James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:23 P.M. EDT
 
MS. PSAKI:  Hello, everyone.  Okay, happy Monday.  I know we have a busy afternoon for all of you, so we will try to get through as many questions as we can possibly get through.  I just have two items for you at the top.
 
This morning, the White House — we released 50 state-by-state factsheets, in addition to factsheets for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, laying out the critical necessity of passing the American Jobs Plan so we can invest in vital infrastructure, create good-paying jobs, and grow our economy.
 
On the screens behind me, you’ll see some of the needs outlined and the tangible difference the Jobs Plan will make in improving the lives of Americans.
 
So, just to — for a few highlights here: From 2010 to 2020, Florida has experienced 22 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $100 billion in damages.  The President is calling for $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure.  Of course, there are many states across the country that have had weather events and have been impacted, but this is just one of the examples.
 
In Michigan, there are more than 1,200 bridges and over 7,300 miles of highway in poor condition.  That’s clearly an area that could benefit from funding, including the $115 billion repairing — for repairing roads and bridges in the plan.
 
In South Dakota, 13 percent of South Dakotans do not have access to acceptable broadband speeds.  That’s something we’d love to improve — why there’s $100 billion to propose — to bring universal, reliable, high-speed, and affordable coverage to every family.
 
And in Nevada, finally, 243,000 renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent — one of the reasons we’ve proposed — the President has proposed investing over $200 billion to increase housing supply.
 
So these are — they’re state-by-state.  You should all have them.  But what they really do is identify the needs in these states and how this package could be — could benefit.  As we’ve talked about a bit in here, there are different types of funding for infrastructure that would be worked through with Congress as the discussions proceed.
 
Finally, I also wanted to highlight a significant win for American workers in the American auto industry over the weekend — late Saturday night into Sunday morning.
 
As you know, a key part of the President’s Build Back Better plan includes a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles and batteries built here in America.  We need a strong, diversified, and resilient U.S.-based electric vehicle battery supply chain so we can meet the growing global demand for these vehicles and components.
 
And the settlement we announced over the weekend — or, I should say, it was announced by USTR and others, by SK Innovation and LG is a positive step that builds confidence in their reliability and responsibility as suppliers to the U.S. auto industry.
 
It’s great news for many people in the country, including people of Georgia and other states that are impacted a great deal by this issue.
 
With that, Alex, kick us off.
 
Q    Thanks, Jen.  I wanted to ask about the attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.  Is there concern within the White House that this will derail ongoing talks to reestablish the Iran nuclear deal?
 
And has there been any effort by the administration to reach out through intermediaries or any other way to Tehran and make clear that the U.S. wasn’t involved in these attacks — or in the attack? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I — we, of course, have seen the reports of the incident at the Natanz enrichment facility.  The U.S. was not involved in any manner.  We have nothing to add on speculation about the causes or the impacts.
 
I will say, on your first question, though: We are focused on the discussions that we expect to proceed this Wednesday in Vienna, to — the diplomatic discussions that are — that have been taking place and took place last week.  They were — we expect them to be difficult and long.  We have not been given any indication about a change in participation for these discussions.
 
Q    And then, with respect to the Semiconductor Summit, are there any actions the White House or the federal government can take immediately to address the chip shortage?  Or, you know, is this just the kind of thing that you need reforms and more funding for?  And then, does the President see the shortage as a national security issue?
 
MS. PSAKI:  We certainly do.  I will say there are a number of steps that we believe we can take as a federal government.  We believe there needs to be a holistic, long-term, across- government approach.
 
In the near term, we’re engaging with industry — as is evidenced by the meeting that’s taking place shortly later this afternoon — as well as our international partners to ensure that American companies are operating on an even playing field. 
 
Even before this global — this meeting today, I should say, we have also proposed major investments.  That’s something we feel the federal government could also do.  We’ve proposed — we’ve called on Congress to invest $50 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research, as called for in the bipartisanship CHIPS Act. 
 
We have also called for additional funding.  There’s also bipartisan proposals, I should say, like an investment of $50 billion in the National Science Foundation, which would create a techno- — technology directorate that will focus on fields like semiconductors and advanced computing to help increase our competitiveness at home. 
 
So, our view is that this is certainly something where we need to work closely with industry; we need to work closely with Congress — Democrats and Republicans — there’s agreement on this issue being one that’s impacting industries across the country; also with allies and partners on how we can prevent the shortage from happening in the future. 
 
Go ahead. 
 
Q    Thank you, Jen.  Just to follow up on the chip shortage and, sort of, short-term solutions —
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah. 
 
Q    — any — any conversations, perhaps with chip manufacturers — like, for example, Samsung — to prioritize U.S. orders for automakers?  Or, you know, any thoughts on perhaps getting rid of regulations that will help kick in supplies for automakers?  Any sense of what you can do now?
MS. PSAKI:  Well, one of the reasons the President is stopping by this meeting that our National Security Advisor and our NEC Director are holding this afternoon is to hear directly from companies about the impacts — what would help the most through this period of time and this shortage that, as you all have reported on, has impacted a range of industries across the country. 
 
So, this isn’t a meeting where we expect a decision or an announcement to come out of, but part of our ongoing engagement and discussion about how to best address this issue over the long term but also over the short term. 
 
Q    Okay.  And a couple of questions on immigration.  We understand that there was an agreement with Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala to place more troops at the border.  And we understand that the Vice President was able to secure these commitments and have seen some numbers on, you know, how many troops will be placed at these borders.
 
But when were these — when were these agreements struck?  And if you can just give us any sense of what this plan really entails. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, there have been a series of bilateral discussions between our leadership and the regional governments of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.  Through those discussions, there was a commitment, as you mentioned, to increase border security. 
 
So, Mexico made the decision to maintain 10,000 troops at its southern border, resulting in twice as many daily migrant interdictions.  Guatemala surged 1,500 police and military personnel to its southern border with Honduras and agreed to set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory route.  Honduras surged 7,000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants.
 
As with any diplomatic discussion, these discussions happen at several levels.  And certainly, as you know, we have an envoy who has discussions with the region.  We’ve had Roberta Jacobson working for a period of time to help have these discussions with the region about what steps can be taken to help reduce the number of migrants who are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border.
 
Q    So, fair to characterize it as: These agreements were struck recently — I mean, and in the past few weeks?  Would it be fair to say that?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I think that’s — that’s fair to say, but I would also say that they — often these discussions are ongoing over a period of time and take place at several levels of the government, both here and within these countries.
 
Q    And is the plan to, sort of, apprehend these migrants who were trying to cross the border or, sort of, as they’re already on their way to the United States?  Is the plan to sort of, you know, stop them there?  How will this work?
 
MS. PSAKI:  You’d have to speak with these countries about how they will be implementing.  I think the objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey and make crossing the borders more — more difficult. 
 
Q    Okay.  Thank you.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Go ahead, Kelly.
 
Q    On Minnesota and another officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of an African American man: Has the White House been in touch with Governor Walz?  Or are there any resources from the federal government that are being offered?
 
And this comes at a time when, obviously, the Chauvin trial is progressing.  Is there a federal plan for when that trial reaches its conclusion, whatever the outcome may be?
 
And thirdly — I’m racing through them because we’re short on time today —
 
MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.
 
Q    The President had promised, as a candidate, a police commission that Dr. Rice says will not go forward at this time.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.
 
Q    It seems, obviously, that officer-involved interactions with the public are intensely important at the moment.  So, first, on Minnesota — and if you could address the police commission not going forward.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  Sure.  And just check me if I don’t get to all of your questions; I will try to do my best. 
 
Let me first say that we are incredibly saddened.  We were incredibly saddened to hear about the loss of life at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota yesterday.  The President has, of course, been briefed.  He will have a few words he will share at the top of the semiconductor event that will be starting shortly.  Hence, we’ll be moving through our questions here about his own thoughts. 
 
We are also in touch with the governor, in touch with the mayor, in touch with local enforcement — law enforcement authorities as well. 
 
I would say it is a reminder of the pain, the anger, the trauma, the exhaustion that many communities across the country have felt as we see these incidents continue to occur within just a few miles of where the tragic events happened just a year ago.
 
In terms of the police commission, we have been in very close contact over the course of several months — back to the transition — with both civil rights activists, with law enforcement authorities and the law enforcement community about what would be most effective moving forward. 
 
And as Dr. Rice conveyed — or I think the statement we put out, I should say, conveyed, we have made a decision, in coordination, that the best path forward is to work to the past — to pass the George Floyd Policing Act; that that has a great deal of the content of the policy changes, of the necessary reforms that we would all like to see in place.  So that was a collective decision, and that’s where our focus will be. 
 
Q    And is this a delay, or do you expect it to just not go forward at all?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, we expect, for the time being, for our focus to be on moving the legislation forward and not on the policing commission. 
 
Go ahead.
 
Q    On that, you mentioned, you know, the focus is now on passing the George Floyd Policing Act.  It’s been over a month since we’ve heard the President talk about this though.  We haven’t seen a big push, at least not publicly, from this administration.  What kind of steps are you taking to pressure Congress on this?  And should we expect to see this, sort of, rise on the list of your priorities?  You obviously have a very full plate.
 
MS. PSAKI:  We do.  But I would say that the President was addressing racial equity, ensuring that we are putting in place long-overdue reforms.  Real change is a priority for him.  It is something he looks forward to continuing to discuss with members of Congress.  He believes that there is a path forward, that this piece of legislation offers that path forward, and he certainly will use the power of his presidency to move it forward.
 
Q    And you mentioned that civil rights groups recommended against this commission.  Did they put forth other recommendations — steps that the White House can take while you try and pressure Congress and wait and hope that the Senate will act on them?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, we, of course, are in very close touch with them.  I think what is in — I should say, more specifically, we’ve been in touch with a range of groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; the Leadership Congr- — Conference — I’m sorry; as well as leading experts.  And the strong consensus from all of these groups is that the work should be focused on trying to pass the George Floyd Act, and the commission would not be the most constructive way to deliver on our top priority.
 
So we are working together collectively to do exactly that.  There are steps that we certainly will work in conjunction to take as they are possible.  And some of them we’ve signed through executive orders, and we’ll continue to communicate with these groups about what is most effective.
 
Q    Just quickly, on infrastructure: The President is having this bipartisan meeting today, but what is your message to some congressional Republicans who have expressed skepticism about whether the White House is authentically interested in negotiating here, given how things played out with the COVID relief bill?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would say that the President — you don’t use the President of the United States’ time multiple times over, including two infrastructure meetings — bipartisan infrastructure meetings he’s already had — or the meeting today, if he did not want to authentically hear from the members attending about their ideas about how to move forward this package in a bipartisan manner.
 
Q    So is he willing to negotiate on the scope and the price tag or just on ways to pay for this?
 
MS. PSAKI:  He absolutely is.  He looks forward to hearing their ideas.  And his objective is to find a way forward where we can modernize our nation’s infrastructure so we can compete with China.  He’s proposed a way to pay for it, which is what he thinks the responsible thing is to do, and he hopes they’ll come to the table with ideas.
 
Go ahead, Josh.
 
Q    If I could ask for an update.  On March 18th, you said that there was a stockpile of 7 million AstraZeneca doses, some of which were loaned to the Canadians and Mexicans.  Can you give us a current number and say whether the President is considering sending more either to those countries or other countries?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have anything to predict in terms of sharing the stockpile at this point.  I can assure you that we don’t want that stockpile to expire, and obviously, we don’t have control over the FDA approval process.  But I don’t have anything more to preview for you at this point.
 
Q    Do you know when the first May doses that are in that stockpile would expire?  How much (inaudible) is there?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I’m happy — I’m happy to check for you, Josh, and see if there’s more we can share.  And AstraZeneca themselves, of course, could share more details probably.
 
Q    Does the White House know whether any U.S.-made shots have left U.S. soil, other than those loans?  In other words, shots made on U.S. soil but not for the U.S. government.
 
MS. PSAKI:  From the companies?
 
Q    Yeah, correct.  So, can the companies sell, export currently as long as they’re meeting the U.S. obligations?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I think that’s a question about their contracts.  Obviously, we — and we’ve had this discussion before — there’s an obligation, under certain contracts, to deliver on the commitments made in the contract with the U.S. government, especially when the Defense Production Act has been invoked.  But I would send you to the companies for that question.
 
Q    Okay.  Can I ask just a couple of personnel things?  You mentioned Roberta Jacobson.  Why did she make the decision to step down from that post?  And can you say whether it’s accurate that Cindy McCain is being considered for the U.N. food ambassador program post?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  On the first, I would say it was always Ambassador Jacobson’s intention to stay for about 100 days.  She’s been a diplomat serving in a range of roles around the world — from Ambassador to Mexico, to Assistant Secretary for WHA — for decades.  And she is retiring, as she deserves — as she has certainly done her — paid her time to do, and so that was always her intention, to stay for a period of time. 
 
In that period of time, of course, we have also announced the naming of an envoy, Ricardo Zuñiga, who has played a prominent role in the Western Hemisphere in the past for the U.S. government.  He’ll be playing that role.  The President has asked the Vice President to play an elevated role in engagements, in negotiations with the Northern Triangle, hence our earlier discussion about her role there and the path forward there.
 
So there are a range of officials who will continue to do this work.  We were fortunate to have the work and the expertise and experience of Ambassador Jacobson as long as we have.
 
Q    And on Cindy McCain?
 
MS. PSAKI:  There is an ongoing process on ambassadors.  I know that there’s a lot of eager — eagerness and interest in learning more.  It’s ongoing.  The President has not made the decision about the majo- — vast majority of his ambassadorial nominations.
 
Q    Thank you.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Go ahead.
 
Q    Thanks, Jen.  President Biden has made very clear that two of his top priorities for the infrastructure plan is to create jobs and to stimulate the economy.  Last night, on “60 Minutes,” Jerome Powell said he and other forecasters already see that happening.  So I wonder if the optimistic outlook changes the President’s priorities and the plan at all, and offers more wiggle room for negotiation in certain areas. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Do you mean to — to — we don’t need as many jobs?  Do you —
 
Q    I mean, you know, the goal of the plan is to create jobs and stimulate the economy, and they’re saying that’s already happening, which is a great thing.  So is he willing to scale back on some of these items?  Because we’re already seeing growth. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well I — I, unfortunately — I regularly watch “60 Minutes.”  I did not see the whole episode, so I don’t know the whole context of his remarks.  But I will say that part of what economists feel is that we are still behind, that we need to still do more.  Because if you look at our last jobs report, it was — we were still about 8.4 million jobs in the red, you know, that we needed to create, that we needed to — you know, Americans we needed to put back to work.  There are still parts of the American population — high levels of unemployment among African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans that we need to work to address.
 
This is definitely a jobs package, hence the American Jobs Plan, but what it also does is it helps modernize, invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and do that in a way that will help us compete over the long term and help us have jobs for the future.
 
So there are many objectives of this package, but certainly we feel there is more work to be done to put more Americans back to work, and we are not in the clear on that front.
 
Q    Thank you.  And on the state-by-state factsheets that you released this morning, can you just share how that process happened, including who was involved in putting together the state-by-state report and what the metrics were to assign that, you know, final grade for each state?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, it’s — it was done by a collection of smart and brilliant people on our economic team that you probably wouldn’t necessarily identify on the street, but sounds like a good profile piece to me. 
 
But, you know, they work to identify what the needs are in the states.  I don’t know that I have the exact process to outline for you, but maybe you can —
 
Q    But, I mean, did they work with state officials and local departments, as well, to decide what each state needed?
 
MS. PSAKI:  What the needs are?  I’m happy to check and see if there’s more about the process that we can share. 
 
Q    Okay, great.   Thank you.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  Go ahead.
 
Q    Yes, you talked about paying for the infrastructure bill.  Is the President set on raising the corporate tax rate as the way to do that, even though Republicans are saying it’s a red line?  Or is that also open to negotiation?
 
MS. PSAKI:  It’s op- — it’s all open to negotiation.  But I will say that raising — having corporations pay more, pay their fair share; raising the rate to a rate that is still lower than it has been — aside from a few years, since World War Two — the President feels is an entirely reasonable, appropriate, effective way to pay for this package.
 
There are other proposals that have been put out there, including user fees.  The President doesn’t feel that we should pay for this package on the backs of the American people, but he’s certainly eager to hear ideas from Democrats and Republicans on alternatives.
 
Q    And then, Senator John Cornyn called Joe Biden’s tweets “unimaginably conventional” and said that his comments were “largely scripted,” and questioned whether he was really in charge.  Does the White House have any reaction to that?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I can confirm that the President of the United States does not spend his time tweeting conspiracy theories.  He spends his time working on behalf of the American people. 
 
Go ahead.  Oh, go ahead.  Oh, Josh, you went.  Go ahead. 
 
Q    Oh, me? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yep, go ahead.
 
Q    Great.  Thanks, Jen.  So just to piggyback off — on the corporate tax rate — 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah. 
 
Q    — Senator Manchin said that he only supports raising it to 25 percent — that that’s his line in the sand. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.
 
Q    What’s the White House response to that?  And has the President or Secretary Buttigieg spoken to Manchin about the corporate tax (inaudible)?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, we are in regular touch with a range of officials, senators, members of Congress.  There have been dozens and dozens of meetings and briefings.  I don’t have a specific readout of our engagements with Senator Manchin.  I’m sure he could share that with all of you. 
 
But I would say that we’re certainly encouraged to hear that Senator Manchin is open to raising the corporate tax rate as a means of potentially paying for a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure and, most importantly, to creating jobs. 
 
And the President is happy to hear ideas or alternatives for how this plan and package could — should be paid for.  His primary focus is on this investment; on creating jobs; on helping put back to work the millions of men and women who don’t have college degrees; on ensuring we’re evening the playing field, on doing what we can to compete with China over the long term.
 
There are disagreements about how to pay for it.  We’re happy to have a discussion about that.
 
Q    And then, two more, quickly.  There appears to be a large deployment of Russian land forces towards the border with Ukraine.  What is the administration prepared to do if Russia moves to invade eastern Ukraine? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, first, let me say we are concerned, as I’ve said in the past — but we’ve been, of course, watching it over the course of the weekend — about the increasing aggression of Russian forces on the border. 
 
Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin are in Brussels this week, meeting with their NATO partners, and we will, of course — I’m sure this will be a topic of discussion.  We also remain in touch with Ukrainian officials at a range of levels.  But I’m not going to get ahead of their discussions that they’re having on the ground.
 
Q    And then, just on police reform again: The — you mentioned on Friday that the President is meeting with the CDC tomorrow.  Is police reform going to be the topic of discussion?  Criminal justice reform?  What exactly will they be discussing?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I’m sure there’ll be a range of issues discussed.  The primary purpose from our perspective is to discuss the American Jobs Plan and how to move that forward.  But as is always the case, there will be a range of topics we expect discussed during the meeting. 
 
Q    Do we have to gather in —
 
Q    12:45.
 
MS. PSAKI:  I think it’s one o’clock.
 
AIDE:  12:55 is when —
 
MS. PSAKI:  12:55.  Okay.  Ten more minutes.  Alex is so responsible for keeping track.  (Laughter.)  She — she is.
 
Q    Got to keep it rolling.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah, go ahead.  Go ahead. 
 
Q    When can we expect to see the President announce the American Family Plan?  That was supposed to be coming soon.  When should we look for that?
 
Also, there’s some talk about making the expanded childcare tax credit permanent.  Is the administration looking at extending it or making it permanent at this point?
 
MS. PSAKI:  So, the President believes there’s a hugely ben- — huge benefits of the Child Tax Credit.  That’s why he put the Child Tax Credit in his — in his ARP, American Rescue Plan, because he feels it’s important, it’s vital, it will help get the 2 million women who are out of work, back to work — hopefully back into the workforce.
 
Expect you’ll hear more on the American Families Plan in the coming weeks, but I don’t have an exact date for you quite yet. 
 
Q    And nothing on whether or not the administration is considering making it permanent or just extending it?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have anything more to preview for you on the American Families Plan, although, just to reiterate, the President believes the Child Tax Credit is a way to help American families and especially all of the working moms out there who are trying to make ends meet.
 
Go ahead. 
 
Q    Me?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah, go ahead.
 
Q    So, I want to follow up on a question I asked, I feel like it’s a month ago now.
 
MS. PSAKI:  It may have been.
 
Q    The New York Times, last week, came out with a story that Mississippi was having a hard time getting folks vaccinated.  But it’s not just Mississippi; it’s a bunch of other rural states — Ohio, Oklahoma.  They’re at 34 percent vaccination rate. 
 
Even so, opening up vaccines to out-of-staters — I know we talked a little bit about before —
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah.
 
Q    — the preliminary steps — but has the White House been in touch with these governors to see what they can do now?  Because, of course, this impacts herd immunity and the goals of the White House just to get these shots in arms.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, there are a number of steps that we’ve taken in the recent weeks, including launching the Community Corps, which is our program to provide fact-based messages into the hands of local messengers.
 
So we’ve now — we’re now working with more than 4,000 organizations that have signed up so far across the country, including in a number of the states that you mentioned. 
 
We’re also investing $3 billion to states and community-based organizations to strengthen vaccine confidence in the highest-risk and hardest-hit communities.  And often, people think of that as just Black and brown communities, and that is not.  As you’ve noted, that is also conservative communities, white evangelicals.  It’s a range of communities around the country. 
 
What we’ve found to be most effective is to work with these local organizations — so, faith-based organizations, community health organizations, civic leaders, and others who can really get this message deeply in communities. 
 
We’ve also had a number of our members of our COVID team, from Dr. Fauci and Fran- — and Dr. Collins — participate — as an example — participate in a range of media interviews.  You know, an example is Dr. Collins participated in “The 700 Club.”  Dr. Nunez-Smith hosted a faith leaders roundtable.  We’re also looking for — we’ve run PSAs on “The Deadliest Catch.”  We’re engaged with NASCAR and Country Music TV.
 
We’re looking for a range of creative ways to get directly connected to white conservative communities.  We won’t always be the best messengers, but we’re still trying to meet people where they are but also empower local organizations.
 
Q    And just a quick follow-up: Do you — does the White House endorse these states opening up their vaccines to folks from out of state?  You know, these — these do expire, so rather than them sitting on the shelf, they are going to go to somebody else.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, these states are all going to have their own implementation plans, and we certainly work with them to advise how to distribute the vaccines most — as equitably as possibly — as possible and as effectively and efficiently around states.
 
No state is 100 percent vaccinated, as — as we know.  So our focus has been working with them on how to get them to the communities that are the hardest hit. 
 
Go ahead.  Go ahead.  Sorry, go ahead.  And then we’ll go to you.  Go ahead.
 
Q    Thanks.  So why hasn’t President Biden signed the presidential determination that would lift former President Trump’s immigration policies, including the 15,000-person refugee cap?
 
MS. PSAKI:  It’s an issue he remains committed to, as he announced.  I just don’t have an update on the signing of the paperwork. 
 
Q    Okay.  And equity was cited as the reason for which the White House decided against surging vaccines in Michigan.  The administration is surging FEMA vaccinators.  What makes the vaccine different?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I would say, I think it’s important to understand how we’ve approached vaccine distribution from the beginning.  It’s done with equity in mind.  It’s done with the state — the population, the adult population in mind.
 
We don’t pick by our friends.  We don’t pick through a political prism.  We pick through what is most effective to be fair and equitable around the country.
 
We also made an announcement during the transition that we were not going to hold on to a big supply.  We distribute and get the supply out as quickly as possible.  So that’s why our focus is on working with states like Michigan to, you know, surge testing, surge tracing, surge the distribution of therapeutics — areas where we have the ability to provide additional help, additional resources.  But we’re not in a place, nor will we be, where we take supply from one state to give it to another.
 
Q    Okay.  I see.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Go ahead.
 
Q    To follow up on Brittany’s question about vaccines: Do you think that the White House has had any part in this — in having, sort of, maybe a pessimistic message towards some Americans who are skeptical of this administration, who — for partisan reasons or otherwise — to see vaccinated people in the Cabinet or the President continuing to wear masks around each other, or hearing that things won’t be back to normal as the vaccine continues to be distributed?  Do you think that that is having a negative effect at all?
 
MS. PSAKI:  On people — make sure I understand your question.
 
Q    Of people who are skeptical.
 
MS. PSAKI:  On people not taking the vaccine?
 
Q    Yeah, of people who are skeptical of the vaccine and who don’t trust the Biden administration.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, look, I think, one, we recognize we’re not always the best messengers.  That’s why we’re working with these local organizations and groups — because we certainly know that President Biden and Vice President Harris may not be the right voices in a range of communities across the country. 
 
Two, we believe that part of our objective is to model public health guidelines, and that means continuing to wear masks, continuing to handwash, social distance, because there is still ongoing research on what is most effective and how to prevent distribution and it — the va- — I’m sorry, the pandemic traveling further.  So I’m not sure I’m understanding your question maybe.
 
Q    The question is: How do you — how do you strike that balance between being a model of the public health guidelines and also not contributing to the sense of hopelessness, perhaps, among people who are skeptical to take the vaccine and maybe feel like getting it would not make a difference in their lives anyway?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  Yeah, I think a big part of what we’re trying to do is provide accurate information about what getting a vaccine will enable the American people to do; hence, the President gave a primetime address where he said, if when you get the vac- — if you — when the vaccine is accessible to you and you get it, we can work towards having backyard barbecues.
 
He — we’ve also had a number of officials out there to convey, and we’ve had — obviously, the CDC has put out guidance that says, “If you’re vaccinated, if your neighbors are vaccinated, you can have dinner inside together.”  It’s a pandemic.  We don’t think it’s easy.  We know it’s difficult.  It’s required a lot of sacrifice.  But at the same time, we’re trying to provide accurate, public health-based guidance on what people can do once they have taken the vaccine. 
 
Go ahead, in the back.
 
Q    Thank you very much, Jen.  Two East Asia questions, if I may.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay.
 
Q    On John Kerry’s visit to — potential visit to Shanghai, what’s President Biden’s expectation of them?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Of John Kerry’s visit?
 
Q    Yeah, to Shanghai.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, certainly he’ll be focused on discussing climate and how we can work with leaders around the region to get control of our — the climate crisis.  But I would send you to the State Department because they — that’s where he works.
 
Q  And also, on the chip summit: According to South Korea media, Korea Economic Daily, quote, “Industry watchers said following this White House meeting, Samsung may be forced to make the decision on its new U.S. factory sooner and build a production line for automotive chips, given the dire shortage of such chips in the [United States].”  What’s the — 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I know — we’ll put out a readout after the meeting, but the meeting — the purpose of the meeting is really to consult with these business leaders about how we can help address the shortage. 
 
Let me just get around to the back, and then I know you have to gather soon.
 
Q    Quick follow-up.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Go ahead.
 
Q    On Iran, immigration — (inaudible).  On Iran, the foreign minister is vowing revenge against Israel for its alleged attack on its nuclear facilities.  Israel has not denied this.  How concerned is the White House, is the President, that the actions of an ally potentially may be derailing efforts by the White House to get Iran back into compliance under the JCPOA? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think I answered a version of this question earlier, but let me try again.
 
Q    (Inaudible) Israel we haven’t talked about (inaudible).
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, again, we’ve seen the reports.  We don’t have anything more to speak to as it relates to the causes or who is responsible.  Our focus is, of course, on the diplomatic path forward.  We have not been given any indication that attendance at the discussions and the — that will proceed on Wednesday has changed.  So that’s where our focus is.
 
Q    But is there concern that the actions of an ally are derailing the U.S. efforts?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I think I’ve answered your question.  Did you have another one?
 
Q    I didn’t think it was an answer. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay, I’m sorry to hear that.  I’ve answered it a couple times.
 
Q    Okay.  Let me just quickly follow and —
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay.
 
Q    — let me try on Ukraine.  The Secretary of State said that there will be consequences if Russia continues its escalation on the border.  Can you give us a sense of what those range of options are?  And then, also, at what level does this escalation require President Biden to reach out to Vladimir Putin?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would say that what we’ve long said is that there will be some consequences that are seen and some that are unseen.  I’m not going to give you a menu of the options.  When we’re ready to announce them, we will announce them and share the details with all of you.
 
Q    And very quickly on immigration.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay.
 
Q    With regard to the militarization of the borders in Central America and the agreements that have been secured: Did the White House in any way secure any — is the White House concerned, given the record number of children that have been making this trek, that they are at greater risk given the fact that these are soldiers, not daycare workers? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think the objective is to deter — deter the journey.  And so that’s why our discussions with these countries involved increasing law enforcement capacity at the border.
 
Q    But is there a worry though about, sort of, this increased militarization, given (inaudible)?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I didn’t call it that.  Those are your words, not mine. 
 
Q    No, I’m asking.
 
MS. PSAKI:  We are — we inc- — we worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey which — where many lose their lives. 
 
Q    (Inaudible.)
 
MS. PSAKI:  I think we have to gather.  Thank — thank you so much. 
 
Q    Should we expect anything on Afghanistan this week?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have anything to preview for you on the timeline. 
 
Q    Okay.  Thank you.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay, thanks, everyone.
 
12:56 P.M. EDT

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