Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, August 10, 2021
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:50 P.M. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Tuesday. Okay.
Q Happy Tuesday.
MS. PSAKI: Happy Tuesday. That’s quite a sign over there.
Okay, a couple of items for all of you at the top. President Biden promised to reach across the aisle and deliver results for families across the country. And, today, on the President’s 203rd day in office — in case all of you weren’t counting — 19 Republican senators joined the Democratic Caucus to pass historic infrastructure legislation.
The most important piece of this to the President is not the bipartisan piece — which, of course, he is pleased to see the opportunity to work with Democrats and Republicans — but that this will deliver huge benefits, millions of jobs to the American people.
It will deliver clean drinking water and high-speed Internet to every household in the country. It will help us tackle the climate crisis by electrifying school buses, building electric vehicle chargers across the station, upgrade our power infrastructure to be resilient against national — natural disasters. And it will rebuild roads and bridges, and modernize American’s — America’s airports, rail, and public transit systems — something that even our Secretary of State talked about yesterday, in terms of its benefits to our competitiveness around the world.
And this inter- — this legislation will create benefits in communities across the country for decades to come. So we are pleased to see the progress, looking forward to the next step.
Also wanted to note for all of you that as a part of our ongoing efforts to boost vaccinations, meet people where they are with information about the vaccines, today, Dr. Fauci is doing five Q&A conversations on Instagram and TikTok with Millennial mom influencers and Gen Z influencers.
Throughout the month of August, Dr. Fauci will do weekly conversations and questions with notable influencers that aim to reach specific audiences we are looking to boost vaccinations with, alongside many of the other specific efforts we are already doing, including amplifying local Black doctors across the country in local media interviews, and partnerships with PTA organizations and doctors to incorporate vaccination information into sports physicals. So, continuing to take a range of steps.
Finally, since we didn’t do a briefing yesterday, I wanted to take a quick second and address the IPCC from yesterday — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that came out. What the IPCC told us is what President Biden has believed all along: Climate change is an urgent threat that requires bold action.
Since his first day in office, President Biden has taken unprecedented, bold, and swift action to tackle the climate crisis: He rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement on day one, restoring leadership at home and on the world stage.
He — the United States hosted a first-ever U.S. Global Climate Summit for 40 world leaders to encourage strong and ambitious commitments to reduce their emissions.
We committed to bold, ambitious climate goals, including reducing emissions from 2005 levels by 50 to 52 percent in 2030, producing 100 percent clean electric vehicles by 20- — clean electricity by 2035 and reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.
And just last week, the President announced steps to drive American leadership forward on clean cars and trucks.
Finally — it doesn’t stop there — obviously, a step forward with the bipartisan infrastructure deal today. And his Build Back Better agenda will set America on the path towards clean energy, clean cars, clean buildings, and cleaner — and cleaner industry — all in a way that will grow our economy, create jobs, and enhance America’s competitiveness.
Q Thank you. On the other news of the day, what is the President’s reaction to Governor Cuomo stepping down? And did anyone in the White House reach out to the governor and sort of nudge him to leave office?
MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me say, the President made clear his views last week, and those stand. He — our view is that this is a story about these courageous women who came forward, told their stories, shared their stories, and the — an investigation — overseen by the Attorney General, that, of course, concluded today — and an outcome that the President called for just last week.
I know a number of you have asked whether the President has talked to the Attorney General since this report came out. The answer is no. Whether we had a heads up on this announcement today, the answer is no.
Q You said the “Attorney General” —
MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry. The — the governor. Yes. Yes. And thank you for that clarification.
Q Any plans for the President to now reach out to talk to the governor now that he has announced that he’s going to step down?
MS. PSAKI: No plans that I’m aware of, no.
Q How ticked is the White House that he chose today — Infrastructure Day — (laughter) — to make the announcement?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Darlene, what I can assure you of is that the American people across the country who are commuting back and forth to work, driving their kids to camp, worried about whether their kids have access to clean drinking water, focused on whether schools are going to have the resources they need, are most focused on the fact that 69 members of the Senate — 19 Republicans — joined the Democratic Caucus to take an important step forward. That’s my bet, in terms of what people are talking about at home.
Q Thank you. On Afghanistan, we’re still a few weeks away from the President’s initial deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country. We’re now seeing so many cities fall to the Taliban. Is the President frustrated by this at all?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the President — there are difficult choices every Commander-in-Chief has to make on behalf of the American people. And President Biden was very clear when he delivered his speech in May announcing his decision that, after 20 years at war, it’s time for American troops to get home.
I would also note and just harken back to some of the points he made when he made that speech that were the drivers for his decision.
We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11th, to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack the United States. We achieved those objectives some years ago.
We judge the threat now against our homeland, which is his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief to focus on, as being one where the threat emanates from outside of Afghanistan.
So — and the President also, at the time — just to go back to your original question — he asked for a clear assessment, for a review from his team on what the possible implications could be. He asked them not to sugarcoat that. He asked them to lay out specifically and clearly what the consequences could be.
I’ll also note that we have provided a great deal and a range of assistance to the Afghan National Security Defense Forces, and also proposed a significant amount of funding in the FY 2022 budget request for $3.3 billion for the Afghan Security Forces.
So, we — he made a decision as Commander-in-Chief. Those are difficult decisions to make. He did it because, after 20 years at war, it’s time to bring our troops — our men and women — home. And we will continue to be partners and supporters of their efforts on the ground.
Q With that assistance, (inaudible) overestimate at all the Afghans’ ability to hold off the Taliban, though?
MS. PSAKI: Well, ultimately — there have been assessments by members of the intelligence committee, members of our national security team that have been made public. And they’re the appropriate entities to, of course, make those assessments.
But ultimately, our view is that the Afghan National Security Defense Forces has the equipment, numbers, and training to fight back, which will strengthen their position at the negotiating table.
We believe there’s a political process — that’s the only process that will successfully bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
Q Thank you. One more on the vaccine — sorry. Secretary Austin says that he will make the request of the President’s — of — request for the President to approve a waiver for the vaccine to be mandatory in the military no later than mid-September, unless the FDA approves the vaccine before then.
But given that the consensus is that the vaccines are safe and effective, why not move forward with that waiver right away?
MS. PSAKI: Well, one, the President and Secretary agree — and they have agreed — that making sure our military is safe and prepared is — is of utmost importance. And given the size and scale and geographic dispersal of the Department of Defense’s workforce, it was determined that DOD would need some time to develop an implementation plan. That’s exactly what we’re talking about with the September 15th timeline to make sure it’s most feasible for fully vaccinating their personnel. There are a range of steps that are components of an implementation plan.
Obviously, if the Delta variant becomes worse and we need to move things forward, we have that option. If the FDA — which we don’t control their timeline, as you all well know — is not approve of vaccine by then, that timeline stands. But this was a timeline put in place so we would have the necessary resources and — and avail- — available time to make this happened with the diverse military personnel around the world.
Q Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
Q I know the President isn’t weighing in on legislative sequencing at this point in time, but there’s a letter sent by a group of House moderate — House Democratic moderates basically calling on Speaker Pelosi to take up the infrastructure bill now, saying (inaudible) have time for a delay. What is the President’s message to those moderates regarding sequencing, but who are — right now, feel like this needs to move immediately?
MS. PSAKI: His message is that he remains committed to passing each of these pieces of legislation on dual tracks; that he is going to work in lockstep with Speaker Pelosi, just as we have worked in lockstep with Leader Schumer successfully over the last several weeks and months to get this done.
And he is confident in the leadership, the strategic approach of Speaker Pelosi and looks forward to being her partner in the weeks ahead.
Q And then one more: You know, Leader McConnell has made very clear over the course of the last couple of weeks that he doesn’t believe any Republicans will vote for a debt ceiling increase. Does the President believe he’s bluffing on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think — for those of you who have followed this quite closely, let me just — for those of you who have not followed this quite closely, let me — let me actually provide you some additional details of context, and then I’ll come back to your good question.
Congress has raised or suspended the debt limit approximately 80 times. In fact, Congress has raised the debt limit more times under Republican Presidents than under Democratic Presidents.
The Republican-led Congress raised the debt limit three times on a bipartisan basis during the prior administration, and 98 percent of the debt, subject to this limit — this limit, we’re talking about right now — accrued before President Biden took office. It’s a shared responsibility.
I’d also note that during the Trump years, former Majority Leader McConnell himself said that failing to raise the debt ceiling was unacceptable because it would cause unforced harm to our economy and kill jobs.
So, our view is that Congress should move forward as they have multiple times — 80 times in the past; 3 times during the Trump administration — to raise the debt limit.
Q Thanks, Jen.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
Q I was going to — I want to ask you about infrastructure in a second. But on some other news on COVID and Delta right now: Governor DeSantis in Florida, as you know, is now threatening to withhold salaries of schoolboard members and superintendents in districts that do not comply with his order outlawning [sic] — outlawing mask mandates at schools. What’s the White House’s take on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I do want to call out the — the courage and the boldness of a number of leaders in Florida, including in Miami-Dade County — people who are stepping up to do the right thing to protect students and keep schools safe and open.
We are continuing to look for ways — to go back to your question, Peter — to — for the U.S. government to support districts and schools as they try to follow the science, do the right thing, and save lives.
I would note: What is publicly available and knowable is that the American Rescue Plan funds that were distributed to Florida to provide assistance to schools have not yet been distributed from the state level. So, the question is: Why not?
And those can be used to cover expenses that come up in this period of time. They’re federal funds, and they’re not under — they’re under federal discretion. So they just need to be distributed to the schools. We’re looking into what’s possible.
Q So, in simple terms, what is the — what do you say directly to Governor DeSantis about this — about this threatened punishment?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we would say what we’ve said from the beginning, Peter, which is that if you’re not interested in following the public health guidelines to protect the lives of people in your state, to give parents some comfort as they’re sending their kids to school — schools are opening in Florida, this week, I know, in many parts of Florida — then get out of the way and let public officials, let local officials do their job to keep students safe. This is serious, and we’re talking about people’s lives.
And we know, based on public health guidelines, that even though kids under a certain age are not yet eligible, masks can have a huge impact.
Q A couple of follow-ups on the Cuomo news that just happened. We saw the President arrive only moments before the announcement. Did the President watch the announcement or who informed him?
MS. PSAKI: The President was meeting with members of his senior team, talking about the vote in the Senate today and preparing to deliver remarks, so I’m not — I don’t have any information on who made him specifically aware.
Q Has he spoken to the soon-to-be Governor Kathy Hochul yet?
MS. PSAKI: Not yet.
Q And what message does the White House have, given this is also a historic day — the first female governor of the state of New York?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we look forward to working with her and with a range of New York officials and continuing to deliver relief to the people of New York as we work to fight the pandemic, put people back to work, and show people government can work for them.
Q Is 14 days soon enough for him to depart?
MS. PSAKI: I think I’m going to leave our comments at what we’ve made.
Q Thanks, Jen. First about immigration. The Washington Post’s Editorial Board wrote — after looking at everything happening at the border — that the administration has “driven a policy whose incoherence has yielded pressure at the border that may cost…Democrats control of one or both Houses of Congress.” Is there any plan to try to do something different down there?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me give you an overview — a short overview, I promise — of some of the steps that we’re taking, some of them that have been newly implemented over the last week or two. And I know there’s been a lot of news going on.
So, there are a number — one is, steps we’re continuing to take under Title 42. Lateral flights — which is a newer step that we have started to take — which is moving migrants from one part of the border to another where there might be more processing capability or facility capacity to expel migrants under Title 42. There are some higher traffic areas. That is one step we just started taking recently.
We’ve also started initiating, as of last week, as of last Friday, expulsion flights into Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security started transferring certain families expelled under Title 42 by plane to the interior of Mexico. This is in order to attempt to cut down on recidivism and further spread of the Delta variant.
Finally, the last piece that we’ve started implementing more recently is expedited removal. Under — with the exception of unaccompanied minors, as you well know, it’s currently U.S. policy to expel families and individuals under Title 42 when possible.
However, under a variety of reasons, that is not always possible. And that’s why expedited removal come in — comes in. It allows an immigration offisal [sic] — official, generally a CBP official, to determine if a migrant is seeking protection or has an intent of applying for asylum. If they do, of course, they would go through the process. If they do not, this would allow for removal on a more rapid basis.
Q Thank you. And then about — with the votes in Congress and the next steps. A trillion for the infrastructure; three and a half trillion for the reconciliation. Is anybody here concerned that all of this government spending could lead to inflation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we take inflation incredibly seriously. It’s, of course, under the purview of the Federal Reserve. I would note that when we’re talking about the budget reconciliation process, there are payfors put forward, including asking corporations and the highest — wealthiest individuals to pay a bit more — something a broad swath, the vast majority of the American public supports. It’s also in our interest to help pay for these vital investments.
But I would note: We take it seriously. We watch it closely. The Federal Reserve, who has the purview, has predicted — or put out a forecast that it — we expect it go up a bit this year — we’ve long anticipated that — but to come back down to normal levels next year. And those are the projections we follow.
Q And last one. You talk about these “vital investments” in the infrastructure package. If it is so vital, then why is the President okay waiting to — for the House to take it up until reconciliation is done. Why not just ask Speaker Pelosi, “We need to do this. These bridges are crumbling. People need clean drinking water now”?
MS. PSAKI: Well, these are vital because they’re long overdue, and it’s important to modernize our infrastructure and make sure kids have access to clean drinking water.
It’s also designed as a plan that would be implemented over the course of eight years. It wouldn’t be a huge injection immediately into the economy — to go back to your prior question — and we are confident and comfortable with the strategic approach of Speaker Pelosi.
The President, of course, looks forward to signing each of these pieces of legislation into law.
Go ahead, Ed.
Q A few clean-up items on all the good questions already raised.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
Q Can you recall or can you help us run down the last time the President would have ever talked to Kathy Hochul? I realize you may not know that right now, but —
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’m happy to check and we can get that back to all of you as well.
Q Given that they share a lot of similarities in terms of their politics and what not, undoubtedly that happened at some point.
On the DeSantis-Florida situation, you mentioned the relief money that’s heading to Florida. Are you guys aware of any mechanism you could use to withhold federal funds from Florida if the governor keeps up this kind of activity?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any announcements to preview today. Obviously, we don’t want to hurt the people of Florida. We want the people of Florida to continue doing what they’ve done, which is to go out and get vaccinated, make sure they’re protecting themselves and their neighbors and loved ones.
What I’m really — what I was really speaking to, at that point, is these schools being under the threat — and their administrators — of not getting pay. And, certainly, we’re looking into that and what — how we could help address that.
Q But you could — you are looking into a workaround, if need be, if the governor withholds funds?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, it’s knowable that the — the American Rescue Plan’s school funds have not been distributed to — across the state to all the schools that would be eligible. But we’re continuing to look into what our options are to help protect and help support these teachers and administrators who are taking steps to protect the people in their communities.
Q Two other quick ones. Now that things are shifting to reconciliation, how does the White House, sort of, congressional outreach strategy change, if at all? You had a lot of meetings over here. And I realize they’re on recess.
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
Q But you had a lot of meetings over here with Republicans back in the day — a few weeks and months ago. What is the President, the Vice President, the legislative team doing now to ensure that all 50 Democratic senators and potentially all members of the House are on board with this?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I probably will have an updated number at some point. But, as of late last week, we had done about 375 engagements on just the reconciliation package with member offices and members. So that will, of course, increase, and those numbers will continue to grow.
And the President will — of course, members are in their home districts. They’re on recess. But he will be picking up the phone, as he did quite a bit over the weekend, to have conversations with members, address any concerns or questions they have, and work to get this piece of legislation also — both pieces, I should say — across the finish line.
And if it will help move things forward to bring people to the Oval Office, I’m sure he’ll do that when people return in September as well.
Q And ahead of Thursday’s census data release, I’m curious what the White House and your party might be able to do to stop Republican state legislatures from drawing or redrawing lines in ways that you guys are worried about. You obviously have the presidential bully pulpit, you currently have the congressional majority, but you don’t control a lot of the state houses where most of these lines are going to be redrawn. So how is the White House, the Democratic Party thinking about this fight to come?
MS. PSAKI: You are right; the Census will be releasing data used my — by many states for redistricting on Thursday — so, two days from now.
I will say that the career experts at the Census Bureau who did this data have taken the time needed to produce the high-quality statistics that the public expects and deserves. We, obviously, haven’t seen the data they are releasing, so we aren’t going to weigh in further at this point in time
Certainly, the President has also, at the same time, expressed concern about gerrymandering and about steps taken that reduce our — our democracy, our democratic values across the country.
But I expect we’ll have more to say when that data comes out on Thursday.
Go ahead, Andrea.
Q So, there was the conversation yesterday with Vice President and the President of Mexico in which she promised additional doses. Today, the Mexican Foreign Minister said that it would be 8.5 million doses. Can you confirm those numbers? And will those be loans of doses or will they be donated?
And then I have a another question.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I have, of course, seen that reporting. We don’t have anything that’s been finalized quite yet. We do intend to provide more doses — donate more doses to Mexico, I believe. I’ll double check that for you. But we don’t have anything confirmed at this point in time, in terms of the numbers or the timeline on that decision.
Q Okay. And then, tomorrow we’ll see the inflation data — I know we’ve just talked a little bit about inflation. Are you concerned at all about what we’re seeing? So it’s been a sustained increase in used car prices — has been one of the big drivers, right?
Is there any work being done within the administration to sort of look at what’s happening in those markets and how that pricing is continuing — you know, what are the factors that are behind the bump in inflation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, one, of course, we look very closely at the factors that impact a range of industries. And we’ve talked in the past as these numbers have come out — which the data that will come out tomorrow — about how a percentage of the impact is from the used car industry, and there are a range of factors at play there, including, as you know, supply chain issues and challenges that are related. But we’re also — have been addressing through a separate channel, through our supply chain efforts, our work with — with a range of companies and our work with our global partners.
I’d also note that we’ve seen impacts, because of the Delta variant, on parts of the world and markets where there are some — some materials coming from — and that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to provide vaccines to the global community, to help address that and get the workforce back working again.
So, we look at every component that might impact prices, that might impact the car industry, but prices that impact the American people, most importantly. And certainly, the used car industry continues to be one of the big driving factors. We’ll see what the data says tomorrow.
Q Are you interested in meeting with the automotive industry and with the dealers about the kind of financing schemes that they’ve got going as well? The financing has been stretched over longer periods so that people are paying more over a longer period of time for both new and used vehicles.
I mean, is there some kind of intervention that’s needed to ensure that dealers are not making, you know, sort of, excessive profits, if you will, on this current — on these current supply chain problems?
MS. PSAKI: Sure, I know that our supply chain team is in touch with auto industry executives, with dealers — as is our economic team — and they have been having discussions. I can see if there’s more of an update to provide to you as well.
Q Thank you. I have two areas of questioning. One is, can you give me a sen- — give us a sense of whether the President is just — is disappointed by the Afghan military performance, just given the amount of time and money that taxpayer money — taxpayer funds went to training the forces?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think we have the luxury of just feeling disappointed. Our view and the President’s view is that now is the time for them to utilize the training, the assistance, the security guidance that they have been provided over the last two decades — and they will continue to be provided — and unite as a — Afghan leaders — both the military and leaders who are leading the country — to push back against the Taliban.
That’s our view. The President continues to believe that it is not inevitable that the Taliban takes over Kabul or the country and that they need to show political will at this point to push back. And obviously there’s a political process that we continue to support.
Q But should there be a look at whether the right training was provided or whether the funds were used well? I mean, it’s just — so much time and money went into this effort, and it seems that these cities are falling quite quickly.
MS. PSAKI: Well —
Q I mean, would there be a reassessment that maybe next time there would be a different type of training?
MS. PSAKI: I certainly would point you to DOD for any assessment along those lines. But I think there’s no question that, over the course of two decades, the amount — to your point — of training, of assistance, of security equipment that has been provided is extensive.
And we are continuing to propose additional assistance in the form of $1 billion to ensure the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing have the capabilities and maintenance to support ongoing combat operations; $1 billion to purchase and deliver key supplies for Afghan forces; $700 million to fund continued payment of salaries for Afghan soldiers.
We — it is important to us and it is a fundamental value to continue to be partners and support their effort, but, ultimately, it is up to the Afghans to determine what their future looks like.
Q And then I just wanted to follow up on questions by my colleagues, Peter Alexander and Ed O’Keefe.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
Q On COVID and Florida, in particular: When you were talking about federal funds being used in some way to affect an outcome with the state’s school districts, can you describe whether you’re talking about, sort of, paying directly — paying these funds directly to the school districts? Or are you talking about withholding funds? Like, what is, sort of, the flow of funding? And what is the amount that we’re talking about?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I don’t have in front of me how much Florida was allocated through the American Rescue Plan. I’m sure we can get you that number. But that — in the American Rescue Plan allocation, or in the — the guidelines f- — or parameters for how that money could be spent, certainly paying for salaries is a part of that — or it could be a part of that and could cover those needs for these officials, and now that money would have to be distributed.
But the Department of Education is looking at options. I’m not making a threat of withholding. Certainly, we don’t want to hurt the people of Florida, but we’re looking at a range of options to support the public health officials, the leader — the teachers and officials who are trying to protect students and their communities.
Q And just quickly: Is this limited to Florida or are there other states and school districts where there are similar dynamics at play?
MS. PSAKI: I’m sure we can check on where allocation has been distributed or not. Obviously, it’s only a handful of states that are putting in place measures that make it more difficult for education leaders — leaders in the education field to protect students and their community.
So, it doesn’t apply, necessarily, nationally because of that, fortunately. But I’m sure we can look at the data, state to state.
Q Quick question, following up on the border. There was a filing yesterday in the Flores Settlement that described, quote, “shocking deplorable conditions.” This is at emergency shelters at two facilities in Texas. I do realize one of them is under investigation —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
Q — that being Fort Bliss. But given that there is another one in — I believe it’s Pecos, Texas —
The administration’s strategy was framed early on to move kids out into HHS facilities — into these very facilities that are emergency shelters. That’s what we were told over and over again when we saw those high numbers in CBP facilities.
So, given that these very shelters — the ones that, you know, the administration wanted to move kids into out of CBP facilities — are now being described as “shockingly deplorable,” what’s now the strategy to both improve conditions, but also move those minors out of CBP facilities at a faster rate?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s always our objective — both of those is always our objective. And the mission of HHS is to safely care for unaccompanied children until they can be unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor. We want to do that as quickly as possible. We also don’t want to put kids in the hands of people who are not vetted. So, there is a balance there.
I will say that we are continuously working to improve the conditions and services required to safely care for children. So, currently — I know we’ve talked about one of these facilities and the IG investigation, which we’ve been supporting and we have been participating in, and number of the conditions have been improved at that facility.
In the Pecos site, it ha- — now it has an on-site clinic with various medical services, including pediatricians, nurses, mental health professionals, physician assistants. It is compliant with the required ratio of medical and clinical staff to unaccompanied children.
The children receive educational and recreational activities, including reading, art, indoor and outdoor games, journaling, and dance. And children at Pecos also have access to provided laundry service, calls to homes, appointments with legal and counseling. And currently, the children at the intake site at Pecos meet with a case manager weekly.
We are continuing to assess and make sure children are treated with — humanely, treated with care, and treated — and kept safe until we can find — connect them with their families or a vetted individual to care for them further.
Q Given all of that, I mean, is the administration satisfied with the conditions, specifically at Pecos? Or would it support a similar investigation that’s going on into Fort Bliss?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that would be up to the interna- — the Inspector General. We have — again, we remain committed to continuing to improve conditions where there are — any concerns arise, and we will continue to do that at this site and any other where they arise.
Q Just one more. The administration — I mean, why haven’t we seen, like, a supplemental request at this point? I mean, capacity has been an issue now, for — what? — six months, I mean, at the border.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
Q Is the administration considering that at this point? And do you still identify capacity as an issue at the border?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think capacity issues we’ve made huge improvements on.
Q Specifically talking about beds in HHS facilities (inaudible).
MS. PSAKI: Correct. I know what you’re saying. We’ve made huge improvements. And when we had this conversation a couple of months ago, the conditions were different. I mean, people were in the Border Patrol facilities for far too long. They were in these HHS facilities longer than we wanted them to be in.
I think if we assessed that additional funding would help us expedite any aspect of the process, we would request those. But we also have some flexibility in the budget to make sure we have the resources needed.
Q Jen, we have to gather soon, so —
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
Q — maybe one more.
MS. PSAKI: All right. Let me just go to — why don’t I go to Eugene, and then I’ll go to somebody in the back.
Q Back on inflation, what does the administration have to say to people who, for example, aren’t getting raises or are essentially making less than they did two years ago —
MS. PSAKI: Inflation, you said?
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
Q — making less than they did two years ago. Because it’s really hard for Americans to hear, you know, “Focus on these long-term investments; this is going to be temporary” when they’re dealing with those issues right this second.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would first say that one of the steps that we’ve taken as an administration is to provide a range of assistance to the American people, whether it is in the form of $1,400 checks, or the form of the Child Tax Credit that the President has advocated for a multi-year extension of, or whether it’s the form of unemployment benefits that will — people will continue to receive for the coming weeks.
We understand this is a period of time, as the economy turns back on, as we’re recovering from a pandemic — and these dual crises are related — where people needed extra assistance, so we did exactly that.
We also knew that as the economy turned back on, there would be a range of impacts. One is prices going back to a pre-pandemic levels in some industries. One is we’re seeing, of course, the impact — as Andrea was asking about — of the supply-chain shortages that have impacted some industries as well — the used car industry and others. And we’re working to address each of these components and challenges in the economy as we see it.
It’s also important to note, though — because we rely on the Federal Reserve for projections — that they are projecting to come back to normal levels next year, and this is still foreseen as a transitory impact on prices.
Q On Governor Cuomo —
MS. PSAKI: Why don’t I go — I’m just going to go to one in the way back. Okay, why don’t you go ahead?
Q Jen, two questions.
MS. PSAKI: Yep.
Q First, what’s — what’s the White House guidance now on outdoor events? We just had Lollapalooza in Chicago. There will be others. So what should people do? Should they be masking at outdoor events? Is there sort of a capacity past which people should mask outdoors?
And then, second, I just want to be clear: Are you encouraging school districts in Florida and Texas specifically to resist the governors in those states and impose mask mandates?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re certainly encouraging any officials and local leaders to follow public health guidelines to save lives.
On the first step, it’s not White House guidance; it’s CDC guidance. That has not changed, and they’ve put out pretty clear, detailed explanation on that, so I’d point you to them.
All right. Thanks, everyone.
1:24 P.M. EDT