Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Philadelphia, PA
1:43 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: In the birthplace of American democracy, President Biden will articulate how to meet the greatest threat to the right to vote and the integrity of our elections since the Civil War, renew his call for vital legislation to overcome the rash of anti-voter legis- — laws motivated by the Big Lie, and underline the all-of-government efforts the Biden-Harris administration launched to use the powers of the executive branch to protect and advance the sacred constitutional right to vote.
The President will highlight that the greatest irony of the 28 voter suppression laws that have been passed across 17 states this year alone is that the 2020 election stands as a model for the trustworthiness and precision of our system, given that over 80 judges, including judges appointed by his predecessor, threw out every challenge to it.
The President will give Democrats credit for unanimously voting to advance the For the People Act and decry the Republican obstruction of its path, and he will reiterate that the work to pass it and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement are only beginning.
He will also blast the denial of the right to vote as grounded in autocracy, under- — undemocratic and un-American and unpatriotic.
And he will note that while voter suppression — that vote — while voter suppression that these 21st century Jim Crow laws represent is sadly not unprecedented in American history, these new insidious moves to empower partisans over independent election authorities, in terms of who counts the votes, are new and extremely dangerous.
Such efforts, which could allow partisans to throw out the votes of anyone for made-up reasons, are the most significant threat to today to the integrity of our elections and to the security of the right to vote.
The President will call for a new coalition made up of advocates, activists, students, faith leaders, labor leaders, and business execs — executives to overcome this un-American trend and meet the moment as far as turnout and voter education.
The President will repeat that these are the most egregious attempts to harm the integrity of our democracy since the Civil War, but that if we show the will to save and strengthen our democracy, this can be turned back.
Also, this week, the Vice President will meet with the Texas legislators who broke quorum to block legislation that would have made it significantly harder for the people of Texas to vote.
There is growing bipartisan momentum in Congress as we look towards the — the historic framework that came together — the bipartisan framework — that this is the product of hard work — which was a product of hard work by Democrats and Republicans and which would make the most significant investment in our roads and bridges since the creation — the creation of the Interstate Highway System; connect every American to broadband, including in underserved rural areas; stop our children from drinking poisoned water that can impact them for life; secure our leadership in the clean energy economy; and make the biggest investments in American rail since Amtrak.
As Senator Portman said yesterday, people want to see our infrastructure be improved. They’re tired of waiting in traffic during their rush-hour commute. People are tired of worrying about lead pipes. It’s very popular because it’s something people know — know is needed.
And just this morning, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, on a bipartisan basis, wrote to both chambers of Congress, advocating for quick passage of the framework. They wrote, “The bipartisan infrastructure framework is crucial to making meaningful progress on one of the most pressing and unifying challenges facing our country… we believe that this framework deserves bipartisan support in the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives.” The American people are calling out for these investments, and we’re going to deliver.
One last thing, following up on Jen’s announcement of us continuing to read out some of the innovative activities we are doing to get more Americans vaccinated: Tomorrow, Olivia Rodrigo will come to the White House to meet with the President and Dr. Fauci, and record videos about the importance of young people getting vaccinated, including answering important questions young people have about getting vaccinated. The videos will be featured on Olivia’s channels — 28 million-plus followers across the channels and the White House social pages.
With that, I will take the first question.
Q Yesterday, Senator Sanders — Bernie Sanders came out of the White House and said, in essence, to ask him — meaning the President — to stay the negotiations on the reconciliation bill — in particular, where things stand with a topline number. Can you give us an update on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: They — look, the President and Senator Sanders — who have worked closely together and they have, as you know, a friendship, a relationship — they agree that the budget resolution must include key priorities, including universal pre-K, extending the Child Care Tax Credit, tax incentives and rebates for electric — electric vehicles.
Senator Sanders is continuing to negotiate a resolution package, and the President is confident that we’ll pass something similar to his Build Back Better agenda. We leave that process to — to Congress.
Q Was there a discussion of a topline figure? Senator Sanders had suggested up to $6 trillion. Where does the President stand on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There’s nothing more that I can read out. He is leaving that to Congress on — on those pieces of the pieces of legislation, including the monetary component of it as well.
Q Is the President going to mention the filibuster today in his speech?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you could imagine, the President — the President believes that we have to make the filibuster work the way it used to. He has talked about this. As a senator for 36 years, he understands how this process works.
We have to make people stand there and command floor; this is the talking filibuster that he has spoken to many times. From 1970 to 1971, it was invoked 58 times. Last year alone, there were five times that many. For example, it used to be you had to stand there and talk and talk and talk until you collapse. And guess what? People got tired of talking, filibuster broke down, and we were able to break the filibuster, get a quorum, and vote.
So, his position hasn’t changed on this. He sees this as a, you know, Senate procedural process. But he has talked about the talking filibuster many times.
Q Does the President plan to meet with the Texas Democrats that are in Washington? And does he think they are doing the right thing by fleeing Texas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ll say this, Weijia: The Texas legislation is part of a concerted attack on our democracy being advanced in state houses across the country on the basis of the same repeatedly disproven lies that led to the assault on our nation — nation’s Capitol on January 6th.
The President’s message in Philadelphia today is simple and straightforward: The most funda- — foundational right is the right to vote freely and fairly, and have that vote counted.
The fact of the matter is that the Texas legislation would make it harder to vote in a state where it is already too hard for many to vote. As you’ve heard from the President, he has said that the Texas anti-voter bill is part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year, and often disproportionately targeting Black and brown Americans. It’s wrong and it’s un-American.
I don’t have a specific announcement on when he will be meeting — or if, I should say — with the Texas legislators, but he applauds their courage. And this adds to the urgency for passage of the For the People and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, along with the all-of-government effort we have launched, and the movement he’s calling for today — to overcome this moment with voter turnout and voter education.
Q Do you know — you said the Vice President is going to meet with the Democrats. Do you have any more information on that — when and where it will be?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t. It’s going to be sometime this week she’ll be meeting with them.
Q Karine, do you have any updates on either Haiti or Cuba? The President, yesterday, said that, you know, he’s looking at options to support folks in both those countries.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you mentioned, Justin, the President said yesterday, “We are careful- — we are closely following the developments in Haiti in the wake of the horrific assassination of the — of their President that recently took place.” We reiterate our deepest condolences to the family of President Moïse and to the Haitian people, and wish First Lady Martine Moïse a swift recovery.
And to echo the President: The people of Haiti deserve peace and security, and Haiti’s political leaders need to come together for the good of their country.
As you all know, the President dispatched a high-level interagency expert delegation to assess the situation and to determine whether United States can offer our support. We are in close consultation with the Haitian government. And we will — he said, even yesterday, he’ll have more to share in the upcoming days.
As for Cuba, yesterday, as well, the President recognized the protests that are happening in Cuba, calling them “remarkable,” saying that the Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime.
The President reiterated that the United States stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And he called on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence or attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba.
Q Karine, a number of Democratic senators have said that not every part of President Biden’s infrastructure package — particularly under reconciliation — should have to be paid for. So, does the White House still believe that the infrastructure plans have to be offset or is it open to some parts of it in the package not being paid for?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the bipartisan framework is a historic agreement that brings together Democrats and Republicans to invest in our nation’s future in a way that hasn’t been done in decades. The President offered his own ideas about how to pay for this investment through reforming the corporate tax code, and the Republicans offered theirs.
The offsets are reasonable and responsible compromise. He sees this as also being fiscally responsible. After all, there is good evidence that the infrastructure investment, like that in this legislation, can help — can help fact — can, in fact, help pay for itself over the long run by expanding the economy, creating good jobs.
Studies done after the framework was announced have corroborated that. And these offsets are on top of those savings, and the savings claimed from long-term economic growth is smaller than what it would — likely to occur.
Q We’re landing.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q The websites of this Russian gang who might have been responsible for the Kaseya hack reveal they are shut down. Are you aware of this? Do you have anything on this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything — anything further to share on that. I don’t have anything to share (inaudible).
Q Karine, yesterday, Jen said she was going to double check on the U.S. delegation in Haiti. Do you know if all the members have returned?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, all the members have returned from the delegation.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No problem. All right?
Q I think we’re okay.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Thank you.
Q Thank you, Karine.
1:55 P.M. EDT