Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Aboard Air Force One En Route Hampton, VA
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Hampton, Virginia
1:24 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This afternoon, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, the President and the First Lady will address service members and their families and thank them for their sacrifices. They will speak from their personal experience as a proud military family; the President’s long history working on foreign policy and visiting troops aboard [abroad]; and the First Lady’s work to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, including through Joining Forces.
Finally, the President will reflect on the service of the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the debt — the debt owed to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
I’m going to read the statement from the Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, on Memorial Day weekend and the gas prices because I — we know that there’s been a lot of inquiry on this.
Across America, the pandemic is in retreat. As we continue to make progress and our life returns to normal, Americans are eager to make up for lost time and more people are traveling this Memorial Day weekend.
And as Americans are hitting the road, they are paying less, in real terms, for gas than they have on average over the last 15 years. And they’re paying — they’re paying about the same as they did in May 2018 and May 2019. The administration’s success in beating the pandemic and getting our economy back on track has led to increased demand for gas as the — as the country reopens.
But while price — prices have increased from the lows last year as demand drastically dipped, prices at just about $3 per gallon are still well in line with what there have been — what they’ve been in recent decades.
And last week, prices have already stabilized after a spike earlier this month as the Colonial Pipeline is fully flowing and the supply situation returns to normal. This is due in part to the administration’s aggressive whole-of-government response to the unprecedented shutdown of the pipeline.
While oil prices are shaped by glo- — global forces, the President knows that gas prices are a pa- — a pain point for Americans, especially the middle-class families he’s put at the center of our economic agenda. That’s why President Biden is oppose — opposed any proposal to raise the gas tax. And that is why he will — we will continue to monitor prices and are glad that Americans can get on the road again.
Here’s a quick preview of the President’s schedule next week: On Sunday, he will deliver remarks during the Memorial Day service hosted by the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs at Veterans Memorial Park at the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
On Monday, the President will return to Washington, D.C. He and the First Lady, the Vice President, and the Second Gentleman will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington Ceme- — National Cemetery. The President will also deliver remarks on the National Memorial Day Observance.
On Tuesday, the President will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma; deliver remarks; and he’ll commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. He’ll also meet with surviving members of the community who are now between the age of 101 and 107.
On Wednesday, the President will deliver remarks on the COVID-19 response.
And on Friday, President Biden will deliver remarks on the economy.
I’ll take a few questions, as we just landed.
Q Karine, the Senate defeated the September — the January 6th commission today. Can we get a response from the President and what he wants to see next? And could that include a select committee from the House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as the President said during his speech before a joint session of Congress, in — in the very place that had been des- — desecrated during the insurrection, the events of January 6th represented an existential crisis of our democracy.
That’s why the President supported the bipartisan commission that was proposed and why he consistently called for a full and independent investigation into what happened and how we can ensure something like that could never happen again.
Members of the Senate aren’t sent to Washington to — to rubberstamp any party’s views. They swear on — an oath to support and defend the Constitution. And today, unfortunately, they failed to do that.
As far as the alternative option that you asked, Jonathan, the President has been clear that the shameful events of January 6th need to be independently and fully investigated. He remains committed to that, and we will continue to work with Congress to find a path forward to ensure that happens.
Q Is he considering forming a presidential commission?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything else to share. He truly believes that this should be done on a bipartisan — in a bipartisan way.
We have to remember, when it — when it passed the House, it was a bipartisan pass where 35 Republicans voted for it. And he believes the Senate should have — do the same.
Q Can you give us an update on Belarus sanctions?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any more updates. As I mentioned, the President’s team is going to put together some options for him. And more — there will be more to come.
Q The New York Times reported that there was a raft of unexplored evidence into this sort of Wuhan — the origins of the coronavirus. Can you talk a little bit about how much unexamined intelligence there is and whether that’s why the President asked for a — was part of the reason the President asked for a larger review?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks for your question, Annie. Look, we do not comment on intelligence, as you can imagine. We’re going to — we’re going to continue to look at the intelligence. We believe there’s more work to do, hence the 90-day review.
Q How does — how does the latest reported hack that’s attributed to Russia impact the summit that’s coming up between the President and Putin?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There’s been no changes to — to the summit. We’re going to move forward with that, as you can imagine.
Q What is the White House concern on the — on the cyberattack though? What — how concerned is the White House about this escalation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we are — we are aware of the phishing incident and we are monitoring the situation. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is managing this incident and working with USAID. We refer you to USAID and CISA.
But I’ll say while we may — while we may learn more, this is basic phishing which is blocked by most systems automatically. As Microsoft’s blog noted, it’s likely to have been blocked by automatic — automated system as spam. If an email got by the automated system, a user would still have to click on the link to activate the malicious payload. And we should all know better than to click links in unknown emails.
I direct you to the USAID or CISA for further questions.
Q Secretary Mayorkas spoke positively about the vaccine — the possibility of a vaccine passport today. Can you clear up where the administration stands on this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, it’s — we haven’t moved on our — on our stance on this. There will be no federal vaccination database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.
Q Can you explain what he meant then by his comments?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, the U.S. government recognizes that other countries have or may have foreign-entry requirements. We will be monitoring these and helping all U.S. travelers meet those, but we will not be — there will be no federal mandate requiring anyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.
Q Do you have a quick White House response to Republican criticism over the size of President Biden’s budget?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we — as you know, we got our — the counteroffer. We will be working this weekend, and taking a look — a deep look, a deep dive into what the counteroffer was — was presented by Capito and her — and the senators there.
Q I actually meant the budget.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, the budget. I’m so sorry.
Q That’s okay.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m so sorry. I am so sorry about that.
Q All good.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Things are moving so quickly. The budget will be released soon, so I’m not going to get ahead of it.
Q It’s out now.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. Well — (laughs) — so, like — well, I have not seen it. So, is it —
AIDE: (Inaudible) 1:30.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. But here’s what I can say — here’s what I can say about the budget: When the President took office, Congress had already spent more than $3 trillion trying to get the pandemic crisis under control. And there was more work to do, which is why he took the decisive action to get the economy back on track through American Rescue Plan.
The budget does exactly what the President told the country that he would do: grow the economy, create jobs, advance his Jobs Plan and his Families Plan, and do so responsibly by requiring the wealthiest Americans and big corporations to pay their fair share.
The economic plan is already showing results: New unemployment claims are down almost 50 percent since he took office. He’s created more new jobs than any President in his first month in office. And growth is at 40 — 40th-year high.
AIDE: Okay, thank you. Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We have to go. And I didn’t — I lost track of time. I didn’t realize it was past 1:30.
Q Thank you.
1:32 P.M. EDT