need to continue to press to get more people in the country vaccinated, even as we’re seeing rates in parts of the country that are over 70%, even some places over 80%, there’s still more work to be done.

Jen Psaki: (07:57)
You are absolutely correct, that it’s ultimately up to individuals to decide if they are going to get vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, most of the vast, vast majority of people are safe from the virus. If you’re not vaccinated, you are not, that is also a message that we’re going to continue to clearly communicate. But no, these programs will continue and we’re going to continue to press forward on approaches that we have seen work in the past.

Zeke: (08:22)
And changing gears to this massive cyber attack that happened over the weekend. Is the President’s view, sort of just philosophically that it’s the role of government to protect businesses and private citizens from aggressive cyber attacks like this, ransomware and the like, or is it the issue of personal or corporate responsibility? Is there a ratio of the President [inaudible 00:08:45], 80% on the government to prevent these, and 20% on the companies? What’s the mix?

Jen Psaki: (08:51)
Well, Zeke, I would first say that the attack over the weekend underscores the need for companies and government agencies, as well, to focus on improving cybersecurity. And we’ve talked a bit in the past about the importance of private sector entities hardening their own cybersecurity, putting in place best practices that have been recommended by the federal government for some time. But we are going to continue to be partners, because it’s important to of course protect our critical infrastructure, but also play what role we can from the federal government, to ensure that impacts on a smaller businesses, on mom and pop shops are, are minimized as well. So, we have engaged over the last several months under the leadership of a range of officials, including Anne Neuberger in a better partnership, more effective partnership with the private sector, providing resources from the federal government. And we’ll continue that.

Zeke: (09:43)
And finally do the reports that [inaudible 00:09:44] is in town, in Washington this week, potentially meet with Jake Sullivan. Can you confirm that meeting, and then also [inaudible 00:09:52] the confirmation the White House believes that had no role in the murder or journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

Jen Psaki: (09:59)
Well, I can confirm that meeting. Let me see, I believe I have a little bit more information on it here. One moment for you, Zeke. Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister is meeting with, Biden administration officials today, including National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. He’s scheduled to meet with state and Defense Department officials as well. During the meeting, they’ll discuss the longstanding partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, regional security, and the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend it’s territory as it faces a tax from Iranian aligned groups. As you know, we work to declassify a report that named specific officials our intelligence community, I should say, were involved with, and knowledgeable of the horrific death of Jamal Khashoggi. Beyond that, I can tell you that, of course, this could be a topic, but I’m not going to discuss additional details. Go ahead.

Speaker 1: (10:54)
Yeah. I just want to follow up on the Kaseya attack.

Jen Psaki: (10:57)

Speaker 1: (10:57)
Have you had any communication at all with Russia about this attack? And I want to ask a few more questions, but President Putin and President Biden met and discussed cybersecurity, were you under the impression that Putin would do more to prevent these kinds of attacks?

Jen Psaki: (11:15)
So first let me say, let me give you a little bit of an update. Since the meeting between President Biden and President Putin, we have undertaken expert level talks that are continuing, and we expect to have another meeting next week, focused on ransomware attacks. And I will just reiterate a message that these officials are sending, as the President made clear to President Putin when they met, if the Russian government cannot or will not take action against criminal actors residing in Russia, we will take action or reserve the right to take action on our own.

Jen Psaki: (11:47)
Now, in this case, the intelligence community has yet attributed the attack. The cyber security community agrees that REvil operates out of Russia with affiliates around the world. So we will continue to allow that assessment to continue, but in our conversations and we have been in touch directly, we are continuing to convey that message clearly.

Speaker 1: (12:11)
So you’ve been in touch directly, at what level of government have you been in touch with Russia on this specific issue? And then on the ransomware, the FBI has basically told companies not to pay ransomware. Are you aware of whether in this particular case, the ransom of $70 million has been paid, and what advice are you giving to the company? And earlier today, the CEO said that the critical infrastructure was never at risk, do you share that assessment?

Jen Psaki: (12:43)
Sure. Well, let me try to take two of your questions, and you can tell me if I missed one. Well, what was your first question, so I go in the order?

Speaker 1: (12:53)
Where have you been in touch.

Jen Psaki: (12:54)
High level of our National Security Team has been in touch with high level Russian officials. On your second question, repeat it again now?

Speaker 1: (13:02)
Are you aware [inaudible 00:13:05] has been paid?

Jen Psaki: (13:05)
Our ransomware policy continues to be the same as it has been for several months, which is that we do not advise, we advise against, in fact, companies paying ransomware, given it incentivizes bad actors to repeat this behavior. In terms of whether the company has paid ransom, I would refer you to the company. And in terms of assessments of the impact, we saw the company put out an extensive statement today about what the impacts were on our systems. And we certainly defer to them on the impact.

Speaker 1: (13:40)
Can I switch gears? We have a story, so organizations like the Chamber of commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, are gearing up for a big lobbying campaign, to lobby against the tax increases that you are proposing. And what they say is that increasing taxes doesn’t create jobs, and what do you say to that? And what are you doing to counter this pretty intense push by these lobbying organizations?

Jen Psaki: (14:12)
Well, first I would say that the American people are aligned with the President’s view that corporations and the wealthiest Americans can afford to pay a little bit more, in order to pay for critical investments in our nation’s infrastructure, but also in initiatives and programs that will help make our country more competitive, and bring more women back into the workforce, and that’s what the President is proposing. I would also note that we’ve seen in terms of public reports, that, of the wealthiest companies out there, a number of them didn’t pay any taxes at all. And that certainly is something that is viable, nor does the President think that is fair, and that sends a clear message that our tech system is not set up in a fair and equitable way, and that’s something he feels we should address, regardless. So that’s his view and his proposal. We’ll have to see how successful these lobbyists are at moving the public opinion and approval rating down from what it is currently, which is the vast majority of the American people agree with the President. Go ahead.

Phil: (15:16)
Just one quick up on the ransomware, and then two other quick ones. From a response perspective, if this is attributed to REvil, and they decide that it’s based in Russia, is the President’s view that the response would be proportional to just taking that actor offline, or actually directed at state instead for harboring? How do you guys approach that?

Jen Psaki: (15:41)
It’s a good question, Phil. I would say that I’m not going to be able to detail more specifics from here, but I would note, and I would reiterate that the President’s view and the administration’s view is that even as it is criminal actors who are taking these actions against the United States, or private sector entities in the United States, even without the engagement of the Russian government-

Jen Psaki: (16:03)
… aids. Even without the engagement of the Russian government, they still have a responsibility. That continues to be the president’s view and the administration’s view. In terms of what actions we may or may not take, I’ll allow the national security team to work with that through.

Phil: (16:15)
And then can you … just two more quick ones. What’s the level of frustration in the White House that you have a vaccine, the vaccine works, it is available to a degree it has never been available before. People are not getting the vaccine, and therefore the Delta variant is emerging in certain places around the country. Are you guys banging the table? Are you upset? Like how do you kind of go through that knowing that there is a counter weapon here to what’s happening around the country?

Jen Psaki: (16:41)
I feel, I think, as the federal government, we don’t have the luxury of feeling frustrated or feeling upset about individuals not getting the vaccine. What our responsibility is, is to ensure we are applying best practices, whether that’s working with doctors and pediatricians or addressing access, mobile vaccine clinics, or ensuring that people know that they can take time off of work or even working with employers to make the vaccine accessible. It is ultimately up to individuals. And we certainly recognize that as well, but we’re going to continue to press as hard as we can to use the best practices, to continue to increase the vaccination rates around the country.

Phil: (17:25)
Just one more quick one. OPEC Plus, it’s in a statement yesterday that you guys are currently engaged with the various players, even though you’re not a part of the negotiation, can you elaborate a little bit on what that means?

Jen Psaki: (17:36)
Sure. We are closely monitoring the OPEC Plus negotiations and their impact on the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As you noted Phil, we’re not a party to these talks, but over the weekend and into this week, we’ve had a number of high-level conversations with officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other relevant partners. We’re encouraged by the ongoing conversation by OPEC members to reaching an agreement. The ongoing talks I should say. Which will promote access to affordable and reliable energy, and certainly the impact on prices here is hence our great interest. Go ahead.

Speaker 2: (18:10)
Thanks, Jen. I just want to follow up on Zeke’s question, too, on this public/private role in response to cyber-tech. So we know the president signed these orders back in May. Some of which were of course supposed to step up enforcement on private companies, at least those that work with the federal government. But it’s been 55 days since he signed those orders, and from our review, the orders from DHS haven’t been put in place yet. They’re still actually in the review process. These attacks are happening still though. Is the government working fast enough on … even in this narrow lane where you say you can do some work?

Jen Psaki: (18:47)
Well, I would say first, the increase in ransomware attacks far predated the president taking office. It is something that from day one, he has made a priority and has asked his team to focus on where we can have an impact, how we can better work with the private sector and what we can do across the federal government to help address and reduce ransomware attacks on our critical infrastructure, but also on a range of entities in the United States.

Jen Psaki: (19:13)
Tomorrow, the president will convene key leaders across the inter-agency, including the State Department, Department of Justice, DHS and other members of the intelligence community to discuss ransomware and our overall strategic efforts to counter it. And what he had asked the team to do several weeks ago was to review and assess what our options are and how we can better, again, put in place partnerships with the private sector, best practices, what levers we have from the federal government, including disruption of ransomware, infrastructure and actors, which we’ve seen some success in. I know the department of justice announced some steps just a few weeks ago. Building an international coalition to hold countries who harbor ransom actors accountable, which is a huge factor here as well, because we’re not the only country impacted of course by ransomware attacks.

Jen Psaki: (20:03)
Expanding cryptocurrency analysis to find and pursue criminal transactions and reviewing our own ransom policies to build cohesive and consistent approaches toward ransom payments. So this is a priority. He’s meeting with a range of officials tomorrow, and we will continue to implement moving forward.

Speaker 2: (20:19)
Would you say you’re still in the review and assessment phase?

Jen Psaki: (20:23)
I would first note that we have announced several steps that we have taken. I mean, the department of justice announced a step just a few weeks ago, and we are continuing to up our partnership with the private sector, which is a key part of best practices and ensuring we are reducing the impact … I should say the vulnerability of private sector entities, but there is more that can be done and it warrants and requires an inter-agency process and discussion in order to move those policies forward.

Jen Psaki: (20:51)
Go ahead.

Speaker 3: (20:51)
Thank you, Jen. A quick follow up on ransomware.

Jen Psaki: (20:53)

Speaker 3: (20:54)
You mentioned that after president Biden called on Putin to hold cyber hackers accountable, there have been expert level talks. Is there any evidence that Putin has done anything to curb cyber attacks in Russia that he’s communicated with the US?

Jen Psaki: (21:11)
Well, again, I would say it’s the little bit disproving a negative there, because this is what we’re talking about here is ransomware attack from likely criminal actors. Again, it hasn’t been fully attributed yet, so we’re getting a little bit ahead, which I certainly understand, of where things stand.

Jen Psaki: (21:27)
There are these expert level talks and negotiations and engagements. That’s an important part of the next steps. An important part of what came out of their discussion. And beyond that, I think what the message is, that the president has sent clearly, and what we are sending, continuing to send clearly, is even with these criminal actors, we’re not saying they’re coming from the government or directed from the government, but even with those actors, they have a responsibility. That’s where the policy is moving forward. I think it’s difficult for me to disprove a negative.

Speaker 3: (21:58)
And on COVID, the five step plan you outlined, still focuses heavily on access. You’ve already mentioned the group of [crosstalk 00:22:06] who have access to the vaccine, but simply don’t want it. So is the White House tweaking its strategy to reach those people to change their minds?

Jen Psaki: (22:16)
I wouldn’t say it’s about changing their minds. What we’ve seen over the quarter … Well, I guess it sort of is. But what we’ve seen over the course of time is that the most reliable voices are trusted actors in communities. Medical experts, doctors, people’s primary care physicians. We’re going to continue to utilize and resource the entities where we feel there has been success and where we’ve seen through data, there has been success in the past. You don’t just give up just because you haven’t reached every single person. We’re going to continue to apply what we’ve seen have been the best practices over the past several months.

Speaker 3: (22:50)
And just one more on COVID. If the number of cases continues to trend upward, are there any circumstances under which the White House would reimpose some of those restrictions as cases tick up or would that be up to the states?

Jen Psaki: (23:04)
States are going to have to make evaluations, and local communities are going to have to make evaluations about what’s in their interests. And as you know, there are much higher rates of vaccinations in some parts of the country over others. We certainly support their decisions to implement any measures that they think will help their community safe. But I would remind you, we’re at a point where we’re almost at 70% vaccination rate for adults 27 and older, but almost for adults 18 and older. So certainly we don’t see we’re on track to implementing new additional national measures.

Jen Psaki: (23:35)
Go ahead.

Speaker 3: (23:35)
Thank you.

Speaker 4: (23:36)
On ransomware, the company statement goes into a lot of detail about the kinds of victims among its client base and points out that they are not related to critical infrastructure. Is that simply about informing people about what’s there or is that to separate this attack from some of the outline the president presented to Vladimir Putin about sort of the no go list of critical infrastructure that should not be interfered with from any Russian actor, be it criminal or state or whatever? Do you see that as an important tell?

Jen Psaki: (24:08)
Well, I would say that, of course there’s a unique threat posed by cyber attacks that disrupt critical infrastructure. There’s no question about that. If there’s a cyber attack that takes out an entire sector of the American economy that would have an enormous broad impact, and we recognize that. I can’t speak to the communication strategy of the company, of course, which I know you’re not exactly asking me to do, but I will say that, regardless of whether a cyber attack impacts a critical infrastructure, we take it seriously. We reserve the option of responding in a manner and mechanism of our choosing, regardless.

Jen Psaki: (24:46)
But I think there’s no question that in terms of national security threats, if it’s critical infrastructure and it’s taking out the meat industry or suppliers who are supplying gasoline, that is something that is a different impact in terms of a national security threat.

Speaker 5: (25:01)
How many more ransomware attacks before the United States retaliates though?

Jen Psaki: (25:04)
[inaudible 00:25:04]

Speaker 4: (25:04)
On COVID, is the president’s briefing, and is he likely to address the issue of those who are questioning whether a booster shot is appropriate with the delta variant? And also, is he also contemplating a position on mask wearing for transportation like airplanes and trains and so forth? It’s still in effect, but there’s been some talk that might be lifted as more vaccinations take place.

Jen Psaki: (25:26)
Sure. I would not anticipate, or you should not anticipate, I should say that he would have any new announcements or guidance on either of those fronts today. We certainly rely on the advice of our health and medical experts, if any of those should change in the future.

Jen Psaki: (25:40)
Go ahead.

Speaker 6: (25:41)

Jen Psaki: (25:42)
Sorry Jack, we’ll get back to you.

Speaker 6: (25:43)
So data from Israel shows the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant preventing infection about 64% of the time. The administration keeps saying, as you just have during the briefing, that you’re confident that people who are vaccinated are safe, but why is this still the assessment? And is there any concern that mask requirements were lifted too soon?

Jen Psaki: (26:03)
Well, first I would say that that’s preliminary data and the vast majority of data from larger assessments and larger studies shows that it is quite effective. And that is the data from mass larger studies that we are relying on. It’s preliminary. We’ll look at what the final conclusions say.

Speaker 6: (26:24)
One more. Pope Francis is still in the hospital recovering from surgery. I was just wondering if the president has reached out to him at all? Has there been any contact? Anything the White House wanted to say?

Jen Psaki: (26:31)
I don’t have any contact to read out for you. Certainly, the president wishes him well and a speedy recovery, of course.

Jen Psaki: (26:40)
Go ahead.

Speaker 7: (26:40)
Thanks, Jen. I’m wanting to go back to COVID. There’s been a lot of discussion about the Delta variant, but then there’s also been some international concern about the Lambda variant. The World Health Organization deemed it a variant of interest back in June. Public Health England placed it under investigation due to international expansion. And then British scientists are describing mutations that another study also says could indicate less efficacy for the vaccine.

Speaker 7: (27:05)
What do we know about Lambda? Is it spreading in the US? And have vaccine manufacturers talked to the administration at all about protections against it? Sure.

Jen Psaki: (27:13)
Well, first, public health officials continue to closely track and monitor all of the variants as we’ve seen pop up over time and are reviewing the latest data when it becomes available. I’ll certainly leave it to doctors to discuss this, but early data suggests that the vaccines continue to work against the variants, including this variant. And that’s why we’ve been focusing so much on increasing vaccinations across the country. As with every strain, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others from any other COVID strains, but we will continue to assess data as more widely available data becomes available.

Speaker 7: (27:46)
How is the spread of new variants informing travel restrictions into other countries from other countries to the US?

Jen Psaki: (27:54)
Certainly, as you may know, there are working groups with Canada, with our European partners, and we’re working to continue to assess what criteria would need to be in place in order to reopen travel. We know that in many cases families are separated. We know that’s a heartbreaking challenge that a lot of people are dealing with. And a lot of people are eager to travel, be with loved ones or even do work travel. We understand that. We’re eager to do that as well. The United States has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and that is something we also assess as we look at countries and are making those decisions about reopening travel. But these working groups are meant to have an open line of transparent communication with these countries about what steps need to be taken.

Speaker 7: (28:39)
And then, how are these new variants impacting back to school plans with a lot of children still too young to get vaccines? How is this new element factoring into all these plans?

Jen Psaki: (28:52)
I would say the good news is that there are a number of mitigation measures that have been recommended, of course, by the CDC that our Department of Education has been working to help local school districts implement. Whether they’re social distancing or mask wearing requirements, ventilation. There’s money that came from the American Rescue Plan to help fund this in areas in school districts where they didn’t have the money available. So that is certainly what we expect, and we are looking forward to schools being reopened in the fall.

Jen Psaki: (29:20)
Go ahead.

Speaker 8: (29:21)
Thanks, Jen. I just have a few follow ups on the OPEC Plus talks.

Jen Psaki: (29:24)

Speaker 8: (29:24)
Can you tell us which administration officials have been engaging with the Saudi and UAE governments on this issue?

Jen Psaki: (29:30)
I don’t have more details about the individuals. I can see if there’s more specifics to provide for you after the briefing.

Speaker 8: (29:35)
And then, on the US engagement in the talks. I know that you said the US isn’t a party to the talks, but have these officials engaged or encouraged a specific solution, such as keeping production levels where they are currently through the end of the year?

Jen Psaki: (29:50)
Well, I would say first we are engaged directly with them to hear updates on the conversations that are happening between the OPEC members. I can see, of course, and we are constantly monitoring the price of gas in this country, and we know the impact of oil prices around the world is having a direct impact on that. In terms of additional specifics of the conversations, I’m just not going to have anything more to read out for you.

Speaker 8: (30:15)
And then lastly, just gaging the concern level here at the White House, is there any chance of President Biden would personally get involved in contacting these governments?

Jen Psaki: (30:25)
I’m certainly not predicting that at this moment in time. We have high level officials who are talented and aptly engaged with their counterparts and I will see if there’s more specifics we can provide about who the individuals are.

Jen Psaki: (30:37)
Go ahead, [inaudible 00:30:38].

Speaker 9: (30:38)
Thanks. A couple things. On COVID, when we talk about vaccination rates, what is the end goal? Where does the administration decide things are done, or things are as best as they can?

Jen Psaki: (30:49)
I think our health and medical experts, including Dr. Fauci have made pretty clear that we’re going to be continuing to battle the virus for some time. Now, when you’re vaccinated, you can return to many versions of normal. Going to the park. Going to restaurants. Going to concerts. That is one of the many reasons to get vaccinated. Including to protect yourself from the virus. But our we’re going to take it week by week, month by month.

Jen Psaki: (31:15)
Right now we’re continuing to press to get more people vaccinated. We know that the rates of young people under the age of 27 are not where they need to be, or we want them to be. So we’ll continue to utilize the best practices and work in partnership with health and medical experts and meet people where they are to get the vaccine out to more communities.

Speaker 9: (31:34)
Sort of a personal question here, but over the weekend, the president was out kind of campaign style, shaking hands with people taking selfies, giving hugs, lots of personal contact. I’m just wondering, given where COVID is in the country, is the assessment that we can go back to totally normal life, like hugging people, shaking hands with strangers, and that’s all perfectly okay given the rise of other variants?

Jen Psaki: (31:57)
Again, I would say the CDC and our health and medical experts have provided clear guidance on this. And if you’re vaccinated-

Jen Psaki: (32:02)
… Medical experts have provided clear guidance on this. And if you’re vaccinated, then certainly you can go out there and engage with society, as the president has. And no one loves a good rope line like president Biden. So certainly he welcomes the opportunity to engage directly with many of the people who elected him to serve the country. If you’re not vaccinated, then that is certainly a different circumstance. Now we also respect and wants to convey, we respect the decision by a range of individuals, whether they’re immunocompromised or they have concerns about health issues in their own family or themselves, to continue to wear a mask or whatever they may choose. But we go by the guidance of our health and medical experts, and they’ve certainly okayed the President being out there and communicating and shaking hands and glad-handing with the American people. Go ahead.

Mike: (32:50)
Two questions, one on the oil prices and one on COVID. On oil prices, you’ve alluded a couple of times today to the impact on what actual gas price is, I think it’s over $3 a gallon now, huge amount of travel over the holiday weekend. What is the President doing for regular Americans to try to keep the gas prices down, whether it be engaging with OPEC? But also is the President considering releasing from the strategic reserve or are there other steps that the President can take to address what is obviously a painful situation and how much do you guys worry on his behalf that it will become a political issue that could be damaging to the President and his party in the coming election?

Jen Psaki: (33:38)
In 18 months, 17 months? Okay. So I would say first, Mike, that the President wants Americans to have access to affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump. And so that’s why our team is constantly monitoring gas prices and directly communicating with OPEC parties to get to a deal and allow proposed production increases to move forward. And the reason I’ve referenced it so many times is because I think there sometimes is a misunderstanding of what causes gas prices to increase. And so to convey to the American people that we’re working on it, and certainly the supply availability of oil has a huge impact. I would also say that ensuring Americans don’t bear a burden at the pump continues to be a top priority for the administration at large. That’s one of the core reasons why the President was opposed, vehemently opposed, to a gas tax and any tax on vehicle mileage because he felt that would fall on the backs of Americans and that was a bottom line red line for him. In terms of additional considerations, I just don’t have anything to preview for you.

Mike: (34:38)
And then on COVID, the one thing that you steadfastly have stayed away from is any question of mandating the vaccine. And I guess the question is at what point… Zeke Emanuel, I think, has a new op ed out talking about how there needs to be more aggressive action taken, employers are going to need to mandate that their employees take the vaccine, maybe once the FDA has fully cleared some of the vaccines. Does this administration envision a point where even if it’s not a federal mandate that every American has to take it, do you believe that we’re going to have to get to a point where schools and employers and colleges and other institutions are going to have to require people to take the vaccine in order to get to that next stage, to get beyond the plateau that we’ve reached now?

Jen Psaki: (35:35)
Well we’ve always anticipated and we’re already seeing this happen. That some schools, universities, private schools, others will require and mandate the vaccine. And we leave it up to them to make that decision, as well as employers. And we know that different companies and private sector entities, or even learning institutions, are making decisions about how to keep their communities safe. So I wouldn’t predict a federal mandate, as I’m not suggesting you’re asking, but certainly we’re already seeing that take place in communities across the country.

Mike: (36:06)
Would you encourage employers, and would you encourage schools, colleges, to do that as a way of getting a real acceleration of the vaccine adoption?

Jen Psaki: (36:20)
We’re going to leave it up to them to make these decisions. Go ahead.

Speaker 10: (36:23)
Sorry, thanks Jen. Question on Nikole Hannah-Jones who passed up a position at UNC and will be teaching down the road at Howard, she said this morning that it took protest, the threat of legal action, all this just to get to a nine, four vote. What does Biden make of the UNC process and her decision? And is this an example of the systemic racism that he promised to heal?

Jen Psaki: (36:46)
Well I have not spoken with the president about the decision on tenure by the institution in North Carolina. I will say that the students at Howard are quite lucky to have her as a professor and in their family. But I think there’s no question that there continues to be systemic racism in our country. We see that in a range of sectors, including in some learning institutions. But that’s why the President is continuing to make racial equity and addressing racial equity as a central priority and crisis that he would like to address and focus on as President. Go ahead. Go ahead, right there. Sorry.

Speaker 11: (37:22)
On the Families Plan, obviously as Biden goes tomorrow to Illinois to promote his vision, the White House is still in negotiations about what is actually going to make it into the package. Are there, as with the infrastructure plan, certain core priorities or red lines that he has around this package [inaudible 00:37:37]?

Jen Psaki: (37:37)
Sure. So you’re talking about the reconciliation package, right? Okay. So obviously there’s a lot of work that needs to happen with Congress, and we expect over the next week there to be a lot of behind the scenes bill writing, negotiations, discussions on Capitol Hill, long nights, lots of coffee over the course of the next several days, given that leader Schumer has conveyed that he would like to see both the reconciliation package and the infrastructure bill on the floor in July, and we’re in July now. In terms of the President’s priorities, he has outlined his blueprint in his budget. That includes the American Families Plan, includes key components he’ll talk about when he’s on the road tomorrow in Illinois, and includes an extension of the Child Tax Credit, includes paid leave.

Jen Psaki: (38:21)
It includes universal pre-K, making community college a reality for Americans across the country. It also includes prioritizing and pushing for components of the American Jobs Plan that did not make it into the final infrastructure bipartisan agreement. So that is a key components of climate tax credits, key components that will help address our climate crisis, also a number of proposals on housing affordability and accessibility that the President would like to see in a final reconciliation process. But we’ll be closely engaged and closely discussing with members who are writing the legislation. Okay, go ahead. Go ahead, April.

April: (39:00)
Back on the issue of race and the hypersensitivity around the issue, this President ran for office on the issue of race from Charlottesville. With that said, there is now an effort on the Hill to strengthen the nation’s oldest federal civil rights law of 1866. Is he involved in that? What is his conversation about this with senators, as well congressional leaders? Does he talk about that with them? What does he feel about it?

Jen Psaki: (39:26)
Well, we’re very appreciative of the efforts by a number of the leaders who are working in discussions about updating of the oldest civil rights law, as you noted. But in terms of specific conversations with the President, I just don’t have anything to read out for you.

April: (39:40)
Is this important at this moment, especially to strengthen the nation’s oldest civil rights law as voting rights is… I don’t know what you call it, collapsed as policing is held up. There’s a call for reparations. There’s so many things that the congressional black caucus is trying to push forward with their agenda, as well as these issues seem to be more civil rights and humanitarian versus policy. Is this President concerned at this time about that? Does he think that this will bring more attention to those issues? Also, in light of KKK members in [inaudible 00:40:19] marching in Philadelphia over the weekend on 4th of July?

Jen Psaki: (40:23)
Well, I would say first, April, that, as you know because you’ve covered it closely, one of the President’s key priorities, one of the key pillars of his presidency, is racial equity and updating and addressing what he feels are systemic issues in how we govern and in society. And I would say to touch on a couple of the things that you’ve noted, one on voting rights. I expect we’ll have some more announcements to make later this week about the President’s and the Vice President’s schedule and opportunities they will take to continue to use their platforms and the bully pulpit to advocate for, push for, use every lever of government to move those initiatives forward. But certainly, he will remain engaged closely with civil rights leaders about the range of priorities that you just discussed as well as with leaders in Congress. Even though things are hard and things look a stalled at moments, he doesn’t give up. That’s not who he is, neither that who the Vice President is. So they’ll continue to press on moving all these agenda items forward.

April: (41:26)
Is there a concern by the democratic base for the democratic base that feels that he became President standing on these pillars and now they’re in jeopardy? Is there concern by this White House about what the democratic base is feeling as they see voting rights stalled, as they see policing stalled, as they see the issue of reparations not moving as fast as they want and other issues?

Jen Psaki: (41:52)
I would say first, the President shares their frustration about the fact that voting rights, making voting more accessible to more people across the country is a no brainer. He agrees with the frustration that there is more we can do to put in place reforms on policing, something that he feels as long overdue and he would like to sign a bill into law. And his role as president is to continue to use his voice, the bully pulpit and his platforms to advocate for moving these things forward. Karen, go ahead.

Karen: (42:24)
Thanks Jen. You’ve said a couple of times on vaccines that the work continues across summer months after the July 4th holiday. Will we hear from the President today, a new date that is the next target date to get to a certain percentage of Americans vaccinated? Is there a new timeline?

Jen Psaki: (42:38)
I don’t expect a new goal to be set today. What I will tell you is that our work is going to continue person by person, community by community, and we’re going to meet people where they are. That’s what he’s going to talk about and he’s going to continue to use resources from the federal government, empowering doctors, empowering key voices in communities, and that’s what you’ll hear him talk about today.

Karen: (43:01)
He also had said earlier about not changing minds, I think it was in response to a question. We had a poll out this weekend with The Washington Post that said, “Three in 10 adults say they haven’t gotten a coronavirus vaccine and definitely or probably will not get one.” Does the White House have a sense of a number of how many persuadable people there actually are out there and how do you target just them if you can try and convince some of them.

Jen Psaki: (43:23)
Well Karen, I’d first say if you go back to even five or six months ago, that percentage of people who were not planning to get the vaccine was even much higher than that. And what we’ve seen have an impact is as people get vaccinated in their communities, they tell their neighbor, they tell their friends. Primary care physicians tell people who are coming to other doctor’s office to get checkups. Pharmacists and communities are calling their neighbors and saying, “Come on down, we have vaccines for you.” We’re seeing the impact of that. So we’ve seen actually, even people who had no intention of getting the vaccine for a range of reasons. Maybe they didn’t know how to get it. Maybe they didn’t know where to get it. Maybe they were scared of the impacts, actually get vaccinated. And that to us is an encouraging sign that we can continue to press and make progress moving forward. Go ahead.

Speaker 12: (44:10)
So I have two questions. First, is there a target for herd immunity for COVID vaccines? Is it 75%, 80%? What is that goal for the administration right now?

Jen Psaki: (44:18)
Well, Dr. Fauci has addressed this a number of times and has conveyed that herd immunity is an outdated term. So we had set a goal of reaching 70% of adults. By July 4th, we reached that goal of adults 27 and older by that date and we’re continuing to press to reach it and we will in the next couple of weeks for adults over the age of 18. But our work doesn’t stop there and we are going to continue to press to get 12 to 18 year-olds vaccinated, to continue to work with communities where there’s lower vaccination rates. That’s one of the reasons we initiated these strike forces to go into communities and work with them to determine what they need. To take a localized, specific approach that works with elected officials in communities. But I don’t have a new goal to set for you. I would remind all of you that we have reduced the death rate by 90%. We’ve reduced the COVID rate by more than 90%. But again, we’re going to continue to press ahead even after July 4th.

Speaker 12: (45:20)
So the other question was Afghan military leaders say the US military left the air force base with no warning in middle of the night. Why did the US do that, and is that a sign of a lack of trust in Afghan leaders, that it wouldn’t give them a heads up on their departure?

Jen Psaki: (45:34)
I would point you to the Department of Defense on that and the specific accuracy of those comments.

Speaker 12: (45:39)
Obviously, there’s a relationship that the White House has with the Afghan leaders. How do you explain that to them? And what was [crosstalk 00:45:45].

Jen Psaki: (45:44)
Again, I’m only pointing you to the Department of Defense because they are the leaders on the ground who would have handed off to Afghan leaders on the ground.

Speaker 13: (45:53)
Can we get the back please?

Jen Psaki: (45:54)
Oh, we’re just going around. Go ahead.

Speaker 14: (45:56)
Thank you. Another one on Afghanistan is there’s been a lot of talk understandably about what is the administration doing and is it doing enough for the Afghan translators? More broadly, with the shift that’s coming now and the talk about the Taliban making a lot of advances pretty quickly, is the Biden administration concerned about an exodus of a lot more than just translators, but a whole bunch of Afghans, some of whom might want to come here, and more probably, a lot of whom might try and make their way to Europe? Is that something the President’s discussing with European allies? Would the US be opening the doors to some of these people? Are you preparing for an exodus?

Jen Psaki: (46:37)
Well, I would say first that our focus as of now is identifying a group of SIV applicants who have served as interpreters and translators, as well as other at-risk categories who have assisted us. And as you know, but for everybody else who hasn’t paid as close attention, our plan is to relocate this group to a location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military draw down by the end of August. So that’s where our focus is on at this point in time. And of course, we are doing that in part because we know these are individuals who help the United States, even often at great personal risk to themselves and their families, and we’re going to work every possible contingency to make sure that we can help those who have helped us. But that’s really what our focus is at this point.

Speaker 14: (47:24)
Okay, well what about the broader concern, though, of an influx of people trying to reach Europe?

Jen Psaki: (47:30)
I don’t have any update on that. I’m happy to talk to our national security team and see if there’s an assessment or concern there. Go ahead.

Speaker 15: (47:35)
A followup to the jobs growth last Friday, Axios has reported this morning double digit wage growth in four key sectors, transportation, warehousing, leisure and hospitality. And yet, you talk to any employer in any of the sectors, they’ll tell you it’s very difficult to find and keep good workers for perhaps low skill, low wage jobs. Is the White House offering any advice to those employers at this point with these wage increases at 15% to 17% already? It’s still difficult finding quality workers.

Speaker 15: (48:03)
… 17% already. It’s still difficult finding quality workers.

Jen Psaki: (48:04)
It is a worker’s market right now, and I can’t assess industry to industry without having more details. I guess that would be hard for me to do anyway. But certainly we’re seeing people feel more comfortable rejoining the jobs market. A big factor in our view is the vaccination rates in lots of communities across the country. We know that employers are starting to hire, as we’ve seen from the jobs numbers, which 850,000 jobs last month was a very large number, I will just note since you gave me the opportunity. In terms of specific industries, there are cases where they need to pay their workers more and that will make them more competitive in hiring, but I’d have to get, we can follow up after if there’s a specific sector, and I’m happy to ask the economic team about that. Go ahead.

Speaker 16: (48:46)
Thanks Jen, the White House COVID Response Team last week said that they’re others setting up these Surge Response Teams…

Jen Psaki: (48:53)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 16: (48:53)
… to go into states and communities with low vaccination rates and rise in cases. Where are they going first? What states and local communities are you in touch with?

Jen Psaki: (49:03)
So we’re in touch with a range of communities. I provided an update last week that we were in touch with Missouri about possibly sending some teams there. I know we had already deployed a team to Colorado to collaborate with the local department of Health in Mesa County. I can see if there’s more, but we’re in touch with a range of officials around the country and we’re eager to have these teams out helping communities get vaccinated and protect themselves from the virus.

Speaker 16: (49:28)
And this is something where the city or the local community gas to come to you or you seeing in this community, it’s particularly bad, you approach that community and you say you’d like to help?

Jen Psaki: (49:38)
Well, the CDC is deploying these teams, so they work with local communities. We can see vaccination rates and where there are rising caseloads and then work in a collaborative way with the communities to deploy the teams.

Speaker 17: (49:51)

Jen Psaki: (49:51)
Go ahead.

Speaker 18: (49:53)
There’s still no nominee for the DOJ’s leader on antitrust. It’s been the longest that position has been open since George H.W. Bush. And so I guess I’m just curious if there’s a hold up with that position, and if so, what is it?

Jen Psaki: (50:07)
I would say this is certainly a position the President is eager to fill. As with any important position in government, he wants to have the right person in place. I don’t have anything to predict for you in terms of the timeline for it.

Speaker 18: (50:19)
[inaudible 00:50:19], the President promised that the United States would continue to provide civilian and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, but if the Taliban were to take over the government again, won’t those individuals be withdrawn?

Jen Psaki: (50:34)
Well, first, I would say that we have every intention of continuing an ongoing presence in Kabul, which is continuing even after we bring our military who are serving home by the end of August, but we will also continue to be partners to the Afghan government. That’s something that the President reiterated when he met with leaders just a week and a half ago. That includes security assistance, that includes humanitarian assistance, and that includes over the horizon capacity to ensure that we are working to address any threats that we face. That will continue and we intend to have a presence on the grounds in our embassy there in Kabul.

Speaker 18: (51:15)
It does seem like the Taliban is starting to gain more power and take over there. What’s the United States government, what’s President Biden willing to do after pulling the troops out?

Jen Psaki: (51:24)
Well, I would first say, if you take us back to when the President made this decision and announcement, he asked his team to do a clear-eyed assessment, not to sugarcoat it, of what the impact could be of withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan after a 20 year war, a war that the President continues to feel does not have a military solution. What the President is continuing to press on is a political solution and political negotiations and discussions, which we hope will reconvene soon to move toward a political solution on the ground to bring greater peace and stability to the people of Afghanistan. That’s his hope.

Speaker 17: (52:01)

Jen Psaki: (52:01)
Go ahead.

Speaker 17: (52:02)
[inaudible 00:52:02]. So you mentioned two weeks ago that vaccine sharing to the rest of the world is not a matter of supply, but overcoming the logistical challenge. Now that you’ve passed the deadline of June and you’ve not met the target of distributing 80 million vaccine doses, what has the administration learned and will do differently? And do have a new target for the date of completing those 80 million doses? And then just a follow-up on that, for countries that have refrigeration and distribution challenges, why is the administration focusing on Pfizer and Moderna rather than Johnson&Johnson. And then I have another question on LGBTQ.

Jen Psaki: (52:41)
Sure. Well, well, first let me say that we have allocated all 80 million doses. And I would say what we have learned through the process is that there are logistical challenges, because when you talk about working with countries, even as we convey to a country, “We have a million doses or two million doses,” sometimes we have to work through legal barriers. We have to work through regulatory barriers. There are issues as it relates to materials needed to distribute these vaccines. And there are also even transportation issues with refrigeration needed as well. So we have noted even as we’ve allocated all these doses as we committed to that part of it is countries need to be ready to receive them on the ground.

Jen Psaki: (53:18)
And there is no past precedent for this, so there’s certainly lessons that we have learned. And as we’ve proceeded, we have these countries have become more effective and efficient at receiving these doses. They’ve worked through the red tape and that enables us to provide the doses more easily in the future. In terms of the allocation of doses, we provide what’s available. I don’t have any more detail for you in terms of which vaccines. As you know, we had a larger percentage of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines so hence there are Moderna and Pfizer vaccines perhaps going to more countries around. Yeah.

Speaker 17: (53:50)
On LGBTQ, there was violence in Tbilisi, Georgia yesterday where LGBTQ activists and also journalists were attacked. Now, the President has recently vowed to use U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance to help promote LGBT rights around the world.

Jen Psaki: (54:06)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 17: (54:07)
How does this translate to the situation in Georgia? Would there be any kind of real repercussions for situations like in Georgia and other countries where the rights of LGBTQ and minorities are not protected?

Jen Psaki: (54:17)
Absolutely. That’s a priority of the President. It’s a priority of the State Department and Secretary of State. The State Department would probably have more of a specific update of direct engagement with Georgia. I don’t have any policy announcements or decisions to preview for you. Go ahead.

Nadia: (54:31)
Thank you, Jen. During the weekend, there was an attack targeting a U.S. military base in Deir Ezzor in Syria. [inaudible 00:54:37] question, I promise you.

Jen Psaki: (54:40)
That’s okay, go ahead.

Nadia: (54:41)
Does the President believe that his strategy to cancel the pro-Iran militias in Iraq and Syria is working considering he’s authorized the Pentagon to the second attack that we have seen in the last few weeks?

Jen Psaki: (54:55)
Well, Nadia, he approved these strikes, one, with the full authority, legal authority, U.S. legal authority, and international authority in a way that was proportionate and responded to threats against our U.S. men and women serving and entities that were serving in these countries. It did not mean we expected everything to grind to a complete halt at the time, but he still felt it was the appropriate and proportionate steps and our objective continues to be a de-escalation of violence on the ground.

Speaker 19: (55:29)

Speaker 15: (55:30)
Go ahead.

Speaker 19: (55:31)
Thank you very much.

Speaker 15: (55:31)

Speaker 19: (55:32)
On cyber, President Biden and President Putin met three weeks ago and the first expert level meeting about ransomware is going to happen next week. [crosstalk 00:55:41].

Jen Psaki: (55:41)
That’s not what I said, actually. I said the meetings are ongoing and there’s another meeting next week on ransomware.

Speaker 19: (55:46)
Has there been a meeting about ransomware at the expert level since the meeting between the two Presidents?

Jen Psaki: (55:51)
There have been ongoing cyber and expert level meetings. I don’t have an agenda of each of them to read out for you.

Speaker 19: (55:56)
Not [inaudible 00:55:57] ransomware?

Jen Psaki: (55:58)
I don’t have anything more than cyber and expert level meetings. We’re not going to read out the agenda from all of the meetings.

Speaker 19: (56:03)
Is President Biden frustrated that the pace seems to be slow in those negotiations following his meeting with the Russian President?

Jen Psaki: (56:09)
I wouldn’t say he would characterize it that way. The meeting with the Russian President was just a couple of weeks ago. We’ve had ongoing meetings at an expert level pretty much since that point in time. And, again, there’s another meeting scheduled for next week. [crosstalk 00:56:22]. Okay, go ahead, right there. Right there. Yep, go ahead.

Speaker 20: (56:26)
Thank you so much. Another foreign policy question from me.

Jen Psaki: (56:29)

Speaker 20: (56:29)
There was a discussion last year of arranging a P5 summit meeting and the idea was to give the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to gather at UNGA. Is President Biden interested in something like that and any chance would he be willing to take part in a discussion like that at UNGA to discuss rules of the road in light of the current tensions between the West and the East?

Jen Psaki: (57:01)
I don’t have anything about the UNGA schedule to preview for you quite yet. Again, there are a range of engagements we have with a number of the P5 countries, which will certainly continue, but in terms of a meeting at UNGA, I don’t have anything to preview for you.

Speaker 20: (57:17)
[crosstalk 00:57:17] as such.

Jen Psaki: (57:18)
I don’t think we’re quite at that point in our planning process quite yet. Lynn, go ahead.

Lynn: (57:23)
Thank you for taking my question. Some follow up.

Jen Psaki: (57:25)

Lynn: (57:26)
The Illinois visit. Two questions. Let me just give you both of them to make sure I get them in.

Jen Psaki: (57:30)
Go ahead. I’m not going to cut you off, Lynn. I know better than that. Go ahead.

Lynn: (57:33)
As you know, this visit, it’s the first Presidential visit by Biden to Illinois, and COVID came in just as he was about to come before the Illinois Primary. So Crystal Lake is really tough political turf for Democrats. In the county, it’s in McHenry, Biden lost, Senator Durbin lost, Representative Lauren Underwood, who you’ve mentioned, lost. Joe Biden did win Crystal Lake.

Jen Psaki: (57:58)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lynn: (57:59)
So could you just explain a little bit more how this trip to one of the broader parts of the bluest states in totality can advance the Biden policy and political agenda since there’s no swayable members of Congress? They’re all for you. And then on another very serious note, Chicago, it’s had its most violent weekend this year, 104 shot, 19 killed. I understand Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be meeting with the President at O’Hare. I understand the administration did roll out many things to do to help combat crime in cities like Chicago, but is there something more that perhaps the President may be able to bring or discuss with Mayor Lightfoot when they meet [inaudible 00:58:42]?

Jen Psaki: (58:43)
Sure. Well, on your first question, Lynn, I think the President is eager to visit McHenry County College, which as you know, is located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. And he ran as someone who would represent not just Democrats, not just Republicans, not just Independents, but all people so I would see this as less of a political trip, more of an opportunity to speak to all Americans about why his Build Back Better agenda and why his effort to extend the Child Tax Credit, to make community college more affordable, to make universal pre-K a reality is something that many people of all political stripes should be able to support. And that’s the case he’ll make tomorrow. So last week he did the bipartisan infrastructure deal and did a very detailed laid down.

Jen Psaki: (59:32)
You’ll see him tomorrow, do a very detailed lay-down of the rest of his Build Back Better agenda, and what many of you would shorthand as the reconciliation, many components of the reconciliation package. But he’s also eager to see Congresswoman Underwood given she’s been such an advocate for the expansion of healthcare, making it more affordable and accessible, and that’s something he will continue to advocate for in this bill.

Lynn: (59:56)
Before we get to Mayor Lightfoot, that’s exactly the county Democrats are trying to get rid of for her and re-map, so it may be moved soon because that might not be her county in the re-map. Could you clarify, when I checked before the briefing, I didn’t think she had a speaking role in the program tomorrow? Does she by now?

Jen Psaki: (01:00:18)
I’ll have to check, Lynn. I think I wanted to give you all an overview of why he was going there, but in terms of specific meetings in the program, I think we’re still finalizing all those specific details.

Lynn: (01:00:28)
Okay. And then crime in Chicago and the meeting with Mayor Lightfoot.

Jen Psaki: (01:00:35)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I believe you mentioned a greet at the airport, so I’ll have to check and see how long is allocated for that meeting, and certainly he is always receptive to what any elected official wants to raise and what they want to discuss. I will note that the President continues to work to address violent crime. We’ve seen rates go up over the last 18 months around the country, including in the city of Chicago. And as you know, Lynn, from covering this, we see spikes in violent crime typically during summer months, often unfortunately during holiday weekends, and we saw that over the last weekend. But I will say that he will continue to advocate for, and the mayor may want to discuss this. I guess, we’ll see or not. But increases in his budget, including an additional $300 million more for the cops program than what I would say was approved in the prior Trump administration budget.

Jen Psaki: (01:01:28)
So he had 237 billion, million, sorry, got a little high there, million in his budget and the President’s proposing 537 million in his budget because he wants cops funding to go out to communities across the country. He will also continue to work to empower ATF. He’s proposed an additional $70 million increase over the last Trump budget for ATF to ensure that they have the funding and resources they need to crack down on illegal guns. And I know gun violence is a huge driver of the crime in Chicago. And finally, he’s going to continue to advocate for supporting evidence-based community violence intervention programs that are proven to reduce gun violence in a range of communities. But I’m sure he’ll be happy to discuss components of his budget. She may have different things on her agenda when they see each other tomorrow.

Lynn: (01:02:15)
[crosstalk 01:02:15].

Jen Psaki: (01:02:18)
That is correct. Thanks, everyone so much. Have a great day.

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