Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jen Psaki Aboard Air Force One En Route Philadelphia, PA
1:13 P.M. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Good afternoon. Happy Friday. Welcome to our trip to Philadelphia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amtrak, a celebration that is obviously close to the President’s heart.
Two quick things at the top. A new report released just yesterday by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the tax reform proposals in the President’s American Families Plan would affect less than 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers, even as they create a fairer tax system.
And as a reminder, the plan would also cut $800 billion in taxes for lower- and middle-class Americans while making critical investments.
On the week ahead. On Monday, the President and First Lady will travel to Yorktown, Virginia, where they will visit schools as part of the Getting America Back on Track Tour.
On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks on the COVID-19 response and the state of vaccinations.
On Thursday, he will travel for the fourth stop on the Getting America Back on Track Tour. We’ll get details on that for you as soon as we have them finalized.
And, on Friday, he will deliver remarks on the economy.
With that, Darlene.
Q Hi. So, today, the CDC said that July 1st is a reasonable opening day for New York City. Does that affect the President — you know, he’s talked about July 4th as being our freedom day from the virus. Is there any chance that he would move his timeline up to July 1st, given what the CDC said?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, the CDC — as is the announcement today evidence of — is constantly reviewing what is safe, what proposals are happening in states, and what advice they can give broadly to the American public.
I expect the President will have more to say next week, and it will all — as always, be based on the advice of our health and medical team. But our objective is to continue to provide advice, guidance, information to the public about what is safe to do once they’re vaccinated.
Q So we can expect to hear more from him on Tuesday? You said he’s giving COVID remarks on Tuesday?
MS. PSAKI: He can — you can expect more to hear from him next week, on Tuesday, as I — as I mentioned — on our ongoing fight against the pandemic. And, of course, any advice and announcements he makes will be based on the advice and counsel of our health and medical team.
Q Has the administration finished the North Korea policy review? And if so, what approach will they be taking?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I can confirm that we’ve completed our DPRK policy review, which was thorough, rigorous, and inclusive. We consulted closely with outside experts and our predecessors from several previous administrations, and our way forward draws from their lessons learned and shared.
Our goal remains the complete denu- — denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. With a clear understanding that the efforts of the past four administrations have not achieved this objective, our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience.
Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK, and to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and deployed forces.
We have and will continue to consult with the Republic of Korea, Japan, and other allies and partners at every step along the way.
Q When was the President briefed on the final review? And has he been speaking with allies since they’ve completed it?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been in close touch with allies and partners through the process of the review. And obviously, when he spoke — when he met with Prime Minister Suga, just la- — two week — was it two weeks ago? — two weeks ago, they discussed there and we’ve discussed at every level as we’ve been conducting this review.
Their input and also the approaches we’ve taken in the past have all played a role in this effort. Since — I don’t have — I’m not going to have any details on when the President was r- — was briefed, but it’s been an ongoing discussion.
Q Jen, are you planning to add a meeting between President Biden and President Putin during the upcoming trip
in Europe, in June?
MS. PSAKI: As you know, the — that was a discussion the President had during his call with President Putin, but I don’t have any updates on the timing or of confirmation of the meeting at this point in time.
Q And if they do end up meeting, do you — what are they likely to discuss? Are there any — are there any dis- — anything you can share with us on that?
MS. PSAKI: I expect, if and when we have a meeting confirmed, we’ll have more to talk about what an agenda would look like, but we’re not quite there in the — at process yet.
But broadly speaking, our focus is on ensuring we are working towards a more stable and predictable relationship; that we raise concerns where we have them, which we continue to have concerns, of course — including about the detainment of Aleksey Navalny, including about military buildup of troops on the border of Ukraine.
But we also see there’s areas where we can work together on denucleariza- — on Iran moving forward — on the Iran efforts — diplomatic efforts as it relates to Iran through the P5+1.
So I expect that to be in the pool of topics, but we’re not quite there. There’s not a meeting confirmed, nor a date or timeline. If and when there is, we’ll have more to say as we get close to it.
Q And I had a question on India as well. Of course, the administration announced $100 million in relief and assistance, and some of that is on its way now to India. Are there fresh talks with perhaps the private sector? I mean, what else — what more is the administration really doing to help India?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me give you an update of what’s happened over the last 24 hours. So a military [flight with USAID] assistance
flight departed from Travis Air Force Base at 8:00 p.m. last night [April 28th], with a cargo including 200 small oxygen cylinders, 223 large oxygen cylinders, regulators, and pulse ox- — oximeters. I don’t — I don’t know what that is, but I will give you the spelling.
MS. PSAKI: Perfect. Approximately 184,000 rapid diagnostic tests, and a hu- — approximately 84,000 N95s.
There’s a second military [flight with USAID] assistance
flight departed at midnight [April 29] with 17 large oxygen — oxygen cylinders. Both planes landed in India today [over the last two days]. More will come.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken called his counterpart to review ongoing U.S. government efforts in support of the Indian government’s response. He also noted the outpouring of support from U.S. industries, our ongoing discussions, nongovernmental institutions, and private citizens.
So we will continue to communicate with India about their needs, but that’s an update of what we’ve just delivered in the last 24 hours.
Q Jen, the administration has been working with Central American countries on the root causes.
MS. PSAKI: Yep.
Q Can you give an update on any plans on providing vaccines to countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador who have requested that kind of help?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, just as a reminder, we have made the decision, of course, to provide — to — to provide 60 million doses over the coming months of AstraZeneca because we don’t need that to address the pandemic in our country.
Right now, we have zero doses available. We expect to have about 10 million doses available in the next couple of weeks, and then an additional 50 million in the next few months. There’s an ongoing process through our national security and COVID and health teams right now to determine the incoming requests, where the needs are around the world, but we haven’t concluded that process quite yet.
Q A question from a colleague is asking that the United States has been blocking a proposal, discussed at the WTO, to loosen
patient [patent] restrictions so that they can continue to manufacture some vaccines. Can you talk about that? What is the plan? Is there a chance that the w- — that the United States will, kind of, lift those restrictions?
MS. PSAKI: So “patent” restrictions are you talking about? Pat- — patent? Just to make sure.
Q I believe that’s correct.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. So what our objective is is to produce as much supply for the global community as we can in a cost-effective manner. And there are a lot of ways to do that and considerations under way as we do that.
That could mean manufacturing more in the United States where we already have facilities that are up and manufacture — and manufacturing these vaccines.
So, there hasn’t been a decision or recommendation that’s come yet from USTR — and — one that’s come to the President, nor has been — there been a decision made.
But, our overall objective is to provide as much supply to the global community and do that in a cost-effective manner. And that’s our consideration.
Q Jen, also, the number of minors in CBP detention facilities has really gone down.
MS. PSAKI: Yep.
Q Does that mean — is the administration going to pull FEMA out of that process of building up temporary HHS facilities, given hurricane season is approaching?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. That’s an excellent question. I think — I will check with FEMA and check with our team to see if there’s a consideration of that. But right now, the work is ongoing. As you know, there’s still more work to be done. Let me just provide, though, an update, since I know you follow this closely, but just for others.
So, as of a month ago, there were 5,667 [sic] — 5,767 children in CBP custody. There are now 954, as of new numbers that we’ve received. As of a month ago — or the end of March, I should say — there were — kids were in CBP custody for about 133 hours; it’s now 28 hours. So, there has been some progress that has been made, as you referred to.
There’s more work to be done. We’re continuing to work to expedite kids moving to family members and to sponsor homes. But I will check in to see if there’s any projected change in FEMA’s role.
Q Quick follow on that: So, there’s been reports by outlets as well as organizations on the ground that the President’s Title 42 policy is rapidly returning adults and some families to areas where the car- — where cartel violence is rampant and kidnappings have been reported. Is the White House talking to the government of Mexico about addressing those kidnappings that are happening as a result of the Title 42 policy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say, first, that those diplomatic conversations would likely happen through counterparts at the State Department. That’s where the channels would happen. There — obviously, there’s also a call, I know, that Vice President Harris has scheduled with the Mexican President, I think, next week; I will double check that.
But, the Title 42 policy is a public health policy meant to keep the American people safe. Obviously, our objective is to work in close coordination with the Mexican government, with governments in Central America to help address root causes. We’ve obviously provided a great deal of humanitarian and other assistance, but we’re going to continue to discuss that through diplomatic channels.
Q Jen, how concerned is the White House about vaccine misinformation, given what happened with Joe Rogan this week? And can you talk about what you’re doing to counteract that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say that our approach is to provide and flood the zone with accurate information. Obviously, that includes combating misinformation when it comes across.
But that’s one of the reasons that we have invested — we’re in the process of investing $3 billion across the country in public campaigns. That includes empowering and funding programs at the local level, but it also includes paid media. It includes work that we’re doing through social media channels as well, so that we can be the deliverers of information and accurate information to the communities across the country.
Q Do you foresee — you know, beyond what you’ve already announced about addressing vaccine hesitancy — announcing further steps in the future or doing more things to address it?
MS. PSAKI: To address vaccine confidence or —
Q Vaccine hesitancy or just increased — like, the targeting that you’re doing, especially with people that might be susceptible to, you know, misinformation.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. We’re always evaluating what’s most effective. We look at the data, how communities are impacted by information that’s being shared with them, where we see a downtick in communities being open to taking the vaccine — or an uptick.
The good news is that, according to recent polling, that in December the — only about 30 percent — or just over 30 percent of the public were open to taking the vaccine, and now it’s in the 60s.
So, we’ve seen an increase in confidence. We’ve also seen an increase in confidence among communities that had a higher level of hesitancy. But, we will continue to make determinations about what the public campaign should look like, what information should be disseminated and distributed through our local partners as well.
Q Jen, the President of Mexico said today that the U.S. is considering about — considering sending five — 5 million AstraZeneca doses to Mexico alone. Is that accurate?
MS. PSAKI: I will have to check with our team on that. I had not heard that report internally.
Q Okay. And then are — is there any move to think about placing any travel restrictions on travel to and from India, given the COVID outbreak that’s happening there?
MS. PSAKI: We’re always evaluating what steps need to be taken in order to keep the American people safe, but I don’t have an update on that at this moment.
Q Thanks, Jen.
MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone. Be safe.
1:26 P.M. EDT