Jun 8, 2021
Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House Press Conference Transcript June 8
June 8, 2021 press conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
… February 24th directed a whole of government approach to assessing vulnerabilities in and strengthening the resilience of critical supply chain. Here to discuss the immediate actions we will be taking to promote economic security, national security and create good paying union jobs by strengthening American supply chains, our repeat guest back for the second time, they had so much fun the first time, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, Sameera Fazili and Senior Director of International Economics and Competitiveness at the NSC, Peter Harrell. okay Sameera, you’re kicking us off.
Sameera Fazili: (00:33)
Thank you. Hi everyone. Good afternoon. Thank you, Jen. It is good to be back here at the end of this whole of government review that we just undertook of America’s supply chains, following President Biden’s direction back in February.
Sameera Fazili: (00:50)
We said from the beginning that our approach to supply chain policy needs to be an integral part of the president’s overarching economic strategy to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out. We also said that we were not going to simply be writing reports in this 100 days and that we’re going to sit on a shelf. We are going to be taking action to address specific supply chain vulnerabilities. I think today’s reports make both those things crystal clear. To achieve supply chain resiliency we need to build back better by leveraging America’s greatest strengths. First and foremost, American workers. Decades of focusing on labor as a cost to be managed and not an asset to be invested in have weakened our domestic supply chains, undermined wages and union density for workers and also contributed to company’s challenges finding skilled talent. We must focus on creating pathways for all Americans to access well-paid jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union and bargain collectively.
Sameera Fazili: (01:45)
Second, our diversity. We need to unlock the full potential of the American people, including making economic opportunities available across our country and for women and for people of color. Third, our small businesses. To build a diverse and healthy ecosystem of suppliers, we must rebuild our small and medium size business manufacturing base that has borne the brunt of the hollowing out of US manufacturing.
Sameera Fazili: (02:10)
Fourth, our alliances. We need to diversify our international suppliers and reduce geographic concentration risk. For too long the US has taken certain features of global markets, especially the fear that companies and capital are going to flee to wherever wages, taxes and regulation are the lowest, as inevitable. The pandemic laid bare the challenges of this approach and we need to change it. We are committed to working with partners and allies to decrease the vulnerabilities in our collective supply chains. Finally, fifth, our imagination. Our approach to supply chain resilience needs to look forward to emerging threats, from cybersecurity to climate issues and so we are future-proofing and building back better.
Sameera Fazili: (02:52)
Second, it’s clear from these reports that we need to take action and today we made a series of announcements to that effect, including on pharmaceuticals, the department of health and human services is going to be using its defense production act authority and funding appropriated under the president’s American Recovery Plan to invest $60 million in advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies in R&D. On advanced batteries, the department of energy will take steps to advance its support for battery research, manufacturing and processing. This is going to include new rules to ensure that companies that develop new products based on federal R&D funding manufacture those products in the US, so what is invented in America can be made in America by American workers.
Sameera Fazili: (03:37)
On critical minerals and materials like lithium and rare earth, that are essential in our fight to combat the climate crisis, we will be announcing a comprehensive strategy that includes both increases in sustainable US production and processing, and working with allies and partners to increase sustainable global supply and reduce reliance on geopolitical competitors. Across all of our domestic and international efforts on minerals, we will maintain a commitment to adhere to the highest environmental, labor and social sustainability standards and support robust community engagement in the process, including tribal consultations here in the US. On semiconductors, the department of commerce will double down on their ongoing work to convene industry and work with allies and partners to increase transparency, communication and trust throughout the semiconductor supply chain. Finally, as we move to focus on our one- year reviews, the department of agriculture is announcing more than $4 billion in a robust suite of build back better initiatives, focused on building a more fair, competitive, distributed and resilient food supply chain and food system.
Sameera Fazili: (04:45)
Third, we need to be nimble and be able to address emerging supply chain issues, at the same time as we’re continuing this work on these longer supply chain resiliency strategies and that is why today we are launching a new supply chain disruptions task force to tackle near-term bottlenecks in the semi-conductor, home building and construction, transportation and agriculture and food industries. This task force is going to be led by three cabinet secretaries. Secretary’s Buttigieg, Raimondo and Vilsack and will bring an all of government approach to addressing the near term supply demand mismatches we are seeing in these sectors as the economy reignites. They will be collaborating closely with industry, labor and other stakeholders to surface solutions, share best practices and take actions and we at the White House are going to be their partners by their side. It’s going to be NEC, DPC, CEA, NSC, all of us working with them.
Sameera Fazili: (05:39)
Throughout our work on supply chains we have been heartened to see the bipartisan support for supply chain security and resiliency, including when the president started this review by meeting with a bipartisan group of senators in the oval office. We look forward to working with Congress as we move these ideas into action. Before I turn it to my colleague and friend Peter Harrell, I want to note that our reports findings reinforce the president’s call for making a once in a generation investment in our nation’s production and innovation infrastructure. Those investments proposing the American Jobs Plan and the American Family’s Plan will strengthen the public systems that connect manufacturing, researchers, workers and small businesses and will help unleash the power and ingenuity of the private markets to drive towards national resiliency. Thank you. Peter.
Peter Harrell: (06:37)
Good afternoon. Thanks Sameera. It’s a pleasure for me to be here this afternoon. This is a signature initiative for President Biden. He is focused on supply chain resilience since his campaign when he promised almost a year ago, that if elected he would direct his administration to expand investments in US manufacturing and to take other steps to strengthen the resilience of US supply chains. Earlier today, pursuant to executive order 14017, that President Biden signed in February, we released publicly 250 pages of reports assessing supply chain vulnerabilities and making recommendations, including immediate actions to address them. Earlier this morning, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese convened a meeting of many members of the cabinet here at the White House in the Roosevelt Room to discuss the recommendations in this report and for the cabinet members to commit to taking action across the US government to implement those recommendations and other critical steps to address supply chain resilience.
Peter Harrell: (07:49)
While the president’s supply chain initiative has identified a number of vulnerabilities, I want to stress that our work has also found that the United States is well positioned to rebuild our productive capacity in key sectors and to strengthen our innovative leadership. We’re confident that working together with Congress, industry, labor and other stakeholders, we can chart a new path that emphasizes resilience, security, broad-based growth and sustainability. As Sameera mentioned, the president and the entire administration welcome the strong bipartisan support that exists on Capitol Hill for strengthening American supply chain resilience. Sameera highlighted a number of the domestically focused specific actions that the administration announced earlier today. I want to briefly discuss just a few of the actions that we’re taking internationally. As Sameera said, America’s allies and partners are great strength of our nation and we must work in partnership with them on supply chain resilience. We’re announcing today a commitment from the US finance corporation to increase high standards overseas investments in US allies and partners and projects that strengthen supply chains. We’re also asking the US export/import bank to develop a proposal for a new domestic finance window that would, if approved by EXIM’s board, provide financing to build manufacturing facilities and infrastructure here in the US that will support US exports of critical products, which will help our allies and partners.
Peter Harrell: (09:25)
We’re going to be increasing our diplomatic work with our allies and partners on supply chain security. Supply chain security will feature prominently on the agenda for President Biden’s trip to Europe, starting later this week, including at the US-EU Leaders Summit scheduled for early next week and was already a major element of President Biden’s summits earlier this spring with key US allies in Asia. We’re also recommending that President Biden host a global forum at the head of state level to convene key global leaders to strengthen supply chain cooperation.
Peter Harrell: (09:59)
Finally, we know that as we strengthen cooperation with our allies and partners, we also have to push back against unfair trade practices by competitor nations that have hollowed out the US industrial base and undermined our supply chain security. We’re launching a US trade representative led supply chain trade strike force to identify unfair trade practices that undermine US supply chains and to identify specific trade actions we can bring to combat those practices. We’re also asking the commerce department to evaluate the section 232 action on neodymium magnets, which are essential to motors and a range of defense and industrial applications, to identify tools to reduce our foreign dependency. This would demonstrate the type of targeted, but tough action we expect the trade strike force to deliver.
Peter Harrell: (10:53)
I want to thank members of the cabinet and their staff who contributed to these reports and actions. The initiative represents an immense amount of work and we know we have much more in the weeks and months ahead. We’ll be working to implement all of the recommendations summarized in the report and carrying forward the work to a second phase directed by EO 14017, which is already underway and consists of broad studies of the supply chain risks of six key industrial base sectors. Those industrial base sector supply chain reports will be due next February on the year mark of executive order 1417. It’s been an honor for all of us to work on this initiative and I’m sure we’ll be talking about it with you regularly as our work goes forward. Thank you and we look forward to a couple of questions.
Jen Psaki: (11:41)
Okay. Go ahead Phil.
Thanks Jen. [inaudible 00:11:46] flesh out a little bit the supply chain disruptions task force. Obviously what’s happening right now is transitory. These mismatches exists that are creating near term problems. Do you expect this task force to be coming up with ideas and proposals in real time? Are they reporting at a specific clip? How do you expect this to work and try and address these things that are problems right now?
Sameera Fazili: (12:06)
Well, one, I want everyone to remember and recognize that these are kind of good problems to be having. At this time last year we had bare grocery shelves and we had people going hungry. Thanks to the president’s American Rescue Plan, we have people finally able to be out there moving again, visiting families this summer and going out to eat. These are good problems to be having, to be working on right now and we’re thankful for that and the success of our COVID vaccination strategy. What you just saw us do right now is 100 day sprint around four products and when we say we’re going to take sprints and take actions, we mean a sprint and we mean action. Here are cabinet secretaries who are in the lead, you’ll see in the days and weeks ahead, they are going to be bringing together all stakeholders to really diagnose the problems, understand what’s going on out there in these markets and see what actions can be taken to close those vulnerabilities.
Sameera Fazili: (13:05)
We recognize that in some instances those actions are going to be actions that the private sector, other stakeholder groups, they need to be the ones taking action. The answer is not always government taking the action here, but we have learned in our work with the semiconductor producers and users, that when you bring people together, you help them, increase trust, increase transparency and stimulate a lot of learning that sparks action.
Jen Psaki: (13:30)
This is for Sameera and Peter. Sameera, you use the word weakened and as we’re talking about supplies, I’m looking at the link with inflation. What should the American consumer be looking for now as we’ve come up with this report and the weaknesses that you’ve talked about as it relates to inflation? Peter, for you, you used words vulnerability. With putting weakened and vulnerability together, there are some kind of economic parallel with this. Where are we economically in this nation? What is our status? We are staving off or have been trying to stave off depression. Where are we thinking… Are we still in recession, deep recession? Where are we? Going to add to both of those questions.
Sameera Fazili: (14:16)
I think where we are economically is, the US is clearly the engine of global growth right now. Our economy has reignited and the rest of the world is being bioed by our successes here. The economy is fundamentally in a position of strength, but this president has consistently said that what we’ll need to do is take this moment to build back better. When we talk about weaknesses and vulnerabilities in this report, we’ve identified structural long-term problems that have built up over time in our economy and that is why this president has out there calling for Congress to take action on his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan because what we need now is a transformational investment to make sure we can actually grow from the bottom up and the middle out. Peter, do you want…
Sameera Fazili: (15:09)
On these 5 chain bottlenecks that we’re seeing, some of these price dislocations, these temporary increases in delivery time, we fully expect these bottlenecks to be temporary in nature and to resolve themselves over the next few weeks. Again, these are good problems to be having. Demand came back much quicker than even companies expected. I think the success of our vaccination campaign surprised many people and so they weren’t prepared for demand to rebound in this way, but we still expect us to be transitory in nature. We’re going to keep an eye on it, but we think it should resolve in the next few months.
[inaudible 00:15:44] status of where we are economically recession, staving off depression, deep recession. Where are we?
Jen Psaki: (15:49)
I think Sameera addressed that.
[inaudible 00:15:55] a little bit more about the semiconductor portion of this-
Sameera Fazili: (15:58)
I’ll point you to on Friday, the OACD report, we’re like the one advanced economy that I think our growth projections are above where we were at the pandemic. Was it 6.9?
Jen Psaki: (16:09)
Go ahead Josh.
On semiconductors, how do you plan to balance funding or support from foreign manufacturers, allies, partners and domestic manufacturers? Is there going to be a preference given to domestic or is there a risk that this could support foreign manufacturers in a way that actually undercuts the domestic industry? How, if at all, do you plan on balancing that?
Peter Harrell: (16:28)
I think we are taking an all of the above strategy to semiconductor manufacturing and expanding semiconductor manufacturing, both here in the United States and abroad. As you know, the president has called for Congress to appropriate at least $50 billion to strengthen semiconductor manufacturing here in the United States, including both leading edge semiconductors and also some of the more mature semiconductors where we’re seeing current shortages for automotive manufacturing and industrial applications. Generally speaking, consistent with the…
Peter Harrell: (17:03)
… real applications. Generally speaking, consistent with the proposal in Congress, we would expect to encourage both foreign and American companies to invest here in the United States. And I think we’re already seeing some announcements of that, where we’ve seen announcements from Intel, from Samsung, from global foundries, from a whole range of both foreign and American companies to expand capacity here.
Peter Harrell: (17:23)
But it isn’t just from an overall strategy. That money is going to be about attracting capacity here in the United States. But from our overall strategy, it’s not only about expanding capacity here in the United States. It’s also about working with allies and partners. Yesterday for example Bosch, the major European automotive supplier, opened a new automotive semiconductor factory in Germany. That’s going to help alleviate some of the global shortages we’re seeing. So while that money is going to lead to greater production here in the United States and we are expecting to see a major increase in production over the next couple of years, this is also an area where we see opportunities to work with allies and partners.
Speaker 1: (18:01)
[inaudible 00:18:01] that in the US in a semiconductor plant equally, whether the investor was a foreign company or an American one?
Peter Harrell: (18:06)
We expect that the incentives will be available on a competitive basis to both foreign and American companies. I’m not here to get into the specifics of exactly how the program will be implemented if Congress, in fact, passes it.
Speaker 1: (18:20)
Finally, can you talk a bit about the trade strike force? What are they tasked with doing or, or able to do that USTR doesn’t do already?
Peter Harrell: (18:30)
The trade strike force is a vehicle to leverage a number of our existing trade tools, but to really focus them on supply chain vulnerabilities. As we looked across the four products that we are releasing reports on today, we saw example after example where an unfair foreign competitor action had led to the hollowing out of a supply chain for key US product. And these are all often very specific things those foreign governments are doing.
Peter Harrell: (19:00)
So what this is going to do is harness and focus the government agencies involved in trade enforcement on how do we use our trade tools to combat unfair trade practices that impact supply chains and to strengthen US supply chains. And I think the neodymium magnet 232 we’re asking commerce to evaluate is an example of that. Through our reports, we identified a very specific product where there’s a very specific supply chain vulnerability, and we’re getting the task force to look at that.
Jen Psaki: (19:33)
I guess, the disruption task force are you all going to be looking at ransomware attacks and how will you deal with it internationally?
Sameera Fazili: (19:44)
Sameera Fazili: (19:46)
The disruption task force is focused on semiconductors, lumber and construction or home building and construction materials. It’s not going to focus on ransomware and cyber security. We have a whole other process in place led by our national security council that addresses cyber security risks and issues.
And internationally, you’ll deal with that how?
Peter Harrell: (20:05)
I think you saw the, other day, Deputy National Security Advisor Neuberger talk about some of the steps that the administration has taken to address ransomware. She is leading a process to identify and close vulnerabilities that we face from ransomware. One of the sets of issues we have been looking at in our supply chain review both on these four products and in our yearlong industrial base is cyber security risks to our supply chains. Clearly cybersecurity risks can disrupt supply chains, but Ms. Neuberger is leading the focused response to the ransomware issue.
That’ll be two siloed, two different things. Are they working together [crosstalk 00:20:51]
Sameera Fazili: (20:51)
I would not say it’s siloed. We work very closely, I think Peter and I being up here shows you how closely the national economic council, national security council work together on issues where it makes sense for us to come together. And so on cybersecurity, you’ve seen us behind the scenes working together to figure out how we can leverage our tools and our convening power to have a whole government response repeatedly.
Jen Psaki: (21:13)
Okay. Last one, right in the middle. Go ahead.
Speaker 2: (21:15)
Ah. Sorry about that.
Jen Psaki: (21:15)
[crosstalk 00:21:15] Go ahead. Sorry.
Speaker 3: (21:19)
Will the administration work on unbundling large contracts to ensure that black owned companies can compete for them?
Sameera Fazili: (21:31)
So we are very focused on trying to make sure that our build back better agenda… Sorry. It’s hard to see. Is it okay if I stand here to be able to look? Yeah. I relate. I relate. No, we are really focused on making sure that as we talk about diversifying supplier bases here in these reports, that we are not just talking about small businesses, but we’re talking about disadvantaged businesses as well and minority owned businesses. You’ve seen in our American Jobs plan that we put proposals in there related to small business and strengthening small business. So we know that and important part of that is leveraging federal procurement and the power of federal procurement to support those businesses.
Jen Psaki: (22:19)
Christian’s been very eager in the back. Go ahead Christian with the last actual one.
You talked about the Export-Import Bank and some of the financing that’s going to be done to shore up industrial manufacturing here in the United States. Under the previous administration though, China was one of the top destinations of US export/import financing. An overwhelming majority of that money actually went to state owned enterprises. Is the administration looking at anything in terms of financing that goes to some of these industries overseas? Shouldn’t the priority be making certain that money stays here?
Peter Harrell: (22:55)
That’s actually exactly the proposal were asking the Export-Import Bank’s board to evaluate is a new window that would foster direct EXIM Bank financing for the construction and manufacturing and infrastructure here in the United States. Obviously, they have a long standing set of programs that finance the export of products made in the United States to foreign buyers. But actually, it’s exactly what we’re asking them to look at is ways to expand the financing for construction and investment here in the US.
Jen Psaki: (23:25)
Thank you both so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Always welcome.
Peter Harrell: (23:31)
Jen Psaki: (23:31)
We love to have a supply chain here. [crosstalk 00:23:33] Okay. Just two more items for all of you at the top. Yesterday in Guatemala City, following a bilateral meeting with the Guatemalan president, the Vice President announced a new effort to partner with Guatemala around security, economic development and anti-corruption.
Jen Psaki: (23:50)
Today in Mexico, the Vice President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Obrador. They’ll discuss our economic relationship, security cooperation and stemming migration. The Vice President and President Obrador will witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Mexico to establish a strategic partnership to cooperate in development programs in the region. The Vice President will also meet with labor leaders, women, entrepreneurs, and US embassy staff before she returns to the United States.
Jen Psaki: (24:18)
One last item for all of you, we have more good news on the global fight against COVID-19. Today the MasterCard Foundation and MasterCard pledged to make a $1.3 billion contribution to help make critical progress in providing vaccines to people across Africa, in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jen Psaki: (24:38)
This is a significant commitment to acquire COVID-19 vaccines for at least 50 million people and to build longterm manufacturing and equitable distribution capacity, which will further enable efforts to provide vaccines and strengthen the continent’s ability to prepare for future pandemics. This is a welcome addition to our announcement last week that approximately 5 million of our first traunch of COVID 19 vaccines will be shared with African countries in coordination with the African Union.
Speaker 4: (25:05)
Jen Psaki: (25:06)
Which vaccines? They’re providing funding, a contribution of funding, to ensure that these vaccines are provided to Africa. I don’t have the-
Speaker 4: (25:16)
[inaudible 00:25:16] whichever vaccines they take?
Jen Psaki: (25:18)
It’s again, funding to the Africa version of the CDC. So, it will be distributed through there. With that, Darlene, why don’t you kick us off?
Thank you. Have the president and Senator Capito had their conversation yet, and what can you tell us about it if they have?
Jen Psaki: (25:33)
They have not had a conversation yet, but they will have a conversation this afternoon. And the President looks forward to continuing the discussion with the Senator. He appreciates her good faith engagement over the last few weeks. I would reiterate, as was noted in the statement we put out last week, that while the President came down by quite a bit in his proposal from his initial proposal on the American Jobs Plan, the latest offer that we had seen from Senator Capito’s group did not meet the essential needs of our country to restore roads and bridges, prepare us for a clean energy future and create jobs.
Jen Psaki: (26:11)
So today they’ll have a discussion about what more there is to discuss, I guess? And what the path looks like forward. I will also note that the President will also speak with other senators this afternoon, still finalizing who those will be and we’ll have readouts of that as well, who have been engaged in discussions about a bipartisan infrastructure proposal, engaged with each other. So, he’ll have those discussions as well. I expect we’ll have a readout, as I noted, we’re encouraged by these discussions and see them as an additional viable path forward.
Jen Psaki: (26:44)
He’ll ask members of his job’s cabinet, or he’s already asked them I should say, to remain engaged in the days ahead, the period of time when he’s on his foreign trip. Although, of course he’ll remain engaged from there as well with all members who are interested in working together on making a historic investment in infrastructure.
Jen Psaki: (27:01)
And just third piece, I would note Darlene since you asked about the president engagement, he’s also going to stay closely engaged with Democratic leadership about the path forward. Especially in light of the markup on the surface transportation bill happening tomorrow in the House and the interest by Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and other leaders in Congress on moving forward, certainly an interest in doing that.
Jen Psaki: (27:23)
Finally, last thing I would note is the expected passage later today of the US Innovation and Competitiveness Act in the Senate this afternoon, which is a down payment on the President’s proposed investment in R&D to make us more competitive. As well as the important work that Senator Wyden has undertaken on clean energy tax credits, a priority the President shares. So I would just note, as I’ve stated many times before in here, there are a number of paths for moving the President’s bold ideas forward. We’re moving on all of them full speed ahead.
One more question. Since the President is the head of the Democratic Party, would he support legislation that is now on the governor’s desk in Nevada that would move Nevada to first place in the presidential primary process up from third place?
Jen Psaki: (28:09)
I certainly understand the interests, but I’m not going to weigh in on the order of a presidential primary contest from here. Go ahead, Mary.
On the infrastructure talks, Senator Capito has said she’s not going to be coming to this conversation armed with a new offer. As you note, the President has rejected the Republicans latest counter-offer. It doesn’t seem that he’s willing to come down any further, so are we at an impasse here?
Jen Psaki: (28:31)
We certainly don’t see it that way. He’s looking forward to discussing the path forward with Senator Capito. He sees her as an important and viable partner as we look to how we’re going to get his bold ideas signed into law. And again I’d note that there’s also Democrats and Republicans, as you have seen and many of you have reported on, who are discussing how they can work together on what a path forward would look like, where there might be more investment in clean energy jobs, and might be a higher number than what we’ve seen by the proposals to date. So again, there are a lot of paths forward, and he looks forward to discussing what they look like with Senator Capito and others this afternoon.
Is the President though, willing to offer any other concessions in these negotiations? Or is it safe to say that you view the ball as being in the Republican’s court here?
Jen Psaki: (29:18)
Look, I think as any negotiation is, it’s about both sides looking to see how much they can come to the other side and how much you have to give. The President has come down by about a trillion dollars, that’s quite a bit. Obviously we’d like to see more, but there are a number of opportunities and paths to have these discussions moving forward.
I want to just broadly, if you could explain a little bit more how the President has been preparing for this big trip tomorrow? How much time has he been spending in briefings? Just sort of, how has he been getting ready for this upcoming trip?
Jen Psaki: (29:50)
Well, first I will say that he’s been getting ready for 50 years. He has been on the world stage, he’s known a number of these leaders for decades, including President Putin and including a number of the leaders he’ll see it NATO and he’ll see at the G7. Now, this is an important opportunity for him to see them in person and there’s nothing like face to face engagement in diplomacy.
Jen Psaki: (30:11)
And for him, somebody who you’ve seen the fact that he’s welcomed in Democrats and Republicans to the oval office, that’s just an indication of how much he feels that format is effective. He’s been engaging with his team, talking about what bilateral conversations he’ll be having, where there are opportunities, where there are moments to voice the United State’s concern where necessary. But again, he’s got several decades of experience to build on here. So, he’ll be relying on that during his trip. Go ahead, Phil.
Secretary Granholm on Sunday said that it was frustrating that a pathway for a bipartisan deal hadn’t come to fruition yet. Does the President share that frustration at this point?
Jen Psaki: (30:56)
I would say the President has the benefit of 36 years in the Senate where he has seen that the sausage making is messy. It takes time. There are ups and downs in the rollercoaster. We’re right in the middle of the sausage making right now. And the President’s view is that it’s a good sign, that there are several viable paths forward, that we are having good faith conversations of course with Democrats and our Democratic colleagues and partners, but also with a number of Republicans. That’s a good sign. At the same time, the House is moving forward with marking up key components of the American Jobs Plan. So the fact is, this train is moving on several tracks. That’s how we know these larger packages, larger proposals, often move forward and we’re encouraged by the variety of options.
And along the lines of the sausage making, given the scale of the President’s ambitions with the proposals he put on the table, is the real reason he’s still in bipartisan negotiations right now because moderate Democrats are saying, “We need to stay in bipartisan negotiations right now,” or does he think something can come of it?
Jen Psaki: (31:59)
The President wouldn’t be spending his time engaging in hours of discussions with Republicans if he didn’t think something could come from it. Now, we can’t predict what the final outcome is. His only lines in the sand as, you know Phil, are inaction and raising taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year. We know there are a lot of Democrats who are eager to move forward, as are we. But we think there are a lot of paths forward where it’s worth continuing to pursue bi-partisan discussion. Go ahead.
Peter Doocy: (32:28)
Thank you. About the Vice President’s trip, why is it that when the Vice President is asked if she has plans to visit the border she says, “We’ve been to the border,” even though she has not as Vice-President?
Jen Psaki: (32:40)
As the Vice President she does speak for the actions of the people in the administration she certainly helps oversee. I expect that sometime she may go to the border, Peter. But as you know, what her focus has been, what the assignment is specifically is to work with leaders in the Northern Triangle. She’s on a trip doing exactly that, exactly what the President asked her to do.
Peter Doocy: (33:00)
As we understand it though, her main focus is to try to address the root causes of migration. Did somebody decide here that it would not be helpful for her to go to the border and talk to people who just migrated here?
Jen Psaki: (33:14)
Again, I think that at some point she may go to the border. We’ll see. But she’s in the Northern Triangle now to have discussions with leaders, with community leaders, with civil society leaders, with the embassy about how we can work together. And obviously she’s made a couple of announcements already, probably more to come before she comes back to the United States.
Peter Doocy: (33:34)
You said she might go to the border. She described a trip to the border yesterday as a grand gesture. Why?
Jen Psaki: (33:41)
Look, Peter, again I think her focus of this trip is on meeting with leaders, having a discussion about how to address corruption, how to address the root causes, how to work together to address humanitarian challenges in these countries. That’s exactly what she’s doing on the ground and I’m sure she’ll report back to the President when she returns. Go ahead.
I’m going to follow up with the border in a second, but let me ask you if I can… On infrastructure, you laid out some of conversations-
… I’m going to follow up with the border in a second, but let me ask you if I can, on infrastructure. You laid out some of the conversations that the president is having, including sort of his message to some of the Democrats on Capitol Hill right now, to sort of get a little better detailed there. Would the president support, does he want Democrats to more actively pursue the process of reconciliation as an option?
Jen Psaki: (34:19)
Well, Peter I would say that the Democrats are already moving forward on marking up components of the bill. And Democratic leadership has been clear, that they want to move forward on infrastructure and making a historic investment in infrastructure. There’ll be a discussion about the mechanics of that over the course of the coming days. And we’ll have more to read out once those discussions have been had,
In terms of like the timeframe for those decisions to be made, obviously the message is, “Democrats, just keep going. And we might need you.”
Jen Psaki: (34:46)
I think to be clear, the president’s is always going to continue to pursue opportunity to work with Republicans, regardless of what mechanics are moving forward in the House. He’s going to keep pursuing those opportunities, and we fully expect that there will be several pathways that are moving on different channels. As we look to, how are we going to get this American Jobs Plan passed
As it relates to the border. Right now, we heard from the vice-president yesterday where her message was very simple and blunt. She said to those migrants who would be considering coming. She said, do not come. Obviously there’s some progressive Democrats among other critics. Who’ve been frustrated by that Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, perhaps most prominently saying it was disappointing to see. She said among other things that seeking asylum at any US border is at 100% legal method of arrival. What does the White House say to those progressive Democrats among others who were frustrated by the message the White House is delivering?
Jen Psaki: (35:36)
Well, first, of course it is. And one of our focuses and the priorities of the president and the vice-president is to improve asylum processing at the border, to work with a range of Democrats and hopefully Republicans, because in history it’s been a bipartisan effort to get immigration reform passed, to ensure there’s a more viable pathway to citizenship and a better processing at the border. What the vice-president was simply conveying is that there’s more work to be done, that we don’t have these systems in place yet. It’s still a dangerous journey, as we’ve said, many times from here and from many forums before, and we need more time to get the work done to ensure that asylum processing is where it should be.
And the last question about the bi-partisan Senate report, as it relates to what happened on January 6th. Obviously it addressed the security planning, the response failures. We know that that’s held up on Capitol Hill right now, your reaction to that and what, if anything, more of the White House can do as it relates to those security failures in terms of planning and the like?
Jen Psaki: (36:34)
Well, first let me just reiterate that, of course, the events of January 6th were an assault on our democracy and the rule of law. And the president has been outspoken in calling for a full and independent investigation to what transpired. As it relates to the report, our team is currently reviewing the report and its findings to inform our ongoing efforts to ensure something like that could never happen again. And what role, of course the federal government can play. There are many roles, as you know, that the report seems to surface on what officials on Capitol Hill could do. And we want to assess how we can be a good partner in this effort moving forward. I would also note that on his first full day in office, he asked his team to launch review on how we can improve the federal government’s response to the threat of domestic terrorism, something he also touched on when he was in Tulsa last week, and we’ll be releasing that broader strategy soon as well. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (37:25)
Thank you, Jen. The FDA has still not cleared the 60 million AstraZeneca doses that are part of the president’s commitment to share 80 million doses overseas by the end of June. Is there any concern that the administration will not get that approval from the FDA in time? And if that were the case, will the US then make up for those 60 million doses with other available vaccines in order to meet the president’s deadline of the end of June?
Jen Psaki: (37:50)
Well we, as you know, can’t predict or expedite to the timeline here. It’s the FDA who will make that decision about when those doses will be approved, if and when they will be approved. We do remain committed to ensuring that we meet our commitment of 80 million doses, getting those out to the global community by the end of June, which is again, five times more than any other country and 13% of our own supply. It’s only June 8th, so we have quite a bit of time, but we remain committed to that. And obviously if the FDA approves AstraZeneca doses, then that will be a component of that supply.
Speaker 5: (38:24)
And just as a [inaudible 00:38:25] question on behalf of our colleagues at the Canadian Press as well as Global News. On the timeline for reopening the US- Canada border, Canada said it will look to take a phased approach. Does the white house see an announcement happening in concert or is the US prepared to ease those restrictions on its own?
Jen Psaki: (38:40)
Well, again, we would make a decision about the Canada border based on the guidance of our health and medical experts. And I’m sure that when that decision is made, we would communicate through diplomatic channels, but I don’t have anything to predict about the timeline. Go ahead, Mara.
Thank you. You’ve mentioned how long the president has spent in the Senate. He’s talked himself about how timing and sequencing things are really key to presidential leadership. Does he have an objection to starting with HR4, instead of HR1? In other words, why not do the John Lewis Act first?
Jen Psaki: (39:12)
I think he is quite open to what Democratic leadership feels is the viable path forward. And we’ll work closely with them in coordination.
There’s a difference of opinion on that [crosstalk 00:39:24]-
Jen Psaki: (39:24)
We’re not going to be the arbiters of that, but we will discuss with them [crosstalk 00:39:29] as we look ahead with the right path forward.
Okay. And my second question, just on the infrastructure, in terms of the people he’s speaking to this afternoon, will one of them be Mitt Romney?
Jen Psaki: (39:41)
We will give readouts of who he’s spoken with once we’ve completed those calls, but I don’t have anything to preview for you at this moment.
Has he ever spoken to Mitt Romney?
Jen Psaki: (39:49)
Has he ever spoken to him in his life?
Jen Psaki: (39:52)
Yeah, it’s a good question. He’s spoken with a number of Republicans, as you know, we don’t read them all out. I don’t have anything to read out for you, but he has obviously in different circumstances has had kind of-
In terms of these different paths and different groups, this group that he’s going to talk to this afternoon, is this the first time that he’s starting to kind of reach out to them? He’s been really focusing on Capitol Hill up until now.
Jen Psaki: (40:16)
That’s right. We’ve been engaged with a range of Democrats and Republicans, including members who have been in conversation through this group at a staff level. He’s obviously had discussions with a number of them about how he moves his ideas forward. So I wouldn’t make it as firm as a first time, but I’m certainly discussing this as a viable path forward at his level at this point in the process would be an indication of how we see this as a viable path. Go ahead, John.
Just to follow up on the question on voting rights, you said yesterday that we will stay lockstep with the Democratic leadership on that path forward. And what Pelosi said in her letter today is that the HR4 is not going to be ready until the fall and just to focus effort on the Senate passing HR1. So are you okay with that kind of timeframe, even if that means that basically this issue languishes on until the fall?
Jen Psaki: (41:10)
We don’t see it as languishing. Obviously the president has asked the vice-president to lead this effort, and I’ll give you a bit of an update that in addition to of course, engaging with efforts on the federal level to move legislation forward, she’s also going to use the power of the White House to convince key stakeholders and she’ll be hosting several events next week when she returns from her trips, just to give you an indication of how quickly and how focused we will be on these efforts. And she’ll fight for our key bills and also to register voters under the president’s historic executive order, as well as advocate for democratic principles. So I will say we’re going to work of course, with Democratic leadership, even with their disagreements about what the order of events should be here, but we’re not going to wait for that.
Jen Psaki: (41:58)
We’re going to use the White House as a convener. We’re going to use the bully pulpit. Obviously when the president was in Tulsa just last week, he talked about voting rights very passionately and forcefully. I’ll also note that we’re also continuing to work to implement the executive order that the president signed into law early on in his administration. And that executive order uses every authority available to make voting easier, more accessible and more fair. It directs agencies to expand access to voter registration and election information, assist states under the National Voter Registration Act, improves and modernizes vote.gov, increases federal employees’ access to voting, analyzes barriers to voting for people with disabilities, increases voting access for active duty military and other voters overseas. So I would just note that we are not relying on just one option here. Of course, federal legislation is something he will continue to press for, but we’ll use the bully pulpit, we’ll use our convening power. We’ll continue to press through on implementing this executive action as well.
A separate issue. There was a report this morning about basically IRS records showing that very wealthy Americans have evaded paying income tax almost altogether in certain circumstances. One, do you have any reaction just to that as a factual matter and two, are you concerned about that just from a leak standpoint?
Jen Psaki: (43:22)
Well, let me take the second part first, because I think that’s important. Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information by a person with access is illegal, and we take this very seriously. The IRS commissioner said today that they are taking all appropriate measures, including referring the matter to investigators. And Treasury and the IRS are referring the matter to the Office of the Inspector General, the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration, the FBI, and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all of whom have independent authority to investigate. So obviously we take it very seriously. I’m not going to comment on specific unauthorized disclosures of confidential government information. I can tell you that broadly speaking, we know that there is more to be done to ensure that corporations, individuals who are at the highest income are paying more of their fair share. Hence, it’s in the president’s proposals, his budget and part of how he’s proposing to pay for his ideas. April, go ahead. And John, sorry. I’ll come back to you.
I want to follow back up on matters of voting rights.
Jen Psaki: (44:29)
This president has based his administration on equity and equality. And now the issue of voting rights is in our face. We are voting without the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because of Shelby V holder, but it’s also unraveling because of states. And the person that seems to be holding it up is Joe Manchin. is the president planning to specifically speak with him about voting, not including it with infrastructure or anything? Is he planning on speaking with them specifically on voting rights, particularly after this morning’s virtual meeting with civil rights leaders who say the conversation will continue?
Jen Psaki: (45:14)
Well, first let me say that it was encouraging to see Senator Manchin meeting with civil rights groups today. The meeting shows that both are serious and recognize the importance of the issue. We certainly know the seriousness that many civil rights groups take with voting rights and the importance of moving this forward. And as indicated in both of their readouts, as you said, April, they will continue the discussion. I would certainly expect that when the president has a conversation with Senator Manchin the next time, they’ll talk about voting rights. But often when he speaks with members, he talks about a range of issues, some where you work together, some where you disagree.
So understanding the history of how presidents decide to lean it, he’s got Vice-President Harris putting this in her portfolio. But when will the president begin to lean in? Is there a moment where he has to himself lean in on this? Because if it doesn’t happen before the next elections, it looks like it could be a done deal. Voting rights are-
Jen Psaki: (46:18)
Well, April, you were with the president in Tulsa last week, right? You heard how passionately he spoke about voting rights. How central this is to how he views his presidency, his leadership, the future of our democracy. That was central to the message he delivered in a speech that was widely covered, that was reflecting on a moment in history that hasn’t been given the attention that it certainly deserves. I certainly would not say we’re waiting. As I noted, we’re going to continue to press for federal action, for action to move forward on a bill that the president would love to sign into law. We certainly know we can’t do that with a magic wand. That’s not how democracy works, for good reason. But the president also signed this executive action early on, a very expansive and powerful executive action, because he did not want to delay a moment in ensuring that we were taking more steps to assist states, to improve and modernize, vote.gov, to increase federal employees, access to voting, to analyze barriers to voting for a range of people.
Jen Psaki: (47:20)
And that was an action he took early on. We’re continuing to implement now. And also note that asking his vice-president, his partner to play a role in leading this, something that she also asked for, just to be clear, asked to do, it sends a message about what a priority this is to the president. They have regular lunches. She’s the first in the room in the last in the room. And she’s going to not delay either, I should say. When she comes back from her trip, she’ll be convening people and she will be elevating these issues as well from her platform. Go ahead, Ouija.
Thank you, Jen. The Family Reunification Task Force has reported that of the about 3,900 children who were separated from their families, it does not have a confirmed record of reunification for 2,127 children. Can you explain what that means? That they don’t have a record of reunification? Does the administration know where these children are?
Jen Psaki: (48:16)
Well, first as you know Ouija, from covering this, and I know a number of others have, one of the challenges that they walked into or we walked into is the lack of data. And we knew that would take some time to ensure that we were handling the data and handling the reunification process as carefully as possible. I would note that through the support of NGOs, 1,779 children were reunified with their parents in the United States under past court orders. Over the last 30 days, through the task force and NGO coordination, seven additional children were reunited with their parents, bring the total number of reunified children to 1,786. In terms of where we go from here, I would certainly point you to the task force for what their terminology means. We know there’s a challenge with data, a challenge with matching that to what we have access to. But beyond that, I would certainly point you to Department of Homeland Security.
So you don’t know if the administration is aware of where these children are?
Jen Psaki: (49:14)
That’s not what I said. What I said was the Department of Homeland Security oversees the task force, and I would certainly point you to them to give you more of a clear definition of exactly what they mean by mismatched data, so you have all the information you’re looking for.
And one more on the Justice Department. President Biden has accused his predecessor of using it as his own personal law firm. Is he disappointed that the DOJ is siding with Trump in his claim that he can’t be sued for defamation for remarks that he made about an alleged rape case?
Jen Psaki: (49:46)
Well, first let me say that the president strongly believes in the independence of the Department of Justice, we were not consulted, the White House was not consulted, I should say more specifically, by the Department of Justice on the decision to file this brief or its contents.
So does he believe that that independence still exists, even though the DOJ is defending the former president?
Jen Psaki: (50:09)
I’m not sure what you mean by your question.
Does he believe that the DOJ defending the former president in this case still maintains that independence between the executive branch? And-
Jen Psaki: (50:20)
I think what I was referring to offering to is allowing for the Department of Justice to make decisions and announcements about ongoing court filings and legal action. So independence as it relates to how this president views and approaches the Department of Justice.
But does it upset him?
Jen Psaki: (50:38)
I think the president has been pretty clear. As we just started her comment of conveying his view about his predecessors comments, about his predecessors language and about his predecessors approach and his engagement in that regard.
What can we do about it?
Jen Psaki: (50:57)
I don’t think I have anything more to speak to you, Brian, on active litigation. Go ahead, Josh.
Can I ask, there was a series of-
Jen Psaki: (51:03)
… and on active litigation. Go ahead, Josh.
May I ask, was a series of web outages this morning. They’re linked to a company called Fastly. Is there any indication that it’s anything other than just a failure with that company? Is it a potential national security issue? Have you looked into whether there was a potential external group behind it?
Jen Psaki: (51:18)
Fastly, I know, put out a statement about it. I don’t have anything more from the federal government on the outage.
Pivoting to the G7, the president’s talked about the need to push the G7 to boost vaccine availability overall. Can you speak to what he’s considering? Prime Minister Johnson, for instance, has talked about the need to vaccinate the world in its entirety by the end of 2022. Other European leaders are not going quite so far. Does the president have a view on what specific part that the G7 should take?
Jen Psaki: (51:44)
Well, I expect we’ll have more on the coming day, Josh. So stay tuned. Jake did say he expected that you all hear more at the G7. I don’t want to get ahead of that too much, but what I would say is that the United States is… We’re headed into the G7 in a position of strength with 64% of our adult population vaccinated, in a position to donate more doses to the world than any other country around the world. But we certainly know this needs to be a global effort and it will be a discussion at the G7. And we’ll have more to say in the coming days. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (52:18)
Just one more on infrastructure, given what the Senator Capito said today to reporters from the throwing cold water on progress between her and the president on talks, would you say the administration has become more willing to pursue reconciliation to pass infrastructure package than maybe a week ago or two weeks ago?
Jen Psaki: (52:39)
Well, I would say that there’s always been a range of paths to get the president’s bold ideas passed into law. He’s having a conversation with Senator Capito this afternoon, as well as individual conversations with other members who’ve been working in a bipartisan manner to see what the path forward looks like. And he’s also closely in touch with democratic leadership. So I’m not here to rule out options, but I’m not here to rule in new options either. We’ll have more to say after he has these calls later this afternoon.
Speaker 6: (53:05)
Great. One more, the White House said over the weekend it was unaware of the DOJ gag order on the New York Times. Can you assure us that there are no other gag orders on other news organizations related to some of these investigations?
Jen Psaki: (53:17)
Well, the Department of Justice has made clear that was their third and final notification that they were offering. And that’s the information they also shared with us. But they’ve shared it publicly.
Speaker 6: (53:28)
And so to your understanding, there’s no other gag orders?
Jen Psaki: (53:30)
They indicated that this was their last notification that they needed to offer. Go ahead.
Speaker 7: (53:36)
So I have a question that’s about a little infrastructure, a little climate. Senator Sheldon White House was tweeting yesterday saying that he was anxious about the future climate related legislation. And he said, “Climate has fallen out of the instructor discussion as it took its bipartisanship detour, it may not return.” Then he went on to say, “I don’t see the preparatory work for a close Senate climate vote taking place in the administration.” Has the White House reached to the Senator? And also does he have cause for concern on the future of climate based legislation?
Jen Psaki: (54:04)
Well, I promise you, we are certainly in touch with his team and perhaps even on an individual basis as well, but I don’t have anything to read out for you. But I can just tell you that we are in close touch with nearly every member of Congress who is working on these legislation moving forward. I will say that what I would point out to you is that one of the pieces we conveyed when we put out a statement last week about how the president could not accept the offer that was put out by Senator Capito and her group, even though those conversations are happening in good faith was the fact that it didn’t do enough to invest in our clean energy future.
Jen Psaki: (54:40)
And there are areas of effort that are moving forward. I mentioned Senator Widens effort to move forward on clean energy tax credits. The president views this bill as a jobs bill. He also believes it’s a clean energy jobs bill, and it has an opportunity to invest in industries of the future. So certainly it is close to his heart. It’s remains an area he’s committed to and one he will continue to fight for as we have these discussions moving forward.
Speaker 6: (55:06)
And I just had another on the vice-president visiting the border or not visiting the border. Republicans and Conservatives are going crazy on Twitter, sending pictures-
Jen Psaki: (55:17)
They’re worked up. I’ve seen it.
Speaker 6: (55:17)
… sending video of her interview with Lester Holt saying I’ve not been to Europe either. Does the president think there is a scenario in which she should visit the border? And also the mounting criticism from Conservatives, would that ever factor into a decision to send her down there? I mean, don’t they have a point that if she has this task in front of her, should she not see the end cause as well as the root cause of what-
Jen Psaki: (55:46)
Well, first as I said to Peter, at some point she may go to the border. I don’t have any trips to pre-vis for you or predict or a timeline for that. But what I would reiterate is that her assignment was to work with countries and leaders in the Northern triangle to address root causes, address corruption, ensure we’re working together to address humanitarian concerns. I will say we’re not taking advice from former President Trump or most of the Republicans who are criticizing us on this, given they were all sitting there while we created this problem we walked into both at the border and with the movement of migration that has been growing over the last year. So we’re not taking our guidance and advice from them, but if it is constructive and it moves the ball forward for her to visit the border, she certainly may do that. Go ahead.
Speaker 8: (56:32)
Two questions on infrastructure. You said the White House is moving ahead on all three paths on infrastructure, including the third path, which was listening to other lawmakers who have ideas. I believe that’s how you characterize it. I’m just trying to clarify, and this was asked a little bit earlier. I mean, are you referring to the bipartisan group that consists of Senators Manchin, Senator Romney, and Portman? And if current talks with Senator Capito in her group don’t progress, is there a point when you stop negotiating with that group in favor of this other group of Republicans and Democrats? Is that how you’d see it working?
Jen Psaki: (57:09)
Well, I would say we’ll leave it to them to determine what groups they may or may not want to join, but it’s not a closed group. We would welcome anyone who wants to join that group and be a part of these discussions moving forward. And we’ll see where it heads. Members of the press, I’ll leave it to them to determine, I think you have to be an elected member of the Senate. So unless that’s your pathway moving forward.
Speaker 8: (57:29)
You are engaging with them though, already?
Jen Psaki: (57:30)
Speaker 8: (57:31)
Okay. And then my second question is what specific proposals did the White House agree to bring down or eliminate in its latest infrastructure counter offer that reduced the cost from 1.7 trillion to 1 trillion in new spending? Specifically, does funding for caregiving remain in the president’s latest offer? And if it does, I mean, is it still the $400 billion price tag?
Jen Psaki: (57:57)
Caregiving remains a huge priority, investing in caregiving to the president. I’m not going to outline any more specific details other than to convey that it’s an area he continues to fight for, to advocate for. And one that he’d like to be signed into law as part of a package moving forward.
Speaker 8: (58:10)
But does that mean it’s not part of what you’re negotiating right now with Republicans?
Jen Psaki: (58:13)
No. That’s not what I said. I don’t have any more details to outline for you. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (58:17)
Yes, Jen. Sorry.
Jen Psaki: (58:21)
Sorry. We’ll go to you next.
Speaker 9: (58:23)
The chief of Russia’s space agency is threatening to pull out of the International Space Station unless the United States lifts sanctions against two companies that are related to the space station. What’s the White House response to that?
Jen Psaki: (58:38)
It’s a really interesting question. And I didn’t know much about it before you asked this question. So I’ll probably have to talk to our national security team. I will say that working together on issues of space and issues related to space is one area we have worked together, historically, with the Russians on. And I’d have to dig more into what those sanctions are for. I’m not aware of a consideration of that, but I’ll check with our national security team. Go ahead, Yamiche.
Thanks so much, Jen. A follow up to [inaudible 00:59:03] question, in four months, the Family Reunification Task Force has reunited about 36 families. I’m wondering what the White House makes or the president makes of the ACIU saying it hopes that government increases that pace. Does the president want to see this go faster? Are there any explanations for maybe why it needs to go slower?
Jen Psaki: (59:22)
We certainly do. As I think any member of the Family Reunification Task Force would want to as well. And one of the challenges has been what we walked into, which was a lack of data or tracking for a number of these kids that were separated from their parents when they came across the border over the last few years. That’s a huge data challenge. We’re not going to reconnect them with families where it’s not properly verified, right? Because we know there’s a history over the last several years of kids being connected with individuals who had mal-intent. So that’s a factor, Yamiche. We wish, of course, everybody wants it to go faster. Everybody wants, in this administration, everybody wants these kids to be reunified with their family members and with verified family members. But we’re working with a challenging issue related to data that we knew would be the case from the beginning.
Do you think that pace is going to be the pace or do you think it will get quicker?
Jen Psaki: (01:00:14)
I would certainly point you to them, the members of the task force and the Department of Homeland Security who are much more in depth about where the status is, where the challenges are and what the holdups are. And we can certainly invite one of them to come and speak to you at the appropriate time as well.
[inaudible 01:00:28] I know there’s the COVID task force, but in some ways, when you look at Southern states, they are lagging particularly when it comes to vaccination rates. I wonder if the president has any sort of plan specifically targeted to Southern states and whether or not that will impact whether or not he moves back the 70% goal that he set for July 4th.
Jen Psaki: (01:00:44)
Well, Yamiche, you’re right, that there are different age groups, there are different demographic groups, there are different geographic groups in the country where we haven’t seen the pace as fast as others. So while it’s very high, the vaccination rate at this point among seniors and even pretty high, over 70% for people 40 and older, still young, I will note, it is not where it needs to be in people under 40 and certain states around the country. What we’re trying to do and we just launched this past weekend is this massive one month campaign to incentivize, right? People getting vaccinated. We’re working with the private sector. We’re going to barbershops. We’re working with donuts and beer and all sorts of incentives to get young people and people vaccinated who have been either hesitant, resistant, or just didn’t want to take the step to get vaccinated. We’re going to continue charging through the finish line, in pursuit of our 70% goal. We’ve seen 13 states meet that goal. It’s ultimately up to some these states and some individuals to get vaccinated, to meet it in a state by state basis.
And one last question, there are some progresses who are calling Joe Manchin, Senator Manchin, the new Mitch McConnell say, he’s an obstructionist. Saying that he’s standing in the way of the Biden agenda. I wonder what the president makes of that. Is he worried about progressives alienating Senator mansion or does he agree with some of the things that they’re saying about standing in the way of his agenda?
Jen Psaki: (01:02:09)
Look, I think we’re going to leave the name calling to others. The president considers Senator Manchin a friend. He disagrees with him on voting rights and the bill that the Senator has expressed he won’t support. The president will continue to advocate for the importance of that moving forward. And the reasons why, that it’s important and vital for our democracy. But we’ll continue to seek ways we can work with Senator Manchin even while we have areas of disagreement.
The name calling, is it alienating the Senator? Is it worrisome that you’re hearing Democrats say that about Senator Manchin, calling him the new Mitch McConnell? Is that problematic?
Jen Psaki: (01:02:50)
I can’t speak to the personal impact on Senator Manchin. He’s obviously proud of his independent streak. He’s spoken to that, including in an op-ed piece this weekend. We also understand the passion that many feel for voting rights, for the importance of making voting easier, more accessible. We share that passion. So we understand that manifests itself in lots of ways. But I’d point you to Senator Manchin if he has feelings hurt. I suspect he has a stronger backbone than that. But thank you everyone so much. Look forward to… I guess, I won’t see you for a while. Those of you coming on the trip, we’ll see you on the trip. Thanks everyone.
Speaker 10: (01:03:25)
Speaker 11: (01:03:25)
Jen Psaki: (01:03:32)
Thank you. Thank you.