MS PSAKI: Happy Tuesday Ok I have a few articles for all of you up above A lot of you have asked – maybe not in this room, but in general: what’s next? What do we focus on next? And the answer is that the president will continue to work to get the US bailout passed This is his top priority He will be going to Wisconsin later tonight, as you know, to have a conversation, to chat with the American people about his plans to bring the pandemic under control, to get people back to workAnd the Congress continues to do its work Over the next few weeks, we look forward to moving forward
Information was also released this morning regarding an extension of the moratorium on foreclosures Some of you may have seen The COVID crisis has sparked a housing affordability crisis, with more than 10 million homeowners in delay on mortgage payments and communities of color are at even greater risk of eviction and foreclosure
Today, the administration takes another step to take urgent action – relief for the American family – – American families struggle to keep a roof over their heads So something the president spoke about on day one we talked about it on day one But today the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture announced that they will expand and expand foreclosure relief programs, in s ‘pressing the steps President Biden mentioned a few weeks ago
These essential protections were due to expire in March But as part of today’s announcement, the moratorium on foreclosures and the window for mortgage forbearance will be extended until June 30 The administration will provide also up to six months of additional mortgage payments at – forbearance for borrowers who forborne on or before June 30, 2020
These actions will provide much-needed relief to most of the 27 million homeowners currently forborne and expand forbearance options for nearly 11 million homeowners with government-backed mortgages across the country It’s essential – it remains essential for Congress to adopt US bailout to provide more help to struggling homeowners
As we speak, or maybe a little earlier, depending on when the call ended, Jeff Zients has had a regular call with a number of Governors – our COVID response coordinator, of course – providing them with key updates on our response to the pandemic, as well as hearing them talk about the work they are doing on the ground
As part of that call, he announced that we are increasing the supply of vaccines to 135 million doses per week that will be sent to states This is a 57% increase over the amount that states received when the president was sworn in So since then obviously we’ve announced some increases over time
We are also announcing that we are doubling the supply of our pharmacy program When we announced this we said it would – it would grow over time So today’s announcement equals 2 million doses to local pharmacies this week, and this program will expand access in neighborhoods across the country so people can call and schedule appointments and get vaccinated easily and quickly
Ultimately, as supply increases, more than 40,000 pharmacies across the country will provide COVID-19 vaccines as part of this program This is a critical and critical part of our plan
Last – or, sorry, penultimate itemLast point but definitely – or penultimate, but certainly not the least, we opened Healthcaregov as planned and as we announced for a special registration period until to May 15 to offer all Americans the option of purchasing health insurance They can go to health care Gov Nearly 9 million Americans are eligible for free or subsidized health insurance
Finally, as you know, a brutal arctic mass hit the mid-US over the weekend, bringing freezing rain, sleet and snow from Texas to the mid-AtlanticTexas Gov. Greg Abbott called for a federal declaration of emergency due to the severe storm on Saturday evening Homeland Security Advisor Dr Liz Sherwood-Randall called Gov. Abbott on Sunday to let him know the president had immediately acceded at his request to help meet the state’s mass healthcare and shelter needs
Yesterday Liz also called the other governors on the way to the storm on behalf of the president including Governor Ivey of Alabama, Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, Governor Reeves of Mississippi and Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma She expressed the President’s strong commitment to ensuring that the federal government is proactively doing all it can to help state and local authorities prepare for and respond to events that have an impact on our citizensWe will of course continue to monitor storm updates in the days to come
Q Firstly, Jen, the president’s schedule didn’t have a lot of official events before he left this afternoon. Can you give us an idea of what he’s doing today?
And then, does he plan to contact the specific governors of the affected states – Governor Abbott and others – who have been affected by the storm?
MS PSAKI: I’m waiting – so let me take the second, the first The president has been kept informed, as I noted, of events and has received updates – regular updates on the storm and the progress and of course the emergency declaration I don’t have any calls to read but I think he will be personally involved And if we have any calls that he makes himself we will provide you this information to all
As for what he spends his day doing, he continues to have meetings with his political teams and experts about his plans to bring aid to the American people and public And, you know , he stayed – he stayed focused on that today behind the scenes before heading to Wisconsin for a town hall later tonight
Q And then, just about this vaccine announcement: is there any discussion of winter weather conditions affecting vaccine distribution? And what steps is the federal government taking to ensure that there is no spoilage of these vaccines, which must be kept in these very cold temperatures during shipping, and (inaudible) delays?
MS PSAKI: You’re right that we are obviously monitoring the weather Lady Nature and the weather can sometimes have an impact and require contingency planning, which is what our team is rather focused on Our COVID Response Team- 19 is also in close contact with state and local governments across the country We are monitoring the situation in Texas very closely Obviously FEMA is running on a number of operational parts But even though I haven’t update at the moment is something we are very much aware of, and we are emergency planning to make sure people get the doses they need in a timely manner
Q And just a quick question on a different topic, Congressman Bennie Thompson has filed a civil lawsuit against former President Trump – part of what we expect to be some sort of civil lawsuit against the former President. and others involved in the January 6 uprisingDoes President Biden have an answer to this? And does he support efforts like this to use civil courts to hold President Trump to account?
MS PSAKI: You know, he certainly supports the right of individuals – members of Congress and others – to take action throughout the judicial process, but I don’t think we have another comment on that.
Q So, just on – two on foreign policy for you First, there was a rocket attack in Iraq yesterday, and Iraqi officials said the group that took responsibility for that attack had links with IranMy question is, first, if you also made that decision, and second, what kind of retaliation would be considered (inaudible)?
MS PSAKI: Of course Appreciate the question We are still working on attribution with our Iraqi partners to determine the precise attribution of this attack This is obviously a priority
I will say we are outraged by last night’s rocket attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan region Initial reports indicate that the attacks killed a civilian contractor and injured several members of the coalition, including a US serviceman and several American entrepreneursAnd we offer our condolences to the relatives of the killed civilian contractor The Iraqi people have certainly suffered for too long from this type of violence and violation of their sovereignty
I will also note – and I think the State Department provided this update, but just for all of you – Secretary Blinken contacted the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Barzani and Secretary Austin is speaking with his counterpart to offer assistance in the investigation and to help hold those responsible for this attack accountableBut we have not determined the attribution at this point
Q And do you think there would be retaliation if – once that statement is made?
MS PSAKI: Well, as always, the President of the United States and the administration reserve the right to respond in any manner and time we choose, but we will wait until the award is concluded before take additional measures or obviously have additional announcements
I will tell you that diplomacy is obviously a priority for this administration and an element which is at the heart of our engagement with our global partners around the world And of course, these calls are proof of it, but it will always be part of our strategy
Q And as far as diplomacy goes, one thing Germany has asked for is a relief, regarding the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, And I’m just curious if you have an update at this subject, if Biden will consider giving up the possibility of making sanctions on (inaudible)
MS PSAKI: Well our stance on Nord Stream 2 has been very clear, and it remains unchanged President Biden has made it clear that Nord Stream 2 is a bad business It’s a bad business because it divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and central Europe to Russia – Russian manipulation, and because it goes against Europe’s stated energy and security goals
We continue to monitor activity to complete or certify the pipeline And if such activity takes place we will determine the enforceability of sanctions Importantly, sanctions are just one of many important tools to ensure energy security And we will – of course we will do all of this in partnership with our allies and partners, but our position has not changed on – on the deal
Q The president is shifting gears this week, obviously, looking across the Hill to come out and sell this plan to the American people Is that a sign that he recognizes he’s not likely to embark on the Republicans in Washington?
MS PSAKI: He certainly wouldn’t agree with that. I would say that the President’s point of view on the package – well, a – I would say first – the President did not “shift gears”, he has focused every day – even as others haven’t, which is understandable – to engage with partners, stakeholders, people who agree with him, people who disagree with him. ‘agreement with him to pass this package
This is an opportunity, as you noted, to go out and have a conversation with the locals of Wisconsin – people who agree with him, people who disagree with them But if you look at the polls they’re very consistent The vast majority of Americans like what they see in this package And that should be an indication, or should be noted by members of Congress – members of Congress when they wonder whether they will vote for it or not
Q So is he hoping that these visits will help put pressure on members of Congress?
MS PSAKI: No, his goal is really to make sure he engages directly with the people who are affected by the pandemic, who are affected by the economic recession, who are concerned about whether they will get vaccinated, who are – I don’t know where – where to find information, who are wondering if they will be able to put food on the table This is the goal of this trip
Obviously, Republicans in Congress will have to make their own choices as to whether or not they support the final package It’s still making headway in Congress But the vast majority of the public supports it, including the vast majority of voters from most So it’s really a question for them
Q And on another matter, would the president sign a law to create a commission to investigate the January 6 attack?
MS PSAKI: Well, I saw an ad – I believe it was yesterday, if I remember correctly – from President Pelosi – or comments, should I say This, of course, is the ruling Congress to form this committee, as we’ve talked about a bit here, but it is certainly a decision the President would support
And President Biden has made his views clear on the tragic events of January 6, including responsibility for them. He supports efforts to shed further light on the facts so that something like this does not happen. reproduce more
In addition to the recently announced wish to form a commission or form a commission, we will continue to work with Congress to identify actions the federal government can take in the future to prevent the violence we saw on the 6th. JanuaryAnd as you probably know, Mary, there are a number of auditions going on in the coming weeks, and we will cooperate with those, of course
Q What would he hope to learn from a commission? Because obviously, we saw a very in-depth broadcast of events last week
MS PSAKI: Again, I don’t think the principles of the commission were formed It’s up to Congress to do We have a role to play in the federal government, of course, with ongoing investigations from the department Justice, but he supports the efforts to move forward – the desire to have one, certainly, to understand and know how the events the 6th member affected sitting on the Hill
Q Jen, thank you and the President have frequently cited what you describe as the ‘failures’ or ‘shortcomings’ of the Trump administration, in regards to their response to COVID It is now almost a month In this administration Does the Biden administration now own the coronavirus response?
MS PSAKI: Well, certainly the President of the United States holds the answer to the COVID pandemic This is why he is focusing on it every day However, it is important that the American people know what we have inherited when the President took office And what he inherited was not enough reserves, not enough vaccinators, not enough places for vaccinations Communities had been left to fend for themselves And so, that’s what he’s on ‘is focused and working on
But certainly, if he was standing here, he would say that’s why this is the problem he wakes up to every morning and focuses on, because solving it is what cares the American people And he’s the president; it’s his responsibility to focus on it
Q Let me ask you, if I can – I want to pick up a bit on the impeachment trial that just ended You posted a statement late on Saturday in which he said the final vote, even if it “did not result in a conviction, the merits of the charge,” the president said, “is not in disputeEven those who oppose the conviction “- he quoted Mitch McConnell -” believe [that] Donald Trump was guilty of a “shameful dereliction of duty” and “practically and morally responsible for causing” the unleashed violence. at the Capitol “
So if he was not convicted in an impeachment trial via Congress, via the Senate, how should a president who does things President Biden says goes unchallenged be punished ?
MS PSAKI: Well, I think, obviously there was a process that went through the Senate, which is why we issued a statement on Saturday night
MS PSAKI: This – it will be up to the Justice Department to determine We’re doing something new here, and there will be an independent Department of Justice to determine what any course of action would look like in an investigation.
Q In the absence of this president’s actions, do you think – did something like that – it seems – I mean, Mitch McConnell left that door open for criminal prosecution Actions like this do they meet the bar of criminal prosecution?
MS PSAKI: I will not speculate on criminal prosecution from the White House podium We – the President are committed to having an independent Justice Department that will make its own decisions on the way forward
Q Let me ask you one last question, if I may It’s housekeeping here TJ Ducklo as we know no longer works for this White House He was suspended for a week after comments he made to a journalistThe President, as you know, on the inauguration day said, “If you ever work with me and I hear you treating another … with disrespect, talk to someone, I promise I will. will fire on the spot… No if, ets, or but “He did not fire TJ on the spot He has since resigned The position of the president on the fact of denigrating or disrespecting others changed?
MS PSAKI: I think the President is leading by example and I am trying to do the same And on Saturday when we announced that TJ Ducklo had stepped down – what we all agreed was the right way forward – I made it clear that every day we will try to live up to the standard set by the president by treating others with dignity and respect, with civility and with value to others through our words and actions He is no more employed here, and I think that speaks for itself
Q Jen, thanks As you get ready to release an immigration plan at the end of this week, can you give us a little more information on the timeline? And also, with regard to DREAMers, can you tell us if a potential path to citizenship will be part of the plan for this particular group?
MS PSAKI: Well, there certainly is – part of the proposal that the president put forward and put forward on day one is a deserved path to citizenship – isn’t there? – for 11 million immigrants who are undocumented immigrants, who live in the country
He’s also someone who believes in the rights of DACA beneficiaries to be in the country He was here during, of course, the Obama-Biden administration, in which he played a leading role – a role important – and supported this program
We’ve outlined the principles of what we think the proposal should look like, which includes that, but also includes funding to tackle root causes, including investing in smart security, but Congress will need to work on what it looks like going forward and what components will be included here or which components could be addressed separately
Q And how important will it be to this administration that it is a comprehensive, large and comprehensive package versus elements of an immigration plan that are separated and adopted separately ?
MS PSAKI: Well I understand and have read – I know there are different views and views from prominent and important advocates on this particular issue. bill to be officially introduced at some point soon; I’m not going to get ahead of this process
And the president certainly feels that all of these requirements that are in the bill – these elements of the bill – are what make it complete. They all need to be addressed; that’s why he offered them together
Q And is the president planning to roll back those Trump-era restrictions on immigration and work visas that have severely restricted immigration? They are expected to expire at the end of March Will he let these expire naturally or will he cancel them before that?
MS PSAKI: Let me speak to our Department of Homeland Security This is probably a conversation that would take place in coordination with them Obviously, the President – in his view, the approach of the previous administration was immoral but also ineffective in meeting the challenge – the many challenges of an outdated immigration systemBut I have no update on these particular requirements
Q And then just a question about Afghanistan: Has the administration decided to continue with withdrawals below 4,500? And if the decision hasn’t been made yet, when do you expect one?
MS PSAKI: I do not have an update on this front nor a timetable for further decision making
MS PSAKI: You know, I think the President is someone who is not new to the world stage, and certainly not new to the tough decisions that I- – have to be made regarding issues related to the world. ‘Afghanistan, the issues of the men and women who serve, and our own national security, so he’s making decisions through that lens, but I just don’t have an update on what a timeline will look like
Q Thanks, Jen First, on the vaccine: You were talking earlier about how the president wants to address the concerns of ordinary Americans with the vaccine and the pandemic The White House chief of staff proposed last month to create a national vaccine clearinghouse that would be available online or via a hotline
Q Can you update us on – on how this is progressing? Is it about to be deployed?
MS PSAKI: I don’t have any updates for you other than to tell you that our team is still considering a range of options to make the information more accessible, to make more people know how they can get vaccinated, when they can get vaccinated, where they can go to get vaccinated this is part of the reason the president is of course going to wisconsin but i have no update for you on a center exchange or website
Q So it looks like it’s still under consideration Is this something that really isn’t in the works at the moment?
MS PSAKI: There are a range of options under consideration, and their goal is to take the most effective and efficient actions, and prioritize them in the order in which they would help the American people.
Q Now, regarding the situation in Texas, beyond disaster relief, does the administration plan to take action to address not only the Texas power grid, but also the Texas power grid? central United States that seemed to really grapple with the wintry weather, in addition to a few other issues? I know Texas is not really a part of the national electricity grid. Is the administration looking into this and considering taking any short-term action to address it?
MS PSAKI: Well I think our current goal is to ensure that the millions of people across Texas who have been affected by the storm get the help they need.This is obviously the reason why the president and his homeland security adviser acted very quickly this weekend.
Obviously, as there are investments in the future in energy se- – in energy – forms of energy, I should say, across the country they will have to forecast some inclement weather But I think that it is a discussion and a conversation which are a little later
Q Well, given that the Texas grid is not part of the national system, was that alarming to anyone in the administration? I mean, would you prefer there to be a nationwide network that’s fully integrated?
MS PSAKI: I would send you to the Ministry of Energy and others to answer this question
Q Thanks, Jen Back on tonight’s trip: is there a specific reason Wisconsin was chosen as the site for tonight’s town hall?
Q I’ve been there; it’s adorable but is there a special reason why? Is it Ron Johnson, in terms of pressure on him, or engaging Democrats in a state the president has just won? Why Wisconsin?
MS PSAKI: Well, Wisconsin is a state where there are clearly Democrats, Republicans, Independents, as we saw in the end result of the November vote – people who have points of different views on a range of issues And it was a state that – where people were affected by the pandemic; they have been affected by the economic downturn
And the president felt he could have a good conversation with people on the way forward and even with those who disagree with him So it wasn’t more complicated than that
Q Let me ask you about the president’s ambitions in terms of getting Congress to pass gun control measures In a statement you released over the weekend, the president said the moment had come to act You’re asking Congress to do a lot of things now What’s your schedule for action on what the president calls “common sense” measures? And what is your realistic hope of getting through the two houses?
MS PSAKI: Well we haven’t offered a package yet so it’s hard for me to make a prediction on its likelihood of success But I will say the president is someone, all through his career, who has advocated for a smart weapon – smart gun safety measures He’s not afraid to stand up to the NRA – he has done it several times and won – on background checks and a series of problems And that’s a priority for him on a personal level
But I don’t have a prediction for you or a preview for you on a package’s timeline, and definitely not what it will look like and how it would go through Congress
Q One more question for you The colleague who sat in this chair last week asked you whether you – this administration considers Saudi Arabia or Israel to be allies of the United States.Your answer has been interpreted by some to be something other than “yes” So I want to give you the opportunity to answer this question more directly now
MS PSAKI: Well let me first say, on Israel, I know there have been questions about when the president will speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu, which I think was , the root of this question or how the question started
So let me first confirm that his first call with a leader of the region will be with Prime Minister Netanyahu It will be soon I don’t have a specific day for you, but it’s soon Stay tuned
Israel is, of course, an ally Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship And our team is fully engaged – not yet at the Head of State level, but very soon But our team is fully engaged, having constant conversations at several levels with the Israelis
And about Saudi Arabia I would say: you know, we made it clear from the start that we were going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia and that – you know, President Biden – one of the questions also – just to get back to context – if he would speak with MBSE And part of that comes down to engagement, match for match The President’s counterpart is King Salman, and I hope in due course he will have a conversation with him I have no timeline prediction on this
But I will also say that, you know, we did – Saudi Arabia is able to defend against threats from the region You know, they are – they have critical self-defense needs, and we will continue to work with them on these, even as we clearly identify areas where we have disagreements and concernsAnd it is certainly a change from the approach of the previous administration
Q I’m just following up on his question, is the president still considering taking executive action against gun violence?
MS PSAKI: The President has a panoply of actions at his disposal I think you were asking Steve for a legislative package, which I know But he didn’t rule out any of those options, of course, but I have nothing to tell you what the next steps would look like
Q If I can just follow Texas Is there anything else the White House can do to provide immediate assistance to the residents of Texas at this time?
MS PSAKI: Well, I think we are – our team – our national security team, partly led by Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall, who is our Homeland Security Advisor – a position, I would note, which did not exist in the previous administration – is in close contact – in close contact, should I say, monitoring the developments of the stormThe president is also kept abreast of this, and we are engaged with them, what their needs are and what actions can be taken.
Of course declaring a federal disaster declaration ensures that you have access to national resources, you know, and I think that’s a step that was welcomed by the governor
Q I have a quick question in return You said a few weeks ago that the White House would check whether it was technically possible to publish visitor logs from the Trump administrationIs there an answer on this?
MS PSAKI: The answer was: it exists in the National Archives, so they would have access to it, and you would have to go to them to access their visitor diary archives from their time when the – President Trump was there.
Q Okay And then, just – you said a bundle of guns, to be determined at the time; Not yet in progress As for the rest of the relief program, are there any plans to keep doing a big Build Back Better bill afterwards or a smaller infrastructure bill afterwards? Do we know what will follow?
MS PSAKI: We are currently focused on adopting the US bailout But the president has committed to engage with a range of stakeholders Of course he had the meeting last week with senators on the This is one of the areas where it is possible to work together
I think most people won’t say that our roads, bridges, streets need to be rebuilt, but the president has many different political needs and goals.So we haven’t figured out what the next priority would be yet to follow, but he is engaging with his political team, as Zeke requested earlier – what he did today, what he has done over the weekend – and a big part of that is having those chats internally and with stakeholders on what it looks like – what’s next
Q Yeah, thank you, Jen Some quick questions Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both expressed some opposition to increasing the minimum wage as currently set out in the proposal, in the SenateAnd I asked myself: is President Biden prepared to extend, I guess, the period during which the minimum wage could be raised? So for example, you know, raising it to $ 15 by 2030, is it ready to potentially extend the timeline to attract more people?
MS PSAKI: Well, we’ll let the process go through the Senate – through the House first, then through the Senate, as they negotiate what the final components will look like in a package. p>
The president put a minimum wage increase in the original package because he thinks it’s important for American men and women, who have full-time jobs, work hard, have a living wage, and he thinks it’s long time to raise the minimum wage But we’ll let the process come to fruition, and I’m not going to negotiate what he would be open to and not from the podium
Q And a few other rapids First, I just wanted to clarify something Prime Minister Trudeau’s office, after their call – his call with President Biden in January – he said they agreed to meet in February And I want to just see if you could clarify: are they planning to meet in person, or was it just – you know, the wording was wrong and they, sort of, (inaudible)?
MS PSAKI: You can meet by video, as we all know I don’t have a schedule of a meeting to pass on or confirm for you, although I do anticipate for all of you that it will take a few months before the president has a face-to-face meeting or – to one – invites a foreign leader to meet in person here at the White House
Q – Have the White House or the Biden administration been in contact with Major League Baseball to, you know, give recommendations on security protocols as to whether it’s safe to have the season out? this stage?
MS PSAKI: I – I am happy to check with our COVID team and see if they have had any conversations Obviously this is not the first season of the pandemic, but I will check and see if there is has a role that we must play here
Q Thank you, Jen With the impeachment of President – President Trump behind us, do you think an obstacle has been lifted, when it comes to passing the COVID relief law? I mean, was that a distraction for anyone on the Hill or in the White House?
MS PSAKI: It certainly wasn’t for us And the members of Congress on the Hill continue to do their jobs by having conversations at the committee level It was a – obviously, an important week in our nation’s history. president kicked out – we released a statement from the president on Saturday And we understand why there was special attention from, of course, the media and also many members of the public But we’ve said from the start that the president will stay focused on the adoption of the American rescue planThis is exactly what he did last week and what he will continue to do this week. And we are pleased with the urgency that we have also seen from members of Congress
Q Jen, is the president still planning to address Congress this month like he said? And do you have more information for us on time?
MS PSAKI: We don’t know where the February 23 date came from It’s a big mystery I haven’t Nancy Drew-ed that one yet, but it was never scheduled for February and we don’t do not have a date for a joint session at the moment
Certainly the president is eager to address the public We are keeping in touch with congressional leaders on a timeline and format and what it would look like Obviously it won’t seem like the past, as many ‘between you covered and which I attended, where you are all sitting on the congressional floor and the President is giving a speech, because of COVID But we are not behind on any timeline because that date has never been exact
Q And then another on immigration There’s a federal judge in Texas who may soon decide the fate of the DACA program for DREAMers If he decides to kill this program before Congress looks at it, then is the administration prepared to do to protect this population from deportation?
MS PSAKI: Well the – the DACA program is important to the president, it’s a program that he’s long been committed to protecting and preserving and taking whatever steps he can to do just that.I’m not going to preempt a judge’s decision in Texas, but we’ll definitely be watching closely, and if there’s more to say after that, we will – we’ll share it
Q Jen, said Mitch McConnell – of Republican opposition to COVID relief he said it will help unify their party He said, “I don’t think a lot of Republicans are going to be ready for it a lot of things that come out of this administration “Remember what Mitch McConnell said in 2010 about the Biden administration – about the Obama administration then? He said: “The most important thing we want to achieve is that President Obama be a president for one term.”
So my question is: what lessons have we learned? And given that McConnell sees no political incentive to work with Democrats, can you work with someone who is not motivated to work with you?
MS PSAKI: Well, the President has known Senator McConnell for some time, and he speaks – has spoken to him a number of times, and he certainly hopes that they can find a way to work together to address the challenges that the American people are facing
But, I don’t know if these are lessons for us, as far as – you know the country is watching –
MS PSAKI: Well, here’s the thing though: the country is looking for action I mean, the country is looking for progress, solutions on COVID, on the economy The package that the president has proposed has the backing of the three quarters of the public in most polls
So I don’t know what numbers Senator McConnell is looking at, but Americans have made it clear what they are looking for, and if they decide – Republicans in Congress, Senator McConnell – to vote against the will of their constituents, I suggest you ask them why it is politically smart of them
Q So when it comes to the American Rescue Plan, groups like – pro-life groups including the Susan B Anthony List is very concerned that millions of US taxpayer dollars will go to the abortion industry, in violation of the Hyde Amendment We know where President Biden stands on the Hyde Amendment, but that being said, can this administration guarantee right now whether the US bailout is passed, that no taxpayer money will go to the abortion industry?
Q I’ll put it back here “A $ 50 million funding increase for Title X program” “$ 750 million for global health activities and billions of dollars in funding for community health centers without apply Hyde’s amendment “
MS PSAKI: Well, the President’s point of view on the Hyde Amendment is well known, as you stated in your question He also believes that community health centers are a key part of the fight against pandemic, to ensure that community members have access to vaccines, have access to treatment and information about – to make sure they are healthy and their loved ones are healthy
So this remains a priority for the presidentHe shared his views on the Hyde Amendment I don’t think I have anything new for you
Q Okay To continue, can he guarantee Americans who don’t want their taxes – pro-life Americans who don’t want their taxes to fund abortion, can he –
MS PSAKI: Well, I think, Owen, as I just noted, three quarters of the public support the components of the package, wants to see the pandemic come under control, wants to see people get back to work, vaccines in weapons So I think that answers your question
Q In a few – in a few days the President will address the Munich Security Conference
Q And I think one point that Europeans would like to understand better is what he means by “foreign policy for the middle class” Does that mean respecting Donald Trump’s tariffs, as in the case of aluminum from the United Arab Emirates? Does the Biden administration use the same reasoning as the Trump administration?
MS PSAKI: I can assure you that the president – this president does not have one – does not consider the last presidency as the model of his foreign policy to move forward
President Biden has been working on the world stage for decades, and what he means by “foreign policy for the middle class” is making sure our team is working on economic issues, our team is working on issues security, our teams reflect on the impact of policies on Americans speak and as we make decisions and make policies through this prism
We are certainly reviewing a range of tariffs put in place by the old administration I have no update on this for you But what the president is talking about is the importance of considering d ” integrating our national and national security teams, as well as the policy making and process they go through, and his view that we are stronger globally if we take care of our home here, with usSo that’s also part of his goal
Q Thank you, Jen When President Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo met last week, did they discuss the delay in releasing data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes in New York City?
MS PSAKI: The meeting centered on the president providing an update on his plans to help bring the pandemic under control, to discuss the US bailout with them, and in a large group meeting, discuss the challenges that governors and mayors faced You have heard some of the mayors coming here So no, that was not a central theme of their conversation or a topic
Q And then another quick question A lot of people, including Dr Fauci, said they felt the side effects of the COVID vaccine Did the president or vice president experience any side effects?
MS PSAKI: I don’t think I have any updates on this for you They got their second vaccine several weeks ago, and they did it in public But I can check if there is more a side effects update weeks ago
Q Thank you This question is from Thomas Burr with News Nation: The president is flying to Michigan to visit the Pfizer factory and (inaudible) the COVID vaccine that the administration is doing now, almost a month after taking office, to increase vaccine availability? And how many White House employees have been vaccinated?
MS PSAKI: We provided an update a few – maybe a week or so ago, and we are – our goal is to be as transparent as possible in our efforts to vaccinate senior managers and other staff. around the White House complex We also have a limited footprint here as every staff member is also tested daily
I think we said the goal was to get hundreds of people vaccinated by the end of February I can check if this is the last update on this particular front What was your – sorry, what was your other question?
MS PSAKI: Well we are taking a few steps First we are increasing the supply Obviously the president has made the decision to buy enough vaccine to make sure we have vaccines available to immunize every American from here the end of july
It’s also – we’ve also increased the supply of vaccines that goes to the states by 57%. We’ve also taken steps to increase the number of vaccinators we have – people who can actually put those vaccines in them. arms This therefore includes the deployment of members of the National Guard; take action, including ensuring that retired nurses and doctors can be part of the immunization team, that is, the team of vaccinators, should I say, who puts up arms We have therefore increased the number of vaccinators
And we’ve also increased the number of vaccination sites, in part, you know, by putting in place a plan to have several hundred community health centers where vaccines can be distributed; work with states on mass vaccination centers; working with pharmacies, as we announced earlier – as I announced earlier in the briefing, should I say, to get vaccines in the hands of pharmacies – which 90% of the population live in five miles from a pharmacy
So there are a number of steps, but we focused on these three elements: increasing supply – vaccines; the increase in vaccinators – the people who can put these vaccines into action; and increase vaccination locations so people know where to go
Q Sorry, just wanted a quick follow-up on the president’s appearance before a joint session of Congress. In his prime-time speech last month in January, reading prepared remarks, he said, “Next month , on my first appearance for a joint session, I will present my Rebuild Better plan “
MS PSAKI: Well, I – what I was referring to was that there was a report on February 23, and I don’t know where that date came from, which never been inaccurate [sic] So –
MS PSAKI: It wasn’t – – February 23 was not – just an incorrect date – nobody’s fault; it was fair and it created some confusion so I was just trying to clarify it
Obviously the President is eager to speak in a joint session We just don’t have a date yet for when that will be, and obviously it will be different because of COVID and because we want to be safe and project the – this safety and our responsibility to project it to the American public
Q So there is no specific reason why he was potentially delayed from what the president himself thought last month?
MS PSAKI: There isn’t And he’s passed on – you know he’s eager to provide more details on a job package and, you know, the next steps on his agenda And he’s always looking forward to it. do, and we just don’t have a date to announce for all of you yet
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Joe Biden, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, President of the United States
Ebene News – AU – Biden’s foreign policy, COVID relief, and US bailout : full transcript by Jen Psaki press briefing • Today News Africa