James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:57 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody. Okay. And Happy Friday to everyone. Just a quick note, because we wanted to make sure we had a briefing today, but the President, as you know, has a very tight schedule.
Today he’s going to be heading to the CIA, so this is going to be a short briefing, so apologies at the top. But again, we wanted to make sure you guys all had an opportunity to ask your questions.
So joining us today is Jen Klein, the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, which was established by President Biden at the start of this administration. This is her second time in the Briefing Room, some of you might remember.
By creating the Gender Policy Council, President Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to create a White House team backed by the whole of government for defending women’s rights and advancing equality.
When the draft decision of Dobbs was leaked this spring, Jen Klein and the Gender Policy Council, along with other senior officials here at the White House, put every policy action on the table and evaluated them through an intensive process to determine which were the strongest and the most meaningful.
With that, Jen, I’ll let you take it away.
MS. KLEIN: Thank you. Thanks, Karine, for having me today. As you said, when the final decision was issued, the President took immediate action under his executive authority to defend reproductive rights. And just now, as you know, he signed an executive order which builds on those actions.
So just to talk a little bit about what’s in this executive order: It safeguards access to reproductive health services, building on steps HHS has already taken to ensure that medication abortion and contraception, including emergency contraception and long-acting contraception, are as widely available as possible, as well as the Attorney General’s commitment to fight any attack by a state or local official who attempts to interfere with women exercising their constitutional right to travel out of state for medical care.
It also protects the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information, building on steps that HHS Office of Civil Rights has already begun to take to ensure that doctors and medical providers and plans know that, with limited exceptions, they’re not required and, in many cases, they’re not even permitted to disclose patients’ private information.
It also promotes the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics — the physical safety and security. And finally, it coordinates the implementation of federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to healthcare.
As Karine said, my team, working really with colleagues all across the White House and around the administration, has been working around the clock since the draft decision was leaked in May. And we are going to continue to evaluate all options and steps that we can take.
So, as Karine said, I know we’re short on time. So, with that, I’ll just be open to take your questions.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Aamer.
Q Yeah, ma’am, Senator Marco Rubio is demanding the federal government —
Q Thank you.
Q — not provide sick leave to federal employees.
Q Thank you. If I —
Q Will you respect the Hyde Amendment?
Q Medicaid Admin- —
Q Will this administration respect the Hyde Amendment?
Q The Medicaid Administrator said that the Biden administration was considering having Medicaid pay for travel for people. And with some of the instances that the President just highlighted in his speech just now, that seems like something that would be very useful right away. Just wondering, why isn’t that included in this tranche of action?
And then secondly, if you could just broadly speak: There’s been some frustration with abortion rights supporters that this administration is not moving fast enough. Some of this stuff seems like it could have been done on day one, considering you knew the leak and what was coming.
MS. KLEIN: So, on your first question on Medicaid, you know, as you heard from the President the day of the decision and again today as part of this executive order, we are very focused on protecting that right to travel.
The Attorney General issued an extremely strong statement, again, on the day of the decision, and has continued to be vigilant so that no woman, no person who is seeking a medical service in a state where it is legal is prevented from doing that.
We’re also looking at all options to figure out how to best effectuate that right to travel.
On your second question more broadly, I sort of take issue with the premise of the question, because I think, first of all, what the President did on day one, which was really significant, was to take immediate action, as I said, to ensure that medication abortion is available and accessible.
Fifty-four percent of abortions in this country are through Medicaid [sic] abortion — medica- — medication abortion, excuse me. So that is a hugely significant thing to make sure that people have accurate information about medication abortion and have the right to take it.
You know, a sort of falsity that is already out there is that it’s illegal everywhere in the country. It’s not. So we’re, in this executive order, taking further action to make sure that the FDA has the support they need to go through their scientific process and that people have the information they need to access and get this vital critical medication, as well as contraception, which, you know, as we noted, the Supreme Court put on the table already.
The other thing I would say is, you know, the leaked decision was two weeks ago. So in addition to the immediate actions that the administration took, Secretary of Health and Human Services Becerra took a series of actions while the President was away in Europe. When he came back, his first public event was meeting with nine Democratic governors, who really are in the frontlines, to talk to them about what we could do best to help them and what they are doing on their own to actually ensure reproductive rights and health in their states.
And then the last thing I would say — and, you know, you heard the President say it — is: You can’t solve by executive action what the Supreme Court has done. The Supreme Court has taken away a constitutional right that was precedent for nearly 50 years.
And I think we all need to be mindful — he is very mindful, we are all very mindful — that that can’t be solved by executive action alone and that the best and fastest way to fix that is by codifying Roe, restoring Roe by legislation. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be taking the actions he took today and more as we consider best actions.
Q So is there a disconnect there? Because there is frustration. There is no doubt there’s a lot of frustration, and some of the frustration is undoubtedly — through anybody in this room that’s spoken to a voter or an American that supports abortion rights — that there is frustration with the administration. So is there a disconnect in what’s happening and their ability to message it?
MS. KLEIN: Well, I would say that, you know, first of all, if you look at what NARAL and Planned Parenthood said today about the actions that we’re taking, they’ve both called it, you know, important steps.
And I’ve been in constant contact with stakeholders across lots of different constituencies and lots of different coalitions, from women’s rights to reproductive rights and justice, civil rights, community, businesses, medical providers, I mean, the American Medical Associa- — Association and the ACOG and — American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Very supportive of the actions we’re taking to protect providers’ rights and responsibilities to offer the services that they are legally allowed to provide, and to make sure that their responsibilities but also protect them in this time where, you know, what we are experiencing already but will continue to experience is serious legal chaos.
So I think we are taking strong action. And again, we’re going to continue to look for where we can take the most significant actions.
Q Does this administration —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Michael. Michael.
Q — respect the Hyde Amendment, ma’am? Simple question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Michael.
Q It’s a real simple question. Do you respect the Hyde Amendment or no?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Michael, go ahead.
Q You can’t answer that question?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Michael.
Q Sorry, so I’m a little still confused about what the actual — the order actually does. It says here that it directs Mr. Becerra to develop a report identifying potential actions; to consider updates to guidances; to — it directs the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider actions; it asks Mr. Becerra to consider actions about protecting information; it talks about protecting the — you know, the sort of safety of people, but it doesn’t say how.
I mean, how is this — how is any of this actually doing the things that you say it’s doing, or isn’t it just repeating what the President said two weeks ago that he wanted to do but has already, both he and — he and Mr. Becerra have both said their, sort of, hands are tied? I think Mr. Becerra’s comment was that there is no silver bullet here. So, I mean, what is it actually going to do tomorrow?
MS. KLEIN: There are — there are many new things in here, so let me — let me walk through a few of them.
First of all, on privacy: You know, what we are seeing is already an assault on people’s privacy. And there’s sort of two things in the executive order to address that. The first is through the Federal Trade Commission.
Q But it doesn’t actually do anything. It says it asks the Federal Trade Commissioner to consider actions, right?
MS. KLEIN: Yeah. So the Federal Trade —
Q What actions — what actions do you want him to do?
MS. KLEIN: The Federal Trade Commission is obviously an independent agency, so the President can’t compel them, which is why, you know, the exe- — the words of the executive order are “to consider.”
But what I believe the Federal Trade Commission is looking to do is to ensure that people’s private health information is not sold by data brokers, that when somebody goes on and does a Google search to find an abortion clinic, that that information is not made publicly available.
They have to make their —
Q How are they — how are they going to do that?
MS. KLEIN: They have to make — they have to make their own enforcement decisions, and obviously, neither nor — certainly not me, but the President can’t compel them to bring any sort of enforcement action. But they can clarify their policy, and that’s what this executive order asks them to do.
Q Do you guys know what policies you would like them to clarify?
MS. KLEIN: Just what I said: that —
Q But I mean, specifically?
MS. KLEIN: They’re the experts, and so they will make a determination and then release a policy statement, I believe, that will ensure that people’s private, sensitive health information is protected on the Internet, that people have access to accurate information.
This is — this is what they will be able to do.
Q Okay. And the second piece is the HHS Secretary — that’s not — he’s not an independent agent. So why — why are you just directing him to consider actions? And what actions do you want him to consider?
MS. KLEIN: So, what the executive order asks the Secretary to do is come back within 30 days with a plan. So part of this, as you are noting, are things the President has talked about and what — and what the Secretary has already started to work on.
And what this asks for is a very deliberate plan and process to make sure that medication abortion is available; to support the FDA in their determination — their scientific determination about this medic- — critical medication, which, by the way, has been safe and legal for 20 years; and to take other steps.
So, to take one other example, emergency medical care. We need to make sure that when somebody walks into an emergency room and they’re pregnant, that they are getting the care that they need and that they are not being turned away because — either because a provider doesn’t know that they’re legally required or able to give them that care.
So there is guidance that the secretary can issue and the Secretary will issue to make clear what kind of treatment somebody needs to be — needs to receive when they walk into an emergency room.
Same thing for pharmacists. You know, again, back to the notion of legal chaos, pharmacists don’t know whether they can dispense mifepristone, the drug which is medication abortion — which, by the way, is used in miscarriages, which are 1 in 10 pregnancies.
So again, the Secretary can take action, through guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services specifically, to make clear to pharmacists, again, what their responsibilities are but also what their rights are as pharmacists so that they are not putting themselves in jeopardy.
Q Thank you so much. The White House says this executive action will expand access to medication abortion. How, specifically, will the administration do that? What concrete steps will be taken?
MS. KLEIN: Well, that’s what we’re looking for the Secretary to come back to us with. I mean, the two things immediately is — is what I’ve noted, which is that the FDA is in a process right now, and they need to continue to do their process. And again, they are independent, they’re making their own scientific judgment, but to do — to extend permanently what they did in April.
So, in April, what they did was they said that medication abortion should be available by telehealth, and it should be able to be — to be mailed.
And currently, they’re going through a scientific process. And we can’t interfere with that process, but the Secretary can support them in any way that he needs to.
And the other thing is we, you know, launched a website, ReproductiveRights.gov, and there will be many other ways to communicate — again, as I said, both, you know, critical medications like medication abortion, but also contraception, which is at risk.
Emergency contraception is at risk in states across the country now, partly because there are states that are — are passing laws that say that fertilization — that fertilization begins — that pregnancy begins at fertilization, and that puts a drug like emergency contraception at risk. And we need to clarify for people what is and isn’t available to them.
Q But just to — just to follow up really quickly here. Is this sort of like a wait-and-see approach here for the American people? The White House says that this executive action will be expanding access to medication abortion, but right now, there’s no details, no concrete steps until the Department of Health and Human Services releases that in 30 days?
MS. KLEIN: No, no. The Secretary — I mean, I know it feels frustrating because we’re taking action and then asking for more action. But the Secretary is already taking action. The website is already launched. The Attorney General has already made a statement that we will be vigilant about protecting people’s right to travel and also to look at the question about whether mifepristone should be available and how it can be available, because the FDA has already spoken, 20 years ago, that this is a safe and effective drug.
And at the same time, what we’ve asked for is, you know, continued vigilance and an ongoing process and ongoing work to make sure that that is really happening.
You know, as I said, this is not going to be solved by one day’s action. So the — you know, the strong statement at the outset; all the work we’ve done, both before the decision and after the decision; and then, you know, we will come back. And you know, the report from the Secretary is just one step in the process.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: They moved the gather time, so we got to go.
Q So, again, the Hyde Amendment — will you answer my question? Really simple.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Phil. And then (inaudible).
Q The idea of a public health emergency has been something some advocates have pressed for. My understanding is it’s not off the table but that the consideration may give a window into the complexities that you guys are trying to deal with right now. Can you explain, kind of, the approach as it pertains to that specific item?
MS. KLEIN: Yeah. So, as you said, we’re really looking at everything. And it is definitely not off the table, as are many other options.
When we looked at the public health emergency, we learned a couple things. One is that it doesn’t free very many resources. It’s what’s in the public health emergency fund, and there’s very little money — tens of thousands of dollars in it. So that didn’t seem like a great option. And it also doesn’t release a significant amount of legal authority. And so that’s why we haven’t taken that action yet.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q So, ma’am, pro-life Americans — one question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sir, you’re being rude.
Q Pro-life Americans —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sir, you’re being rude to your colleagues.
Q All the questions you’re taking are pro-abortion. So let me ask you this question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Excuse me —
Q Senator Marco Rubio —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Caitlin.
Q — is demanding —
Q Two questions.
Q — the federal government not provide sick leave to federal employees who travel to get abortions. Should — he says that would violate the Hyde Amendment. So, what’s your response to it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sir, take a seat in the back. You’re being rude to your colleagues and our guest.
Go ahead, Caitlin.
Q Two questions.
Q I’m not (inaudible). I can stand right here and ask my questions (inaudible).
Q The President —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sir, please. Please.
Q I can ask my question. She doesn’t want to answer it.
Q The President, earlier today, encouraged people to go out and vote, and essentially said, “If you want to change the rights for women, you have to show up at the ballot box.”
Does that suggest that, with this order, the President has reached the limit of what he can do unilaterally?
MS. KLEIN: No, it does not. It means it’s an important step that we’re taking today. And we will continue to look at all options on the table that are legally appropriate.
Q I have another question about privacy. Is the White House encouraging people in states where abortion is going to be illegal to not use different apps — period-tracking apps, Google searches on fertility, those kinds of things? Is the White House directing people to stop using those apps?
MS. KLEIN: I wouldn’t say we’re directing people. But I think people should be really careful about that. And one of the things that HHS did just last week was — as part of this website and also made public in other ways — is literal instructions, practical instructions of how to delete certain apps that are on your phone so that if you want to protect yourself, you have the ability to do that.
Q And then, sorry, quickly on the abortion pill: Is the President, is the administration directing the FDA to loosen restrictions on the abortion pill?
MS. KLEIN: The President can’t direct the FDA. The FDA has to go through their process. But — and they are in the middle of a process not to loosen restrictions but to clarify what the restrictions are and who can dispense and who can prescribe mifepristone.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Two questions left. Jeff and then — go ahead.
Q Can you give — right here. Oh, and also, earlier you said the leaked decision came out two weeks ago. You probably meant six weeks.
MS. KLEIN: Sorry, yes.
Q The actual one was two weeks ago.
MS. KLEIN: The actual decision. Sorry. Thank you.
Q Can you give us a sense of what other options are on the table now that this executive order has been signed?
MS. KLEIN: I’m not going to preview our process. But all the things that you’ve heard about that have been suggested by advocates, by members of Congress — literally every single one of those things we have run down and either decided was not a viable option at the moment or are continuing to run down.
Q And one question about the pill. Is this White House studying or is the administration studying making it easier for people to get that pill without a prescription?
MS. KLEIN: Again, the FDA has to go through their process. It’s — it’s currently not only not — it is not available without a prescription. And — and, in fact, there are part of these — the guidance that FDA has already issued is pretty specific about it.
So I can’t answer a question about what they might consider in the future. But I would say: At present time, it is — it is a pretty regulated medication.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Last question.
Q Thank you. One of the executive actions announced today was creating a task force. Why wasn’t that created after the Dobbs decision was leaked to help prepare?
MS. KLEIN: So, we’ve been — you know, a number of us have called it a task force, a war room. We’ve been meeting literally every day for weeks, far before the — not only the decision, but the leaked decision, to think about all of the options that we could put in place to respond.
So this just formalizes the interagency work that’s been going on between the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services — really all of the agencies and across the White House.
And the reason, actually, we decided to formalize it and also to make clear that it will also be available as a way to communicate and coordinate with states was when the President met with the governors, they specifically asked for it.
One of the things that was really interesting to us is that when we’ve been meeting with state attorneys general, state legislators, and as well when the President met with the governors — and, by the way, the Vice President has had a number of meetings, as have I, with all of those different state officials.
One of the things that has come to the front is the avail — is the importance of connecting them to each other, creating a network so that they can learn from each other. So, you know, states that are looking at laws to prevent extradition of providers who are providing a legal service in the state of, you know, where they — where they reside, it became really clear that this was something that was very much needed. So we decided to make it part of this order.
Q And one clarifying question on the public health emergency. So, if — would you say that you — the White House believes it has the authority to declare the public health emergency to preserve broad access to abortion services?
MS. KLEIN: The Secretary of Health and Human Services has to declare a public health emergency. And it’s not a question of legal authority that — he has the authority to do that at any time. The question is, “What authority does he gain by declaring a public health emergency?”
Q Will you take any questions from a pro-life American audience at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks.
Q No? You’ll just walk away? Okay.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q Karine, I have a question. Does the President have a reaction to the passing of the former Angolan President, Eduardo dos Santos? I noticed that you just had your reaction to the passing of — to the death of the Japanese prime minister.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me — let me just get started, and then I’ll — I’ll come back to you. Okay? Let me just get started with the — with the briefing.
We don’t have a lot of time. As we know, the President is going to be leaving for CIA pretty sho- — pretty soon, and we’re going to gather very shortly.
But I do want to take a point of privilege and acknowledge Angela Perez, who is going to be leaving us. We have many big things to celebrate today, but you leaving and getting a promotion to the Department of Commerce as Deputy Press Secretary.
Angela has been with us from the beginning. She is what we call an “OG Biden person.” She was with us on the campaign. And her tell — intelligence, her follow through, and humor had been a gift to all of her colleagues here at the White House. I know some of you have experienced her humor in this very room.
And we are going to be incredibly sad to see you go. But we’re also going to be cheering you on as you do — go and do really amazing and great things. And as I said, today is her last day. And we love you, Angela. Thank you. Thank you for all that you do.
All right, Aamer, why don’t you kick us off?
Q Sure. One question. I understand we’re tight on time.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Shireen Abu Akleh’s family sent President Biden a letter in which they noted their “sense of betrayal” with the State Department’s report on her killing. It was a very scathing letter.
Will the President meet with the family? Will he bring up the case with Israeli officials next week?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I haven’t seen the letter as yet. I have heard about the letter; I just haven’t had a sens- — a chance to read it. And I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s travel and what he’ll be doing on his travel in the Middle East.
But I can assure you that he has been closely monitoring the developments of the investigation into Shireen’s killing. You have heard us talk about it many times right here at this podium.
Senior American officials also continue to be in touch with Abu Akleh family. And we hear their concerns. We feel their pain. We can’t even — we can’t even imagine what they must be going through. I don’t want to imagine.
We continue to urge cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on next steps. And we — and we definitely continue to urge accountability.
Q And as far as the gather: Is the briefing going to continue? And —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll go for — I’ll go a little bit longer for folks who stay.
Q Okay. Should people gather and leave at 1:20?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I bel- — they should if they want to — if they want to catch — (laughs) — the President at the CIA. But I’ll continue.
Go ahead, Jeff.
Q And just one quick one before we leave? Can you give us an update on the President’s thinking on tariffs and lifting tariffs in China?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, so we don’t have anything, clearly, right now, at this time on — on the — on the tariff decision. The President, as I’ve said many times, is considering all options. This is an important decision that the President is making on behalf of the American public.
As soon as we — as soon as we have something, we will we will share that.
Go ahead, Caitlin.
Q Some Democratic senators have praised the President’s executive order today but say that he should be doing more. What else is the White House planning on doing? And does the President believe that he can do any more on this issue?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the President — you heard him speak very passionately today. He is going to continue to do everything that he can — the legal authority that he has — to continue to work and make sure that we — that we look at all options to protect women, to protect women’s rights, and their freedoms. So it doesn’t end today.
It be- — it be- — you know, all of this kind of began on the day that decision was — the Dobbs decision was made.
But he’s been also very clear — like I said, you heard him today: The way to — to really address this is for people to make sure that their voices are heard at the ballot box. That is what he is calling for. That is what we are — we are asking our fellow Americans to make sure that they speak up and get their voices heard.
Q But does that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes?
Q Does that suggest that he believes that he doesn’t have any more legal authority to act on this issue?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, he said he’s going to — he has — we have continued to say he’s going to look at every option that he has.
But, look, here’s what we saw — right? — we heard him say that what — the SCOTUS decision was not driven by the Constitution. It was driven by political and extreme raw political power. A decision that was made — he disagrees with that decision. He thinks it’s extreme. We have to be sure, and we continue —
He wants to be straight with the American people. And if you look at what’s going to happen across the board; if you look at what Republicans — national Republicans are saying: They’re asking or going to go for a national ban.
So our work now is — he’s going to — again, continue to do the work that he can from here. But also, you know, call on Congress to act. If they cannot, we have to make sure that people’s voices are heard at the ballot box.
Q And just quickly, has he ruled out the sanctioning of federal lands for abortion?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we are — we’re looking at all options. Everything is on the table. We have talked about how, you know, while this is a — a idea that comes from a good place, it is definitely a difficult thing to protect the provider or to protect any — any woman who is on federal land, once they leave. It puts them in a legal — kind of an illegal bind. So it is something that we have to think about when we have those discussions.
But again, everything is on the table. He’s going to do everything that he can from whatever legal authority that he has to make sure that we continue to protect women’s rights and also the freedom of women.
Q In many ways, the President’s rhetoric today was almost declaring war on the Court. He talked about galvanizing women voters, especially, to act. But he said some things that are kind of unusual for a President who is an institutionalist, when you’re talking about a co-equal branch of government.
Is it the President’s view that the Court is not apolitical any longer? Is it his view that it is, in fact, motivated by politics in all matters or just the Dobbs decision?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I’ll say this: The President respects the institution. He respects the Court. What he doesn’t — what he believes was unconstitutional, and spoke to this — to this this morning — to this morning and also prior, is their decision. He believes the decision that this Court has made is extreme and it is beyond the pale.
We are talking about, as you know, you know, a constitutional right that was around for almost 50 years. And so, when you think about that — when you think about what was done two weeks ago, the President wants to speak very clearly and loudly about what we saw and how this will have an effect, as we know, on women’s rights and women’s freedom. And beyond that — it’s going to go beyond that when you think about privacy, when you think about contraception, when you think what else that — what else extreme Republicans — Republicans that he has called the “Ultra” — the “Ultra-MAGA” of the Republican wing is planning to do.
But the reality is: In order to have pro-choice senators, pro-choice House members, we have to make sure that folks have their voices heard at the ballot box. And that is what he’s going to continue to call on to make sure that they exercise their rights as well.
Q Is it his view that the Court is now a politicized body or not an independent judicial panel?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, he believes that this was done by a war of political power. You heard him say that today, that this decision was not a constitutional decision. It was beyond extreme. It will — you know, it will hurt people’s lives. It will upend, you know, people’s — you know, people’s everyday decision on their own body and what they can decide what they — what they need to take care of their health and how they want to grow their family. And so that is incredibly important as well.
Again, this decision was incredibly extreme. He’s going to — he’s called that out. He’s talked about that very emphatically, as you heard him today.
And — but we have to also do our part. We have to do everything that we can to codify Roe into law. And the only way to do that is to make sure that Congress acts.
I’m going to — go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. Governor Abbott in Texas issued an executive order today calling on the National Guard and officials there to apprehend undocumented immigrants. So I’m wondering if the administration is planning any legal response, and if you’ll prohibit the National Guard from participating?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’ll say this: The immigration enforcement is a federal authority, and states should not be mandating it — meddling in it. That is just — especially governor of Te- — the Texas governor, Abbott, who has a track record of causing chaos and confusion at the border.
So I would refer you to DOJ on any legal matter. But again, this is an — immigration enfortment [sic] — enforcement is a federal authority.
Q TPS for Venezuelans is up for renewal next week. Do you have any sense of how the President is planning to proceed there? And if he’s not going to renew it, what has — what the circumstances have changed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s decision on TPS. I don’t have anything for you at this time to preview.
Q And then one last one. You’ve discussed multiple times that the only way to, sort of, restore Roe is through legislative action and electing more Democrats, which I think is undeniably true based on the, sort of, math.
But in the period, you know, before the ruling was issued, there was an effort by some Republican senators to pass a sort of scaled-down bill. We heard the President today talk passionately about a case — a reported case of a rape survivor that had to go across state lines.
Is the administration at all interested in engaging with Republicans on a smaller (inaudible) bill that might protect rape victims’, incest victims’ right — you know, health of the mother — less than Roe — undeniably less than, you know, you and abortion activists want, but more than exists after the ruling?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t have anything to share right now about what we would do that’s less than Roe. The President’s priority right now is to make sure we codify Roe. And that is what is going to bring back the rights of women and the freedoms that women have.
And, you know, we have to take what the Court did very seriously, even what
Judge [Justice] Thomas said about privacy and contraception and marriage. That is something that we have to be — should be ready for. And that’s why the President laid out what he has in the past two week — two weeks — whether it is the two executive authorities that he took on the day that the decision was made on Dobbs, which is making sure that the FDA provided approved medication to its full extent, because that is so incredibly important for women who are looking to have abortion; and also making sure that women who decide to travel across states have the protection; and everything else that he talked about today — the privacy component, protecting clinics.
And so that’s what he’s going to continue to do. He’s going to continue to see what other legal authorities that he haves — he has to move forward and protect — to protect those rights.
But the way that we truly get back those freedoms, that constitutional right that people — the American public had for almost 50 years is we have to codify Roe into law.
Q The President mentioned that he’s going to stop by the Japanese embassy today to sign a condolence book. Anything else you can share about how the administration is going to respond to this assassination? Any consideration of the President or Vice President traveling for the funeral? Anything like that at this point in time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t have anything to share on the funeral travel. I believe — I believe that they haven’t set a date yet for the former prime minister. The President mentioned that he tried to give a call to the Prime Minister of — Kishida, the current Prime Minister, obviously, to offer up his condolences.
You all saw the President’s statement from this morning, where he is deeply saddened and outraged that his friend and former Prime Minister Abe was shot and killed. We send our deepest condolences to former prime minister and his family and all those who loved him. The President and the American pu- — the American people stand with the people of Japan in their time of mourning. We have unwavering confidence in the strength of Japanese democracy and firmly believe that the former Prime Minister’s legacy will live on.
For — as far as travel or funeral arrangements, I believe those have not been set, and I just don’t have anything to share at this time.
Q One follow-up on that question, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. You can follow up.
Q Would the administration be open to the possibility of including President Trump as part of the presidential delegation that goes to the funeral?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, as far as I know, a funeral date has not been scheduled. I would —
Q They’re doing this July 12, so that would be the same day that the President is traveling.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — again, I don’t have anything to share with you on his travel at this time. But I would refer you to President Trump on his own plans. I can’t speak to that from here.
Q Thank you, Karine. You’ve talked a little bit about privacy today. Does the President think it’s appropriate for abortion rights protesters to intimidate Supreme Court justices when they’re out to eat, like Brett Kavanaugh, who had to sneak out of a steakhouse last night?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We have been pretty clear on this, the President has been very clear, that we condemn any intimidation of judges in this specific question here. We have condemned that. We have signed — he has assigned a piece of legislation making sure that they have the protection that they need. And so we —
Q But you never said, “Don’t go to their houses.” So as long as they’re peaceful, would you say, “Don’t go to a restaurant that a Supreme Court justice is at”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I’m saying is we condemn any intimidation when it comes to judges. We’ve been — the President has talked about this, and we have put out statements in his name and many, many times.
Q So there are circumstances that it’s okay if protesters know that if a justice is out to eat at a restaurant, that pro- —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well —
Q — that they can go and protest as long as they are what you consider peaceful? That’s okay?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we have said that we want to see peaceful protests. That’s what we have said. We want to see the pe- — the protests be peaceful. But when it comes to intimidation, that is something that we have condemned.
Q So where’s the line? If these protesters can go to a justice’s house and they can go to a restaurant, where is it that you don’t think it’s appropriate for a group of protesters to go?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Where is — I just laid out. You asked me about intimidation. We condemn intimidation. We condemn any violence. And we’ve been very clear that is — it is like clear — it is a clear definition of what violence is and what intimidation is. Peaceful protest — people should be allowed to be — to be able to do that.
Q In a restaurant?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: If it’s outside of a restaurant, if it’s peaceful, for sure.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Peaceful protest. Where is — you were — your first question to me was “intimidation” —
Q So these justices —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — and violence.
Q — because protesters do not agree with an opinion that they signed on to, have no right to privacy, is what you’re saying?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But, Peter, this is — this is — people have the right — this is what a democracy is. People have the right —
Q Do people have a right to privacy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Of course, people have a right to privacy, but people also have a right to be able to protest peacefully. Peacefully.
Q Is that safe?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s the intimidation and the violence that we condemn.
Q Is — is that safe?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Peter —
Q Isn’t that creating a potential really bad situation when there are people — even if they’re being peaceful at the time, they’re angry. And that’s why they would be there, right?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Peter, we have condemned any intimidation and violence.
Q But you just said it’s okay if they go to a restaurant.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I said peaceful protest should be allowed. We do — we do commen- — condemn intimidation —
Q That’s not —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — and we condemn any violence at any — whatever — every ty- — whatever type of violence. We’ve been very clear on that. We’ve been —
Q So President Biden —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And the President has signed — the President has signed legislation that was passed bipart- — in a bipartisan way in Congress to make sure that the judges have the protection that they need. We — this administration — has provided U.S. Marshals, through the DOJ, to make sure that these judges are protected. So we have shown how we want to make sure that intimidation and violence is not the way to go. It is not the way to have a political discourse.
I’m done here, Peter.
Q The Mexican President will be here next week. I want to get from you what President Biden expects out of that. And secondly, if you can respond to the criticism from the Mexican President over the spying charges against Julian Assange.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I’ll speak to the — to the AMLO meeting — is what you’re speaking to.
Look, the President and the First Lady look forward to welcoming the President of Mexico and the First Lady here to Washington next week. It’s going to be a bilateral visit, as we’ve spoken about before. And they’ll have an opportunity to carry — to work on the summit — to carry out the work of the Summit of the Americas forward. That was the summit that happened in Los Angeles not too long ago, just a few short weeks ago.
They will discuss a broad and deep agenda, including joint efforts on migration, food security, and economic opportunity. And so the President looks forward to having that conversation, and he’s going to welcome them next week.
Q Can you — could you address that second part? The president made some very critical comments about tearing down the Statue of Liberty, you know, if the U.S. proceeds with that — he’s offered asylum there. Which — what’s the administration’s response?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we see — we see AMLO, the President of Mexico, as a partner. We are — they are welcomed here next week. We’re going to have a bilateral meeting. There will be many conversations that will be had. And I’m going to leave it as that.
Q Can I just follow up on one last question?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Yeah, sure.
Q It’s been reported that the President is considering giving a speech after the January 6th hearings are completed. Can you — can you discuss that with us? And what’s the — what would be the intent of that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I cannot confirm a speech that the President — the President may or may not be having. That is not — right now we are letting the January 6th Committee hearing go and do their — do their jobs.
The President has — as he has said many times and we have said many times, thinks it’s — their work is important. Is it a — it is an independent process that they are — a bipartisan, independent process that they’re running.
And we believe — as the hearings are going on, we believe it’s important for the American people to see exactly what happened on that day. January 6th was a dark day for our democracy. It was an attack on our law enforcement. And so we wanted — we want to respect their process, and we’re just not going to comment on that while it’s going on.
I do not have a speech to confirm for you at this time.
Q Thanks, Karine. The White House has taken credit for the recent drop in gas prices. Do you believe that the administration’s moves are more responsible for that drop than, say, changing consumer behavior and the fact that some recession jitters also seem to be pushing oil prices under $100 a barrel?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you heard from the President today, he — we saw the gas prices go down for 25 consecutive days and about 25 cents.
While we understand that that is not enough, and we understand that people are still going through a lot — a lot of pain and with the — with the cost of gas prices — we know what it means for families.
But we do believe that the President has really taken this on these last several months: when it comes to Strategic Petroleum Reserve and that historic 1 million barrels a day; when it comes to the homegrown biofuels, the ethanol 15, that the President has called on. Remember that is only available in the wintertime; we made that available during the summer. And all of those — all of the work that the President has done has helped to blunt the price increase.
Now, remember this price increase is due to Putin’s — Putin’s tax hikes, Putin’s war — a brutal war on Ukraine. And that’s why we have seen the increase of gas prices. That’s why we have seen the increase — food.
And so, the President is going to continue to do the work. We know we need to do more. That’s why he asked for the gas tax holiday, which we — is something that we’re calling on Congress to do, something that’s very, very easy to do that’s going to give some — a little bit more relief to the American public.
But, again, we are happy to see the decrease of gas prices. But we know we need to do more.
Q Karine —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hold on, I — go ahead, Phil. I haven’t seen you in a while.
Q Thank you, Karine. The President shared that tragic story, moments ago, about the 10-year-old girl who had to travel across state lines to receive an abortion. And I’m wondering, has the White House confirmed that local law enforcement knows the identity of this 10-year-old victim? And has the President directed the DOJ to do everything it can to prosecute the abuser and protect her?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’ll say this: Anything to do with the DOJ that’s a — that’s a legal component, I would refer you to DO- — to DOJ. I don’t have more to share on the identity of this young woman or the question that you just asked me.
The President spoke to that — a young woman — just to show how extreme the decision on — the Dobbs decision was and just how extreme it is now for American public, the American families when there is no exception at all. When you have such a young girl who has to carry out the child of a rapist, that is unacceptable. You heard that from him directly.
And this is why he is calling for action. This is why he’s trying to do everything that he can from his legal authority that he has. And so, he’s going to continue to do that work.
But again, it is — we have to make sure Congress acts.
Q Right. But is he taking any steps to protect her? Or does he expect that, you know, law enforcement will? I know he cited her in the speech, and I know that he wants some of these larger reforms, he wants Congress to act. But, I mean, this little one certainly seems to be (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think what the President is calling on and what he has laid out is to protect girls and women like her and beyond — right? — who do not have the rights and the freedom. That is why he’s calling for the action that I just laid out for Congress.
That is why he is using his legal authority and making — and made an announcement on the executive authority — the executive action today.
And so, he’s going to continue to do that work. He’s going to do everything that he can to protect young people who are like this young girl.
But at the same time, he’s going to call it out and use his bully pulpit to make it clear of what is happening out there is unacceptable.
Q And just a very, very quick follow-up. I asked on Tuesday about the releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Were there any conversations before that release about making certain that that oil — the million barrels a day — stayed domestic? I mean, was the administration aware that, you know, some of that oil could end up going overseas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So when it comes to the oil, it is something that oil companies decide what — you know, we cannot control what oil companies do with their oil.
And so, I would ask — you should ask the oil companies about where they are sending the oil they purchase and why. That is not something that we can answer from here.
The Department of Energy can’t dictate what oil companies do with the oil they purchase or where they ship it to sell. That is something, again, that the oil company decides on.
And again, I would refer you to Department of Energy on that question.
Q Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Thank you. We got to go. Okay, go ahead, Phil.
Q Just real quick. The President has been so sharp in his denunciations of this Court — of this Court’s majority — a majority that — nobody is going anywhere anytime soon. If he’s so sharply opposed to what they’ve done, why doesn’t he support any changes to this Court or this Court’s majority?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, because the President believes the best way to use our political capital is to make sure that we do everything that we can to get Congress to act; to make sure that we do everything we can to get pro-choice Democrats in the Senate, pro-choice Democrats in the House; to really codify Roe into law. That is the fastest way, the best way that we can get this done. That’s why he’s calling on the American people to go to the ballot box and get their voices heard. And that is the best way that we can get that done.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know. Simon, I owe — I owe you a question. Go ahead.
Q I have two questions. The former President of Angola, Eduardo dos Santos, died today at the age of 79. Does the President have any reaction or any plans to call President João Lourenço?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I — I don’t have any calls to preview at this time. Clearly, it is sad to hear that news. And, you know, our sympathies and condolences go out to the family. I just don’t have a call to preview at this time.
Q The second question: I know in the past few weeks you’ve had questions on abortion, on inflation — everything that goes wrong with the President. Is there anything — or can you list a few things that are going right for this President at this moment?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I would point you to the jobs numbers today. We saw 375,000 jobs in this pa- — in the past month. While we understand what the American public is going through at this time, that is a good sign. That is a good sign for the economy.
And we also saw that unemployment rate is — it remains at 3.6.
And in — also, in those numbers, we saw that we are — we have created — we are back to the pre-pandemic job numbers when it comes to the private sector, which is incredibly important. And we’ve added jobs. We saw 1 million jobs added in this past quarter.
All of those things are very important as we talk about moving this historic economic recovery into tran- — into a transition so that we can really truly deal with inflation.
And so I think these numbers — and you heard the President talk about that. He listed all of the — all of the items that I just listed in — at the top of his speech.
And one more thing that someone just asked me as well is: We saw gas prices drop by 25 cents this past two weeks. That is also important.
We understand there’s more work to be done. But a lot of that that we are seeing is because of the work that this President has done. When you look at the jobs number — is because of this — the work that this President has done. When you think about the American Rescue Plan, how it turned the economy back on — all of those things are incredibly important.
But again, we have more work to do, and we will continue to do that work on behalf of the American people.
Thank you. Thanks, guys.
1:47 P.M. EDT