Nov 4, 2021
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre White House Press Conference Transcript November 4
November 4, 2021 press conference with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:00)
70,000 and the less volatile moving average has declined by over 60% since the inauguration. We’re coming out of an unprecedented pandemic and we knew the recovery wouldn’t proceed on a straight line. But thanks to the President’s success in getting Americans vaccinated and getting economic support to the middle class, we’ve created nearly five million jobs, unemployment is below 5%, and we returned to the pre-pandemic size of our economy faster than our global peers. And we have an opportunity to build on our economic success by passing the per President’s historic agenda to make long term investments in economic growth, creating jobs, and giving the middle class breathing room by addressing costs like prescription drugs, education, and housing. And with that, Mary, you want to kick us off with the first question?
Sure. Thank you. House Democrats appear right to vote on debit and Build Back Better legislation. Some centrist House Democrats have demanded that the left legislation receive an official cost analysis before the House takes it up for a vote. Does the White House think it’s wise to move forward with a vote before members have a firm understanding of what’s in it and how will be paid for? And on the flip side of that, considering this week and what voters have said, do you really need to do this now?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:32)
First of all, the President has been very clear. He wants to get this moving. There’s an urgency along with the members of both chambers have been very clear on getting this done, making sure that we’re giving relief to the middle class, that economic release that they so deserve. And so this Build Back Better agenda along with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as we have said, is transformational, and it’s historic, and it’s important to get this done. And so the President is going to continue to work with members in Congress to make that happen.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (02:05)
Look, the Build Back Better Act is paid for by having big corporations and the wealthiest taxpayer pay their fair share. The Treasury, posted a blog this morning, detailing estimate from the administration and JCT, which is the Joint Committee on Taxation that came out earlier this morning, where it released the top line of what it’s going to look like.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (02:31)
But I do want to make clear that the JCT, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate does not include a number of important sources through which revenue is gained and money is saved, especially the increased IRS enforcements to crack down on wealthy tax sheets and the savings to taxpayers from giving Medicare the power to negotiate down the price of prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies. Those categories are scored by the CBO, not JCT. So the JCT went first and then we’ll see from the CBO. So we did put out an estimate, like I just said, a blog that the Treasury put out, and so we are are ready to continue to work as we have been with members to get this done. [crosstalk 00:03:15]
… Sort of asked by some of the moderates to give us a little time to read what’s in this bill?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (03:21)
I mean, we’ve been pretty clear. The President put out his framework, I think about a week ago, almost a week from tomorrow, that laid out the components, very popular components, as we’ve talked about for this kind of transformational historical change, this investment that is so needed. And in that framework, it had the back and forth that he was having, those conversations that he was having with members of Congress, that included what he thought would get the 50 votes in the Senate, would get the support in the House. So it’s out there and the Speaker has been working on this bill, there’s language on this bill, we put out as we had just mentioned a blog from the Treasury, put out how this would be paid for, the revenue that it would raise, and so I think we’re in a good place to move forward and we’ll continue to have the conversations.
The White House had put out that the President had made some calls, congratulatory, conciliatory on several Democrats. I was wondering. Has the President had a chance to speak to the Governor-elect of Virginia yet, and if not, does he plan to do that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (04:33)
So they have not spoken, but the President congratulates Governor-elect Youngkin on his win. Obviously the President campaigned for his friend, Terry McAuliffe, as he mentioned yesterday, you heard directly from him about having that conversation, and would have preferred a different outcome. But the will of the people is clear and the President has always believed in working across party lines for the good of the American families, and he looks forward to doing that with Governor-elect Youngkin. The President is very proud of the race that Terry McAuliffe ran as someone who puts his heart and soul into everything he does, but now is a time to move forward.
And if I could just briefly, to what degree do you think race was a driving issue in Virginia and around the country, given the Republicans repeatedly focusing on critical race theory?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (05:24)
So look, America, as you heard the President say before, is a great country and, and great countries are honest, right? They have to be honest with themselves about the history which is good and the bad, and our kids should be proud to be Americans after learning that history. The President certainly is. Fundamentally, we believe a school’s curriculum isn’t a federal decision. It’s rightly up to communities around the country, the parents, the school, the school board, the teachers, and the administrators. And that means that politicians should not be dictating what our kids are being taught. But we also need to be honest here about what’s going on here. Republicans are lying. They’re not being honest. They’re not being truthful about where we stand and they’re cynically trying to use our kids as a political football. They’re talking about our kids when it’s election season, but they won’t vote for them when it matters.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (06:22)
You know, Republicans did not vote for the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan, in that plan, it had funding to make sure that schools were open, to make sure that our kids got back to school, and they didn’t vote for that. And that was a key component of the American Rescue Plan. We know how important it is to make sure that our kids have in-person learning for their mental well-being and also so that they can actually learn. And so that is something that the Republicans refused, absolutely refused to vote for. So we got to be honest here and they’re not being honest. They’re being incredibly dishonest. Steve?
Are you expecting a House vote this week on the Build Back [inaudible 00:06:59], and what’s the President doing behind the scenes? Is he talking to Senator Manchin? What’s he up to?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (07:04)
So as far as timing of the bill, clearly the President supports Speaker Pelosi and is behind any timing she feels is right. The President has been in close touch with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer and there’s strong agreement that we need to get these both done for the American people, as we’ve been saying, as soon as possible. We cannot wait here. The American people cannot wait. He has been in touch, as I mentioned, with both members of the chamber. He has not spoken to Senator Manchin, but our White House staff, my colleagues, have been in touch with him over the last couple of days.
And separately, the OPEC members are saying the United States has plenty of spare capacities to increase oil supply that’ll keep the economy going. Why is he not doing that? Why is he not increasing oil supply?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (07:53)
So the U.S. operates on a competitive free market system as you know, Steve, and individual companies make their own decisions. OPEC Plus is a collection of countries that set supply levels themselves. They have the capacity and the power now to act and make sure this critical moment of global recovery is not impaired. And to be clear, OPEC Plus production is what impacts global oil prices which is what has an effect on gas prices at home.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (08:25)
Speaker 1: (08:25)
Thanks. When the President announced the vaccine requirement for large companies with more than a hundred employees back in September, he said at the time, “Our patience is wearing thin.” If his patience is wearing thin, why wait until January 4th for this mandate to go into effect?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (08:39)
Yeah, thanks for the question. So the goal here is that we wanted to kind of streamline things if you could imagine. We know that some employers may have workplaces subject to requirements for federal contractors and other workplaces subject to the Emergency Temporary Standard, ETS, as you’ve heard us say. In order to make it easier for businesses and workers to comply, the administration is aligning the contractor deadline with the deadline for workers to receive their shots in the CMS and OSHA rules. Across all three requirements, OSHA, CMS, and the Executive Order for Federal Contractors, workers will need to have their final shot no later to January 4th, 2022, which is the date that you were inferring on. This will ensure that federal contractors implement their requirements on the same timeline as other employers in their industries leveling the playing field, and we believe more people will get vaccinated as a result of a clear and consistent deadline. Additionally, OSHA has clarified that it will not apply its new ETS rule to workplaces covered by either the CMS rule or the federal contractor vaccination requirement. Look, so like I said, we wanted to make it easier, we wanted to avoid confusion, and so we want to even the playing field, and this is why we moved that December, I think December 8th deadline that you’re talking about, to January 4th.
Speaker 1: (10:08)
How did concerns about the supply chain, the possibility of workers maybe quitting because of these mandates, play into that decision and that timing?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (10:15)
So, I mean, if you’re asking, like if we think the rules impact supply chain, the answer is no, we don’t think that it will. First of all, vaccine requirements work. We have talked about that. We’ve given examples. Like early adopters have seen strong compliance, 99% at United Airlines, 99% at Houston Methodist, 99.5% at Rutgers University. Recently, Tyson’s Food announced that 96% of its workers got vaccinated ahead of its deadline. So the emergency temporary standard is an even playing field across all employers with hundred or more workers. So as to vaccination requirements for federal workers and contractors, we still have weeks to go as I just mentioned, and it’s important to remember the deadline, it’s just, it’s not a cliff.
Speaker 1: (11:05)
And finally, how confident is the White House these will hold up in court with a lot of GOP states threatening legal action?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (11:11)
So we’re pretty confident. The administration clearly has the authority to protect workers and actions announced by the President are designed to save lives and stop spread of COVID. DOJ will be defining these laws. This is a once in generation pandemic. As we know, it’s taken more than 740,000 lives, and that’s what we’re trying to do here in this administration. We’re trying to save lives. But since you brought up the GOP, I do want to take a step back for a second, and just as I mentioned, that we have the legal authority, and as I mentioned, over 740,000 Americans have died. You know, people are sitting out of the workforce because of COVID concerns, right? The worst disruption businesses have faced for nearly two years is their employees getting sick with COVID. At the same time, we have tools at our disposal. We know-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (12:03)
At the same time, we have tools at our disposal we know work, so these policies work. Boost vaccination rates, as we have seen, in short, and they protect workers and they save Americans lives. The question that we always have, and that we ask to the Republicans is why are they getting in the way? Why are they getting in the way of trying to protect and save lives? That’s all we’re trying to do. We have an authority to do that, that was given to OSHA, a congressional authority, to get that done, to make sure that we make sure that employees are not in danger, they’re not in grave danger. This is the direction that we’re going because again, this is about putting the pandemic behind us, making sure that we continue to protect the lives of workers and to protect the lives of Americans.
Speaker 2: (12:49)
Is it fair for people to lose their jobs if they don’t get vaccinated?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (12:56)
Good idea. Go ahead.
Abigail Spanberger, a democratic Congresswoman from Virginia is issuing a warning about the president’s sweeping agenda today, telling the New York Times, “Nobody elected him to be FDR. They elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.” Has he seen that quote? And what is the President’s response?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:14)
I don’t know if the president has seen that quote. I’ll say this. It’s been reported. The way that we see it, one of the best arguments for the Build Back Better Act is that 17 noble prize winners in economics agree that it will reduce inflationary pressures. I mean, that is incredibly important, especially in the moment that we are currently dealing with this pandemic in trying to get this on the other side of that. The Wall Street analytics from Moody said the same, and they just put out another analysis today with the Build Back Better framework that the president put out. Again, Build Back Better, as we have said, is fully paid for and will even reduce the deficit over the long term. We cannot wait. We have to move forward. We have to get this done for the American people.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (14:03)
We have to make sure that we invest in our infrastructure. We have to ensure we invest in our human infrastructure, as we like to say it. We’re talking about childcare. There are parents out there who are paying way too much out of their paycheck for childcare, so this makes sure that parents don’t pay more than 7%. We’re talking about middle class tax cut. When you look at the child tax credit, which has cut child poverty by 50%, that’s what we’re talking about. Universal pre-K. This is incredibly important and popular with the American public.
In this quote, she seems to be saying the president is trying to do too much, too fast, and has an agenda that is bigger than what voters wanted the president to do, and Why they put him in office. Does he agree with that? On Tuesday night …
Karine Jean-Pierre: (14:48)
I’ll say this. The president has been talking about his Build Back Better agenda for over a year. 81 million people voted almost a year ago to put this president where he is right now to make sure that we deliver for the American public. This was out there over a year ago. The president is trying to make sure that we continue the investment that we started with the American Rescue Plan. We are in the middle of a pandemic where millions of people have left the workforce, including women, where we need to make sure that we have again, childcare. We need to make sure that we do this historical investment, and also climate change, do historical investment in really tackling the climate change. This is not too much. This is what needs to happen. It should have happened decades ago. It’s been some time since we actually invested in our country and invested in American public.
Just a quick follow on the CBO score question that moderate house Democrats are saying they’d like to see that before they can commit to voting for this legislation. Are you saying that the president does not agree that they need to see the CBO score since you’re citing this treasury assessment?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (15:57)
No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that we are doing our due diligence. We put out our numbers through the treasury blog to make sure that people are aware of the revenue and how much this is going to raise, and so we think that’s important so we’re taking those steps as well. The JCT is what I was just talking about. That’s one part. CBO will be next. I don’t know the timing. That’s something that happens on the House, but here on our end, we’re trying to make sure that we put out as much information as we can and be as transparent as we can be.
Okay. Last quick question. On the president’s schedule, will he stay in town this weekend if they have not passed these two bills yet and are still working on it?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (16:41)
I can’t speak to the president’s schedule at this time. Go ahead.
Back to Steve’s question of what he’s doing today on this. Has he spoken with lawmakers? Is he speaking with any specific lawmakers, if not Joe Manchin?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (16:54)
He’s continuing to talk to members in Congress today, as he has been since he arrived from Europe. That is going to be a continuing process that he’ll be doing. I do not have any calls to predict for you at this time. As you know, we keep calls private between the president and the members that he’s calling.
The Moody’s report that you guys are using to point out that economists are backing up your claims that it’s all paid for and that’ll help pay down inflation also makes an interesting point. It says it’s most serious concern with the legislation is around execution risk, or that is that it is a complex piece of legislation “with lots of massive moving parts.” Successfully organizing them would be difficult even among the best managed private companies scaling up existing programs has envisioned in the legislations. It’s one thing setting up new programs and tax policies, another, they say later, it’s especially the case for much of the new policy related to addressing climate change. The last time Democrats implemented a big bill, this president had an expression for it, there were some implementation problems. What would this administration say about its preparations for implementing all this and ensuring lawmakers as they prepare to vote for it and the American public that all of this will roll out as prescribed in law?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (18:17)
Well, as you can imagine, Ed, this is incredibly important to the president. Right? This is something, as I mentioned to Kaitlin, that he’s been working on or talking about for over a year now. We’re going to do everything that we can once this gets passed to make sure that is indeed implemented and that the American public gets the relief that they need. That breathing room that the president talked about yesterday, and he continues to talk about this is this is incredibly important. This is going to change the lives of millions and millions of Americans, and we’re going to continue to make sure that we get that implemented in a way that’s effective and gets to the American public.
I got one on immigration. We obtained a nine-page Homeland Security plan from July that would end the Title 42 border policy for families with children by among other things offering COVID 19 vaccines to all adult family members. Our reporting from several presidential appointees that the plan was scraped because top White House officials, including Susan Rice expressed concern about the political optics of unwinding this pandemic policy as the Delta variant spread. What would you say to critics of the administration’s immigration policy, medical professionals who say Title 42 is junk science, even Democrats, the political considerations are guiding this administration’s border policy.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (19:40)
As you know, when you talk about the disagreement within the administration, first, I’m not going to get into or respond to the gossip from here. That’s not something that we’re going to do. Every single member of this administration …
That was a presidential appointee. I wouldn’t call it gossip.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (19:58)
Okay, that’s your opinion. Every single member of this administration from the president on down is committed to building a fair and orderly immigration system. That’s what we are committed to doing, and in a short period of time. The Biden administration continues to make considerable progress on turning the page and undoing the chaos, the cruelty, and the misplaced priorities of the Trump administration. Our vision for immigration is rooted in ideas that work like addressing root causes, expanding refugee processing, investing in the asylum process, creating a fair and orderly pathway. The previous administration separated families and wasted tax dollars on an ineffective wall. We have been trying to undo that. We have been trying to make sure that we do it in a moral way, in a humanitarian way, and that’s going to be the focus of this administration.
Human considerations are a part of that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (20:55)
I’m just not going to speak to, like I said, we believe it’s gossip and I’m not going to speak to it.
Thank you, Karine. I asked President Biden yesterday if he thought it would’ve made a difference if his spending plans had passed before election day. He said, he’s not sure, but maybe. My question is when he went to Capitol Hill last Thursday, why didn’t he call for a vote on that day when he met with house Democrats?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (21:20)
Well, to your question about, which one, about the economy? I’m so sorry.
When he went to meet with house Democrats last week, why didn’t he call for a vote on the infrastructure bill on that day? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted it to happen. People on the hill, familiar with the process, felt as though they would’ve been able to rally the votes. Why didn’t he call for a vote?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (21:43)
I’m not going to get into private conversations.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:55)
Senate votes for it. This is something that he originally put in his own Build Back Better Act. And so like I said, this is personal for him, this is incredibly important. And it’s time that I think we get in the game and getting paid leave for the American public.
Karine, right here.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (25:11)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (25:11)
First, on COVID.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (25:13)
So 750,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 now. And while you guys were overseas, the intel community said… Global investigation. So would President Biden punish China in some way for that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (25:33)
Well, as you know, the ODNI, the COVID Origins Report, the President received that not too long ago. So I’ll speak to that because it’s the closest to what we have at the moment to talk to that. So this administration has been clear that it is imperative for the global scientific community to understand the genesis of the pandemic. Understanding the origins of COVID-19 remains a key focus for this administration and for all countries around the globe. The US government, the intelligence community, and the academic and public health community will continue studying COVID-19’s origins and how this pandemic spread as part of their ongoing work. So you’re right, it’s incredibly important for us to get to the bottom of this.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:18)
But of course, to better understand the origins, some future studies must include additional access to data from China, as you are asking me about. Time is of the essence for access and analysis. And we and our partners will continue to press for transparency and answers from the PRC on outstanding questions on the origins of the pandemic and it’s early days in China. For any additional details and assessments, we refer to ODNI. But we’re going to continue pressing because we do have to get to the bottom of this.
Okay, thank you. And then, President Biden is calling these reports about the administration paying up to $450,000 to illegal immigrants who are separated from family members “garbage.” He says, “It’s not going to happen.” But the ACLU says that it is. So who is right?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (27:08)
Are you talking about the question you asked him yesterday?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (27:12)
So if it saves taxpayer dollars and puts the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation behind us, the President is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the US Government. DOJ can obviously speak more to that process. The President, what he was reacting to was the dollar figure that was mentioned, that you mentioned to him yesterday. As press accounts to date indicate, there’s been press accounts on this, DOJ made clear to the plaintiffs that the reported figures are higher than anywhere that a settlement can land. Again, this is something that the Department of Justice can speak to. I do not have anything more to add to this.
But if he’s not okay with $450,000, how much money is he okay giving these illegal-?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:07)
Again, Peter, this is something that the Department of Justice is going to handle. I just laid out what he was thinking and how the process was moving forward. The DOJ will talk to the specifics of this.
And so what changed then from yesterday? You’re saying that he would be perfectly comfortable settling with these families who broke the law to come here. But yesterday, he said, “That’s not going to happen.”
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:29)
First of all, let’s remember how we got here, how we got to a place where we’re dealing with families being separated. This is coming from the last administration, cruel, inhuman, immoral policies against just people. It’s separating children from their families. 18-month-olds, two-year-olds, five-year-olds from their families. That’s how we got here is because of the last administration. This is what we’re trying to deal with here in this administration. So let’s be very clear of how we got here and what’s happening. Anything else that you would like to know about this, again, I’ll send you to the Department of Justice. I can’t speak to any more specifics on this.
Okay, trying to follow. Okay. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (29:12)
Trying to follow up.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:12)
Go ahead, Jen.
Thank you. Another question on oil, please. Given the administration has gotten a pretty clear rebuff from OPEC on the President’s calls to oil outputs, will the administration commit to an SPR release, a strategic petroleum release? And if not, will oil prices just go higher?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:34)
So I’ll say this, and you’ve heard Jen say it behind this podium. We are not a party of OPEC Plus. And ultimately, it will make its own as decision. As you remember, we engaged with relevant OPEC Plus members a few months ago as well, urging a compromised solution to allow proposed production increases to move forward, which they did. But more can be done. Now is the time for majority country producers to stabilize energy prices and ensure high prices do not hamstring the current global economic recovery. As we have said, we’ve been in conversation with energy consumer countries and we will consider the full range of tools at our disposal to bolster resilience and public confidence.
And that includes an SPR release?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:20)
I don’t have anything specifics, but we are going to use every tool at our disposal to make sure that we address this.
And does this show the limits of American influence on some of the US allies? Because obviously, the administration put a lot of pressure on some of these oil producing countries, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait. Does this show some of the limits of the US’s-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:39)
I mean, I wouldn’t characterize it that way. But we’re going to continue to work on this. This is not the end. And have the conversations.
Speaker 4: (30:49)
Trying to follow up.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:49)
Speaker 4: (30:50)
Thanks, Karine. Senator Manchin says the United States is not a left or center-left country. He said on CNN that the country is either in the center or center-right and that assessment needs to be taken into consideration. Does the President agree with that? And where does the President see the country? Does the President see it in the center-left, left, center-right?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:12)
I’ll tell you this. The President believes he’s a president for all Americans. You’ve heard him say that. He’s not a president for only Democrats and he’s not a president for only Republicans. He’s a president for the American public. The President sees this, when you think about his economic policy, something that he has been talking about for some time, he sees this as not leaving anybody behind. And this is what’s been happening for years and years and years. And what we have seen these last 18 months is how stark it is, how much that the everyday people have been hurt by this pandemic and have been left behind in losing their jobs and not having a cushion. And so this is what the President is trying to do.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:52)
This is not about red or blue, or even in between. This is about the American public and giving them some breathing room. Actually having an economic plan that delivers for the middle-class, actually making sure that women can come back to the workforce, actually making sure that we have universal pre-K for three and four year olds, actually making sure that we invest in ways to fight climate change, the largest investment that we will ever see as a country. That’s what the President is trying to do, and that’s what he will continue to do. And it has nothing to do with which side of the aisle that you sit on, it has everything to do with the American public. Okay.
Speaker 4: (32:32)
Can I also ask, building on Aamer’s question about race in education. You mentioned that politicians should not be dictating what is taught. And that you said Republicans are lying about those issues. But I wanted to ask, is there something that the administration can do because it seems clear that these kinds of issues about race and education, they’re not going to go away, it’s likely to be more significant. And is the administration talking and thinking about ways to address this?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:04)
Look, I think the first thing, the President talked about this yesterday, I believe he was asked this question. And we have to be honest. We have to be honest about where are as a country. I think what he was trying, trying to say is that there’s so much misinformation out there. There’s so much disinformation out there that’s actually taking our country apart. And one of the things that the President was elected to do is to bring the country together. And so that is what matters to him, to be honest about our past, to be honest about our history, but also not play into this misinformation, to call it out. To make sure that we’re not going down the rabbit hole of misinformation that’s actually going to hurt our country. And so that’s the focus for the President. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (33:55)
Speaker 3: (33:56)
Thanks, Karine. Yesterday, the President said, and as others have asked, that it was important to move forward after Tuesday’s elections to pass both pieces of legislation. But also conceded that he wasn’t sure passing that would then have won the Virginia election or Democrats would’ve performed better. Looking forward, The White House has said that that is its focus, is passing these pieces of legislation. Are there other strategic steps or new steps The White House is going to take to try to address some of the concerns that were clearly raised by voters in Virginia and New Jersey and other states around the country? Or does The White House feel that passing those two are sufficient to try to make up some of the lost-?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:39)
I think what the President was trying to say is that the voters are tired of the inaction that they’re seeing and want us to get things done. And I think that’s what he is trying to say. And so the President agrees, which is why he has been calling for Congress to vote on these pieces of his economic policy. But I do want to say one more thing, is that we all know that no election determines the outcome of future elections, that the midterms will be determined by voters in 2022. And this one election is determined by voters in 2021.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:17)
And the midterms are still a year away and a lot could happen over the next weeks and months, which is what we’re focused on, right? This is why we’re trying to move forward with the Build Back Better agenda, the bipartisan infrastructure bill. And let me remind you and remind us is that poll after polls showed us that the components of the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the Build Back Better framework are very popular. American families want historic investments and infrastructure in care, in competitiveness and addressing the climate crisis. This is something that they want to see happen. And so this is what we’re going to continue to do, and we’re going to make sure that we move forward to do that.
Speaker 3: (35:58)
And just to follow up on that, polls also show Joe Biden’s approval rating plummeting and…
Speaker 3: (36:03)
… Joe Biden’s approval rating plummeting and also that most voters don’t necessarily know what is in this package, maybe when you tell them explicitly. But then so two things, one, what does the White House make of the polls showing that those same polls that Joe Biden’s overall approval rating going down? Then two, does the White House have a more robust strategy to try to reframe the narrative about what’s in this bill, as most of the discourse is around what’s being left out of the bill?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:27)
The president spoke to this at his press conference in Rome on Sunday. He was asked a question about the poll and he basically said that’s not his focus right now. His focus is to get things done for the American public, but he also acknowledged that people are tired right now. They’ve been dealing with COVID-19 for the past 18 months. It’s exhausting. There are things that we’re still trying to figure out as we’re restarting the economy, like Americans are trying to figure out, which is why we’re talking about childcare. This is something that was critical and key for of many families, which is why the child tax credit is so important, which was in the American rescue plan, which has given the middle class families that extra boost, again, cut poverty by 50%.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:15)
The president came here with multiple crises, COVID, the economy, the climate change, dealing with race in America. Those are the things that he said himself were crises that we all had to deal with coming into the administration. He has been focused on COVID, making sure that we’re getting shots in arms. Now we’re seeing close to 80% of Americans have at least one shot in their arm, which when we started in the administration, it was about 5%. We are moving forward in that direction.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:49)
The economy, we’re starting that back up. We still have work to do, but we are starting that back up because of the American rescue plan.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:57)
We still have work to do, but in the last nine months, we’ve accomplished a lot. I just gave a rundown of the unemployment benefits and where we are today and how much we’ve moved forward, like where we are with our numbers, where we were 20 months ago, the pre-pandemic, that’s where we are today. That is a huge, a huge movement. We’re going to continue to do that work. We’re going to focus on that and we’re going to get his economic policies passed. [crosstalk 00:38:27].
Speaker 6: (38:29)
On the OSHA rule, what is the threshold in order for a private business to be fined? I’m still unclear on that. How many violations can a business kind of … How many times can they violate this rule in order for them to actually be fined? Then secondly, has the White House been reaching out as well, have in the past couple days today to governors as well, either encouraging them to implement their own mandates or on implementation of this mandate and then just one on immigration after that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:00)
The goal here is compliance and the administration and OSHA are going to do everything we can to maximize compliance. That’s going to be our focus. The vast majority of employers, as they do every day with other workplace safety requirements, will voluntarily comply without ever being inspected. However, if needed, OSHA can assess fines of $13,600 per violation. OSHA can fine an additional $ 13,600 per day that an employer does not abate the violation. For willful or serious violation, OSHA can fine employers $136,000. That’s how the penalty is going to work here.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:46)
As you can imagine, we have our office of into governmental affairs, we have the COVID team and they are constantly talking to governors on array of issues and we’ll continue to do that.
Speaker 6: (39:59)
On the president’s comment yesterday, in terms of financial compensation to families that were separated at the border. You just said that his main kind of objection was to the amount of money, but you said that he would be okay if DOJ works it out and reaches a settlement. He would trust that DOJ process. Would he be okay if that settlement also included a pathway to citizenship or any immigration relief for those parents?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:26)
I’m not going to get ahead of this. I would point you to the Department of Justice. I just laid out what he was thinking when he was asked that question by Peter and tried to give some kind of some thoughts there. I don’t have anything more to add.
Speaker 6: (40:41)
But if you’re able to say publicly that he would object to that $450,000, I guess my question is if DOJ goes through their independent process and I mean, finalize as a settlement that includes a pathway citizenship, would he object that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:58)
DOJ made clear to the plaintiffs that the reported figures are higher than anywhere that this settlement can land. That’s what DOJ said today. Like I said, again, the Department of Justice can speak to the process.
Speaker 7: (41:13)
Karine, thanks. You’ve been asked a couple times about critical race theory. Does the White House believe Republicans had success in Tuesday’s election in part because of their messaging on critical race theory? Was that one of the major reasons for why they had a good night and Democrats had losses or does the White House believe that the critical race theory issue and the messaging was not a major factor in what you saw Tuesday?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:36)
I used to play a political pundit on TV. I’m not going to do that here. I’ll leave all of the thinking and the speculation on the races on Tuesday to all of you and to the political pundits. But that’s not something I’m going to do from here.
[crosstalk 00:41:58] follow on critical race theory. Karine, Virginia, in part, he did win because of critical race theory. I know you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, but many Republicans, many Republican strategists are saying that this was a successful strategy and they’re intending to use it in other elections and campaigns. This president is the head of the party. How does he plan to combat this? We saw Donald Trump won with misinformation and lack of truth. You talk about facts and truth. How does this administration plan to go against that, combat against that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:32)
No, thank you for further question April, and you’re correct. I’m not going to go into any time type of political analysis from here. But I just want to be really clear, the President Biden ran on bringing Americans together. He ran on respecting the fundamental human dignity of every person. That means addressing barriers that are holding American back and it means people should be treated equally and judged by the context of their character instead of the color of their skin. That is something that the president truly believes.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:09)
April, he talked about this yesterday as well. If you look at his view and these are his words, his view on criminal justice, his view on if you look at the policies that he’s put forth, the American rescue plan, the economic policy, even the COVID response. They’ve had equity at the center of everything that he has done. This is incredibly important as I talk about the economic policy and not leaving anybody behind. I think we believe that’s why it’s so important to move forward with the Build Back Better Act, and also the bipartisan infrastructure, because that is going to really have an economic effect on everyone and make sure no one is left behind. That is the message that he’s moving forward with. That’s how he’s going to bring the country together and that’s his focus.
A few weeks ago, first black woman to be secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, talked about not wanting to hurt white people, white children, because of facts critical race theory. Facts, truth hurts sometimes, but what did the president say about that? Did he respond or think anything about what she said from she has a lofty perch or had a lofty perch, and for her to say something like that, that sent a ripple effect.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:26)
I do not know. I have not spoken to him about that. Look, and I said this earlier, America’s a great country. In order to be a great country, you have to be honest with themselves about this country, the good and the bad. That is important and that is critical. He believes that our kids should be proud to be Americans after learning that history. The president certainly believes that. We should be honest as we publicly debate these issues and as we teach our history. That’s how we move forward as a nation.
Speaker 8: (45:04)
Thank you so much, April.
Try and follow up. Try and follow up.
Hi, I’m Alexa from the Wall Street Journal. I know you said you can’t say more about the possible settlements for immigrant families, but I did want to ask, was the president briefed by DOJ about the settlement discussions and was it appropriate for him to weigh in on a DOJ process when he’s emphasized the department’s independence?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:29)
I mean, the president believes in department’s independence. That is something that he has been very clear about. The Department of Justice should be independent. He was asked a question and he answered it directly. That’s it. He was asked a question and he answered it. I mean, there’s nothing much more to add to that. Any more specifics I would send you to Department of Justice.
[crosstalk 00:45:54] follow up. Thank you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:57)
Thank you. Thanks everybody.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:01)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:03)
Good to see you.