Oct 21, 2021
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre White House Press Conference Transcript October 21
October 21, 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)
… clear that the world must do more in our global COVID-19 response. Other countries must step up like the United States, and act with more urgency to stamp out the virus everywhere. We also need every WTO member to step up as well and support an intellectual property waiver, and every company must act ambitiously and urgently to expand manufacturing now. So we are glad to lead this effort, but this is a global pandemic, and it requires a global response. We will continue to push everyone to do more in our fight against COVID-19. Also today, we learned that the initial unemployment claims fell to another pre-pandemic low. I think there’s… There we go. Down to 290,000 for the first time in almost 20 months. The four-week average similarly fell to a new low, down more than 60% from when President Biden took office, again, as you can see from the chart behind me.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:04)
This is a testament to the progress we’ve made on the economy thanks to President Biden’s success in getting Americans vaccinated and getting the economic relief to the middle class. The week before the president took office, jobless claims were at nearly 900,000. Now, they’re down to 290,000. We’ve created nearly 5 million jobs in eight months. That’s 600,000 new jobs every month on average, 10 times the rate we inherited. Growth is up, wages are up, and our unemployment rate is down below 5%, 18 months faster than forecasters predicted earlier this year. We know we will have more work to do, and America is facing the same challenges on supply chains that most other developed countries are facing as well. But thanks to the work of this administration, we’re leading the world in our recovery, and we’re in a year of unprecedented growth. And we can build on that progress by passing the president’s economic agenda for growth, jobs, and rebuilding of the middle class.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (02:14)
And one final thing, on a personal note, I’m wearing purple today, and so are some of my teammates, in honor of domestic violence awareness month, as some of you might know, as well as Spirit Day, which is an opportunity to stand up against LGBTQ+ bullying and harassment. Both of these issues have been made worse by COVID-19, sadly. Domestic violence affects millions of people in the United States. It harms the physical and emotional health of survivors and their families, undermines communities, and is a stain on the conscience of our country. Tragically, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. In response, the president’s rescue plan provided a total of $1 billion for service programs, $450 million to support domestic violence and sexual assault service providers, and his administration allocated an additional $550 million of COVID-mitigating funding for domestic violence shelters to improve their ability to help survivors during the pandemic.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (03:23)
As you all know, the president has said that his proudest legislative accomplishment is writing and championing the Violence Against Women Act, which transformed the nation’s response to domestic violence, and was passed and then reauthorized three times on a bipartisan basis. Today, he renews his call for the Senate to move swiftly in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize VOWA, and strengthen its protections for all survivors. And on Spirit Day, we recognize that LGBTQI+ youth disproportionately face bullying and harassment. A majority of LGBTQI+ youth in middle or high school were bullied last year. Even more, 70% heard homophobic remarks from teachers or school staff, and 75% have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in their lifetime. This bullying and harassment can have life-threatening consequences, as we all know. More than half of transgender and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide in the past. This reinforces the need for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which will provide long overdue federal civil rights protections to LGBTQI+ Americans and their families. A younger staffer recently told me that in high school, he noticed how many people wore purple on Spirit Day, and how much that meant to him as a young closeted teen. I could only hope that young people who might be watching or sees clips of this brief will know that they are supported and represented in the highest levels of government today. So today, I join people around the world in wearing purple to show solidarity with victims of domestic violence and with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex youth. Our administration stands with you. We support you, and we love you. With that, Darlene?
Thanks, Karine. Two questions, international focused. The Haitian gang leader who’s accused of kidnapping the 17 American missionaries, he was seen on video today saying that he’ll kill them if he doesn’t get what he’s demanding, which has been $17 million. How seriously does the US take the threat? And what else can you say in terms of a US government response to that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (05:47)
So Secretary Blinken, when he was in Ecuador this past week, actually on Tuesday, spoke to this, and I’ll just read out a couple of things that he said that I think is important for all of you. “We have in the administration been relentlessly focused on this, including sending a team to Haiti from the State Department, working very closely with the FBI, which is the lead in these kinds of matters, in constant communication with the Haitian National Police, the church that the missionaries belong to, as well as the Haitian government. And we will do everything that we can to help resolve the situation.”
Karine Jean-Pierre: (06:25)
And on Haiti security, which is something that he also touched in his comments, was “We have been working closely with the Haitian National Police to try to build their capacity, as well as help put in place programs that can effectively deal with the gangs, but it’s a very challenging and long-term process. We’re focused on it, but it is absolutely essential that this security dynamic change if Haiti is going to make real progress.” So we’re doing everything that we can. As I mentioned, the FBI, the State Department staff is on the ground. I don’t have anything else to report, as you can imagine, and I think Jen said this a couple days ago. For privacy and security reasons, we can’t say more.
Okay, second question. State Department counselor Derek Chollet told the AP today that with regard to the situation in Burma, that it’s getting worse from a humanitarian point of view, from a security point of view in terms of the economy, lack of progress on politics. So the question is: Why hasn’t the administration yet sanctioned American and French oil and gas companies that are working in Myanmar? Because they’re the single largest source of foreign currency revenue for Myanmar.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (07:37)
So we’ve spoken to the atrocities that are happening in Burma not too long ago. I don’t have any updates. That’s a very good question, Darlene, but I have to get back and talk to the team, and hopefully we’ll have something to share. I don’t have anything more on that.
Speaker 1: (07:52)
Could you give us an update on the budget negotiations? How close are you to a deal? And are you still insisting there be tax increases on corporations and high earners?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (08:02)
So as you can imagine, we are focused on this every day. This is a priority, continues to be a priority for the president. Yesterday, as you know, couple days ago, the president spent hours meeting with congressional members. And everyone basically said the same, which is there’s progress, and we’re moving forward in a way that we can really truly help Americans and invest in economic growth for the middle class. So that is the focus, and we believe the progress will continue these next couple of days.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (08:35)
As far as the taxes, the president has been very, very clear. This bill, the Build Back Better plan, and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which are his two economic policies that’s going to, again, help the middle class and do that economic growth. And as we’re talking about physical, physical infrastructure and human infrastructure is going to be paid for. We see the cost as zero because it’s going to be paid for. And the way that we see it happening is making sure that the wealthiest among us, the top corporations, pay their fair share. There shouldn’t be a reason why teachers and firefighters are paying more in taxes than billionaires. So that’s our focus, that’s our promise, and that’s what we’re going to continue working towards.
Speaker 1: (09:20)
And secondly, Karine, the Fed today banned stock purchases by top officials at the Fed in response to ethics questions. Is this something that you welcome? Does it impact the president’s thinking on whether to reappoint Jerome Powell as Fed chair?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (09:34)
So, [inaudible 00:09:35], I’ll say this: We deeply respect the independence of the Federal Reserve and won’t comment on these recent developments. But President Biden believes that all government agencies and officials, including independent agencies, should be held to the highest ethical standards, including the avoidance of any suggestions of conflicts of interest.
Speaker 2: (09:58)
Thanks, Karine. It’s looking more and more like the Clean Energy Performance Program might not make it in the final version of the reconciliation package. That was a really big part of how the president planned to meet his own emission goals, so what message does that send other countries ahead of COP26?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (10:15)
So President Biden reestablished US leadership on day one. And as you have heard us say when it comes to acting on climate change every day since, from day one, the president will advance his climate agenda using every tool at his disposal, and can make significant progress in curbing emissions, growing our economy, and good-paying union jobs. And so he could do that without Congress. There was actually a report that came out this week from the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. Reinforced the fact that the US has multiple pathways to meet President Biden’s pledge to reduce emission 50 to 52% below the 2005 levels in 2030. So we’ll continue to work with our colleagues in Congress on Clean Electricity Performance Program, but this independent analysis lays out a path to the president’s climate goal without a CEEP in place. And so we’ll just continue to do the whole-of-government approach that we’ve been doing this past 9, 10 months.
Speaker 2: (11:20)
But if he can’t get is biggest climate priority passed through Congress, how can he point to the United States being a leader on this issue?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (11:28)
Because we have had other ways of doing that. What we’re saying is we don’t need Congress. We can do it without Congress, as I just laid out. Let me give you some examples of what we’ve already done. So leading the shift towards electric vehicles, which you’ve heard us talk about many times, which is bringing together automakers and auto workers, phasing out super pollutants like HFCs to greatly reduce emissions, making a cross-government investment in clean energy like offshore, wind, and solar, making historic commitments to use every lever at his disposal to advance environmental justice, and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (12:11)
And extreme weather events increase in frequency and ferocity. The US has taken bold step to strengthen the nation’s resiliency to severe impacts of a challenging climate. So we have done a lot here, the present has. He has signed multiple executive orders to make sure that we are leading in this effort. And remember, we are coming from four years before us where dealing with climate change was not a priority. And so this president has been doing that since day one of his administration, will continue to do that.
Speaker 2: (12:45)
Is it still the White House’s goal that there’s discontinuation of any fossil fuel subsidies in the president’s budget, in the reconciliation package?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (12:53)
I’m not going to negotiate from here, as you can imagine. Things are being worked out kind of as we speak these last couple of weeks, and certainly every day. And so we are going to continue to work towards delivering for the American public, and making sure that we get to our climate change goals.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:11)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:12)
Sorry. Go ahead, Weijia.
I just want to be clear.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:13)
Hi, great to see you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:16)
Good to see you. Go ahead. It’s your turn.
So just following up on that report you just mentioned, you said it does not include CEPP. Does it include a carbon tax?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:26)
So like I said, we are right now working towards making sure we deliver for the American public, and we’re not going to… The president’s been really clear. His red line is making sure that $400,000-
Oh, no, I’m sorry.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:43)
Oh, I’m so sorry.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:44)
Oh, on climate. Oh, I’m so sorry. When it comes… Can you say more?
You’ve mentioned a report that you were signing that showed even if there was no CEPP passed by Congress, that we’d still be able to meet the president’s goals to reduce pollution. My question was whether that plan included a carbon tax or not. And the reason I ask is because Senator Schumer released his own plan that showed if we don’t have CEPP that’s one thing, but if you don’t have that and you don’t have the carbon tax, which Senator Manchin has opposed, there’s really going to be a significant gap in reaching those goals. So I’m wondering, when you say we have a plan that includes steps that are not approved by Congress, what they are to get there.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (14:29)
So the report that I just mentioned, I can’t speak to the specifics of it. All I can tell you is that what it laid out is saying that we can reach our goals, but I would have to check out about the carbon tax specifically. But look, there are a number of ideas being debated, and the president asked members to submit their own proposal. So that’s what we’re doing, we’re negotiating. And the president has put forward his own plan for addressing climate change that doesn’t involve a corporate carbon fee. That is what our plan currently has, and then we’ll see what people bring to the table.
Okay. And then since you brought up the corporate tax rate again, I did have a follow-up, also. You said, “That’s our promise,” earlier when you were asked about whether the president is still committed to raising corporate taxes. Can you just clarify what that was?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (15:24)
Oh, meaning the promises like “This is going to be paid for.” There is zero cost, because it’s going to be paid for. And so we are not going to put the burden on the working everyday people. What we’re trying to do with the president’s economic policies, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda, is to make sure that we invest in people, that we invest in our infrastructure, something that hasn’t been done in this country for decades. Making sure that we are competitive, again, across the globe, which we haven’t seen in some time. So what our promise is that we are not going to raise taxes against-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (16:03)
So what our promise is that we are not going to raise taxes against anyone who is making less than $400,000. That is our promise and that’s what we’re sticking to.
Speaker 3: (16:10)
Corporate tax rate is that negotiable or not?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (16:15)
There are multiple ways that people are coming forward and trying to figure out how we’re going to move forward with this plan, with the Build Back Better agenda, and that’s what we’re working towards, but I’m saying that our red line, the President’s red line is to make sure that this is paid for and that we don’t raise taxes on anybody who is making less than $400,000. That’s what I’m saying.
Speaker 3: (16:37)
And just one more on Senator Manchin, who a short time ago said he does not believe there’ll be a framework on the bill done by the end of the week. He also added that this is not going to happen anytime soon because we’re trying to get a meeting of the minds. Did the President expect a framework to be agreed upon by tomorrow, and is he concerned that Manchin does not seem to have the same sense of urgency that he, the President, has been expressing all week?
So look, we have been working with Senator Manchin in good faith, we see him as a partner in these discussions. And as far as the timeline, look you saw two days ago the congressional members coming out of the White House saying how much progress there was and saying that there was a sense of urgency, which is what we all have been pretty much on the same page. The thing to remember is Democrats pretty much agree on BIF and Build Back Better. And what I mean by that is, they know that this is going to be something that’s going to deliver for the American public, and we know that this is going to help the economy with jobs, good paying jobs, good paying union jobs, but also just the middle-class American. So we are all on the same page with that and so we see that progress is coming along. We think that in the next couple of days, we’re going to continue to see progress. We’re not putting a timeline on this, we’re not going to go into the legislative mechanics of this, but we’re going to get this done because we have to get this done for the American public, and that’s our focus.
Speaker 3: (18:10)
Thanks Karine. So the year Joe Biden was sworn in as president, promising a more humane immigration system, is the same year that an all-time record 1.7 million migrants have been detained at the Southern border. Is that a coincidence?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (18:29)
So thanks for the question, Peter. First, I’ll say that DHS will formerly release it’s a monthly September operational update sometime soon, so I’m not going to get ahead of that or go into the numbers, I think that’s what you’re mentioning right now. But secondly, I would add, and you hear us talk about this all the time. We continue to enforce Title 42 and expel single adults and families when possible, and we continue to be very, very clear that no one should attempt to irregularly migrate here or enter the United States. So it’s unsafe, it’s unlawful, it’s a public health risk, which is why we’re using Title 42, because it’s not our immigration policy, it’s a public health authority. And so those attempting to come in irregularly, migrate irregularly, will be subjected to border restriction, including Title 42 as I just mentioned.
And you’re telling people not to come, that’s been the line for a couple months. It’s been very well documented that a lot of these migrants are just released with a notice to appear or a notice to report, and that something close to 80% don’t appear or report. So do officials around here consider that that could be something that is attractive to migrants who figure, “If I can just get in, I can stay”?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (19:44)
Again, I’m not going to get into the number because I know that you’re leaning into the numbers in asking me these questions, but look, we’ve been very clear and we’ve been clear for the last 10 months. Again, the CDC has determined that the continued expulsion of certain individuals under Title 42 is necessary due to the risk of transmission and spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings such as CBP stations, as well as the threat from emerging variants. So if it’s not possible, which is what I think you are alluding to there, there is an exception. If we have operational capacity constraints, including the makeup of the specific family unit and agreements with the country of origin or last residence, another determining factor is detention capacity, both within ICE and CBP.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (20:31)
There’s also an extension for acute humanitarian need such as the urgent medical situation, there is an exception on the convention against torture. If someone makes a legitimate claim that they would suffer torture if they returned to the country from which they have come. As we have stated, those who cannot be expelled or placed into immigration proceedings, but to be clear, we are still expelling single adults and families when possible using Title 42, that remains the policy. That has not changed
And a follow up about something that you just said. You guys say that President Biden does not want to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, but there’s a new Fox poll that finds 83% of registered voters are noticing bills for groceries and everyday items increasing. So how is that any different than a new tax?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (21:31)
Can you give me a little bit more?
Well, with supply chains all backed up, there are bottlenecks, empty shelves, prices going up, people are paying more, and so how is that any different than a new tax?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (21:43)
I would say this, we’re dealing with a historic and evolving pandemic that is impacting our economy. We have seen it for the past year and a half, that’s what people have been dealing with. And it is having an outsized impact on our global supply chain. And the President understands how much a squeeze it is when families see their prices rise, and so he understands that and that’s why we’ve been using every tool in our tool belt to make sure that we deal with that in a real way so that people understand that the President is doing everything that he can to deal with those issues. So there’s a couple of things, so we got to think about the progress that we’ve made on how far we’ve come for the mess that we inherited from the previous president.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (22:33)
We’ve already averaged 600,000 jobs, which I mentioned at the top, those are jobs per month, compared to just 60,000 before we came. That’s almost 5 million total in eight months, we’ve increased economic growth projection for 2021 and more than halved new unemployment claims. So we’re in a different place than where we were before the President came into office, and so we’re going to continue building on basically the American Rescue Plan. This is why we’re trying to pass the President’s domestic economic policies.
And to that point, the Minority Leader in the house, Kevin McCarthy wrote a letter to the president. He says we must address the global supply chain and ports crisis before Congress even considers additional social spending and taxation legislation. Is that something that you would consider?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (23:25)
So here’s the thing, Jen responded to, this is the letter from McCarthy, is that what we’re talking about? Okay, yeah. Wonderful letter. So she responded to this earlier, and let me just add to this a little bit. I’ve already kind of talked about this, but there’s a little bit more than I want to lean into. So under the Trump-McCarthy economy, this time last year, fewer Americans were working, which is what I was just saying, job growth was flattening, and families were facing down a dark winter with less economic security than ever before and a pandemic raging out of control. That was the holiday season under the McCarthy-Trump holiday season. So that’s something to remember, this was a different time a year ago.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:11)
And so fast forward a year from then, nearly 80% adults are vaccinated, we created 5 million jobs, Americans have money in their pockets and they’re spending it, resulting in record volume of goods through our ports, and our roads, and rails. Kevin McCarthy and his caucus voted against that bill that made that happen. They did not do anything to help the American public when we needed them, when the American public needed it, and I’m talking about the American Rescue Plan to be clear, which has helped turn on the economy, which has helped, as I said, make sure that people are getting vaccinated to protect their lives and get back to work.
Last one. As you compare holiday season this year to holiday season last year, are you saying that if Christmas gifts don’t get delivered this year because the supply chain is backed up, because of bottlenecks, that people are going to blame Donald Trump or are they going to blame Joe Biden?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (25:13)
That’s not what I’m saying, I’m saying that we’re in a different place than we were a year ago, and the reason why is because the President took action, the reason why is Democrats came together and they passed the American Rescue Plan. Put checks into pockets, made sure that we were dealing with the issues that pushed women out of the workforce, which is the Child Tax Credit, childcare, all of those things that really benefited everyday people who were being left behind. Now what we’re doing is we’re making sure that we continue the investment, the Build Back Better, BIF, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which 19 Republican senators voted for, those two pieces of legislation, that is the President’s plan on how do we actually build back better and not leave anyone behind and do that economic growth for the middle class.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:02)
And so that’s what we’re talking about and that’s what we’re continuing to do. With the supply chain, the President is doing everything that he can, he is bringing in the private sector, he’s brought in the labor. When we talk about the meeting that he did last week for the ports, we’re talking about Long Beach and the Los Angeles ports, and that’s one of the things that we can do as a government, is do it in good faith, bring everybody together, and figure out how to fix the short-term problem that we’re having. And we’ve been working on this since the President walked into the White House. [inaudible 00:26:36]
Speaker 4: (26:36)
Hi, Karine, nice to see you. Does the White House believe that Senator Kyrsten Sinema is negotiating in good faith?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:42)
Yes, we believe that Senator Sinema is negotiating in good faith. Let me just say that the President considered Senator Sinema an important partner in getting his economic agenda pass and he values her work, her engagement, and her commitment to working with him to deliver for the American people. We have been in touch nonstop through the course of the last several days with her and her team, of course at the president’s level, but also through calls meetings with senior staff, some of my colleagues. And yes, to answer your question again, we definitely do believe that she is working with us in good faith and we are working with her in good faith.
Speaker 4: (27:21)
Was it during those last several days that Senator Sinema told the President or the White House that she was opposed to the corporate tax rate, and if not, when did she communicate that to the president or to the White House?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (27:30)
I am not going to go into a private conversations.
Not with the President, how about when did she communicate to the White House?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (27:36)
I’m not going to do that from here, but what I will say, the President is working to pass a game-changing investment in economic growth that benefits the middle class. As I’ve been saying, this economic growth paid for by having the richest taxpayers and big corporations pay their fair share and without raising taxes on any Americans making less than $400,000. Again, the price tag for this legislation is zero. There is an expansive menu of options for how to finance the President’s plan, and so that’s what we’re going to be discussing, and negotiating, and trying to figure out so we can, again, deliver for the American public.
And just for clarity, everyone gets that the price tag isn’t actually zero, these new programs do cost money, right? So why not level with American voters and say that there is a cost here, but they’re aiming to do it without raising the deficit?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:23)
We are being honest with the American people, we are being forthright. [crosstalk 00:28:28]. It is going to bring $0 to the deficit, and we’re being very clear about that because that’s what we want to make sure that we’re doing because here, once again, we have had people who have been left behind. After the COVID-19 pandemic that we’ve been living in for a year and a half, we saw even more severely how much people have been left behind, and not just been from the COVID. Before then, middle-class people, working people have been not part of the economy, and now we want to deal them back in. It’s been a long time since we did that. The President talked about that when he was in Scranton, Pennsylvania yesterday, he’s going to talk about that, take questions from everyday people today at the CNN Town hall, which he’s very much looking forward to, and he’ll probably be asked that question and he’ll answer it as well tonight.
So for clarity, there’s a cost, but it’s not to the def, it doesn’t raise the deficit [crosstalk 00:29:22].
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:22)
The price tag for this legislation, Peter is $0.
Let me ask you if I can ask one final question a little bit earlier, just for clarity as we look ahead to the COP26 a week and a half out from now. You said earlier that the President, the White House doesn’t need Congress. Is it the President’s position that he does not need Congress for transformative change and combating climate?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:45)
No, what I’m saying is that there are a number of pathways to meeting our emission goals and targets, that’s all we’re saying.
Can you do that without congress?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:57)
We can, that’s what I’m saying, because there are many tools that we’re using to get there. Do we want to work with Congress? Absolutely. That’s why the president added that into his economic policy, so for sure in his legislation, he put it in there because he wants to get it done. What we’re saying is our climate vision is integrated throughout everything that we do in the whole of government effort launch on day one that we did with an executive order. The President will advance his climate agenda using every tool, again, every tool at his disposal and can make significant progress in curbing emissions, growing our economy, and good paying union jobs. So that’s what we’re going to continue to do. Do we want to run for Congress? Absolutely. But we’re saying that we’re already doing the work to hit our goal and that’s why I referenced the report early on when I was answering Weijia’s question.
Can I follow up real quick on a few things. But first, let me just say I’ll add my voice to ensure that the dozens who would humbly request that the President of the United States not only visit Town Hall, but show up either in this room or in the east room to appear before the full press for a real bus round of questions that will no doubt benefit to the American public.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:12)
But Brian, he takes questions all the time.
I hear you, I’m just adding my request to that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:16)
Martha’s here and she tracks that.
Yeah, but some of us have not had a chance to ask him.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:22)
I get it, I get it, but this is a large White House Press Corps, but he does take questions.
And my follow-up to Peter, I know you don’t want to talk too much about the questions with Sinema, but is it safe to say the White House was not blindsided by first stance, you didn’t find out about it publicly? There was a discussion, you knew about it ahead of time?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:44)
I’m not going to go into our private conversations with anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s Senator Sinema or a house member, we’re not going to do that here, I’m not going to do that from this podium. I’m just saying that we are working in good faith with her and she is working in good faith with us.
And then fin…
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:03)
… good faith with her and she is working in good faith with us.
Speaker 5: (32:03)
Then finally, there are several democratic strategists, Warren Ice and a couple of others who said that yesterday was a dark day for democracy. Does the White House share that view? If not, why not and what do you plan to do to move forward?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:16)
Which? What …
Speaker 5: (32:17)
That dark day for democracy and what happened up on the hill yesterday? filibuster.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:20)
You’re talking about the voting rights. You had to give me a little bit more. There’s so much going on. The president talked about this today and he’s been very clear on this for the past several months, as we’ve been dealing with voting rights and these pieces of legislation that are creeping up across the country. As he said in his joint address to Congress, he believes that if we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote. That is something that the president truly believes. He was just at that the MLK monument celebrating the 10th anniversary. He spoke to this. He believes the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and has repeatedly urged Congress to act to protect the right to vote and access to voting.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:13)
He has addressed this issue in front of Congress, as I just mentioned. He has addressed this issue privately with members of Congress and senators of both parties. He has addressed this issue with civil rights leaders at the White House and anyone who knows this president has followed this president’s career knows his belief is core to who he is. He will continue to work with Congress every day until they are able to pass something.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:40)
One more thing I just want to add, he’s also used, make sure they use the power of the federal government to do everything that we can from the federal government to deal with voting access.
Speaker 6: (33:52)
Karine, does he think it was a dark day yesterday?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:54)
I mean, it was disappointing what we saw yesterday and we got to remember what happened yesterday is that Republicans would not allow a debate. They would not allow a debate, not that they voted on it. They just wouldn’t allow a debate to talk about why we should make voting more accessible for Americans. Now that is shameful. That is a problematic for our democracy. As I said, voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, and it shouldn’t be that way.
Speaker 6: (34:27)
Speaker 7: (34:28)
Thanks. Among the new ethics rules that the federal reserve announced today is a prohibition on trading individual stocks. Does the president believe that lawmakers should be subject to that same prohibition law on trading [inaudible 00:34:42]?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:42)
I don’t think his position has changed on that. Let me get back to you to see if we have anything update to share on that.
Speaker 7: (34:50)
When he announced the build back better agenda earlier this year, he spoke about it in terms of generational and transformational change. Is he concerned at all that in these negotiations, his initial vision for the plan is being significantly watered down?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:03)
Absolutely not. He thinks that this, when we reach a deal, which we believe that will happen, the president said this yesterday himself, he believes a deal will happen, it will be transformational. Both the bill back better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal are historical within their own right. It’s going to make transformational change. It’s going to be historical. It’s going to create good union jobs. It has the human infrastructure, make sure that people are truly getting a break, a tax break, dealing with elder care, childcare, things that are really crushing Americans in this country. Also, let’s not forget the child tax credit, which has cut poverty by 50%. That was in the American rescue plan. We’re hoping to extend that in the bill back better agenda. That’s what we’re going to continue to work towards.
Speaker 8: (35:53)
Are you aware of White House staff that have been offered booster shots through the White House itself? I mean, I wasn’t sure if it’s considered a high risk environment or not.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:01)
Well, we follow the CDC guidance. That’s going to be our focus, making sure that we listen to the public health officials and whatever the guidance puts out, that’s what we’re going to follow. I don’t have more on booster shots for White House staffers. I’m sure many have them. Everybody falls in a different category. I can probably check in and find out more, but yes, we follow the public health guidance.
Speaker 9: (36:28)
Thanks Karine. Back on immigration for a sec, the president [inaudible 00:36:32] to lead customs and border protection said in a Senate confirmation hearing yesterday that he supported the continued use of Title 42. He also indicated that it was his view that certain sections of the border wall should be finished. Does the president agree?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:46)
As you know, we have said that … I have to look at the comments. I have not seen them so I want to make sure I read it within context. But we have talked about the border wall here in general, as a way it’s been used to close the border. We feel that it is a policy that doesn’t work and it’s not just us. Experts has said that. The border wall is not an effective policy. As far those comments, I can’t comment on that. I actually, I have not seen it. I have not read them and I need to read it in context.
Speaker 9: (37:21)
One more question about Title 42. There’s a report this morning from a group of human rights first that says that through the use of Title 42 and also prohibiting basically turning migrants away at the border, 7,600 kidnappings, assaults and other attacks have taken place against migrants and asylum seekers. Does this administration believe it deserves any of the blame for that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:47)
Well, that’s, again, I have not seen that report. That does sound horrifying, not something that we would agree with or be proud of, certainly. I have to read the report. I’ve not seen it and hopefully we can get back to you on that one as well.
Speaker 10: (38:06)
First, I just wanted to go back to the last question that Peter asked you to make sure that we’re crystal clear on it. You say we don’t need Congress. We can do it without Congress. Do you mean meaningful reductions of greenhouse gasses or do you mean because what it sounded like you meant was hit the 50 to 52% reduction.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:24)
It’s hitting our goal. It’s hitting the goal that we set out.
Speaker 10: (38:27)
Hit 50% to 52% without Congress at all?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:30)
Which is why I laid out the report that was put out this week. An independent research for reinforced the fact that the US has multiple pathways to meet President Biden’s pledge to reduce emissions 50% to 52% below the 2005 levels in 2013.
Speaker 10: (38:47)
Right. But my understanding of that report is that’s multiple congressional pathways that would preclude the CAP program, but would have other congressional legislation as part of it, which is a different thing than what you seem to be saying, which is that you don’t need Congress at all to accomplish this goal.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:02)
What I’m saying, speaking specifically to bill back better, that’s what I was saying, because to me, that’s what I was hearing is that as we are working through bill back better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and so we’re saying that there are multiple pathways and that we have taken some, a whole government approach to get to the number that I just listed for the emissions, they’re reducing emissions.
Speaker 10: (39:26)
I think what we’re saying is that there are multiple congressional pathways to get to that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:30)
I’m just saying there are multiple pathways and some of them that we have already taken on our end to get to that number, doing executive orders and we’ll continue to do that. That’s what I’m saying. I’m specifically talking about the bill back better agenda.
Speaker 10: (39:47)
Then just one on scheduling. Could you talk through if the president has additional congressional meetings planned through the rest of the week, and then if we expect to see him campaign for Governor McAuliffe before he leaves for …
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:00)
I don’t have anything new trips to call out for you or read out for any of you. As you know, he’s going to go to New Jersey on Monday, which we announced yesterday.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:12)
I can say this. We are talking to members in Congress on every level of the administration. We have my colleagues who are in constant contact with Democrats on the house and the Senate side. We’ll continue to have those conversations. The president two days ago met for hours with members of both house and Senate and Democrats, I should say. We’re going to continue to do that.
Speaker 11: (40:47)
Thank you. I know that earlier you said that whatever comes out of this, the negotiations over the built back better plan human infrastructure that it’s still going to be transformational. But I guess, what do you say to those people who are saying that the White House and Democrats are compromising too much already because there’s talk of taking out of the clean power plan. There’s talk of limiting how long the child tax credit to a year. There are people who are saying that too much is being sacrificed. What is your message to them, to the people who are saying, “This is not going to be transformational?”
Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:29)
Well, I would say the bill is not done yet. That I would say the negotiations are still happening. We’re going to continue to have those conversation. The present is going to continue to fight for the bill back better agenda. This is his policy. This is something that he believes that the American people need and that human infrastructure finally investing in the middle class. He’s going to continue to work for the American public. That’s not going to stop. Again, I would say to you, let us negotiate. When folks came out two days ago, people said there was progress. People said that we’re getting to a place where they feel like there’s going to be a deal. Let the process continue. This is democracy in action, as you can imagine. We’ll have something that whatever we end up with will be transformational, will be historic. Because this is what we’re talking about, these two bills, we haven’t seen that type of investment in generations. We really haven’t. Now this president has decided to make those investments. We’re going to work with Democrats on the hill to get that done.
Speaker 11: (42:39)
Question on Joe Manchin. There were reports that he was thinking about becoming an independent. He seemed to confirm or to say that he had offered maybe to the White House and to maybe to Senate leadership that maybe he would become an independent, if that is what the White House or Senate leadership wanted him to do. Can you talk about that? Does the White House have a position on that? Do they have a problem with Joe Manchin being in the democratic party?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:07)
I think Joe Manchin spoke to this pretty clearly recently as humanly possible. He was very clear about when he was asked this directly. I really don’t have anything else to say about that. Look, the relationship that the president has that we have with Joe Manchin is strong. It’s mutual. The president has a mutual respect and they have shared values. Again, we’ve been working in good faith with him. He’s been working in good faith with us. He actually spoke to that, I believe yesterday recently and was very clear.
Speaker 11: (43:43)
The White House wants him in the democratic party. You can just say it.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:48)
That’s his decision to make. That’s not my decision to make. We’re not going to say what party somebody belongs to. That’s for them to make. That’s for him to answer, which he did. He answered that very, very clearly. I cannot say the words that he used from here, but he did very much answer that question. I’m going to leave that there because my daughter at some point is going to see this and so she’ll call me out so I can’t use those words.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:14)
But look, the president has respect for Senator Manchin. Again, he sees him as a partner in this process and trying to get work done for the American people, trying to pass this economic bill for the middle class, as I’ve been saying. This is critical, this is important and we need to get it done. Michael?
Thank you. Two questions, one on voting rights and one on climate. On voting rights, given the president’s remarks earlier today at the MLK Memorial, does the president think that Martin Luther King Jr., if you were around today would find it satisfactory to not break the filibuster in an effort to save what the president has called the cornerstone of democracy?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:04)
Oh my God. It’s such an unfair question. You’re asking me what Dr. King would think. Oh my gosh.
I mean, I’m assuming the president must have fought something about that in preparing for the remarks today, which were highly symbolic, given Martin Luther King’s …
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:24)
Geez, Michael. I’ll say this, the president has been absolutely clear that protecting Americans’ constitutional rights and the integrity of our elections from the systematic assault Republicans have been engaged in across the country is a must and that this historic threat requires strong voting rights legislation. That’s what he is working on. That’s what he talked about today, and he’s talked about it multiple times.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:53)
One of the times that was very striking, as we know, was when he went to Philadelphia and really made a strong argument for protecting the cornerstone of our democracy. Look, dozens of White House staff work on this priority every day. It’s a fundamental to upholding the rule of law. Not only that, again, he has taken a lot of actions as president. He’s done a historic executive order, which was done on the anniversary of Selma, bloody Sunday. On that day, instead of just speaking and saying nice words or commemorating that day, which was a difficult sad day, he took action. That’s one way he did.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:38)
He doubled the voting rights staff in the civil rights division at the DOJ. He appointed the vice president at her request to lead this administration right effort using the bully pulpit and convening power of the White House. We’re going to continue to do the work. It’s not over and we’re going to continue to do everything that we can from here to make sure that people’s rights are protected. Also the John Lewisville, from what I understand, is going to be coming to the floor. Senator Schumer is doing everything that he can with his members and senators on the hill to get that done.
Just on climate, not to be the dead horse, but to follow up on Justin’s question. As I understand it, the negotiators on Capitol Hill, as they are trying to figure out what’s in and what’s out of the build back better, the social, the human infrastructure piece of this, that they are very much focused on climate pieces in that legislation, maybe not the original proposal that the president had made, but sort of what other pieces that add up to tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars. Are you now saying that in an effort to pare down the bill, you guys would be happy if Congress does nothing?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:57)
No, I’m not saying we would be …
It sounded again like as Justin I think suggested, it’s not like you’re saying …
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:02)
Let me be clear, because clearly I’m …
Speaker 12: (48:03)
… as Justin, I think, suggested, it sounded like you were saying-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:03)
Let me be clear, because clearly I’m not being clear, let me be clear as a spokesperson, no, we would not be happy if it was not included. We’re going to continue to fight for those pieces in the legislation. What we’re saying is it’s not the end of it. We’re saying there are multiple other pathways, but this is the President’s bill, both BIFF and both BBB. This is something that he wanted, those pieces of legislation that he wanted in that agenda, and he’s going to continue to fight for every component of it. So we want it in there. People keep asking us or saying to us, “You’re not going to hit your goals. You’re not going to hit your emissions reduction goals,” and we’re saying that we have done the work already, we’re going to continue to use all of government approach to do that, and I was just citing a report that said that we can still hit that goal. And that’s all I’m saying. We are not going to stop fighting, absolutely not.
Speaker 13: (49:05)
Thanks, Karine. Getting to the reports you’ve seen the last week and a half, does the President believe that the U.S. has a sufficient amount of visibility into China’s weapons programs and defense capabilities at this moment in time?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:18)
Yeah. You’re talking about the missile that we saw recently, the hypersonic glide missile. Jen talked about this yesterday after the President was asked so we’re not going to comment on the specific report, but generally speaking, we have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue. And so, again, I’m not going to comment on this specific report, but generally speaking, we have made clear our concerns about their capabilities the PCR continues to pursue, which only increases tensions in the region and beyond. So can’t comment on the report, but yes, do we have concern? We do and we’re going to continue to speak out.
Speaker 13: (50:06)
But generally, does the White House feel like it has the visibility it needs into those programs or capabilities?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:13)
I can’t speak to that from here. Like I said, we just made clear concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC has.
Speaker 13: (50:22)
Then just one more on Build Back Better. You guys have been very steadfast about the entire bill will be paid for.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:28)
Speaker 13: (50:29)
Is that a red line? As you guys look through options right now through the buffet of potential revenue raisers that are on the table, is deficit spending completely off the table as you look forward?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:40)
And we’ve been very clear about that. The red line for the President has been we are not going to raise taxes for Americans making less than 400,000.
Speaker 13: (50:49)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:51)
Speaker 13: (50:52)
No, no. I’m not trying to be short.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:54)
Speaker 13: (50:54)
But in terms of, as you’re looking for ways to finance the proposal, deficit financing is off the table? It has to be paid for in full?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:01)
It has to be paid for. Because you asked me what his red line was, I just wanted to make sure I said that. But it has to be paid for and we want to make sure that the wealthiest among us, the billionaires and the big corporations, pay their fair share. That’s only right. Again, and I said this earlier, the firefighters and teachers should not be paying more in taxes than billionaires. And the President has been very clear about that. And so that’s what I was trying to get to. [crosstalk 00:51:26].
Speaker 14: (51:27)
[crosstalk 00:51:27] proposed corporate tax rates [inaudible 00:51:31].
Speaker 15: (51:32)
Thanks, Karine. Earlier today, President Biden spoke on voting rights and said, “And I know the moment we’re in. I know the stakes. This is far from over.” Has the failure of last night’s vote on voting rights at all changed his thinking on Democrat’s strategy on this issue, particularly on legislation on the filibuster? Is he reconsidering the general approach to this and how to get something passed?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:53)
No. He’s just going to continue to speak out against it. He used today as an opportunity to do that. He’s going to continue to work with Congress. Like I said, we have White House officials working on this every day from the Office of Public Engagement to Domestic Policy Council and others who are making this a priority. This is a priority for him and Chuck Schumer is continuing, Senator Schumer’s continuing to work on this. Voting rights, the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill is going to hopefully come to the floor soon and we’re going to let him take that lead. And we’re going to continue to make sure that we make it really clear the urgency of getting this done.
Speaker 15: (52:33)
And then on communicating on this issue, this also comes recently on the collapse of police reform talks. Comprehensive immigration reform was struck from Reconciliation Package. Does this administration have a message to communities of color in particular who in many cases clinched the victory for President Biden who voted for him for these issues [inaudible 00:52:51] the message?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:52)
So, first off, anyone who knows this President knows he’s not going to give up fighting for voting rights. As we said, this was a setback. It’s the same for police reform. He wished the negotiation, bipartisan negotiation, had led to a bill, but we’re not going to give up the fight and so we’re going to continue to work. You hear her say it all the time, we are the most diverse cabinet in history. We have made historic investments in HBCU and reformed housing policies. Equity was at the forefront of the American Rescue Plan and at the forefront of the Build Back Better Plan. Our agenda for the Black community is not about one or two bills. Clearly those bills are critical and important and we’re going to continue to work very hard towards them, but it is weaved throughout numerous policies, initiatives, executive orders, legislation we work on every day. At the center of everything that the President does is make sure that there’s equity. And so we’re going to continue to do that and make sure that, again, we don’t leave anybody behind.
Speaker 15: (53:56)
A different angle on police, [inaudible 00:53:59] across the country right now we’re seeing from Seattle to Los Angeles to Chicago are protesting vaccine mandates that are being implemented by Democratic governors in these cases. As a proponent of vaccine mandates, what does President Biden believe? How does President Biden believe these situations should be resolved?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:14)
As we know, the vaccine is safe, the vaccine is high effective, and the vaccine is the best way out of this pandemic. So the President strongly believes that all eligible people should be vaccinated and he certainly believes that frontline workers like police officers should get vaccinated. Vaccines not only protect officers. They protect their families. They protect the people that they serve and are dedicated to protect. So that is important and critical, and so we know that vaccine requirements work. And so we’re going to continue to encourage that work.
Speaker 15: (54:49)
And then finally on climate policy, you’ve mentioned how with or without Congress, you’re able to create progress on this, but as we’ve seen with previous administrations, policies can be easily undone should a change in administration take place or should the policy not prove durable enough? So are you all looking to not have a repeat of what took place between the Obama and Trump administrations on environmental policy? Are you all looking for ways to create more durable policy regimes than [crosstalk 00:55:18]?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:18)
I mean, what we’re working on right now is to be in a better place than we have been the last four years and we’re going to do that when it comes to climate change. We’re going to make sure we do that domestically and be leaders on the global stage as well, which is what the President has been doing the last several months from day one when he signed an executive order getting back into the Paris accord. So we’re going to continue to do that work and we’re just going to focus on what is in front of us at the moment.
Thanks, Karine. The WHO said this week that Europe was the only region where COVID cases increased last week and officials yesterday said that in the U.K. cases were up 16% since last week. How concerned is the White House about this ahead of the President’s trip to Europe next week? And are there any extra COVID precautions that you guys will be taking for him, for senior staff on those two stops?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:13)
Well, as you know, Karen, we follow the science, we follow the public health guidance that we receive, and so that’s what we’re going to do in order to protect the President and his staff. And so that’s going to be whatever the public health guidance tells us to do in partnership clearly with the countries that we’re visiting and making sure that we’re following their protocols as well. And so that’s going to be our focus.
But no extra concerns that numbers are increasing in countries he’s going to?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:42)
Again, I have not seen those numbers. I’m just saying that that’s what we do, we let science lead and we listen to the public health experts.
Speaker 16: (56:49)
Karine, a follow-up, one on inflation in the supply chain. You mentioned at the top that unemployment’s down, wages are up, and that’s a Testament to the progress that President Biden has made on the economy, but there’s no mention of inflation in that. And while wages are up almost 4.5%, inflation is up 5%, so any bump in pay that people are seeing in their paycheck is getting wiped out when they’re going to the store and paying more for everything. So what do you say to people who are looking at their budget and they’re saying, “This doesn’t feel like progress under President Biden. It feels like a pay cut”?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (57:22)
So let me first say this, and I said this earlier, the President, he knows how even a small price increase really can squeeze too many families. That is something that he’s aware of and so we’re working on a wide variety of economic programs to help, which is why the Build Back Better plan to work on our supply chain issues is incredibly important. We’re using every tool at our disposal to lower prices for working people and bring economic relief. If you think about the human infrastructure, the Build Back Better plan, we’re talking about prescription drugs, we’re talking about paid leave, sick leave, medical leave. We’re talking about community college. We’re talking about things that’s really going to give that economic relief, that middle class tax cut for everyday people. So we’re going to continue to do that work.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:12)
The American Rescue Plan actually helped the American public a lot. It put checks in people’s pockets. I talked about the Child Tax Credit. I talked about the childcare components in it. There was a lot there that gave some relief to Americans here. And so the Build Back Better Plan is just an extension of that, if you will. It’s to invest that longterm investment to make sure that people feel that relief. Look, we were in a very different place a year ago. Not to say that some people are not still feeling the squeeze. Totally understand that. But a year ago, people were getting sick. They were losing their jobs. Women were leaving the workforce. And so we’ve been able to turn things around, start the economy back up again. 600,000 jobs a month, nearly five million jobs in the first eight months. That matters. Now, we just have to continue doing the work. It’s going to take time. We’re not done.
On the supply chain, there’s a lot of talk about Christmas presents not arriving on time, but the issue is more severe and critical than that. I mean, it’s affecting small businesses. Auto body shops can’t get parts to fix cars, so they can’t make money. 90% of school nutrition programs say they’re worried about continued supply chain issues, according to a School Nutrition Association Survey. Some schools are making last minute grocery store trips just to feed their students. So if this is an issue that the White House has been working on and aware of since February, why does it seem like this is a problem that is getting worse not better?
Speaker 12: (59:49)
I would say this, when it comes to the supply chain, there are complexities there. When we learn about the global supply chain as well, that’s one thing that you have to put it in the bigger picture. But it is a complex system that requires private sector collaboration and coordination to improve efficiency and get through the backlog. And that’s what we’re seeing currently, as we’re talking about the supply chain. These are just some of the players in the game. There are port directors, terminal operators, ocean carriers, railroad, truckers, warehouses, and retailers, and let’s not forget who have a record level of demand as we have made a historic economic recovery. Because we have. The economic forecasters did not think we would be where we are today. We have surpassed that. So we have had some historic economic recovery.
Speaker 12: (01:00:49)
Do we have more work to do? Absolutely. That’s why we’re trying to get this Build Back Better Plan. But the Biden administration, as it comes to the supply chain, continues to serve as an honest broker, I mentioned this before, making sure that we find areas of collaboration to ensure we can move goods, move the supply chain toward a 24/7 model. But again the President understands. He understands the squeeze that people are feeling, every day Americans are feeling. That’s why he’s working every day to make sure that we pass his economic policies.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:22)
All right. Thanks, everybody.