Jun 23, 2021

Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript June 23

Jen Psaki Press Conference June 23
RevBlogTranscriptsJen Psaki White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript June 23

June 23, 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: (00:00)
… as effected communities across the country over the last year and a half is unacceptable. That’s why his administration is moving decisively to act with a whole of government approach. Today, the Biden Harris administration is announcing a comprehensive strategy to combat violent crime and gun violence that targets the crime itself and implements preventative measures that are proven to reduce violent crime and attacks root causes, including by addressing the flow firearms used to commit crimes. Combined, this plan will stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including by holding rogue firearm dealers accountable for violating federal laws, support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to help address violent crime, invest in evidence-based community violence interventions, expand summer programming employment opportunities, and other services and support for teenagers and young adults, and help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.

Jen Psaki: (00:57)
One of the key elements of this strategy is helping state and local governments fight gun violence and violent crime in their communities through the historic funding levels in the American Rescue Plan. Today’s strategy builds on that by providing further guidance for states and cities to expand their ability to improve public safety in their communities. And we’ve already seen examples of what is happening around the country. In Philadelphia, Mayor Kenney is using funding from ARP to address gun violence reform and improve the police department and invest in violent interruption programs. In Albuquerque, Mayor Keller plans to spend $3 million to expand the city’s gunshot detection system and millions more to recruit police officers and refurbish station houses. In Akron, Ohio, Mayor Horrigan has proposed $20 million to reduce community and youth violence through employment, training, and opportunities, as well as recreation assets.

Jen Psaki: (01:52)
I’d also note today, and obviously the president will speak to all of this later this afternoon. Today, the vice-president will hold a listening session with leading civil rights and voting rights groups from across the country following the Senate vote on the For The People Act just yesterday. The meeting builds on the vice president’s work to bring together a national coalition on voting rights to promote voter registration and engagement, engagement among Americans across the country from Greenville, South Carolina, to Atlanta, Georgia, to protect our fundamental right to vote.

Jen Psaki: (02:21)
She will drive the message that the fight is not over and that the president and the administration remained committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to the ballot. Finally, I do have one more thing tomorrow. The president will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina. Some of you may be on that trip as our administration continues to work, to continue encouraging vaccinations across the country, ensuring every American knows just how to ensure it is easy to get vaccinated. While he’s there, he will highlight the importance of getting vaccinated and kickoff a community canvassing event at the Green Road Park Community Center in Raleigh. He will also tour a mobile vaccination unit and meet with frontline workers and grassroots volunteers who are the boots on the ground working to get people in their communities vaccinated. Alex, why don’t you kick us off?

Alex: (03:06)
Thanks, Jen. First off, the vice president’s office just announced that she’ll be visiting the border Friday. What can you tell us about the visit and you have in the past defended the decision not to visit the border by President Biden or by the Vice President Harris. So what’s behind the sort of change course?

Jen Psaki: (03:24)
Sure. First, I think many of you may have seen it, but just to reiterate the specific details, the vice-president will travel to El Paso, Texas on Friday. She will be accompanied by Department of Homeland Security Secretary [inaudible 00:03:36]. Earlier this year, as you all know, the president asked the vice president to oversee our diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador to Guatemala and Honduras. And as a part of this work, she recently traveled to Guatemala and Mexico last month to have those discussions. And this trip to the border on Friday will be a part of this effort.

Jen Psaki: (03:58)
I will note that I’ve also said here from this podium, and she has also said that when it was the right time, she may go to visit the border. And so this trip on Friday, which is being done in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary [inaudible 00:04:11] is of course joining her on this trip. And the planning and timing of it was done in coordination with them is part of the coordinated effort between her office, her work, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to address the root causes and work in coordination to get the situation under control.

Alex: (04:32)
And then on voting rights, the president’s statement yesterday said he’ll have more to say on this next week. Can you give us a sense of what we should expect from the president on voting rights? And you also said that there are other avenues for protecting voting rights. What do those look like? And then I’m going to take another stab at this. I know you’ve been asked this five different ways, but does the president believe that defending the filibuster is worth and more important than protecting voter rights?

Jen Psaki: (05:00)
Well, first let me say, as the vice president said yesterday, and I’ll just reiterate the fight in to improve and expand access to voting is far from over and the president, as he noted in his statement yesterday. And as you just touched on, we’ll be speaking to this next week, and this is a continuation of his efforts to use the bully pulpit, to elevate this issue as he did just last week when he marked Juneteenth. And also as he did in Tulsa, Oklahoma, just a few weeks before that.

Jen Psaki: (05:27)
So I expect we’ll have more to preview as we get closer, but I can tell you that what you should expect to hear from him is that there are many ways to work across the country with activists, with states, with legislators, using every lever at our disposal to expand access, improve access to voting for people across the country. We’ll talk about some of the ways that he wants to continue to do that. He’ll also reiterate his view that it’s a fundamental right, and that people across country should be able to exercise that, to decide who they want to be their mayor, who they want to be their congressmen, who they want to be their president and everybody who supports democracy, who supports equality, who supports justice should be supporting in improvements to our voting rights laws.

Alex: (06:12)
Last one on this conversation around crime. How should the American people measure success for President Biden on crime? Should they be looking for a reduction in crime, in their localities, or what exactly is he aiming for in announcing these new policies?

Jen Psaki: (06:28)
Well, that certainly is the goal, of course, but I would say Alex, that what the president has watched closely is that there has been of course, an increase in violent crime, gun violence, specifically in a lot of communities over the last 18 months. He’s obviously taken a number of steps over the past couple of months to work, to address that. This is a continuation of that in his view. And part of that is empowering local police communities and making sure that local communities have the funding they need to support efforts by the local police. It also means taking steps to address the prevalence of gun violence across the country. So of course his objective is to take steps, to have steps he can do as the president of the United States, using the tools he has at his disposal to empower local communities, get them the resources they need, and ensure we’re putting laws in place that reduce gun violence. Go ahead.

Speaker 1: (07:21)
Thanks, Jen. Can you tell us a little bit more about what the vice president will be doing at the border? Is she visiting a detention center or a facility for migrant children and how much access will the press have to whatever sites she tours while she’s gone?

Jen Psaki: (07:36)
They’re all great questions. Obviously, they just made this announcement. I’m sure they will have more details to share with you. I just don’t have any more to share with you at this particular moment on what she’ll be doing specifically there.

Speaker 1: (07:45)
Okay. And then can you tell us a little bit more about this decision for the US to seize website domains used by Iranian state TV? What led to that decision and why?

Jen Psaki: (07:56)
It’s a Department of Justice decision and action. So I point you to them.

Speaker 1: (08:00)
Is there any concern that this could hamper negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program?

Jen Psaki: (08:07)
We are still at the point and in those discussions. We just finished the six round. Obviously all of the negotiators are back in their capitals, having discussions as is appropriate. We see advantage to us in moving toward a diplomatic solution. We hope others who have seats at the table do as well. But again, this was an action by the Department of Justice, not in a coordinated with other aspects of our negotiations.

Speaker 1: (08:30)
What can you tell us about the talks that took place on the hill yesterday over the bi-partisan infrastructure proposal? Were that were those fruitful discussions? And where does that go from here? Is the president going to be hosting any of those senators here at the White House Fridays?

Jen Psaki: (08:46)
If we continue to make progress in these discussions, then the president looks forward to welcoming members to the White House before the end of the week. We’ll see. There were couple of rounds. There were two rounds of discussions yesterday, and I know you were all aware of this, or many of you cover this closely, but there was one in the afternoon. There was another one last night. Additional progress was made last night. This afternoon, Steve [inaudible 00:09:08], Louisa Terrell, Brian [inaudible 00:09:10] are all back up on the Hill, right about now having continued discussions about the path forward. That’s one track where we are moving forward on these bipartisan negotiations. And we assess as we conclude each rounds, what the next step should be. So again, if we make progress and if we assess that it is the appropriate time to bring these elected officials to the White House, the president looks forward to doing that.

Speaker 2: (09:32)
Thank you, Jen. So about today’s announcement. Why is the vice-president visiting the border this week when earlier this month she dismissed a trip like that saying it would be a grand gesture?

Jen Psaki: (09:43)
She also said in an interview with NBC that she would be open to going to the border if it was an appropriate time. She said that after she said that. So that’s important context.

Speaker 2: (09:52)
Okay, and important context. I’ve got the NBC interview right here. She was talking about how she hasn’t been to the border. She hasn’t been to Europe either. So does she think that these two things are the same?

Peter: (10:03)
… either. So does she think that these two things are the same?

Jen Psaki: (10:04)
And again, Peter, I think she also said in the same interview that she would be open to going to the border at an appropriate time. And what I’m conveying to you is that, well, as a part of her assignment, she has, of course, hosted a number of bilateral engagements. She’s visited the Northern Triangle. She’s made a number of announcements about how to address root causes that she was going to assess with the Department of Homeland Security and with the administration when it was the appropriate time to go.

Jen Psaki: (10:31)
And I will note, that we’re at this point, in part, because we’ve made a great deal of progress. And if you look just to a couple of months ago when 6,000 children were in Border Patrol facilities, we’re now at the point where there’s far less than a thousand. If you look to just a couple of months ago, when there were children who are waiting in Border Patrol facilities for more than a hundred hours, and they were certainly overcrowded, now it’s less than 30 hours. In April, there were 22,000 kids in HHS facilities, and now that number is 14,000. Is there still more work to do? Absolutely. That’s the purview of Secretary Mayorkas, but it’s important every component of our government is coordinated.

Peter: (11:07)
Was it important for the White House to have her seen at the border before former President Trump has a trip there next week?

Jen Psaki: (11:15)
We made an assessment, within our government, about when it was an appropriate time for her to go to the border.

Peter: (11:20)
And then just one about the crime today. You mentioned expanding-

Jen Psaki: (11:25)
[crosstalk 00:11:25] The Crime Prevention rollout.

Peter: (11:26)
The Crime Prevention, yes, not the crime, but there is a lot of crime in big cities. How do you reduce-

Jen Psaki: (11:31)
[crosstalk 00:11:31] Much of it caused by gun violence? Would you agree?

Peter: (11:34)
Yes. So how do you reduce gun violence by expanding employment opportunities, including summer jobs for young people?

Jen Psaki: (11:44)
Well, first there’s several components of this proposal. One of them is an initial set of actions on gun violence or an additional set, I should say, of steps on gun violence, which the President feels are important to get guns off the streets, make sure they are not in the hands of people illegally, many of whom are playing a role in violent crime across the country. That’s part of his objective. He also wants to provide, as we’ve seen has been effective in communities across the country, incentives and alternatives for young people and communities where that has shown to be an effective step.

Peter: (12:16)
So is the thought there basically that somebody, some criminal, who has been committing crimes with limited interruption or interference from police for the last couple of weeks or months is going to stop this easy life of crime if they have a summer job?

Jen Psaki: (12:31)
Well, I think the President believes that we shouldn’t and we shouldn’t allow access to guns, to those criminals who are currently illegally buying them from some dealers across the country. And part of his announcement is taking steps to do exactly that. But part of his announcement is also ensuring their specific guidance to communities across the country to ensure that they have funding to get more community police around the country, something that was supported by the American Jobs Plan, that was voted into law by Democrats just a couple of months ago. Some might say that the other party was for defunding the police. I’ll let others say that, but that’s a piece. Go ahead.

Kelly: (13:06)
Would you concede there is a political calculation to having the Vice President visit the border before Donald Trump goes and with a drum beat from Republicans who would’ve counted the days that she has not visited the border? Isn’t there a political decision in the timing of this?

Jen Psaki: (13:22)
Well, Kelly, I would say that we have no way to predict what President, former President Trump will say when he goes to the border. We can only guess, but I don’t think our view is that the Vice President making a trip to the border with the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess and take a look at progress that’s been made is going to prevent or change what the former President of the United States say when he goes to the border and a couple of days. Oh, go ahead. Did you have another question? Go ahead.

Kelly: (13:49)
Senators, including Senator Tester, are saying that they believe they’re at really the kind of razor’s edge moment with deciding to pay force for infrastructure. Can they go forward? Do you feel that there is the possibility of some kind of a development within the next 24 hours? Would you agree with that sense of the timing? And is there anything new that the White House has offered for paying for these infrastructure programs that we have not learned from you before?

Jen Psaki: (14:17)
Well, there’s no question. As you know, it’s much easier to negotiate with Congress when they’re in session. So we’re certainly hoping to make progress over the next couple of days. I’m not going to put a 24-48. There was a couple more days in the week and we’re hopeful to make progress. If we see progress continue to be made between our discussions, with our members of our senior team and members, then we look forward to welcoming Democrats and Republicans here to the White House to meet with the President.

Jen Psaki: (14:42)
In terms of what we would offer, the President has offered a range of ways to pay for these proposals. And we’ve also taken … We had so many options of how to pay for these proposals, we’ve even taken some of our own proposals off the table, including ensuring that individuals pay a higher rate for this specific negotiation and also raising the corporate rate for this specific negotiation, even though we’re keeping it on the table for later on, to be very clear. But the bottom line, it’s pretty clear and simple to the President. The choice for him on the pay force is are you going to ask Americans who are just trying to go to work, just trying to drive their cars to work, drop their kids off at school, to pay more through a gas tax or should the wealthiest Americans pay what they owe in taxes? To him, that’s a pretty clear no-brainer choice. That’s part of the discussion, though. Go ahead.

Mary: (15:33)
Thanks. Back to the President’s Crime Prevention announcement today, you’ve noted that violent crime has been up over the last 18 months in several years. So what specifically prompted the President to come out and make this announcement today?

Jen Psaki: (15:44)
Well, there is a policy process that has been underway for the last couple of weeks and months, even. We’ve had a series of announcements, as you know, over the past several months on gun violence prevention. Obviously, there was funding in the American Rescue Plan to support keeping cops on the street. And there were several components that were just prepared to be announced.

Mary: (16:04)
And you’ve made clear you’re tackling this as a gun issue. The President’s urged Congress to take action on this. We’ve seen very little movement on the hill. It’s been years since we’ve seen sweeping gun reforms out of Washington. What is the President’s message, then, to Americans who are concerned about rising crime in their communities? In order to achieve real progress, do they have to wait for Congress to act?

Jen Psaki: (16:27)
Well, the President would certainly like to see Congress act on universal background checks, on an assault weapons ban. A number of the pieces of legislation that are currently, I shouldn’t say working their way through Congress, but are currently alive in Congress, but he’s not going to wait. And his message to the American people is he’s going to take steps that he has the power to take as President to reduce gun violence, to put in place measures that will reduce the likelihood of criminals having access to guns on the streets. There are authorities that any President has, and he’s going to take steps to do that even as he pushes for legislation to move forward.

Mary: (17:01)
So beyond the announcements today, he is preparing or considering additional steps that could tackle some of these issues?

Jen Psaki: (17:07)
I think we’re going to focus on the announcements he’s making today, a lot of which are on gun violence and gun violence prevention measures. I don’t have anything beyond that to preview, but there are some significant steps he’s certainly announcing this afternoon.

Mary: (17:18)
And just one more question on how the funding from all of this works. You’re allowing state and local governments to reallocate some of the COVID-19 Relief Funds to hire more police officers, invest in other areas, to combat this rise in crime. But when Republicans pitched that idea to try and pay for some infrastructure plan, the White House said that money was already allocated. So what’s the difference here?

Jen Psaki: (17:37)
Well, the money was always allocated for in state and local authority, as to state and local governments. One of the authorities they could always have taken was to ensure there were more cops on the beat, more police in place. And that’s something we have always said was a part of the plan and the proposal. I don’t know why Republicans oppose that or why that would have prompted them to vote against the package. Go ahead.

Speaker 3: (18:00)
Just to follow up on Mary’s first question, public safety can be a potent political issue. To what degree, if any, has the politics played a role in the decision to really try and get out in front of things today?

Jen Psaki: (18:11)
Well, the President has been very consistent in his views over the course of decades. He has never been for defunding the police. He has always been a supporter of ensuring there are, that local community policing is funded and adequately supported by the federal government. He’s also been a long- time advocate for decades and leader on addressing gun violence. So this is actually a continuity of his leadership on these issues over the course of decades. Now he has taken steps since President on each of these issues as well, including supporting funding, proposing funding in his own budget for community policing. And this is just an opportunity to put additional meat on the bones.

Speaker 3: (18:56)
And then, two more quick questions. You’ve answered this before, but just to make sure I understand red lines in the elusive search for pay force that are amenable to everybody. User fees on electric vehicles. Is that in the same category as indexing the gas tax from your guys’ perspective in these negotiations?

Jen Psaki: (19:07)
Yes. We are not for a Ford F-150 tax. I’m not sure why others are.

Speaker 3: (19:12)
Good for [inaudible 00:19:12]. And then quickly, given the tempo of some of the Taliban offensives that we’ve seen in Afghanistan, are there contingency plans at work right now to move troops out faster, perhaps more importantly embassy officials, folks that we plan, the US plan, to keep on the ground if they advance much quicker than perhaps was initially thought?

Jen Psaki: (19:32)
Well, first I would say that our Department of Defense is overseeing an orderly withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan and doing that at a pace that, in their view, will keep, ensure their safety and ensure we are doing it in a way that’s effective and in a coordinated manner with the government. I will say that well, in general, we are seeing elevated attacks on DSF and Afghan government versus a year ago. We have not seen an increase in attacks on our military or-

Jen Psaki: (20:03)
A year ago, we have not seen an increase in attacks on our military or presence since February, 2020. We also assess that, had we not begun to draw down, violence would have increased against us as well after May 1st, because that was what the Taliban was clearly conveying. The status quo, in our view, was not an option. In terms of personnel and others on the ground, that’s certainly something that our State Department and our team takes very seriously and assesses whether there is a need to take any additional action. I would certainly defer to them on any additional preview they’d do on that front. Go ahead.

Speaker 4: (20:38)
Thank you, Jen. We understand that the administration plans to replace the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal regulator after the Supreme Court ruling that has now made it easier for the President to install his preferred overseer. Do you have a comment on that?

Jen Psaki: (20:53)
That’s correct, given the Supreme Court ruling this morning, but I don’t have any timeline for you on when that nomination will be made.

Speaker 4: (21:00)
Okay. Are there any preferred candidates?

Jen Psaki: (21:02)
I don’t have any candidates to preview. When we’re ready to announce one, we’ll announce one.

Speaker 4: (21:06)
Okay. Any comment on Russia firing warning shots and dropping bombs to chase a British warship out of the waters? Moscow now claims that, in the Black Sea, that they claim belongs to Russia.

Jen Psaki: (21:21)
I would point to the British. We don’t have any more comment on it from here.

Speaker 4: (21:24)
One question on voting rights. We’ve been talking to a lot of voting rights and civil rights activists who are saying that the President isn’t just simply doing enough on the issue and is betraying black voters who actually helped him get into the office by not doing absolutely everything he can. He’s instead spending his time negotiating infrastructure with Republicans. How would you respond to that criticism?

Jen Psaki: (21:50)
Who’s saying that?

Speaker 4: (21:51)
A lot of civil rights activists and voting activists.

Jen Psaki: (21:55)
Like who?

Speaker 4: (21:56)
We’ve spoken to several groups and outfits. I can reach out to you with names after the briefing.

Jen Psaki: (22:02)
Sure. That sounds good. Okay. Go ahead.

Speaker 5: (22:05)
Thanks, Jen. A number of lawmakers have asked the administration to extend the federal moratorium on evictions which expires at the end of the month. Is that something that the administration is considering, and why or why not?

Jen Psaki: (22:17)
Sure. Well, let me first say that would be a decision. The decision to extend the eviction moratorium will be made by the CDC based on public health conditions. We certainly wouldn’t get ahead of their assessment. As you know, the eviction moratorium expires on June 30th, hence I think your question. It was always intended to be temporary, and the President remains focused on ensuring that Americans who are struggling through no fault of their own have an off-ramp once it ends. Hence, we’ve also worked to take additional steps to ensure people are getting the support they need to stay in their homes, whether they are renters or homeowners. We’d certainly defer to the CDC on their decision and their timeline. Go ahead.

Speaker 6: (22:55)
Thanks, Jen. The Miami Police Chief, Art Acevedo, expressed a concern ,disappointment, that his association wasn’t invited to the discussion. His association represents dozens of the largest city police forces, the Major Cities Chief Association. I just wanted to ask why the group wasn’t invited, considering the role that they would likely be part of it.

Jen Psaki: (23:19)
Well, I think as we were putting together the round table that the President is taking part in today, we tried to have a diverse group of individuals representing a range of interests from across the country who have all played an active and vital role in addressing crime and crime prevention across the country. It is not meant to diminish anyone, including the individual you mentioned, and I’m sure we will be closely engaged with them and others who are not a part of this round table.

Speaker 6: (23:45)
One more question.

Jen Psaki: (23:45)

Speaker 6: (23:47)
The crime and gun prevention effort. This effort involves redirecting some of the relief aid to these managers and it gives why latitude for spending that money in certain areas. The Biden administration largely opposed redirecting relief funds for infrastructure projects. There were some limited exceptions, water and sewer, but why was it not okay for infrastructure or limited for infrastructure, but it is more okay for this area?

Jen Psaki: (24:18)
I think this is similar to the question Mary just asked. It has always been the case that ensuring funding was used by state and local authorities to keep cops on the beat was always a part of what was allowed in the parameters of the spending. That is something that a number of communities, as I outlined at the beginning, did take the steps to do. This is just giving additional guidance on how to use the funds. Go ahead.

Speaker 7: (24:43)
Thanks, Jen. On the meeting later today between Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and White House Officials.

Jen Psaki: (24:49)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 7: (24:50)
What is the White House’s message to them going to be with regards to the infrastructure talks? You’re going to insist on continuing going down the bi-partisan route, or is this going to be decision point where they may kick the tires and go ahead with reconciliation on that?

Jen Psaki: (25:05)
We’ve always seen this or seen this for some time, I should say, not always, as a two track strategy, right? There are different discussions and negotiations happening today. One track, the American jobs plan or big components of it is a part of the infrastructure and negotiations that we’re discussing, Steve Rachetti, Louisa Terrell, Brian Deese, right now with members who are part of that bipartisan discussion. Later tonight is a discussion that will also include Chalani Young, also includes Susan Rice and others. That’s a part, a discussion in part about the budget reconciliation process, the second track, and that track will include the American Families Plan and components that are not a part of the negotiation. We’ve been saying two tracks. Today is an example of two tracks actually moving forward at one time in one day.

Speaker 7: (25:54)
Which track is moving more smoothly right now?

Jen Psaki: (25:56)
They’re both moving at a rapid pace. They’re both moving. We know that one, we’re at a later stage, obviously, in the bipartisan negotiations. You all know that. Obviously, we want to make progress over the next couple of days. We’re in an earlier stage of the budget reconciliation process. That’s because that’s how that process works, but it’s important to keep both tracks going.

Speaker 7: (26:17)
Just one more for you on, I just wanted to follow up if you had any answer from yesterday about whether President Biden discussed interest rates with Fed Chairman Powell and other financial regulators?

Jen Psaki: (26:28)
The interest rates, as you know, are there under the purview of the Federal Reserve. I gave you an overview of what was discussed in the meeting and don’t have anything else to add to that

Speaker 8: (26:37)
Thanks. On the For the People Act, you said this week that it would be the fight of this Presidency. The President said last night the fight is not over. Now that the Senate has put itself on the record, how do you see this fight playing out in the 117th Congress on the floor? Is it going to be won on the floor before the end of this Congress?

Jen Psaki: (26:54)
We’ll see. I don’t think we can assess that quite yet. I think what’s important to know is that the President is going to keep fighting for federal legislation. The Vice President is going to keep fighting for federal legislation. Leader Schumer and others have also made clear, I think on the floor last night, they’re going to continue to look for paths forward. We will see what that looks like, but we’re still assessing that in the coming days. What the President will also talk about though, next week is not that fight, but also what we can do in states around the country, what we can do through a range of the authorities that the federal government has, because for all of these, our objective is to make it easier to vote, make it more accessible to vote, and there’s a lot of ways to do that, even as we’re continuing to fight for federal legislation.

Speaker 9: (27:35)
I want to ask you another question about the border. You said that a great deal of progress has been made. Border Patrol statistics show something close to 900,000 interactions or encounters on the southwest border so far this fiscal year, 170,000-odd per month, the last three months. Is that where you’re measuring progress? You spoke of the unaccompanied minors, but what about the influx of people? The Vice President was tasked with the diplomatic efforts there? Has that been successful, and how are you measuring that success?

Jen Psaki: (28:05)
Well, first I think the Vice President has made a number of announcements about coordinated efforts with countries in the region, in the Northern triangle, through her leadership in that area. We’ll be able to assess over time what it looks like in terms of migration numbers. I was pointing to the fact that a couple of months ago, we were looking at very overcrowded Border Patrol facilities. We were looking at kids waiting for far too long in those facilities and there being a timeline of getting kids to vetted family members that wasn’t up to our bar. There has certainly been progress made in that regard, but the work is ongoing. Go ahead.

Speaker 10: (28:47)
Thanks, Jen. My colleagues are reporting that the US intelligence community concluded last week, that the government of Afghanistan could collapse as soon as six months after the American withdrawal is completed. What is your reaction to that, and do you think that would also factor into speeding up and evacuation, especially for Afghans who helped the US?

Jen Psaki: (29:08)
Well, let me first say on SIVs, on special immigrant visas, and these are individuals who have played an incredibly courageous role in helping the United States at various times over the course of our recent history, we are processing and getting people out at a record pace. We are working with Congress right now to streamline some of the requirements that slow this process down. We are doing the kind of extensive planning for potential evacuation, should that become necessary. We’re continuing to evaluate what our options are there, continuing to take steps forward, and certainly, we want to take every step we can take from the federal government to treat all of these courageous individuals as they deserve.

Speaker 10: (29:52)
Is that a reaction on that intelligence community’s assessment at all, that the government could collapse within six months if the US is withdrawn?

Jen Psaki: (30:00)
I don’t have any more assessment beyond the intelligence community. [crosstalk 00:30:02]. Go ahead.

Jen Psaki: (30:03)
I don’t have any more assessment beyond the intelligence community.

Speaker 11: (30:03)
Follow-up about Afghanistan, please.

Jen Psaki: (30:04)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Go ahead.

Speaker 11: (30:05)
Yes. As you know, President Ghani will be here on Friday. While President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah are visiting Washington, D.C., Taliban has still continued their attack in all over Afghanistan. Do you think that President Biden committed to a stronger, long-term support for Afghan people, especially Afghan military? Because Afghan people has a high expectation from this threat at present [crosstalk 00:30:33]-

Jen Psaki: (30:33)
I would say I don’t anticipate… The timeline for withdrawal is not going to change by September, which of course, is overseen by our Department of Defense. Part of their discussion on Friday will certainly be the President reiterating his commitment to work with the government of Afghanistan, to continue to provide humanitarian support, over-the-horizon security, work that he committed to when he made this announcement. And I’m sure they’ll discuss this during their meeting on Friday.

Speaker 17: (31:01)

Jen Psaki: (31:02)
Go ahead, Francesca. Go ahead.

Francesca: (31:03)
Jenn, thank you. I’ve got a couple for you.

Jen Psaki: (31:04)

Francesca: (31:05)
Firstly, on the Vice President’s trip to the border, why does the White House view this as the appropriate time for that visit?

Jen Psaki: (31:12)
Well, I think Francesca, the decision on the timing was made in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security. As we’ve said from the beginning, we didn’t want to have anyone visit at a time where it’d be disruptive to efforts and progress being made on the ground, but they made that assessment. And she had said just a few weeks ago that she’d be open to going to the border if at the appropriate time.

Francesca: (31:32)
And earlier today, the White House announced that 15 jurisdictions would participate in its Community Violence Intervention program. Do you anticipate that list expanding to include other cities, like Kansas City, which has grappled with gun violence and has been engaged with the White House on this issue?

Jen Psaki: (31:47)
That’s a great question. And you’re right, that it was 15 cities that we announced, or 15 jurisdictions that we announced this morning. Those jurisdictions stepped… Or we will announce, I guess I should say, later this afternoon. They stepped forward to join the collaborative because they’re committed to using these strategies as a tool to reducing the scourge of gun violence. They have also designated a portion of their American Rescue Plan state and local funding or another source of public funding to support CVI efforts and have committed to city leadership and infrastructure, such as leading local efforts through an office of neighborhood safety. We’re calling for more cities to follow these jurisdictions’ lead, and certainly we’d welcome engagement and a desire to follow those trends as well.

Francesca: (32:31)
And lastly, is the White House worried that its non-infrastructure agenda is being stymied to the point that he could have a negative impact on Democrats competing in next year’s elections?

Jen Psaki: (32:42)
You mean our budget reconciliation process we’re meeting about today?

Francesca: (32:45)
No, I’m talking about the $15 minimum wage, voting rights. There’s ongoing disputes over childcare, other elements of the Families Plan, immigration reform. There’s a number of different things.

Jen Psaki: (32:57)
I will say that the American Families plan is part of the budget reconciliation discussion and process. That’s a Historic investment in childcare and community college and universal pre-K, a number of areas that are of huge priority to the President as well as many Democrats. I think ultimately I’m not going to assess 18 months from the midterm elections what that looks like, but the most important topics on the minds of the American people are COVID and the economy. And we’re certainly moving forward on all fronts. [crosstalk 00:33:26] Go ahead.

Speaker 12: (33:27)
Oh, thank you, Jenn. First, a question on Afghanistan.

Jen Psaki: (33:29)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 12: (33:29)
The Afghani leaders who are coming to meet with the President on Friday are going to want specifics about U.S. support, secure Governance, and human rights gains that have been brought in our last 20 years there. Can the President guarantee that those gains won’t be lost?

Jen Psaki: (33:50)
The President can guarantee that we will continue to support humanitarian assistance, support for progress, human rights progress that’s been made on the ground, and a range of investments the United States have made that we’ve already committed to continuing.

Speaker 12: (34:05)
Has he determined how much money that is needed?

Jen Psaki: (34:09)
Over the course of time, that’s going to be done on kind of a year-by-year assessment.

Speaker 12: (34:12)
So in the next year then is there any sort of estimate there?

Jen Psaki: (34:16)
Beyond our budget, I don’t have anything more beyond our budget.

Speaker 12: (34:20)
On crime, I just wanted to ask quickly, if you could give us any details about who helped shape the President’s crime plan? Was there input from various activists, perhaps from the Floyd family?

Jen Psaki: (34:36)
It was certainly driven, of course, by the President of the United States, who oversees all of our policies here and driven by policy leaders within the government, from Susan Rice, Cedric Richmond, a number. There’s obviously economic components, Gene Sperling, Brian Deese, and they certainly do assess and engage with a range of activists and leaders around the country, but I don’t have any more detail to read out for you. Go ahead.

Speaker 12: (35:00)
Jenn, I just want to-

Jen Psaki: (35:00)
Oh yeah, go ahead.

Speaker 12: (35:01)
Just really quickly. On the Vice President, there’s a lot of discussion today about the Vice President’s role in immigration, but I was wondering if you could outline any of her involvement in the last moments on infrastructure.

Jen Psaki: (35:12)

Speaker 12: (35:12)
A different topic that is sort of in the closing stage right now is, has her portfolio there sort of gotten lower as other things have risen? Or can you just give us the sort of state of play?

Jen Psaki: (35:23)
Sure. Well, I would say that the negotiations are primarily being led at a staff level by Louisa Terrell, Steve Ricchetti, and Brian Deese. And again, we’re at the point where we’ve made enough progress, so the President will invite them here, and I’m sure the Vice President would be a part of that. But they’ve really been led at the staff level over the past couple of days, and if there’s calls that warrant the Vice President or the President making, certainly they would make them. But that’s really where the action has been over the last several days.

Speaker 13: (35:49)
Jenn. [crosstalk 00:35:50]

Jen Psaki: (35:50)
Go ahead.

Speaker 14: (35:51)
Jenn, thanks. Just to follow up my colleague’s question about the eviction moratorium.

Jen Psaki: (35:55)

Speaker 14: (35:55)
There’s some reporting that there’s a one-month extension that’s going to come out pretty soon. I know you said you don’t want to get ahead of the CDC, but the CDC is punting all of our questions back to you. So is there anything-

Jen Psaki: (36:05)
That’s confusing? Sorry.

Speaker 14: (36:07)
So is there anything you can tell us about whether a one-month extension is to be expected?

Jen Psaki: (36:11)
I don’t have anything I can confirm for you from here today.

Speaker 14: (36:14)
Okay. And then on guns, all advocates are saying there should be a gun czar. Is that something that’s still being considered by the White House, one person that’s responsible and spearheading this work on gun reform?

Jen Psaki: (36:25)
The President’s responsible.

Speaker 15: (36:27)

Jen Psaki: (36:27)
Go ahead.

Speaker 15: (36:27)
Yes. Thank you, Jenn. For some months, lawmakers of both parties have been asking the administration to prohibit polysilicon from coming into the country from China because it’s being made in Xingjiang. It’s a key material, as you may know, for solar panels. So is there some concern that prohibiting that from China could hurt the President’s net zero goals? Or what are you looking at in doing In regards to this from the human rights perspective?

Jen Psaki: (37:00)
Well, first let me say that in Cornwall, just two weeks ago, G7 countries committed to ensuring that global supply chains are free from the use of forced labor, which was a significant statement in agreement among G7 countries. And so as a part of that, you can expect that the United States will continue to hold those who engage in forced labor accountable and that we will continue to remove goods made from local forced labor from our supply chains.

Jen Psaki: (37:27)
As you also know, and I think this is the root of your question, we also remain committed to making progress internationally, domestically, and internationally on addressing the climate crisis. But we think we can certainly do both. I don’t have anything yet to announce as it relates to specific products or substances, I should say, that are planned, but we’ll see if we have more on that in the coming days.

Speaker 16: (37:52)
[crosstalk 00:37:52].

Jen Psaki: (37:53)
Oh, okay. Great. We have to gather for the event. Thanks everyone so much. Have a great day. See you tomorrow.

Jen Psaki: (38:04)
[crosstalk 00:38:04].

Jen Psaki: (38:04)

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