James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:43 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, good afternoon, everyone. I have a few things at the top.
Today, the United States reached an important milestone. We have donated and delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world. This is another milestone as the United States leads the world twe- — COVID-19 response — the result of an unprecedented logistical and operational endeavor.
Donating vaccines is one urgent effort we are taking to tackle this pandemic globally. And we’ve committed to donate 1.2 billion, along with lifesaving assistance, to countries in need to enhance their ability to get shots into arms.
We also reiterate support for an intellectual property waiver and bolstering manufacturing here at home and abroad.
As we recognize this milestone, it’s clear that the world must do more in our global COVID-19 response. Other countries must step up, like the United States, and act with more urgency to stamp out the various — the virus everywhere.
We also need every WTO member to step up as well and support an intellectual property waiver, and every company must act ambitiously and urgently to expand manufacturing now.
So, we’re glad to lead this effort, but this is a global pandemic and it requires a global response. We will continue to push everyone to do more in our fight against COVID-19.
Also, today we learned that the initial unemployment claims fell to another pre-pandemic low — I think there’s — there we go — (a chart is displayed) — down to 290,000 for the first time in almost 20 months. The four-week average similarly fell to a new low, down more than 60 percent from when the Pres- — from when President Biden took office. Again, as you can see from the chart behind me.
This is a testament to the progress we’ve made on the economy thanks to President Biden’s success in getting Americans vaccinated and getting the economic relief to the middle class.
The week before the President took office, jobless claims were at nearly 900,000; now they’re down to 290,000. We’ve created nearly 5 million jobs in eight months; that’s 600,000 new jobs every month on average — 10 times the rate we inherited.
Growth is up, wages are up, and our unemployment rate is down below 5 percent — 18 months faster than forecasted — forecasters predicted earlier this year.
We know we will have more work to do, and America is facing the same challenges on supply chains that most other developed countries are facing as well. But thanks to the work of this administration, we’re leading the world in outright recovery, and we’re in a year of unprecedented growth. And we can build on that progress by passing the President’s economic agenda for growth, jobs, and rebuilding the middle class.
And one final thing. On a personal note, I’m wearing purple today, and so is some of my teammates, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as some of you might know, as well as Spirit Day, which is an opportunity to stand up against LGBTQ+ bullying and harassment.
Both of these issues have been made worse by COVID-19. Sadly, domestic violence affects millions of people in the United States. It harms the physical and emotional health of survivors and their families, undermines communities, and is a stain on the conscience of our country.
Tragically, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
In response, the President’s Rescue Plan provided a total of $1 billion for service programs: $450 million to support domestic violence and sexual assault service providers, and his administration allocated an additional $550 million of COVID mitigating funding for domestic violence shelters to improve their ability to help survivors during the pandemic.
As you all know, the President has said this — that his proudest legislative accomplishment is writing and championing the Violence Against Women Act, which transformed the nation’s response to domestic violence and was passed and then reauthorized three times on a bipartisan basis. Today, he renews his call for the Senate to move swiftly in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize VAWA and strengthen its protections for all survivors.
And on Spirit Day, we recognize that LGBTQI+ youth disproportionately face bullying and harassment. A majority — a majority of LGBTQI+ youth in middle or high school were bullied last year. Even more, 70 percent heard homophobic remarks from teachers or school staff, and 75 percent have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in their lifetime.
This bullying and harassment can have life-threatening consequences, as we all know. More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth have seriously considered suicide in the past. This reinforces the need for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which will provide long-overdue federal civil rights protections to LGBTQI+ Americans and their families.
You know, a younger staffer recently told me that, in high school, he noticed how many people wore purple on Spirit Day and how much that meant to him as a — as a young closeted teen.
I could only have — I could only hope that young people who might be watching or sees clips of this briefing will know that they are supported and represented in the highest levels of government today.
So today I join people around the world in wearing purple to show solidarity with victims of domestic violence and with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex youth.
Our administration stands with you, we support you, and we love you.
With that, Darlene.
Q Thanks, Karine. Two questions, international focused. The Haitian gang leader who’s accused of kidnapping the 17 American missionaries — he was seen on video today saying that he will kill them if he doesn’t get what he is demanding, which has been $17 million. How seriously does the U.S. take the threat? And what else can you say in terms of a U.S. government response to that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, Secretary Blinken, when he was in Ecuador this past week — actually, on Tuesday — spoke to this. And I’ll just read out a couple of things that he said that I think is important for all of you:
“We have in the administration been relentlessly focused on this, including sending a team to Haiti from the State Department; working very closely with the FBI, which is the lead in these kinds of matters; in constant communication with the Haitian National Police, the church that the missionaries belong to, as well as the Haitian government. And we will do everything that we can to help resolve the situation.”
And on Haiti’s security, which is something that he also touched on in his — in his comments was:
“We have been working closely with the Haitian National Police to try to build their capacity, as well as help put in place programs that can effectively deal with the gangs. But it’s a very challenging and long-term process. We’re focused on it, but is it absolutely essential that this security dynamic change if Haiti is going to make real progress.”
So, we’re doing everything that we can. As I mentioned, the FBI, the State Department staff is on the ground. I don’t have anything else to report, as you can imagine. And I think Jen said this a couple of days ago: For privacy and security reasons, we can’t say more.
Q Okay. Second question. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet told us — told the AP today that, with regard to the situation in Burma, that it’s “getting worse…from a humanitarian point of view, from a security point of view, in terms of the economy and lack of progress on politics.” So, the question is: Why hasn’t the administration yet sanctioned American and French oil and gas companies, which — that are working in Myanmar because they’re the biggest — the single-largest source of foreign currency revenue for Myanmar?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we’ve spoken to the atrocities that are happening in Burma not too long ago. I don’t have any updates. That’s a very good question, Darlene, but I have to get back and talk to the team, and hopefully we’ll have something to share. I don’t have anything more on that.
Q Thank you.
Q Could you give us an update on the budget negotiations? How close are you to a deal? And are you still insisting there be tax increases on corporations and higher earners?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you can imagine, you know, we are focused on this every day. This is a priority — continues to be a priority for the President.
Yesterday, as you know — a couple of days ago, the President spent hours meeting with congressional members. And everyone basically said the same, which is there’s progress. And we’re moving forward in a way that we can really truly help Americans and invest in economic growth for the middle class. So, that is the focus. And we believe, you know, the progress will continue these next couple of days.
As far as the taxes, the President has been very, very clear that this bill — the Build Back Better plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which are his two economic policies — that’s going to, again, help the middle class and do that economic growth.
And as we’re talking about physical — physical infrastructure and human infrastructure, is going to be paid for. We see the cost as zero because it’s going to be paid for. And the way that we see it happening is making sure that the wealthiest among us — the top corporations — pay their fair share. There shouldn’t — there shouldn’t be a reason why teachers and — teachers and firefighters are playing [paying] more in taxes than billionaires.
So, that’s our focus. That’s our promise. And that’s what we’re going to continue working towards.
Q And secondly, Karine, the Fed today banned stock purchases by top officials at the Fed in response to ethics questions. Is this something that you welcome? Does it impact the President’s thinking on whether to reappoint Jerome Powell as Fed Chairman?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, Steve, I’ll say this: We deeply respect the independence of the Federal Reserve and won’t comment on — you know, on these recent developments. But President Biden believes that all government agencies and officials, including independent agencies, should be held to the highest ethical standards, including the avoidance — the avoidance of any suggestions of conflicts of interest.
Q Thanks, Karine. It’s looking more and more like the Clean Energy Performance Program might not make it in the final version of the reconciliation package. That was a really big part of how the President planned to meet his own admission goals. So what message does that send other countries ahead of COP26?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, President Biden reestablished U.S. leadership on day one, and as you’ve heard us say — as you have heard us say when it comes to acting on climate change every day since, from day one.
The President will advance his climate agenda using every tool at his disposal and can make significant progress in curbing emissions, growing our economy, and good-paying union jobs.
And so he could do that without Congress. There was actually a report that came out this week from the Rhodium Group. An independent research firm reinforced the fact that the U.S. has multiple pathways to meet President Biden’s pledge to reduce emission 50 to 52 percent below the 2005 levels by 2030.
So we’ll continue to work with our colleagues in Congress on Clean Electricity Performance Program, but this — but this independent analysis lays out a path to the President’s climate goal without a CEPP in place. And so, we’ll just continue to do the whole-of-government approach that we’ve been doing this past 9, 10 months.
Q But if he can’t get his biggest climate priority passed through Congress, how can he point to the United States being a leader on this issue?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because we have had other ways of doing that. We don’t need — what we’re saying is we don’t need the — we don’t need Congress. We can do it without Congress, as I just — as I just laid out.
Let me give you some examples of what we’ve already done. So, leading the shift towards electric — electric vehicles, which you’ve heard us talk about many times, which is bringing together auto — automakers and autoworkers; phasing out super pollutants like HFCs to greatly reduce emissions; make — making across-government investment in clean energy like offshore wind and solar; making historic commitments to use every lever at his disposal to advance environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities.
And extreme weather events increase in frequency and ferocity, the U.S. has taken bold step to strengthen the nation’s resiliency to sev- — to severe — to severe impacts of a challenging climate.
So we have done a lot here — the President has. He sound — he has signed multiple executive orders to make sure that we are leading in this effort.
And remember, we are coming from four years of climate change — four years before, as — where climate change was not — dealing with climate change was not a priority. And so, this President has been doing that since day one of his administration and will continue to do that.
Q Is it still the White House’s goal that there’s a discontinuation of any fossil fuel subsidies in the President’s budget — in the reconciliation package?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to negotiate from here. As you can imagine, things are being worked out as — you know, kind of, as we speak these last couple of weeks and, certainly, every day. And so, we are going to continue to work towards delivering for the American public and making sure that we get to our climate change goals.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Sorry. Go ahead, Weijia.
Q I just want to be clear. Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, Weijia.
Q Hi. Great to see you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good to see you. Go ahead, it’s your turn.
Q So just following up on that report you just mentioned, you said it does not include CEPP. Does it include a carbon tax?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, like I said, we are — you know, we are, right now, working towards making sure we deliver for the American public, and we’re not going to — the President has been really clear his red line is making sure that that $400,000 —
Q Oh, no, I’m sorry — on climate.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, on climate.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I am so sorry. When it comes — can you say more?
Q You mentioned a report that you were citing that showed —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, the Rhodium. Yep.
Q — even if there was no CEPP passed by Congress, that we’d still be able to meet the President’s goals to reduce pollution.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Mm-hmm.
Q My question was whether that plan included a carbon tax or not? And the reason I ask —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep. Yep.
Q — is because Senator Schumer released his own plan that showed: If we don’t have CEPP, that’s one thing, but if you don’t have that and you don’t have the carbon tax — which Senator Manchin has opposed — there’s really going to be a significant gap in reaching those goals. So, I’m wondering, when you say “we have a plan that includes steps that are not approved by Congress,” what they are to get there.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the — the report that I just mentioned, I can’t speak to the specifics of it. All I can tell you is that what it laid out is saying that we can reach our goals. But I — I would have to look — we would have to check out about the carbon tax, specifically.
But, look, there are a number of ideas being debated. And the President asked members to submit their own proposals. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re negotiating. And the President has put forward his own plan for addressing climate change that doesn’t involve a corporate carbon fee. That is — that is what our plan currently has, and then we’ll see what — what people bring to the table.
Q Okay. And then since you brought up the — the corporate tax rate again —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q I did have a follow up, also. You said, “That’s our promise,” earlier when you were asked about whether the President would — is still committed to raising corporate taxes. Can you just clarify what that was?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, meaning the promises, like this is going to be paid for. There is zero cost because it’s going to be paid for. And so, we are not going to put the burden on the working everyday people.
What we’re trying to do with our ec- — with the President’s economic policies — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Agenda — is to make sure that we invest in people, that we invest in our infrastructure. Right? Something that hasn’t been done in this country for decades. Making sure that we are competitive again across the globe, which we haven’t seen in some time.
So what our promise is, is that we are not going to raise taxes against anyone who is making 400- — more than fo- — less than $400,000. That is our promise and that’s what we’re sticking to.
Q But the corporate tax rate, is that negotiable or not for the President?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — like I — we’re — we — there are multiple ways that people are coming forward and trying to figure out how we’re going to move forward with this plan, with the Build Back Better Agenda. And that’s — you know, that’s what we’re working towards. Right?
But I’m saying that our red line, the President’s red line is to make sure that this is paid for and that we don’t raise taxes on anybody who is making less than 400,000. That’s — that’s what I’m saying.
Q And just one more on Senator Manchin who, a short time ago, said he does not believe there will be a framework on the bill done by the end of the week. He also added that, “This is not going to happen anytime soon…” because we’re “trying to get a meeting of the minds.”
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep.
Q Did the President expect a framework to be agreed upon by tomorrow? And is he concerned that Manchin does not seem to have the same sense of urgency that he — the President — has been expressing all week?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we have been working with Manchin — with Senator Manchin in good faith. We see him as a partner in these discussions. And, you know, as far as the timeline — look, you saw — you saw, two days ago, congressional members coming out of the White House saying how much progress there was and saying that — saying that there was a sense of urgency, which is what — we all have been pretty much on the same page.
The thing to remember is Democrats pretty much agree on — on the — on BIF and Build Back Better. And what I mean by that is they know that this is going to be something that’s going to deliver for the American public. And we know that this is going to help the economy with jobs — good-paying jobs, good-paying union jobs — but also just the middle-class Americans.
So, we are all on the same page on — with that. And so, we see that progress is coming along. We think that in the next couple days we’re going to continue to see progress. We’re not putting a timeline on this. We’re not going to go into the legislative mechanics of this.
But we’re going to get this done because we have to get this done for the American public. And that’s our focus.
Q Thank you.
Q Thanks, Karine. So the year Joe Biden was sworn in as President, promising a more humane immigration system, is the same year that an all-time record 1.7 million migrants have been detained at the southern border. Is that a coincidence?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, thanks for the question, Peter.
First, I’ll say that DHS will formally release its monthly September operational update sometime soon, so I’m not going to go into — get ahead of that or go into the numbers. I think that’s what you’re — you’re mentioning right now.
But secondly, you know, I would add — and you hear us talk about this all the time — we continue to enforce Title 42 and expel single adults and families when possible. And we continue to be very, very clear that no one should attempt to irregularly migrate here or enter the United States.
So, it’s unsafe. It’s unlawful. It’s a public health risk, which is why we’re using Title 42 — because it’s not our immigration policy; it’s a public health authority.
And so, those attempting to come in irregularly, migrate irregularly will be subjected to border restriction, including Title 42, as I just mentioned.
Q And you’re telling people not to come. That’s been the line for a couple months. It’s been very well documented that a lot of these migrants are just released with a notice to appear or a notice to report and that something close to 80 percent don’t appear or report. So do officials around here consider that that could be something that is attractive to migrants who figure, “If I can just get in, I can stay”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m not going to get into the numbers because I know that you’re leaning into the numbers in asking me these questions.
But, look, we’ve been very clear, and we’ve been clear for the last 10 months. Again, the CDC has determined that the continued expulsion of certain individuals under Title 42 is necessary due to the risk of transmission and spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings, such as CBP stations, as well as the threat from emerging variants.
So, if it’s not possible, which is what I think you are alluding to there, there is an exception if we have operational capacity constraints, including the makeup of the specific family unit and agreements with the country of origin or last residence.
Another determining factor is detention capacity both within ICE and CBP. There’s also an extension for acute humanitarian need, such as the urgent medical situation. There is an exception on the Convention against Torture. If someone makes a legitimate claim that they would suffer torture if they — they’ve returned to the country from which they have come.
As we have stated, those who cannot be expelled are placed into immigration proceedings. But as — to be clear: We are still expelling single adults and families when possible using Title 42. That remains the policy. That has not changed.
Q Okay. And a follow-up about something that you just said. You guys say that President Biden does not want to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, but there’s a new Fox poll that finds 83 percent of registered voters are noticing bills for groceries and everyday items increasing. So how is that any different than a new tax?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look — and when you say — can you give me a little bit more? Like what’s the —
Q Well, the supply chain is all backed up; there are bottlenecks — empty shelves, prices going up. People are paying more. And so, how is that any different than a new tax?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I would say this: You know, we are — we’re dealing with a historic and evolving pandemic that is impacting our economy. Right? We have seen it for the past year and a half. That’s what people have been dealing with.
And it is having an outsized impact on our global supply chain. And the President understands how much a squeeze it is when families see their prices rise.
And so, he understands that, and that’s why he’s — we’ve been using every tool in our toolbelt to make sure that we deal with that in a real way so that people understand that the President is doing everything that he can to deal with those issues.
So, there’s a couple of things. So, we got to think about the progress that we’ve made on how far we’ve come for the mess that we inherited from the previous President.
We — we’ve already averaged 600,000 jobs, which I mentioned at the top — at the top — those are jobs per month — compared to just 60,000 before we came in. That’s almost five million total in eight months. We’ve increased economic growth projection for 2021, and more than have — and have new unemployment claims.
So, we are in a different place than where we were before the President came into office. And so, we’re going to continue building on basically the American Rescue Plan. This is why we’re trying to pass the President’s domestic economic policies.
Q And to that point, the Majority Leader — or the Minority Leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, wrote a letter to the President. He says, “We must address the global supply chain and ports crisis before Congress even considers additional social spending and taxation legislation.” Is that something that you would consider?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So here’s the thing: Jen responded to — this is the letter — the letter from McCarthy?
Q Mm-hmm. Yeah.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Is that what we’re talking about?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Yeah, wonderful letter.
So she responded to this earlier. And let me just add to this a little bit. It’s — I’ve already kind of talked about this, but there’s a little bit more that I want to lean into.
So, under the Trump-McCarthy economy, this time last year, fewer Americans were working — which is what I was just saying — job growth was flattening, and families were facing down a dark winter with less economic security than ever before and a pandemic raging out of control. That was the holiday season under the McCarthy-Trump holiday season. So that’s something to remember. This was a different time, a year ago.
And so, fast forward a year from there — from then: Nearly 80 percent adults are vaccinated. We’ve created 5 million jobs. Americans have money in their pockets, and they’re spending it, resulting in record volume of good — goods through our ports, and our roads and rails.
Kevin McCarthy and his caucus voted against that bill that made that happen. They did not do anything to help the American public when we needed them — when the American public needed it. And I’m talking about the American Rescue Plan —
Q So — I understand.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — to be clear, which has helped — which has helped turn on the economy; which has helped, as I said, make sure that people are getting vaccinated to protect their lives and go back to work.
Q Okay. And so, last one: Are you saying that you — as you compare holiday season this year to holiday season last year, are you saying that if Christmas gifts don’t get delivered this year — because the supply chain is backed up, because of bottlenecks — that people are going to blame Donald Trump, or are they going to blame Joe Biden?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that we’re in a different place than we were a year ago. And the reason why is because the President took action. The reason why is Democrats came together and they passed the American Rescue Plan, put — put checks into pockets, made sure that — that we were dealing with issues that pushed women out of the workforce, which is the Child Tax Credit, childcare — all those things that really benefited everyday people who were being left behind.
Now what we’re doing is we’re making sure that we continue the investment — right? — the Build Back Better Agenda; BIF –the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which 19 Republican senators voted for. Those two pieces of legislation, that is the — that is the President’s plan on how do we actually build back better and not leave anyone behind and do that economic growth for the — for the middle class. And so, that’s what we’re talking about and that’s what we’re continuing to do.
For the supply chain, the President is doing everything that he can. He is bringing in the private sector. He’s brought in the labor. When we talk about the meeting that he did last week for the ports — right? — we talked about Long Beach and the Los Angeles ports. And that’s what we — that’s one of the things that we can do as a government is do it in good faith, bring everybody together, and figure out how to fix the short-term problem that we’re having.
So, that — and we’ve been working on this since the President walked into — walked into the White House.
Q Hi, Karine. Nice to see you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Nice to see you.
Q Does the White House — does the White House believe that Senator Kyrsten Sinema is negotiating in good faith?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, we believe that Senator Sinema is negotiating in good faith.
Let me just say that the President considers Senator Sinema an important partner in getting his economic agenda passed, and he values her work, her engagement, and her commitment to working with him to deliver for the American people.
We have been in touch nonstop, through the course of the last several days, with her and her team — of course, at the President’s level — but also through calls, meetings with senior staff, some of my colleagues.
And, yes, to answer your question again: We are definitely — we definitely do believe that she is working with us in good faith, and we are working with her in good faith.
Q Was it during those last several days that Senator Sinema told the President or the White House that she was opposed to the corporate tax rate? And if not, when did she communicate that to the President or to the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to go into private conversations.
Q Not with President. How — when did she communicate it to the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — we’re not — I’m not going to do that from here, but what I will say: The President is working to pass game-changing investments in economic growth that benefits the middle class, as I have been saying — this economic growth paid for by having the richest taxpayers and big corporations pay their fair share, and without raising taxes on any Americans making less than $400,000.
Again, the price tag for this legislation is zero. There is an expansive menu of options for how to finance the President’s plan. And so, that’s what we’re going to be discussing and negotiating and trying to figure out so we can, again, deliver for the American public.
Q And just for clarity — I mean, everyone gets that the price tag isn’t actually zero. These new programs do cost money, right?
So why not level with American voters and say that there is a cost here but you’re aiming to do it without raising the deficit?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, we are being honest with the American people. We are being (inaudible).
Q But it does cost something, we agree, right?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, it is — we are — it is costing — it is going to bring zero dollars to the — to the deficit. And we’re being very clear about that, because that’s what we want to make sure that we’re doing, right?
Because here, once again, we have had people who have been left behind. After this — after this — the COVID-19 pandemic that we’ve been living in for a year and a half, we saw even more — more severely how much people have been left behind — and not just been from the COVID. I mean, before then, people — middle-class people, working people have been not part of the economy. And now we want to deal them back in. It’s been a long time since we did that.
The President talked about that when he was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, yesterday. He’s going to talk about that, take questions from everyday people today at the CNN Town Hall, which he’s very much looking forward to. And he’ll probably be asked that question, and he’ll answer it, as well, tonight.
Q So, for clarity, there’s a cost, but it’s not to def- — it doesn’t raise the deficit, these things we do (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The price tag for this legislation, Peter, is zero dollars.
Q Okay. Let me ask you, if I can ask one final question. A little bit earlier — just for clarity as we look ahead to the COP 26 a week and a half out from now. You said earlier that the President, the White House doesn’t need Congress. Does — just for — to make sure I get this right — does the — is it the President’s position that he does not need Congress for transformative change in combating climate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, he believes that — what I’m saying is that there are a number of pathways to meeting our emission goals and targets. That’s all we’re saying.
Yes, we —
Q Can you do that without Congress?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We can. That’s what I’m saying. Because we’re there are many tools that we’re using to get there.
Would — do we want to — to work with Congress? Absolutely. That’s why the President added that into his economic policy. For — so, for sure, in his legislation — he put it in there because he wants to get it done.
What we’re saying is our climate vision is integrated throughout everything that we do in the whole-of-government effort launched on day one that we did with an executive order.
The President will advance his climate agenda using every tool — again, every tool at his disposal and make — can make a significant progress in curbing emissions, growing our economy, and good-paying union jobs. So, that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
Do we want to work with Congress? Absolutely. But we’re saying that we’re already doing the work to hit our goal, and that’s why I referenced the — the report earlier when I was answering Weijia’s question.
Q Thank you, Karine.
Q Can I follow up real quick on — well, a few things. But first, let me just say — I’ll add my voice to, I’m sure there have been dozens, who would humbly request that the President of the United States not only do a town hall, but show up either in this room or in the East Room to appear before the full press for a robust round of questions that will, no doubt, benefit the American public.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But, Brian, he takes questions all the time.
Q I hear you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All the time.
Q Just — I’m just adding my request to that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, Martha is here. She tracks that. And he — he’s —
Q Yes, but some of us have not had a chance to ask him —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I get it. I get it. But this is — this is a large White House Press Corps. But he does take questions.
Q Yes, it is. Yes, it is.
Q And my follow-up to Peter — I just want to — I know you don’t want to talk too much about the questions with Sinema, but is it safe to say the White House was not blindsided by her stance? You didn’t find out about it publicly, right? There was a discussion. You knew about it ahead of time.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to go into our con- — private conversations with anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s Senator Sinema or a House member. We’re not going —
Q So, it could’ve been a surprise?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’re not — we’re going to do that here. I’m not going to do that from this podium. I am just saying that we are working in good faith with her, and she is working in good faith with us.
Q And then, finally, there are several Democratic strategists — Norm Eisen and a couple of others — who said that yesterday was a “dark day” for democracy. Does the White House share that view? If not, why not? And what do you plan to do to move forward?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Which — what —
Q A “dark day” for democracy and what happened up on the Hill yesterday —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh. You’re talking about the Voting Rights. Okay. You have to give me a little bit more. (Laughs.) There’s so much going on.
Q Yes, there is.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. You know, the President talked about this today, and he’s been very clear on this for the past several — several months as we’ve been dealing with, you know, voting rights and these pieces of legislation that are creeping up across the — across the country.
And as he said in his joint address to Congress, he believes that, “If we truly want to restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote.” And that is something that the President truly believes.
He was just the MLK monument, celebrating the 10th anniversary. He spoke — he spoke to this.
So, he believes the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and has repeatedly urged Congress to act to protect the right to vote and access to voting.
He has addressed this issue in front of Congress, as I just mentioned. He has addressed this issue privately with members of Congress and senators of both parties. He has addressed this issue with civil rights leaders at the White House.
And anyone who knows this President has followed his — this President’s career knows his belief is core to who he is. And he will continue to work with Congress every day until they are able to pass something.
And one more thing I just want to add: He’s also used — and made sure to use the power of the federal government to do everything that we can from the federal government to deal with voting access.
Q But, to be clear, does it he think it was a “dark day” yesterday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I — he — it was disappointing what we saw yesterday. And we’ve got to remember: What happened yesterday is that Republicans would not allow a debate. They would not allow a debate. Not that — not that they voted on it; they just wouldn’t allow a debate to talk about why we should make voting more accessible for Americans.
Now, that is — that is shameful, and that is problematic for our democracy. As I said, voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it shouldn’t be that way.
Q Thanks. Among the new ethics rules that the Federal Reserve announced today, there’s a prohibition on trading individual stocks. Does the President believe that lawmakers should be subject to that same prohibition on trading individual stocks?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t think his position has changed on that. Let me get back to you to see if we have anything — an update to share on that.
Q And then, when he announced the Build Back Better Agenda earlier this year, he spoke about it in terms of generational and transformational change. Is he concerned at all that in those negotiations his initial vision for the plan is being significantly watered down?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, absolutely not. He thinks that this — when we reach a deal, which we believe that will happen — the President said this yesterday himself, he believes a deal will happen — it will be transformational.
Both the Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal are historical within their own right. And it’s going to make transformational change. It’s going to be historical. It’s going to create good union jobs. It has the human infrastructure to make sure that people are truly getting a break — a tax break — making — dealing with eldercare, childcare — things that are really crushing Americans in this country.
And also, let’s not forget the Child Tax Credit, which has cut poverty by 50 percent. That was in the American Rescue Plan. We’re hoping to extend that in the Build Back Better Agenda, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work towards.
Q Are you aware of White House staff that have been offered booster shots through the White House itself? And have — I mean, I wasn’t sure if it’s considered a high-risk environment or not.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as — you know, we follow the CDC guidance. That’s going to be our focus: making sure that we look — listen to the public health officials. And whatever the guidance puts out, that’s what we’re going to follow. I don’t have any more on booster shots for White House staffers. I’m sure many have them. Everybody falls in a different category. And so, I can probably check in and find out more, but, yes, we follow the public health guidance.
Q Thanks, Karine. Back on immigration for a sec. The President’s nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection said in his Senate confirmation hearing yesterday that he supported the continued use of Title 42. He also indicated it was his view that certain sections of the border wall should be finished. Does the President agree?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, we have said that — I have to look at this — the comments. I have not seen them, so I want to make sure I read it within context.
But we have talked about the border wall here, in general, as a way that it’s been used in a — to, you know — to close the border. And we feel that it is a policy that doesn’t work. And it’s not just us; you know, experts have said that. The border wall is not — is not an effective policy.
As far as those comments, I can’t comment on that. I actually — I have not seen it, I have not read them, and I need to read it in context.
Q I have one more question about Title 42. There’s a report this morning from a group called Human Rights First that says that, through the use of Title 42 and also prohibiting — basically turning migrants away at the border, seven thou- — 7,600 kidnappings, assaults, and other attacks have taken place against migrants and asylum seekers.
Does this administration believe it deserves any of the blame for that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, that’s — I — again, I have not seen that report. That does sound horrifying. Not something that, you know, we would — you know, agree with or be proud of, certainly. So I have to read the report. I have not seen it. And hopefully we can get back to you on that one as well.
Q Hey. First, I just wanted to go back to that last question that Peter asked you to make sure that we’re crystal clear on it. When you say, “We don’t need Congress. We can do it without Congress,” do you mean meaningful reductions of greenhouse gases? Or do you mean — because what it sounded like you meant was hit the 50 to 52 percent reduction.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, it’s hitting our goal — it’s hitting the goal that we set out.
Q So you think you can hit 50 to 52 percent —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, which is —
Q — without Congress at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — which is why I — I laid out the report that was put out this week. An independent research firm reinforced the fact that the U.S. has multiple pathways to meet President Biden’s pledge to reduce emissions 50 to 52 percent below the 2005 levels in 2030.
Q Right. But my understanding of that report is that it’s multiple congressional pathways that would preclude the CEPP program but would have other congressional legislation as part of it, which is a different thing than what you seem to be saying, which is that you don’t need Congress at all to accomplish this goal.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. What I’m saying — I — speaking specifically to Build Back Better. That’s what I was saying. Because, to me, that’s what I was hearing — is that — as we’re working through Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.
And so, we’re saying that there are multiple pathways and that we have taken some — a whole-of-government approach — to get to that — to the number that I just listed for the emissions.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — on reducing emissions.
Q So, I think what we’re saying is that there are multiple congressional pathways to get to that point.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just saying there are multiple pathways, and some of them that we have already taken on our end to get to that. We’re doing executive orders, and we’ll continue to do that. That’s what — that’s what I’m saying. I’m specifically talking about the Build Back Better Agenda.
Q Okay. Then just one on scheduling: Could you talk through if the President has additional congressional meetings planned through the rest of the week and then if we expect to see him campaign for Governor McAuliffe by — before he leaves for —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything new to — you know, any new trips to call out for you or read out for any of you. As you know, he’s going to go to New Jersey on Monday, which we announced yesterday.
I can say this: We are talking to members in Congress on every level of the administration. We have my colleagues who are in constant contact with Democrats on the House and the Senate side, and we’ll continue to have those conversations.
The President, two days — two days ago, met for hours with members of both House and Senate in the Democratic Pa- — in the Democratic — Democrats, I should say. So, we’re going to continue to do that.
Q Thank you. I know that earlier you said that whatever comes out of this — you know, the negotiations — over the Build Back Better plan — human infrastructure — that it’s still going to be transformational.
But, I guess, what do you say to those people who are saying that the White House and Democrats are compromising too much already? Because there’s talk of taking out of — the Clean Power Plan. There’s talk of, you know, limiting how long — the Child Tax Credit to a year.
There are people who are saying that too much is being sacrificed. And so, what is your message to them — to the people who are saying this is not going to be transformational?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I would say the bill is not done yet. I would say the negotiations are still happening. And so, we’re going to continue to have those conversations. And the President is going to continue to fight for these — for this — for the Build Back Better agenda.
This is his policy. This is something that he believes that the American people need and that human infrastructure — finally investing in the middle class. And so, he’s going to continue to — continue to work — work for the American public.
And so, that’s not going to stop. I’m going to — I — what I — again, I would say to you like, “Let’s — let us negotiate.”
And when — when folks came out two days ago, people said there was progress. People said that we’re getting — we’re getting to a place where they feel like there’s going to be a deal.
So let the process continue. This is a — this is democracy in action, as you can imagine. And we’ll have something that — whatever we end up with will be transformational, will be historic. And — because this is — what we’re talking about — these two bills — we haven’t seen that type of investment in generations. We really haven’t.
And now this President has decided to make those investments, and so we’re going to work with Democrats on the Hill to get that done.
Q And a question on Joe Manchin. There were reports that he was thinking about becoming an independent. He seemed to confirm or to say that he had offered — maybe to the White House and to — maybe to the Senate leadership — that maybe he would become an independent if that is what the White House or Senate leadership wanted him to do.
Can you talk about that? Does the White House have a position on that? Do they have a problem with Joe Manchin being in the Democratic Party?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think Joe Manchin spoke to this pretty clearly, recently, as humanly possible. He was very clear about — when he was asked this directly. I really don’t have anything — anything else to say about that.
Look, the relationship that the President has, that we have with Joe Manchin is strong. It’s a mutual — the President has a mutual respect, and they have — they have shared values.
And so, again, we’ve been working in good faith with him. He’s been working in good faith with us. And he actually spoke — spoke to that, I believe, yesterday, recently, and was very clear.
Q And so, you want — the White House wants him in the Democratic Party? You can just say that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I — that’s his — for his — that’s his decision to make. That’s not my decision to make. I’m not going to — you know, we’re not going to say what — you know, what party somebody belongs to. That’s for — that’s for them to make. And that’s, you know, for him to answer, which he did. He answered that very, very clearly.
I cannot say the words that he used from here, but he did very much answer that question. (Laughter.)
And I’m going to — I’m going to leave because I — leave that there because my daughter, at some point, is going to see this. And so, she’ll call me out. So, I can’t use those words.
But look, we — the President has, you know, respect for Senator Manchin. Again, he sees him as a partner in these — in this — in this process, in trying to get work done for the American people, trying to pass this economic — you know, economic bill for the middle class, as I’ve been saying.
And so, this is critical. This is important. And we need to get it done.
Go ahead, Michael.
Q Thank you. Two questions: one on voting rights and climate. On voting rights, given the President’s remarks earlier today at the MLK — MLK Memorial, does the President think that Martin Luther King, Jr., if he were around today, would find it satisfactory to not break the filibuster in an effort to save what the President has called “the cornerstone of democracy”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh my god. That’s such an unfair question. You’re asking me what Dr. King would think?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh my gosh.
Q You know, I’d assume — I’m assuming the President must have thought something about that in preparing for the remarks today, which were highly symbolic given — given Martin Luther King’s —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Geez, Michael. (Laughs.) You know, I’ll say — I’ll say this: The President has been absolutely clear that protecting Americans’ constitutional rights and the integrity of our elections from this — from the systematic assault Republicans have been engaged in across the country is a must and that hi- — that this historic threat requires strong voting rights legislation. And that’s what he is working on. That’s what he talked about today, and he’s talked about it multiple times.
One of the — one of the times that was very striking, as we know, was when he went to Philadelphia and really made a strong argument for protecting the — the corner- — the cornerstone of our democracy.
Look, dozens of White House staff work on this priority every day, and it’s fundamental to upholding the rule of law.
And not only that, again, he has done — he has done — he’s taken a lot of actions as President. He’s done a historic executive order, which was done on the anniversary of Selma, Bloody Sunday. And instead — on that day, instead of just speaking and saying nice words or commemorating that day — which was a difficult, sad day — he took action.
And so — so that’s one way he did. He — he doubled the voting rights staff in the Civil Rights Division at the DOJ. He appointed the Vice President as — at her request — to lead this administration-wide effort, using the bully pulpit and convening power of the White House.
So, we’re going to continue to do the work. It’s not — it’s not over. And we’re going to continue to do everything that we can from here to make sure that people’s rights are protected.
And also, the John Lewis bill, from what I understand, is going to be coming to the floor. And so, Senator Schumer is doing everything that he can with — with his members and senators on the Hill to get that done.
Q Okay. And then on — just on climate. Not to beat a dead horse, but to follow up on Justin’s question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q As I understand it, the negotiators on Capitol Hill, as they are trying to figure out what’s in and what’s out of the Build Back Better — the social, the human infrastructure piece of this — that they are very much focused on climate pieces in that legislation — maybe not the original proposal that the President had made but, you know, sort of what other pieces that add up to, you know, tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars.
Are you now saying that, in an effort to pare down the bill, you guys would be happy if Congress does nothing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, we’re not — I’m not saying we would be —
Q Because it sounded, again, like — as Justin, I think, suggested —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me — let me be —
Q — it sounded like you were saying that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me be clear because, clearly, I’m not being clear. Let me be clear, as a spokesperson: No, we would not be happy if it was not included.
We’re going to continue to fight for those pieces in the legislation. That is not — you know, that is not the — you know, that is not — what we’re saying: It’s not the end of it. There are multiple — we’re saying where — there are the multiple — multiple other pathways.
But the President — this is the President’s bill. You know, we’re talking both BIF and both BBB. This is something that he wanted in that — those pieces of — those pieces of legislation that he wanted in that agenda. And he’s going to continue to fight for every component of it.
So, we want it in there. People keep asking us or saying to us, “You’re not going to hit your goals. You’re not going to hit your — your emissions, your reduction goals.”
And we’re saying that we have done the work already. We’re going to continue to use an all-of-government approach to do that. And I was just citing a report that said that we’re can still — we can still hit that goal.
And that’s — that’s all I’m saying.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’re not going to stop fighting. Absolutely not.
Q Thanks, Karine. Given some of the reports we’ve seen the last week and a half, does the President believe that the U.S. has a sufficient amount of visibility into China’s weapons programs and defense capabilities at this moment in time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you’re talking about the missile that we saw —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — recently — the hypersonic glide missile.
So, Jen talked about this yesterday when — after the President was asked. So, we’re not going to comment on the specific report, but, generally speaking, we have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue.
And so, you know, again, I’m not going to comment on this specific report. But generally speaking, we have made clear our concerns about their capabilities and continue to pursue which — which only increases — the PCR [PRC] continues to pursue, which only increases tensions in the region and beyond.
So, I can’t comment on the report. But, yes, do we have concerns? We do. And then we’re going to — we’re going to continue to speak out.
Q But generally, do you feel — does the White House feel like it has the visibility it needs into those programs or capabilities?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can’t speak to that from here. Like I said, you know, we’re — we just made clear our concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC has.
Q And then just one more on Build Back Better: You guys have been very steadfast about the entire bill will be paid for. Is that a red line? Like, as you guys look through options right now, through the buffet of potential revenue-raisers that are on the table, is deficit spending completely off the table as you look forward?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And we’ve been very clear about that. The red line for the President has been: We are not going to raise taxes for Americans making less than $400,000.
Q Two different things, though.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep, you’re ta- — go ahead.
Q No, no. I’m not trying to be short. But in terms of as you’re looking for ways to finance the proposal, deficit financing is off the table; it has to be paid for in full.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It has to be paid for. I’m just — because you asked me what his redline was, I just wanted to make sure I said that. But it has to be paid for, and we want to make sure that the wealthiest among us — the billionaires and the big corporations — pay their fair share. That’s only right.
Again — and I said this earlier — the firefighters and teachers should not be paying more in taxes than billionaires. And the President has been very clear about that. And so, that’s — that’s what I was trying to get to.
Q Thanks, Karine.
Q — the proposed corporate tax rates. What if they don’t happen? What if they’re not hiked?
Q Thanks — thanks, Karine. Earlier today, President Biden spoke on voting rights and said, quote, “And I know the moment we’re in. I know the stakes. This is far from over.” Has the failure of last night’s vote on voting rights at all changed his thinking on Democrats’ strategy on this issue, particularly on legislation on the filibuster? Is he reconsidering the general approach to this and how to get something passed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, he’s just going to continue to speak out against it. He used today as an opportunity to do that. He’s going to continue to work with Congress.
Like I said, we have White House officials working on this every day from the Office of Public Engagement to Domestic Policy Council and others who are making this a priority.
This is a priority for him, and Chuck Schumer is continu- — Senator Schumer is continuing to work on this — voting rights — the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill is going to, hopefully, come to the floor soon. And we’re going to let him take that lead. And we’re going to continue to make sure that we make it really clear the urgency of getting this done.
Q And then, on communicating on this issue, this also comes on, recently, the collapse of police reform talks, comprehensive immigration reform was struck from the reconciliation package. Does this administration have a message to communities of color, in particular — who, in many cases, clinched the victory for President Biden; who voted for him for these issues? Do you all have a message?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, first off, anyone who knows this President knows he’s not going to give up fighting for voting rights. You know, as we said, this was a setback. That’s the same for police reform.
So, he wished the negotiations — bipartisan negotiations had led to a bill, but we’re not going to give up the fight. And so, we’re going to continue to work.
You know, we are — you hear us say it all the time — we are the most diverse Cabinet in history. We have made historic investments in HBCU and reformed housing policies. Equity was at the forefront of the American Rescue Plan and at the forefront of the Build Back Better plan.
Our agenda for the Black community is not about one or two bills. Clearly, those bills are critical and important, and we’re going to continue to work very hard towards them. But it is weaved throughout numerous policies, initiatives, executive orders, legislation we work on every day.
The center of everything — at the center of everything that the President does is make sure that there’s equity. And so, we’re going to continue to do that and make sure that, again, we don’t leave anybody behind.
Q A different angle on police: Police unions across the country right now — we’re seeing from Seattle to Los Angeles to Chicago — are protesting vaccine mandates that are being implemented by Democratic governors in these cases. As a proponent of vaccine mandates, what does President Biden believe — how does President Biden believe these situations should be resolved?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as we know, the vaccine is safe, the vaccine is highly effective, and the vaccine is the best way out of this pandemic.
So, the President strongly believes that all eligible people should be vaccinated. And he certainly believes that frontline workers, like police officers, should get vaccinated.
Vaccines not only protect officers, they protect their families, they protect the people that they — that they serve, and so — or are dedicating to protect. So, that is important and critical. And so, we know that vaccine requirements work. And so, we’re going to continue to encourage that work.
Q And then finally, on climate policy: You’ve mentioned how, with or without Congress, you’re able to create progress on this. But, as we’ve seen with previous administrations, policies can be easily undone should a change in administration take place or should the policies not prove durable enough.
So, are you all looking to not have a repeat of what was — of what took place between the Obama and Trump administrations on environmental policy? Are you all looking for ways to create more durable policy regimes than what —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, what we’re working on right now is to be in a better place than we have been the last four years. And we’re going to do that when it comes to climate change. We’re going to make sure we do that domestically and be leaders on the global stage as well, which is what the President has been doing the last several months, from day one, when he signed an executive order getting back into the Paris Accord.
So, we’re going to do that work. And we’re not going to — you know, we’re just going to focus on what is in front of us at the moment.
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. The WHO said this week that Europe was the only region where COVID cases increased last week. And officials yesterday said that, in the UK, cases were up 16 percent since last week.
How concerned is the White House about this ahead of the President’s trip to Europe next week? And are there any extra COVID precautions that you guys will be taking for him, for senior staff on those two stops?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, Karen, we follow the science, we follow the public guidance that we receive, and so that’s what we’re going to do — we’re going to — in order to protect the President and his staff.
And so that’s, kind of, going to be, you know, whatever the public health guidance tells us to do and in partnership, clearly, with the countries that we’re visiting and making sure that we’re following their protocols as well.
And so that’s going to be — that’s going to be our focus.
Q But no extra concerns that these numbers are increasing in a country he’s going to?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have not — again, I have not seen those numbers. I’m just saying that that’s what we do. We let science lead, and we listen to the public health experts.
Q Karine, a follow up on — one on inflation and the supply chain. You mentioned at the top that unemployment is down, wages are up, and that’s a testament to the progress that President Biden has made on the economy.
But there’s no mention of inflation in that. And while wages are up almost 4.5 percent, inflation is up 5 percent. So any bump in pay that people are seeing in their paycheck is getting wiped out when they’re going to the store and paying more for everything.
So what do you say to people who are looking at their budget, and they’re saying, “This doesn’t feel like progress under President Biden; it feels like a pay cut.”
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me first say this — and I said this earlier — the President, he knows how even a small price increase really can squeeze too many families — like that is something that he’s aware of.
And so we’re working on a wide variety of economic programs to help — right? — which is why the Build Back Better plan to work out — to work on our supply chain issues is incredibly important.
We’re using every tool at our disposal to lower prices for working people and bring economic relief. Right? If you think about the human infrastructure, the Build Back Better plan, we’re talking about prescription drugs; we’re talking about paid leave, sick leave, medical leave; we’re talking about community college. We’re talking about things that’s really going to give that economic relief, that middle-class tax cut for everyday people. So, we’re going to continue to do that work.
The American Rescue Plan actually helped the American public a lot. It did. It put checks in people’s pockets. I talked about the Child Tax Credit. I talked about the childcare components in it. There was a lot there that gave some relief — that gave some relief to Americans here.
And so, the Build Back Better plan is just an extension of that, if you will. It’s to invest that long-term investment to make sure that people feel that relief.
Look, we were in a very different place a year ago, not to say that some people are not still feeling the squeeze — totally understand that. But, you know, a year ago, we were — people were getting sick, they were losing their jobs. You know, women were leaving the workforce.
And so, we’ve been able to turn things around, start the economy back up — again, 600,000 jobs a month; nearly 5 million jobs in the first eight months. That matters. Now we just have to continue doing the work.
It’s going to take time; we’re not done.
Q And then, just quickly, on the supply chain. You know, there’s a lot to talk about Christmas presents not arriving on time. But the issue is more severe and critical than that. I mean, it’s affecting small businesses. Autobody shops can’t get parts to fix cars, so they can’t make money.
Ninety percent of school nutrition programs say they’re worried about continued supply chain issues, according to a School Nutrition Association survey. Some schools are making last-minute grocery store trips just to feed their students.
So, if this is an issue that the White House has been working on and aware of since February, why does it seem like this is a problem that is getting worse, not better?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would say this: When it comes to the supply chain, you know, it’s a — there are complexities there when you think about, you know, the — when we learn about the global supply chain as well — right? Those are — so that’s one thing that you kind of have to put it in the — in the bigger picture.
So — but it is a complex system that requires private sector collaboration and coordination to improve efficiency and get through the backlog. And that’s what we’re seeing currently as we’re talking about the supply chain. These are just some of the players in the game.
There are port directors, terminal operators, ocean carriers, railroad, truckers, warehouse — warehouses, and retailers, and let’s not forget consumers who have a record level of demand as we have made a historic economic recovery.
Because we have — we have — the forecasters — the economic forecasters did not see — did not think we would be where we are today; we have surpassed that. So, we have had some historic economic recovery.
Do we have more work to do? Absolutely. That’s why we’re trying to get this Build Back Better plan. But the Biden administration, as it comes to the supply chain, continues to serve as an honest broker — I mentioned this before — making sure that we find areas of collaboration to ensure we can move goods movement supply chain toward a 24/7 model.
But again, you know, we want — the President understands. He understands the squeeze that people are feeling — everyday Americans are feeling. That’s why he’s working every day to make sure that we pass his economic policies.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Thanks, everybody.
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