Aboard Air Force One
En Route Rosemount, Minnesota

1:00 P.M. CST
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay.  Welcome to our trip to Rosemount, Minnesota.  The President, as you all know, will visit Dakota County Technical College, which serves almost 3,000 credit students and 10,000 noncredit students.  The majority of jobs supported by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will not need a four-year college degree.  Community and technical colleges will provide the training and skill development needed to help workers access those jobs. 
 
Dakota County Tech offers more th- — more — thank you — more than programs in civil engineering, construction management, electrical construction and maintenance, electrical line worker and welding technology — all of which will be needed to implement the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 
 
For example, electrical line workers will be needed to lay transmission lines across the country and upgrade our electrical grid to accommodate renewable power sources and be resilient to climate change and cyber threats. 
 
And Dakota County Tech hosts a number of transportation-related programs.  Through a partnership with General Motors, it trains highly-skilled service technicians for GM dealers and service centers. 
 
The college also hosts the Minnesota State Commercial Driving Skill Center to recruit and train commercial truck drivers to meet current and anticipated industry demands for commercial driver’s license certifications.  It has a 2.8-mile Decision Driving Range for training CDL drivers, which is the only facility of its kind in the region, serving over 250 agencies, including law enforcement, fire, municipal road, and paramedic departments. 
 
We have no plans for the President to drive a car today.  You never know. 
 
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, paired with the historic $24 billion investment in workforce development in the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, will prepare millions of workers for high-quality jobs and put community colleges at the center of America’s efforts to prepare the workforce of the future. 
 
The bi- — the law will also deliver for Minnesotans by reconstructing the Interstate 35W and funding the Link project for rapid transit in downtown Rochester — something of great importance to the people of Minnesota. 
 
With that, where do you want to kick us off?
 
Q    Jen, thanks so much.  Two things real fast.  One, with what we’ve seen with the Omicron outbreak, does that suggest the U.S. needs to do even more — in terms of global vaccine distribution — in coordination with other countries, particularly given some questions with Chinese vaccine distribution?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, first, we welcome any country around the world doing more to contribute to our effort to fight the global pandemic as long as they’re doing that with no strings attached, which is how the United States approaches our contributions and donations around the world. 
 
I would just note that beyond the more than 275 million doses sent to the world — more than every country combined — we also have been quite focused on ensuring that we are leading the world in helping train health workers to administer vaccines, running local media campaigns to increase vaccine confidence, launching mobile vaccination clinics.  Specifically, USAID has deployed nearly $1.6 billion to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to fight the pandemic, including more than $61 million to South Africa alone. 
 
So, I would say we continue to be — the United States is far and away the largest provider of not just vaccines and doses but also support in a range of capacities, including healthcare workers’ training, the ability to get shots in arms of any country in the world.  And we welcome and we encourage and we would ask other countries to step up and do more in this moment.
 
Q    Secondly, Friday’s jobs report is likely to show that foreign-born workers are — have nearly recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic.  Given that fact, does the United States need to increase the number of worker visas to maintain economic growth next year?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, we continue to — our focus continues to be on ensuring that American citizens and legal permanent residents are connected with and find the jobs that they need in the market.  And we certainly know and understand that right now it’s a workers’ market.  Right? 
 
And we are encouraged by that — the fact that companies need to compete for workers with higher wages, with greater benefits.  And that’s something that is — you know, is Joe Biden’s economy working, in our view — the greater competition from the industries for workers. 
 
So, beyond that, our focus — of course we want comprehensive immigration reform.  Part of that is, of course, worker visas.  But our focus right now is ensuring we are aligning American citizens, legal permanent residents with positions and jobs in the workforce.
 
Q    Jen, on the WTO TRIPS waiver: The WTO has now postponed its Ministerial Conference because of the Omicron variant.  Is there any push by the United States to go — to get this TRIPS waiver done, even though the ministerial isn’t going to happen?  I mean — and what can the U.S. do to ensure that actually happens?  Would it make a difference?  Or are there other measures that are just as effective?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah.  Well, first, of course it would make a difference, but it’s not a silver bullet.  And I would say that Ambassador Tai, who’s in the lead on this effort, has never stopped working. 
 
And as you know, Andrea, from covering this, the work continues in between ministerials.  This is a consensus-based decision.  So it’s, of course, not only on the United States to — organization, I should say — the WTO.  And tech space negotiations do take time and require everyone being on board. 
 
Those can continue.  Obviously, we would anticipate the meeting would be rescheduled.  But the work on the tech space negotiations, the building of consensus — something Ambassador Tai is in the lead on — is continuing, and we’re continuing to press for that. 
 
I would say that our view is we support, of course, the TRIPS waiver, as you know, but we also believe that there are a number of ways that we need to approach — lead on getting the global pandemic under control.  One of those is, of course, being the world’s largest provider of vaccine doses, prov- — the world’s largest provider of know-how, also pushing and encouraging pharmaceutical companies to provide know-how to countries as well. 
 
So, there’s a range of steps that we are taking, we will continue to press on, even as Ambassador Tai is leading these efforts and continuing the work on the tech space negotiations.
 
Q    I just want to follow up real quickly.  Does the Omicron variant and the emergence of this new variant make this a more urgent task?  And is there some sort of deadline that you have in mind to get the TRIPS waiver — to get this whole effort done?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, again, we would like to see it done, but we also recognize that it’s a consensus-based organization.  And we have been working to build that consensus.  And we’ve said from the beginning it would take some time, as tech space negotiations do. 
 
But I think it’s also important to note that, you know, even as we’re working right now, even as our doctors are working around the clock right now to answer some of the questions that are unknown about the efficacy of vaccines, about the transmissibility of the variants, that the most important thing we can do is get more people vaccinated, get more people boosted. 
 
And we will continue to encourage other countries to step up and do more to provide vaccine doses and know-how to the global community as well.
 
Q    Fed Chairman Powell today spoke —
 
Q    On inflation —
 
Q    Sorry.
 
Q    Can I get in one?
 
Q    Yeah.
 
Q    On inflation, does the White House have a new thought on the transitory nation [sic] — nature of inflation, especially given Fed Chairman Jay Powell’s comments about how it’s time to retire the term “transitory”?
 
MS. PSAKI:   Well, no matter how you want to label it or view it, our view is that — and the view of the Federal Reserve, private sector forecasters, and the markets — has been and remains that inflation will ease over time — whatever you want to call it — and that our supply chain issues and higher prices are rooted in the pandemic, which will subside as we get it under control — which is, of course, our number one priority, is getting the pandemic under control. 
 
We certainly know how frustrating these price increases are, and we’ve been — on working families and the impact on them.  And that’s why we’ve been moving our supply chain to 24/7, unclogging our ports, tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices, and other steps that we know will work. 
 
We also know that a global pandemic is causing global supply chain challenges and resulting upticks in inflation.  That’s why we’ve been laser focused on that since day one. 
 
I would say, though, that the question right now isn’t what you call it; it’s what you’re going to do about it.  And that’s why I think it’s important for the American people who are sitting at home, having understandable concerns about any price increases they see — whether it was a month ago, two months ago, or anything they’re seeing today — the President is using every weapon in his arsenal to fight inflation. 
 
What are the Republicans putting forward?  They’re screaming from a bullhorn.  They’re tweeting about it.  They have absolutely no plan.  And what the American people should know and understand is the President has a plan, has had a plan from day one to fight the pandemic, to address price increases, to get the supply chain moving.  We’d welcome them working with us on that.
 
Q    And then, on SALT, Omarova for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — there’s been some calls from the Senate for the White House to withdraw her nomination.  Any reaction to that? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  We continue to strongly support her nomination, and the President feels she’s eminently qualified for the position.  That’s why he chose her for the role –- or nominated her.
 
Q    So, no plans to pull that nomination whatsoever?
 
MS. PSAKI:  No.
 
Q    Still confident that she could get through? 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Correct.
 
Q    Okay. 
 
Q    On Trump supporter — there are supporters of the former President who are calling on Republicans in Congress to block a CR if there is a federal vaccine mandate.  Do you have any — does the White House have any response to that?  And are there any concerns that that could slow down the government funding process in the short term?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think we’re — we are working in close coordination with leaders in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to ensure the government stays open. 
 
Let’s just take a step back and think about the absurdity of that call.  They’re calling for the government to shut down, prevent essential services from going out to people across the country, because they’re upset about our efforts to save people’s lives.  I’ll just leave that there and see if any Republicans on the Hill agree with that.
 
Q    Jen, can you say anything more about why the President’s remarks on supply chain were delayed, and what he’s going to prev- — can you preview anything he might say in them?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  So, it just happened to be a very busy day yesterday, I think, as you all know who were here, including the President’s remarks on the pandemic.  He had the meeting with CEOs, a number of whom were in town.  We didn’t want to shorten that meeting.  And we felt it just would make more sense to — since he was traveling today, to just reschedule those remarks to provide an update on Wednesday.
 
Q    Omicron is in Canada.  Is there any thought to revisiting the decision about opening that border?
 
MS. PSAKI:  The President’s decisions related to travel restrictions will be based on the recommendations of his health and medical team.  They have not advised that to this point, but we will continue to assess what steps we need to take to keep the American people safe. 
 
Q    And tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing the Dobbs v. Mississippi case.  If Roe v. Wade is overturned, reversed, substantially changed, and abortion rights are severely curtailed, what will the President do about that?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, the President has — is obviously a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose, the protection of Roe v. Wade. 
 
Obviously, I’m not going to speak to a court case that will be heard tomorrow at the Supreme Court, but he has long called for Congress to take action to solidify Roe v. Wade in –- in – you know, re-solidify Roe v. Wade. 
 
Let me just add anything here.  He also believes Mississippi’s law blatantly violates women’s constitutional right to safe and legal abortions.  The ca- — this case presents a grave threat to our women’s fundamental rights as protected under Roe v. Wade. 
 
Of course, every American deserves access to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare.  He’s deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe. 
 
As you know, the Department of Justice filed a brief in the case and will participate in the oral argument.  And he is committed to working with Congress to codify the constitutional right.  That’s what — what he’s focused on.
 
Q    On negotiations at the WHO on a possible pandemic treaty: Can you clarify the administration’s position on this?  And would you accept — I have to record myself, sorry — would you accept such a treaty that would be internationally, legally binding?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I know Secretary Becerra spoke to this yesterday.  He conveyed that the United States is committed to working with member states to take forward the recent recommendations of the working group on preparedness and response.  That includes developing a new WHO convention, agreement, or other international instrument and making agreements to improve the effectiveness and agility of international health regulations. 
 
Of course, that’s in all of our interests.  We expect that tomorrow at the conclusion of the session they’ll have more to say on it, but I’m not going to get ahead of that.
 
Q    And then on Taiwan: Would the U.S. support Taiwan’s plan to send a military attaché to Guam?  And what role does the administration see Taiwan playing under the new Global Posture Review?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I can talk to our national security team and see if we have any further comment on Taiwan’s actions.
 
Q    Jen, my colleague today reported the White House is preparing for a Biden-Putin call next month. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Say — say that again.
 
Q    My colleague has reported that the White House is preparing for a Biden-Putin call next month.  Is there any additional details that you can share on that? 
 
And how concerned is the administration about a Russian invasion of Ukraine?
 
MS. PSAKI:  We’re deeply concerned about the heightened rhetoric about the reported military buildup on the border –- (an item falls) — geez, sorry — nothing is broken –- (laughter) — and that is something Secretary Blinken also spoke to on the ground. 
 
He is in Europe right now, in Latvia, at the NATO Ministerial.  And that’s something he will be in close coordination and discussion with his European partners about, in terms of what coordinated steps should be taken in that regard. 
 
On the Putin — on the report — I think it came from the Russians — I don’t have anything to predict or preview at this point in time.  Obviously, we remain in touch, as a follow up to the summit this summer, at a high level with Russian counterparts.
 
Q    And just two quick questions.  The President has said that getting back to normal means a larger uptake in vaccines.  In the spring, we saw the White House do a lot with states and private companies to spur vaccinations. 
 
Now, with the new variant, are there any new measures the White House is going to consider to get more people vaccinated, similar to what we saw in the spring and some of those partnerships?  And I remember from the podium you talking about all those various efforts the White House was doing.  Anything —
 
MS. PSAKI:  Donuts and beer.
 
Q    Exactly.
 
MS. PSAKI:  We will continue, Tyler, to look for creative ways to encourage more people to protect themselves, protect their neighbors, protect their loved ones.  Those often are in partnership, as you noted, with private sector companies. 
 
I don’t have anything new today.  I will see if there’s anything in addition that you are not currently aware of. 
 
I will also note that what is different from the spring is we’re also on the brink of implementing an enormous vaccine requirement with — that will impact workers across the country. 
 
And that is something, certainly, incentivized, but also, we think, will protect more people, ensure there are safer workplaces — a step that, you know, we did not take in the beginning, but we were at the point where we needed to move forward.
 
Q    And just one more.  In the photo that the White House released on Sunday of the President’s meeting with his advisors on COVID, there was only one medical expert — Dr. Fauci — in that photo. 
 
During the transition, during the campaign, Biden promised to elevate scientists.  During the transition, he met with his COVID Advisory Board that had no political advisors; it was just medical experts. 
 
In recent days, there’s been some criticism from public health experts and advocates and doctors that have raised concerns about the lack of medical experts meeting with Biden in those — in that setting like that. 
 
What do you say to those critics?  I can give you the names; I know you appreciate that.  And why the change that there are more political advisors around him than medical experts as he’s reviewing the data on the new variant?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, first, I would say that the President receives an update — is receiving an update from his health and medical experts every day.  He — of course, that includes engagement with people from the CDC, other medical experts who work in the federal government. 
 
Jeff Zients is the COVID Coordinator.  Yes, he’s not a medical doctor, but he is somebody who was tasked with and hired to coordinate all of the health and medical experts.  And Dr. Fauci is the President’s medical advisor.  So, I would say that’s not small potatoes. 
 
But I think what’s most important for people to see is that the President relies on the advice that came from the totality of the health and medical team, as it relates to our decision about travel restrictions. 
 
And any additional recommendations they ma- — that will be made or announced will be based on their collective advice — from public health experts, from medical experts.  Sometimes they’re all in one room; sometimes they’re on the phone.  I wouldn’t overread into that component.
 
Q    The Moderna CEO says that the world may need some new vaccines, that the old vaccines might not be effective on the new variant.  The markets reacted to that, obviously.  Do you have any thoughts on the Moderna founder being, perhaps, alarmist — maybe more alarmist than the White House would be — or not?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think it’s important to point to what Dr. Fauci has said, which is that we have our best doctors and medical experts right now working around the clock to answer some of these questions, which we don’t yet know the answers to on the efficacy of vaccines, on the — on the transmissibility of the new variant.
 
Now, it could go in — in a couple of different directions, as he noted this morning.  It could be, you know, less deadly; it could be more.  We don’t know yet.  So, we’re at the — we are not jumping to conclusions because we want to be clear with the American public about what we do and don’t know.
 
But here’s what we do know: Getting vaccinated, getting boosted means that you increase antibodies and you will have additional protection.  That is what we are recommending to the public.
 
We also know and the American people can be assured of that if there is a need for a changing, a tweaking of vaccine, getting that to the market, we will be prepared to do exactly that.  But we are not at that point yet.  We don’t know yet.  And we’re going to wait for the results and the analysis of health and medical experts.
 
Q    Jen, can I ask you about Afghanistan?  So, Tom West is in the region today, meeting with Taliban officials.  We also have this issue going on at the World Bank, in terms of trying to get money out of the frozen Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. 
 
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
 
Q    So, can you walk us through — do you have any kind of a readout of West’s meeting?  And what are your hopes for, sort of, you know, getting some concessions from the Taliban about the way that they’re structuring their government?  And also if you can just talk about the proposal from the (inaudible).
 
MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  I would really say that State Department will have a readout — any readout of the meeting.  We can see if they’ve put anything out, or we can ask them for any follow up on that.
 
Our objective is — of course continues to be getting assistance directly to the Afghan people.  We do that through, you know, a range of internationally recognized organizations, including NGOs, the United Nations, and others.  And we continue to work to establish alternative means of supporting the needs of the Afghan people. 
 
So, that continues to be our objective.  In terms of negotiations with the Taliban, again, I would really refer you to the State Department on any update. 
 
Q    There are a lot of — there’s a lot of concern that the U.S. sanctions, however well-intentioned, in terms of the pressure, are actually hindering the distribution of supplies.  They’re getting supplies and money and aid in to Afghanistan at a time when the winter is approaching and people will starve.  I mean, the UNDP has basically predicted that there will be widespread famine and hunger.
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think here’s the difficultly here — there are also — I don’t know if those individuals or critics are suggesting we give money directly to the Taliban.  What’s the alternative to that, if we’re not working through NGOs, United Nations, looking for alternative routes to getting this humanitarian assistance out to the Afghan people? 
 
That’s our objective.  That’s what we want to do in coordination with our European partners, neighboring countries, others who also feel strong concern for the humanitarian plight of the Afghan people.  But there’s no challeng- — no — no question this is a challenging situation.  That’s why we’ve been so involved in building this kind of international coalition to see what more we can do and what alternative routes we can look for.
 
Q    Would you propose any money going to public sector employees?  I know this is in the weeds, but there are hundreds of thousands of public sector employees who functionally are controlled, then, by the Taliban.  I guess, you know, is that a policy stance that —
 
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new updates for you, Andrea.  Obviously, there are discussions and ongoing negotiations with a range of partners and officials out there, including the Taliban, but also including our partners in the region. 
 
Obviously, our stance hasn’t changed on who we are and aren’t giving money to, so I don’t have anything on that at this point.
 
Q    On the Vienna talks — just quickly, on the Vienna talks, the EU — some EU officials have said the talks are positive.  Does the U.S. believe that these (inaudible) negotiations — that Iran is being serious?
 
MS. PSAKI:  It’s hard for us to assess that, J.J., so I’m not going to do that from here.  You know, there are a lot of ideas and a lot of reports out there being negotiated — you know, being reported.  But we’re not going to negotiate in public.
 
Our focus continues to be mutual return to full compliance with JCPOA.  That’s our best available option.  We’re committed to a diplomatic path; that’s what Rob Malley and others are working toward.  But we just can’t get ahead of where the process stands at this point.
 
Q    Can I ask you — the former White House physician, Ronny Jackson, has asserted —
 
MS. PSAKI:  I’m familiar with him.
 
Q    — has asserted that the administration is basically ginning up a midterm election variant so Democrats can cheat in the election — that, you know, any new crisis with COVID is ginned up. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think that the best thing we can do is not respond to conspiracy theories that are pushing — being pushed out there, including by medical doctors, that risk people’s lives, create confusion, and are done for political gain. 
 
So, I’ll leave it at that.
 
Q    On this democracy summit, how did you decide who got invited and who didn’t?  For example, why is Serbia — why are Serbia and Kosovo going, but Bosnia and Herzegovina are not?
 
MS. PSAKI:  I can see if there’s more detail.  I know we invited about 110 countries and organizations to have a diverse range of viewpoints there.  But I’ll see if there is more specifics.
 
Q    Also, will you push Congress to sanction Russia if they do invade Ukraine?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Look, I think we are going to first take the step of having our Secretary of State continue these conversations with his European partners on the ground to see what steps, if any, should be taken.  He had pretty strong language he conveyed about his concern about what we’ve seen, to your question earlier, on the ground.
 
You know, he conveyed, “…it remains vital in the face of ongoing Russian actions in Ukraine, its increasingly belligerent rhetoric, its recent build of forces, its unusual troop movements along Ukraine’s border.”  He conveyed, also, he’d have more to say on this tomorrow but wants to, of course, consult with allies.  So, we’ll leave it at that.
 
We’re always prepared for any action, and we’ve expressed that to them as well.
 
Q    Any change in strategy or approach or outreach to OPEC Plus nations ahead of the meeting this week, given everything with the SPR?  Are you doing anything differently in your messaging, doing any kind of outreach separately from before? And how do you plan to follow up?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, the meeting, I think, is tomorrow.  Am I getting this right? 
 
We are in regular touch with OPEC Plus member countries, even though we are not a member of OPEC Plus.  They had committed to a specific release some time ago, but we — otherwise we continue to convey that we are hopeful they will release supply to meet the demand out there on the marketplace.
 
Q    Jen, you — when you released the oil or, sort of, announced the release of the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it didn’t have as much impact as did this news about the new variant, which has really pushed crude prices down.
 
Is there any thinking about going back and perhaps not doing as large of a release, not doing as many gallons out of the SPR?
 
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that consideration — of that being under consideration.  I would also note that because there had been discussions and reports of discussions for some time that we had seen a 10 percent decrease in the price of oil that was kind of baked into the system in advance of that, in anticipation.  But I’m not aware of any plans to change that.
 
Q    Are you frustrated about the lack of impact of those lower crude prices on prices at the gas pump?  I mean, you’ve asked — what else can you do?  You’ve gone to the FTC.  You know, you’ve spoken about this publicly. 
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah.
 
Q    What other levers do you have?  And — I mean, you know, some people say if you really want to tackle inflation, maybe one step would be to reduce tariffs that are — have an inflationary impact for American consumers.  Is there any discussion underway to look at that to — you know, to look at other choices now, just to sort of get a grip on this 31-year high inflation?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, as you know, there’s an ongoing review of our — of China tariffs.  We’re in phase one of that.  Ambassador Tai is leading that effort. 
 
I will say: Yes, we’re frustrated.  We’re frustrated because you’ve seen a decrease in oil prices; you’ve not seen a decrease in gas.  That, you know, doesn’t take an economist, it doesn’t take an oil market expert to recognize that that doesn’t sound, look, or smell right. 
 
And that’s why the President asked the FTC, an independent agency, to take a look at this, because it shouldn’t be that gas gouging is something that we have concern about happening out there in the country.  And we see oil company CEOs bragging about the profits they make when gas company- — gas prices go up. 
 
This is a real impact on the American people.  It is incredibly frustrating.  That’s why the President is so focused on it. 
 
I would note, on your question on inflation, the way the President thinks about this is people’s budgets at home.  You know, when they’re doing their budget — their budget for how they’re paying for life, whether it’s groceries or putting their kids to school — or sending their kids to school or, you know, gas prices — you know, how do these cost increases impact them?
 
So, the way he looks at it is, “Let’s use every lever we can,” which he — we — which he is working to do and will continue to look for options.  But also, that’s why he’s very focused on getting Build Back Better done as quickly as possible, because that will help cut costs for people as soon as next year. 
 
Remember, the Child Tax Credit is going to expire in mid- January.  Remember that this will help cut childcare costs next year.  It will help build affordable housing units next year.  And this is a way that we can cut costs for working families.
 
Q    Has Lina Khan come back to you with any specific recommendations yet on —
 
MS. PSAKI:  You would know, as an independent agency, she’ll make that decision.  And I would expect that you would all hear about it, should she make a decision.
 
Q    In the event that vaccine manufacturers need to update the vaccines to be variant-specific or multivariant, would that affect the contracts that the U.S. has with vaccine manufacturers in terms of the price of doses?
 
MS. PSAKI:  You mean free doses for people across the country?
 
Q    I mean — well, yes.  For one tr- — for one thing, can Americans be assured that vaccines will continue to be free if there are — there do need to be additions in terms of variants?
 
MS. PSAKI:  That has been our (inaudible) intention, and that will help save lives across the country. 
 
In terms of the specific contracts, I don’t think we’re quite there yet, because, obviously, a decision hasn’t been made that there needs to be tweaks.  But I can see — and I expect we won’t have more until — if we get to that point, but we don’t know we will get to that point.
 
Q    Jen, any more updates on, sort of, the engagement from the White House and the Senate on Build Back Better?  I know you mentioned yesterday there were some calls between White House officials —
 
MS. PSAKI:  Yeah.
 
Q    — and Senate aides.  Anything more on that?  Or anything we can expect from the President about his involvement in trying to get that over the finish line with some remaining holdout senators on passing that bill?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would say — I’ll see if there’s any additional meetings to report.  Brian Deese is traveling with us, so it’s hard for him to be on the Hill today.  But every single day, our team is meeting with and in discussions with Senate leadership, members of the Budgetary Committee to move this forward. 
 
That’s really the stage it’s at this point in time to kind of move it forward.  I think you probably saw that Leader Schumer conveyed he wants to bring the bill to the floor the week of the 13th.  We’re encouraged by that.  We expect to see action before Christmas.  That’s a positive sign, in our view. 
 
And so, we will just continue to work in lockstep with his office and with the Budget Committee to continue moving this forward to be prepared to go to the floor that week. 
 
Q    And just in terms of deadlines, obviously the Hill has a lot to get through: the debt limit, extending government funding, defense bill, Build Back Better.  Has the White House identified any preferences in terms of sequencing, dates of when — I know you just said you want to see action by Christmas — but anything specific in terms of when those things need to pass or what they should prioritize in that lengthy list?
 
MS. PSAKI:  Well, look, we really would defer to Senate leadership on that — on the order of events.  And Leader Schumer has a bit of experience sequencing a number of important legislative components. 
 
I would note that there are some timelines we’re aware of, of course.  Government funding timeline is later this week, as we know.  Obviously, the Treasury Secretary has put out a timeline as it relates to the debt limit and needing to raise that.  But we have every confidence that we can move forward, get this done, and have a very Merry Christmas.
 
Q    (Inaudible.)
 
MS. PSAKI:  Okay.
 
Q    Is the President going to speak to the bosses of these gas companies at all?  Is he going to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, what’s up with the gas prices?”
 
MS. PSAKI:  We’ll let you know if he does, but, in the meantime, he’s asked the FTC Chair to look into possible price gouging, and we’ll see what happens.
 
Thank you, guys.
 
Q    Thanks, Jen. 
 
1:30 P.M. CST

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