James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:54 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everybody.  All right.  I see — oh, my goodness — some waving happening.  And welcome back.  I see some folks are back.  All right.  And Happy Monday, everyone. 

So, joining me today is NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby.  We know there’s a lot moving today, so Kirby will provide updates on security assistance for Ukraine, the grain exports coming out of Odessa, and other foreign par- — policy news of the day. 

He’ll be with us for about 15 minutes or so, and then we’ll end his portion and then get to the other parts of the briefing.  And I’ll take some questions after that.

Everybody okay?  Everybody settled back there?  (Laughter.)

All right.  Kirby, it’s all yours. 

MR. KIRBY:  Thanks, Karine.  All right, good afternoon, everybody.  Just a few things — a few things at the top. 

Today, I think you’re tracking the first ship successfully left the port of Odessa in Ukraine under this recent deal between the United Nations, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia. 

We obviously welcome this important step, and we hope to see more ships depart in the coming days to travel onward to world markets with agricultural products such as grain, wheat, sunflower oil, and corn.  The ship that left today had something like 20 thou- — 26,000 tons of corn.

Russia has, of course, weaponized food and has effectively blockaded Ukraine’s ports since the beginning of this crisis.  And we urge Russia to meet its commitments under this new arrangement, including by facilitating unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports in order to ease the food insecurity around the world.  So we’re going to be watching that closely. 

Also, on Ukraine: Today, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; the Secretary of State, Tony Blinken; and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, spoke together with their Ukrainian counterparts about the enduring U.S. support to Ukraine as the Ukrainian people continue to stand up to Russian aggression, and to inform them about a new $550 million security assistance package that the Biden administration will authorize today.  This follows Secretary Austin’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart on Friday where he previewed that package. 

Today’s announcement is going to include more ammunition for the High Mobility Advanced [Artillery] Rocket Systems, otherwise known as HIMARS — I know you all are familiar with that — as well as ammunition for the 155-millimeter artillery systems, which have already been supplied to Ukraine and are in the field. 

This will be the 17th, now, time that the Biden administration has authorized the security assistance package using Presidential Drawdown Authority since President Biden took office, and it brings to more than $8 billion drawdown authority alone in material and security assistance for Ukraine just since the invasion began in late February. 

Now, on Taiwan, because I know that’s on everybody’s mind today, I want to reaffirm that the Speaker has not confirmed any travel plans.  And it is for the Speaker to do so, and her staff.  So we won’t be commenting or speculating about the stops on her trip. 

We have been clear from the very beginning that she will make her own decisions and that Congress is an independent branch of government.  Our Constitution embeds a separation of powers.  This is well known to the PRC, given our more than four decades of diplomatic relations.  The Speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, and a Speaker of the House has visited Taiwan before without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year.

The world has seen the United States government be very clear that nothing has changed — nothing has changed — about our One China policy, which is of course guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint U.S.-PRC Communiqués, and the Six Assurances. 

We have said — and we have repeatedly said — that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side.  We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence.  And we have said that we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means. 

We have communicated this directly to the PRC at the highest levels, including as recently as last week in the phone call between President Biden and President Xi. 

The National Security Advisor, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have also made this very clear to Beijing in a half a dozen recent high-level conversations. 

Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or conflict, or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.

And yet, over the weekend, even before Speaker Pelosi arrived in the region, China conducted a live-fire exercise.  China appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days and perhaps over longer time horizons. 

Now, these potential steps from China could include military provocations such as firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan; operations that break historical norms such as large-scale air entry into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone — “ADIZ” — I think you all know that acronym; air or naval activities that cross the median line; and military exercises that can be highly publicized. 

This could also include actions in the diplomatic and economic space, such as further spurious legal claims by Beijing’s public assertions last month — oh, I’m sorry — like Beijing’s public assertions last month that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway. 

Some of these actions would continue concerning trendlines that we’ve seen in recent years, but some could be of a different scope and scale. 

Last time Beijing fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait was 1995 and 1996, after Beijing reacted provocatively to Taiwan’s president’s visit to deliver an address at his alma mater. 

I want to contrast this now between the United States and China.  We and countries around the world believe escalation serves no one.  Beijing’s actions could have unintended consequences that only serve to increase tensions. 

Meanwhile, our actions are not threatening and they break no new ground.  Nothing about this potential visit — potential visit — which, oh, by the way, has precedent — would change the status quo.  And the world should reject any PRC effort to use it to do so.

We will not take the bait or engage in saber-rattling.  At the same time, we will not be intimidated.  We will keep operating in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific as we have for decades.  We will continue to support cross-Strait peace; stability; support Taiwan, of course; defend a free and open Indo-Pacific.  And we’re still going to seek to maintain lines of communication with Beijing. 

All of that is important.  And all of that — all of it — is preserving the status quo. 

We expect to see Beijing continue to use inflammatory rhetoric and disinformation in the coming days. 

The United States, by contrast, will act with transparency.  We’ll stand up here.  We’ll answer your questions.  We’ll give you the facts. 

We’re also committed to keeping open lines of communication with Beijing, as I said.  This is what the world expects of not just the United States, but of China.  And we encourage Beijing to keep that commitment as well. 

With that, we’ll go to some questions.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Go ahead, Nancy.

Q    Thanks, John.  So, given all the saber-rattling that’s being done by China and the fact that Speaker Pelosi is still considering a trip, the fact that you’re laying out all the possible reactions that China could have, should we take this as a sort of test of China’s willingness to make good on some of its designs on Taiwan or a test of whether they’ve learned some of the lessons that Russia learned by Ukrai- — invading Ukraine?

MR. KIRBY:  The short answer to your question — and then I promise I won’t just leave it with a short answer — is that’s a better question for President Xi and what’s in his mind over this.

I think we’ve laid out very clearly that if she goes — if she goes — it’s not without precedent.  It’s not new.  It doesn’t change anything. 

I mean, what we would hope they infer from everything we’ve done and everything we’ve said, including during the President’s phone call, is that we’re being consistent.  There’s no change. 

We — we’ve not ramped up the rhetoric.  We’ve not changed our behavior.  Everything we’ve done is consistent with our obligations and our commitments. 

Q    But if the policy hasn’t changed, then why was the Speaker being urged not to go?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t know that she was urged not to go.  Who urged her not to go?

Q    The President said on August 20th that the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea for her to go.

MR. KIRBY:  The Speaker makes her own decisions.  What we did was provide her context, analysis, facts, information so that she can make the best decision possible for every stop, for every overseas travel. 

And again, I’m not going to get ahead of her or her staff here with respect to the rest of this trip. 

Q    Does the U.S. military still think it’s not a good idea?

MR. KIRBY:  I would refer you to the military.  Again, we — as a national security team, not just DOD — we are obligated and we take that obligation seriously to make sure she has all the context she needs before she travels overseas, and we did that.

And, oh, by the way, we’ll continue to do that throughout the remainder of her trip for anything else that she needs to make sure she has a successful visit.

Q    Thank you.  You’ve been emphasizing the separation of powers and the separation of the legislative branch from the executive.  Does the White House feel confident that President Xi understands that separation?

MR. KIRBY:  As I said in my opening statement, we’ve had, you know, diplomatic and bilateral relations with the PRC for decades.  They understand well.  I can’t speak for President Xi; I wouldn’t do that.  But our assumption is they understand very well how our Constitution is organized and that there are three equal branches of government.

Q    You know, I don’t think I’m hearing you say “yes” to that question.  Am I —

MR. KIRBY:  I said it in my opening statement that the PRC understands well the separation of powers.

Q    If you are confident about that, was this an issue that President Biden raised directly with President Xi during their phone call?  We didn’t get a very detailed readout of the detailed discussions they had during that phone call last week.

MR. KIRBY:  The President, in his conversation with President Xi, made clear that Congress is an independent branch of government and that Speaker Pelosi makes her own decisions, as other members of Congress do, about their overseas travel.  That was made clear.

Q    Can I just do one more follow-up?  If the policy is that the President wouldn’t encourage or discourage a lawmaker from traveling to a specific place because of the separation, if a senior lawmaker were to plan a trip right now to, say, North Korea or Moscow, would we not hear the President weigh in in those instances?

MR. KIRBY:  I think you would see the President be consistent.  We provide members of Congress facts, analysis, context.  They make their own decisions about where and when they’re going to travel.  We do the best we can to provide advice and counsel and context and information, and that will continue.  There’s nothing inconsistent about that at all.

I just realized I had my badge on.  I got to take this off.

Q    Has anyone in the administration or in this White House explicitly spoken with the Speaker and said, “You should not go on the trip”?  I know the President has not done that.  But has there been any communication from senior national security officials inside this White House with the Speaker?

MR. KIRBY:  There have been direct conversations with the Speaker and her staff before she left at various levels in the national security establishment.  The President did not speak directly with the Speaker about this trip.

I am not going to divulge the contents of those conversations that we have — I mean, with her, particularly with the Speaker.  I will just go back to what I said before, Tyler: fulsome discussions, context, analysis, facts, information about her overseas travel, which is completely consistent with the way we do it in the past.

Q    It seems like this trip obviously is sparking a little bit more anxiety inside this building and throughout the administration.  And I understand that you said the President respects the independence.  But given the national security risks at play in China’s escalating rhetoric, was there not a discussion inside this administration about whether or not you should take a more urgent (inaudible)? 

As MJ just alluded to, if there were other countries at play here, we might see different response.  Given what China has said it might do in response to a trip, that puts all Americans at risk in their national security.  Did the President feel that maybe this is a different case that he should be more involved or his team should be more involved than he might (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  I mean, again, I’m not going to get into the details of the conversation.  They were comprehensive discussions about — about what she wanted to achieve on this trip, where she wanted to go.  And we provided her the same set of context and information that we have in the past with respect to her overseas travel.  I’m not going to get into the details of that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Phil, in the back.

Q    Thank you.  I guess I’m wondering: Why did the President bother with this drama from the beginning?  I mean, why not — rather than saying the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea to go, why not call the Chinese bluff or tell them to pound sand when they started bellyaching about the possibility of this trip, given, as you pointed out, there’s no change in policy and there’s precedent for Pelosi to visit Taiwan?

MR. KIRBY:  So what’s the drama?  What — what —

Q    Have you watched the briefings the last couple of weeks?  I mean, there’s been this question of whether or not —

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, I’ve been here the last couple of weeks.  I haven’t seen any drama.  I think —

Q    There’s been this question of whether or not the President wants to see her go.

MR. KIRBY:  I think you’re manufacturing it with your question.

Look, we have been nothing but clear with the Chinese about where we stand on the issues and the One China policy and our support for a free and — free and open Indo-Pacific.

Look, I want to go back to what I said at the ou- — at the beginning because — and I hope you took note: Nothing has changed. 

There is no drama to talk to.  It is not without precedent for a Speaker of the House to go to Taiwan, if she goes — and I’m not confirming that she is.  And it’s certainly not without precedent for members of Congress to travel to Taiwan; it has been done this year, and I’m certain that it will be done in the future.

We have no interest, as I said in my opening statement, of increasing tensions here.  We have no interest in changing any of the approach — approach that we take as a government or in keeping with our allies and partners to wanting to see cross-Strait tensions be resolved peacefully, without a unilateral change.

So I don’t know about the drama that you’ve — you’re claiming exists.  It’s quite the contrary here.  And the point that we have made — I made it again today, and President Biden made it with President Xi — is: Everything here is consistent. 

There is no reason to use a potential visit to — to justify or to spark some sort of crisis or conflict.  We certainly aren’t — have no interest in that.  And there’s no justification to use a potential visit as a pretext to conduct what could be escalatory measures, such as the ones I detailed in the opening statement.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nadia.

Q    Hi, John.  You keep saying that the Speaker has the right to make her own decision and another Speaker visited before, which I believe you talk about Gingrich when he visited in ’97.

MR. KIRBY:  That’s right.

Q    But it’s different timing.  There is more tension.  And the Speaker represents the President’s party.  So while she has the right to make her own decision, why can’t you say that the White House disagree with her decision because that will cause more tension? 

MR. KIRBY:  Because —

Q    Can’t you just say — (inaudible) that she basically — that the White House disagree with her visit?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m sorry, but you’re asking me why I can’t just say we disagree with the visit?

Q    Correct.  Because it — for all the conversation we’re just having now, it would cause more tension.

MR. KIRBY:  All right, so two things.  One, there’s been no discussion by the Speaker about what’s next on her trip.  So you’re — you’re asking me a question as if she’s already somehow confirmed that she’s going to Taiwan.  I haven’t seen any such confirmation.  And again, I would point you to the Speaker and her staff to talk about her — her itinerary.

And number two: Again, our responsibility is to make sure that she and her team have all the information they need.  And we keep that line of communication throughout a trip as we should; of course, it’s a requirement.  But the Speaker and her staff who advises her, they make the decision.

So you guys seem to be — or your question seems to presume that we should have, you know, stamped the trip with some sort of approval or disapproval, and that’s not the way this works.  Congress is an independent branch of government.

Q    Can you confirm if she’s traveling on commercial flights or is she going officially on a government plane?  Because that will be interpreted by the Chinese differently, regardless of what we say in here.

MR. KIRBY:  It is commonplace for the Speaker to travel aboard a U.S. military transport aircraft.  That’s very typical.

Q    Has the administration been in touch with the Chinese government since the President’s last conversation with President Xi?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m sorry, say that again?

Q    Has the administration — people in the administration been in touch with the Chinese government since the President’s conversation?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not aware of any specific communications after that call.

Q    Okay.  And what planning is being done in advance to ensure that there won’t be any dangerous fallout if she does indeed go to Taiwan?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, without getting into details, I think you can understand that part of our responsibility is to make sure that she can travel safely and securely.  And I can assure you that she will.

Q    Admiral, what about Russia —


Q    What about Russia banning a Jewish agency —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Kelly O.

MR. KIRBY:  Sir.  Sir, I’ll tell you what.  Sir, let Karine — please let Karine call.

Q    In terms of the Speaker’s agenda and her motivation for going, which does seem to be different than the President’s set of issues, since he has said publicly the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea and he has not come out and given a fulsome support for this trip, if it happens — what is your sense about her advocacy for democracy, for self-rule in Taipei if she were to go there and the impact of that if she were to make that kind of a statement — long-held views on the part of the Speaker — and how that might have an impact?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, the Speaker can speak for herself.  And whatever she wants to say on this trip is really her prerogative. 

That’s why it was so important for me in my opening comments, Kelly, to make clear what this administration’s policy is with respect to the One China principle — I’m sorry, the One China policy, as well as — as not wanting to see cross-Strait tensions resolved by anything than other than peaceful means, and the fact that we don’t support Taiwan independence.

That was important for me to lay that down right at the outset.  That’s our policy.  That’s this administration’s approach.  I can’t speak for what Speaker Pelosi may do or say on this trip.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, Jeff.

Q    Just one question here — if I may follow up, Karine.


Q    Because of the closeness between the Speaker and the President, it does raise the question about: Is she sort of pressing a foreign policy that may, in fact, put the President in a bad position?  Is that the sense of this White House?

MR. KIRBY:  The President is comfortable with the position that this administration continues to take, which has longstanding, historic precedence.  And I went through it all at the opening statement.

The President is very comfortable with — with our policy with respect to China and to Taiwan, and he had an opportunity last week to reaffirm those policies and his views in his direct discussion with President Xi.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, just a few more.  Go ahead, Jeff, and then Joey and Darlene.

Q    Thank you very much.

Q    Thanks.

Q    John, you mentioned the potential of missile launches by China.  Are the people of Taiwan at risk if Speaker Pelosi makes this visit?  And is she at risk if she makes this visit?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, we certainly don’t think there’s any reason for anybody to be at risk here with a potential visit.  Again, it hasn’t been announced, and I won’t speak for Speaker Pelosi.  But there’s certainly no reason for this to come to blows.  There’s certainly no reason for this to escalate.

And as for the potential risks, I think that is a better question put to the PRC and to the PLA Army and Navy and the Air Force.

We’re going to watch this very, very closely.  We’re going to make sure that she has a safe and secure visit, because that’s our responsibility.

And we urge — as I said at the outset, we urge China to — if she goes — to see this for exactly what it is: nothing new.  No change to our policy, and certainly not an unprecedented visit by the Speaker of the House.

Q    You also said the U.S. will not be intimidated.  Do you feel that using language like that right now will be viewed by China in a way that you are also raising rhetoric the way they have?

MR. KIRBY:  You said it right at the top, that they have — they have been out there, in recent days, with some irresponsible rhetoric.  We feel it’s important for everybody in the region to understand how seriously we take our security commitments in the Indo-Pacific, and that’s why we put it that way.

There’s no reason, Jeff, for this to — to, honestly, there’s just no reason for this to escalate.  And, in fact, there’s — there’s every reason, given the — our national security interests, as well as the interests of our allies and partners that — that are at stake in the Indo-Pacific on any given day, there’s every reason for this to not escalate and for the lines of communication to remain open between Washington and Beijing.  And that’s what we’d like to see happen.


Q    Yeah, thanks, John.  Does the White House currently know whether Speaker Pelosi is planning to go to Taiwan?  I realize she has not announced anything publicly.  You’ve also said White House officials have been talking to the Speaker’s staff.  So does the White House currently have knowledge whether she is planning to go to Taiwan?

MR. KIRBY:  I am not going to talk about the Speaker’s itinerary.  I’m just not going to do that.

And, Jeff, I want to go back to one other thing, if I may —

Q    Sure.

MR. KIRBY:  — because it was in my mind and I — flew out of my mind, as I was answering your question is: When you talk about, “Are you threatened?” — these kinds of potential operations — military operations and exercises and missile launches that I talked about.  I mean, what that does is it does increase the risk of miscalculation, as I said, which could lead to unintended consequences.  And that’s really the risk to your — you asked specifically, “Are they at risk?”

Q    Yeah.

MR. KIRBY:  That’s where the risk comes in.  It’s — it’s not so much that there might be a direct attack, but it raises the stakes of miscalculation and confusion, which could also lead to unintended consequences.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, Darlene.  And then I’m going to take some in the back.

Go ahead, Darlene.

Q    John, given everything that you’ve laid out here, why do you think China is reacting the way it is reacting to this Speaker and this trip?

MR. KIRBY:  It’s difficult to know specifically.  And you’re kind of asking me to get inside their brains, and I don’t know that I’m comfortable doing that.  I think, again, that’s a question better put to President Xi and the PRC and their — and their military leaders.

There has been — you’ve heard Chairman Milley talk about this even before we were talking about a potential visit by the Speaker — increasing aggressiveness by PLA military forces in the region alone — violations in air and sea space across the Strait, more aggressive and proximate military exercises, and, of course, in their rhetoric.

I mean, this has been going on now for months.  And if you really want to, you can go back years, in terms of Chinese coercion and intimidation tactics, even just in the military environment, in the South China Sea, East China Sea.  So, been building.

I can’t account for why they have answered the — just the possibility of this visit in the — in the manner in which they’ve done.  I can only account for President Biden and for this administration and for how we are trying to manage tensions and, quite frankly, manage this — one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world.  And that is by making it clear what we’re seeing, sharing it with you, making it clear that there’s no reason for — whatever the reason is, there’s no reason that it should spark some kind of conflict or that it should precipitate increased tensions or serve as some sort of pretext for some sort of what they would consider a reaction.

If the Speaker goes, completely consistent with what’s been done in the past and certainly not at all a statement about any change to American policy, with respect to One China and to — and to cross-Strait tensions, and, quite frankly, to our obligations under the law to continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, we’re going to —

Q    And if she does go to Taiwan, how will the White House find out about it?  Will she call someone on the Nat Sec team?  Will you see it on television?  How will you know?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, look, the Speaker is flying aboard a military aircraft, so we’ll know.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  We’re just going to do two in the back, and then we got to wrap it up. 

Go ahead, S.V.  All the way in the back.  Yep.

Q    Admiral, you talk about the separation of the Congress and the White House and the executive branch, but when she takes a military aircraft, how then do you — which is under the control of the President — how do you make the case that, “Well, we had nothing to do with this at all”?

MR. KIRBY:  I didn’t say we had nothing to do with this at all.  No — we’ve never said that at all.  We — (laughs) — from the time she informed us that she was going to go overseas, we put the gears in motion like we always do.  And that is to provide military transportation — nothing new about that; provide her team with information, context — you’ve heard me, you’ve heard Karine talk about that — nothing new about that.

I mean, it’s not that we’re not involved, but we don’t make the decision for the Speaker.  She makes her own decisions.  We give her advice and counsel and context.  She makes her own decisions.  And the President, having long served in the Senate himself, he understands and respects the institutional prerogatives of members of Congress.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Last question.  All the way in the back, with the glasses.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I have a quick question about the Iranian-American dissident journalist Masih Alinejad.  During an interview on CNN this morning, she called on the Biden administration to expel Iranian diplomats, contending the regime has now twice challenged the U.S. government on U.S. soil, alluding to the kidnap plot last year and then the arrest last week of a man near her home with a loaded rifle.  Is that something that the White House is even considering, or are there are other diplomatic levers the President is prepared to pull?

MR. KIRBY:  There’s — there’s somewhat of a limit to what we can say on that, so let me just lay it out for you.  We — the United States condemns the apparent attempt to harm leading Iranian activist and U.S. citizen Masih Alinejad at her home in New York last week.  We commend law enforcement’s swift and effective response to this apparent threat to her.

This is an open criminal investigation, and so I’m going to refer you to law enforcement for any further comment.

While we wait to see the results of that investigation, we do want to reaffirm that it is a first priority for the Biden administration to counter the threat posed by Iran, including against dissidents that are living in the United States, and current and former U.S. government officials.

Okay.  Thank you, everybody.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Thanks, John.

MR. KIRBY:  You bet.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right, just have one thing at the top: gas prices.

Just to provide you all an update on where we are currently with gas prices, we have now been falling for almost seven straight weeks.  As of this morning, gas prices have dropped 81 cents per gallon since their peak in June, as you’ll see from the chart to my left here.  That means American families who — with two cars are saving $80 a month.  Drivers can now find gas for $3.99 or less at around half of all gas stations across the country.  And average gasoline prices have come below $3.99 in 19 states.

Putin’s war is still putting pressure on global oil supply, but President Biden is taking historic action to mitigate its impacts on American families.  He is releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is a historic action that he’s taken.  He rallied global partners to release millions of barrels of oil.  And under President Biden, U.S. oil production is up and track — and on track to reach a record high. 

The Treasury Department estimates that the historic release of oil by President Biden and international partners has reduced gas prices by up to about 40 cents per gallon, as we have shared with you all last week.  More work remains, but the fact is that we are currently experiencing the fastest decline in gas prices in over a decade. 

And with that, Darlene.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  A couple of questions about the President and his latest bout with COVID.  The first time he tested positive, the White House had identified 17 contacts.  Can you update us on those?  And then, were there any additional contacts from him testing positive again over the weekend that we should be aware of?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So those 17 are — continue to test negative.  So that’s the update on the first positive test that the President had that we shared with all of you.

With this positive test that we saw and shared with all of you, again, on Saturday, there’s been seven — I mean, not seven — I apologize — six close contacts.  And those — those six individuals continue to test negative. 

Q    Has he resumed the blood-thinning medication that he had stopped when he was on Paxlovid?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He has resumed all the medication that he was on — the medication that he was on before. 

Q    Okay.  And I have one final question quickly.  There was video of him yesterday FaceTiming with the folks — the veterans camping out on Capitol Hill.  We haven’t seen anything from him today.  Can you give us a sense of how he’s doing with having to go back into isolation?  I mean, is he, you know, frustrated?  And how is he dealing with being away from the First Lady for as long as he’s been? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, the day is still young.  You never know.  But, look, the President —

Q    Does that mean she’s coming home?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just making a joke.  Clearly it was not funny. 

Q    Funny joke.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I will try harder next time to be more funny. 

But, look, he is continuing to work from the Residence.  And I just want to share: As we all know, the President is fully vaccinated; he’s fully — he’s double boosted.  He was on treatment for Paxlovid.  And — and because of that treatment, he had very mild symptoms.  And we had said with Paxlovid there would be — a small percentage of folks do have a relapse.  This is what we saw.  But he’s doing well.  You saw him — as you said, Darlene — and he said he’s fine.  He sounded great.  And he’s looking — as we know, he’s someone who likes to be out there with the American people.  He’s looking forward to being out there again. 

And yeah, but he’s going to continue.  It doesn’t stop him from doing his job and doing the work of the American people.  So he is in the White House Residence, and he’s going to continue to do that as he isolates for a couple more days.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  A couple of clarifications points on that.  Dr. O’Connor said today that the President is feeling fine, but you didn’t mention symptoms.  Can you clarify on whether he’s even experiencing any minor symptoms, congestion?  Where are we on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, he is not experiencing — we haven’t seen any reoccurring symptoms.  That was in Dr. O’Connor’s letter on Saturday, so that continues to be true.  I spoke to Dr. O’Connor not too long before coming out to talk to all of you. 

As you know — some of you have had COVID; some of you have loved ones and close friends who have had COVID — those symptoms that you have don’t go away right away.  They kind of linger.  Those minimal symptoms kind of linger for some time.  So you could expect that, and so — with that.  But there’s no — no reoccurring symptoms.  He’s — he’s actually — he’s feeling fine. 

Q    The CDC guidelines on the so-called “Paxlovid rebound” are a little unclear.  Can you clarify on what the expectation is of how long the President will continue to isolate?  Is it five days after the rebound positive?  Is it — are we looking at another sort of clear, set the clock, and 10 days out from the rebound positive?  What’s the — the guidance on that? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, he’s going to abide by CDC recommendations, so it would be five days as far as the isolation.

Q    From Thursday?  From the — or Wednes- — the rebound —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The rebound. 

Q    Saturday.

Q    Saturday, right.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  On Saturday, yes. 

Q    Okay. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You’re about to get me — yeah — (laughs) — I was, like, going back and forth there.

Q    Okay.  And then, did — were you able to get a sense of the President’s reaction to Senator Manchin yesterday repeatedly refusing to get behind an endorsement for a reelection?  And does the President — if you did get a reaction to that — feel like members of his own party are undermining him on that front?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I mean — you know, I saw those interviews.  I wouldn’t say he was undermining.  It — from what it looked like to me, Sen- — Pres- — Senator Manchin is very much focused.  He went on — he went on the shows to focus on the Inflation Reduction Act.  He was very — he was zeroed-in on that and laid out why this is going to be a benefit for middle-class families and why it’s going to lower costs and why it is an investment — a historic investment in — in — you know, that we have not seen in a long time, whether it’s climate change or, just in general, as we try to reduce inflation and fight that back and figure out how do we continue to lower the deficit.  And so —

Q    And he was also repeatedly asked whether he would support President Biden in a 2024 reelection —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  But here’s the thing —

Q    — and he repeatedly refused to go there. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  But here’s — okay, so here’s — here’s what I say — I’ll say about this — and, you know, we from — from the podium, I really cannot dive into any election.  But I’ve been really clear, and the President has been asked this question many times, that he intends to run in 2024.  He plans to run in 2024.  That is way off — like, we are — we are a long ways away from 2024. 

And here’s the thing: Our biggest thing right now is to not be distracted.  You saw CHIPS pass last week, which is going to be a huge investment in manufacturing in lo- — in really strengthening the supply chain.  I was just talking about national security, so it will strengthen our national security.  Huge deal. 

And now what we — we still have a few things ahead of us that’s going to be really important to get that done for the American people.  So we’re going to stay focused, and so we’re not going to be distracted.  And that’s — that’s how we see things at this time. 

Go ahead, Jeff.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  A follow-up on the COVID topic.  Is it possible that the President, in his understandable desire to show that he was able to work through his first bout of COVID, pushed himself too hard and that that is partially what led to this coming again?  I mean, any body, be it 79 or 46, has to rest when you get this.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No.  (Laughs.)  Just to answer that very —

So, look, you know, we were — we were transparent that we were aware that when it comes to Paxlovid, that there’s a small chance — right? — there’s a small chance of relapse.  It is not uncommon.  It does happen.  And here’s the thing: The President, according to his doctor, had very mild symptoms.  And so we don’t think that, you know, he overexerted himself or was the right — wrong decision.  It was — it was because of how he was doing at the time. 

And so, again, we were transparent about what we thought could potentially happen.  And — you know, and we also were transparent that if he were to test positive again, have — or have that relapse, we would share it, which we did. 

And — and now he’s feeling fine.  He’s doing well.  He’s doing the business of the American people in the White House Residence, and he’s looking forward to — to be out here again.

Q    Okay.  And then one other topic.  What’s the next step, from the White House’s perspective, on the Inflation Reduction Act?  Do you — and have you had any signals from Senator — Senator Sinema as to whether or not she will support it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’m — I’m not going to get into details about any conversations that we’re having with congressional members.  I will say, and I’ve said this before: Our White House staff — White House officials here continue to be in touch with folks in the House in offering any technical assistance, offering any guidance that folks might need there.  So we’ll continue to do that. 

And, you know, I’ll leave it to Senator Manchin, who spoke to that and was — again, was asked many questions about Senator Sinema.  So I’ll leave it to him and that conversation as the negotiat- — negotiations are occurring.

Q    I wanted to ask about New York City declaring a public health emergency as it relates to monkeypox over the weekend.  Does the administration generally support local municipalities taking this kind of action as they see fit — that these are their own decisions to make?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — we see that as their own decisions to make.  Clearly, it’s a local jurisdiction.  It’s for them to — to figure out what’s going on in their own community.  They know best of what’s happening on the ground, so we leave that to them. 

I do want to — I do want to add some — because we do have some news on the vaccinations that I’ve mentioned — the Jynneos vaccination that were — that was announced last week on Thursday.  737,000 vaccines are out.  As I’m speaking in front of you right now, they’re being shipped to areas that really need — to areas that really need them.

And so, if you think about the 707- — seven- — seven-seven- — 737 thous- — 737,000 and the 300,000-plus that we have put out, that puts 1.1 million doses that’s out in the United States.  And so, that matters.  It’s very important as we’re trying to really have a aggressive approach to dealing with monkeypox. 

On testing — and I don’t know if folks had this, but we are doing testing; about 80,000 tests per week.  And that’s another important, significant way of making sure that people are getting tested so they know if they have monkeypox or not.

And lastly, and I’ve talked about this from here already, which is the education, which is the outreach, educating public health officials and activists out there — making sure that they know exactly what to look for and what the treatment is.  And so that, as well, continues.

Q    And do you have any insight on the President’s own thinking right now on the possibility of declaring a national public emergency on this?  I know he’ll obviously be advised by folks around him, including Secretary Becerra.  But what does he think?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So when it comes to a public health emergency, that is a decision that — that is made by Secretary Becerra; that is not made by the President. 

But, as you know, we are considering every policy option to help end this outbreak.  That is urgent, and that is important to us.  But again, that is up to Secretary Beccera to make that decision.

Q    Any general timeline (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would — I would refer you to HHS on a specific timeline.

Q    Karine?  Karine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  I’m going to go over here.  Go ahead, Franco.  I know I didn’t call on you before.

Q    Thanks so much.  I’m just curious if there’s any concern about the President’s rebound case — concern that that could set back any efforts to get people to take or for Paxlovid to be prescribed for severe cases.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Absolutely not.  The way we see it is Paxlovid has over a 90 percent chance of preventing severe illness if it’s taken early.  And, you know, as we saw, the President had very mild symptoms because of Paxlovid, because he was fully vaccinated, because he was double boosted.  And so, we — we anticipated that.  We had said there would be a minimal chance of him having a relapse. 

And so, you know, again, you know, the relapse truly is small, and the protection of Paxlovid easily outweighs that, as we see it. 

And so, again, you know, we encourage Americans out there who haven’t fully get gotten vaccinated to do that, who haven’t been boosted to go ahead and get their booster. 

The treatment that the President received is the same treatment that others could receive as well.  And that is because of the work that this administration, that this President has done from day one walking into the White House.

Q    Karine, what about Russia banning the Jewish Agency?

Q    Also, if I could ask — I know, you’re a little tired of asking about 20- — or answering questions about 2024 —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I’m never tired.  Never tired. 

Q    — and President Biden running — whether he will run.  I was just — you know, with former President Trump talking about submitting his paperwork potentially before the midterms, why — when will President Biden file his paperwork?  And wouldn’t that help kind of nip some of these questions in the bud?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, the President has said that he intends to run.  He’s said that multiple times.  So, there’s that.  I’ll put that out there.

But again, we are — we have some — you know, we have some work to do in the next couple of days and weeks that we’re going to focus on.  We’re not going to be distracted by what’s happening with the former President.  That is not our focus.

Our focus right now is — you know, as we’re talking about the Inflation Reduction Act, which is — which is historic, as I just laid out, which is incredibly important; as we talk about lowering cost — prescription drugs for our seniors; as we’re talking about getting some of that energy — lowering costs on energy for families who are sitting around their kitchen table trying to figure out how are they going to pay for whatever item, that — that is incredibly important to them.  So, this is what this is going to do.  And so, we’re going to continue to talk about that.

We see the Inflation Reduction Act as a down payment, as a promise that we — the President has made.  And so we’re going to continue to make sure we get that over the fin- — the finish line.

Q    Karine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Just a question about the President’s COVID case and guidelines.  You outlined that he’ll be in isolation for five days.  How does that relate to potential travel?  I know that even if you test negative, there are CDC guidelines that discourage you from traveling for a certain period of time.  Does that clock start back at zero with the rebound case?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the travel is a little bit different because there — there are no CDC recommendations on — regarding travel for a rebound.  So that does not exist in this — for rebound cases.

So, as far as travel, I just don’t have anything to share with — for you right now.  But right now, CDC doesn’t have any recommendations for a rebound on cases.

Q    So is the White House operating under the assumption that when and if the President tests negative, then he will both be cleared to return to work in the Oval Office and travel wherever?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So we’re going to do the — I just mentioned the isolation, five days.  He’s — clearly, he’s going to be testing regularly.

One of the reasons — right? — one of the reasons that we were able to share with you that he tested positive is because we upped his testing cadence because of his unique role.  Right? As President, we wanted to make sure that we were keeping an eye on that, and so that’s why we were able to share that testing — — his — his test — his — him testing positive on Saturday.  So, we’ll continue to do that.

But as far as travel, there’s just no CDC recommendation. Once we have more, we will let you know.

Q    Right.  But, so I’m just wondering: Is the White House plan that, as soon as he tests negative, he can — he can return to all activities, there’s no restrictions?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That — that is our hope.  That is our expectation.  But we are going to follow, as I just mentioned, CDC guidance as it relates to isolation.

Q    And just one last one on the President’s schedule. Last week, when before he tested negative, you guys gave us a more fulsome readout of what he was doing —


Q    — what meetings he had.  We’ve received nothing today.  Can you give us some sort of — is he on the phone with lawmakers, his economic team, his COVID team?  What is the President doing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  Again, the day is young.  (Laughs.)  But — so, we — I know on Friday we provided his meetings, he — which included dealing with the awful flooding in Kentucky and helping provide federal resources, working with Governor Beshear and Senator McConnell, speaking with members of Congress and meeting with his senior staff.

He will be doing a lot of that work virtually, as we have done in the past.  And so, I mean, the work doesn’t stop.  He’ll just continue to do that.

Q    But no details on what he’s done today so far?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, he’ll be meeting with senior staff for sure.  That is something that’s pretty regular on his schedule.  So I can, for sure, share that with you.  If there’s anything else to read out, we will be — we will share — we’ll share that with you.

Q    Afghanistan please?

Q    Russia?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Is President Biden thinking about pulling his support for the Inflation Reduction Act?


Q    Because he promised it wasn’t going to make — that it wasn’t going to raise taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 a year, but the Joint Committee on Taxation says that is not true.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, that is incorrect.

Q    So, the Joint Committee on Taxation, which you guys heralded as an effective body when you were selling the infrastructure package, is not to be trusted here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I said it is not correct because — I will give you why it’s not correct: because it is incomplete.

The JCT report that we’re currently seeing is incomplete because it omits the actual benefits that Americans would receive when it comes to prescription drugs, when it comes to lowering energy costs, like utility bills.  It does not include that. 

And we have some experts — you don’t have to trust me; we have experts that say the exact same.  Kimberly — Kimberly Clausing, from UCLA: “Many key factors are left out in these tables, including, importantly, the effect of deficit reduction, the positive effects of the spending on clean energy, and the benefits from low[er] drug prices.”

And I just stated — Seth Hanlon, Center for American Progress: “Republicans don’t mention that JCT analysis includes an imputation of corporate taxes [tax increases] — i.e. the 15% minimum on corporations with less than [more than] $1 billion of profits — to income groups…but DOES NOT include the major provisions that benefit people, including the tax cuts and [Rx] drug savings” — prescription drug savings, to be specific.

Q    So, Penn Wharton, where the President used to — University of Pennsylvania — he used to be a professor there.  The Penn Wharton Budget Model says that this Inflation Reduction Act is actually going to increase inflation in 2024.  Does the President worry about that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we agree with Senator Manchin — you heard him a couple of times yesterday — and disagree with Penn Wharton, as a — as do a number of qualified experts, which I’m happy to read out.

But I — you know, I do want to say that it is quite ironic that congressional Republicans are complaining or have a false — a false outrage on — on this Inflation Reduction Act that is actually going to do something and help the American people lower cost, when — you know, when they have offered really nothing to do that.

What they have offered is to increase taxes on Americans making less than $100,000 a year.  And what they have introduced is actually sunsetting Medicare and sunsetting also Social Security after five years.  And that’s how they want to deal with — how to help the American people.

We are talking about doing the complete — absolute complete opposite.

Q    And just one more.  It’s been three days now since a Chinese official publicly threatened to murder Speaker Pelosi. Where is the President coming out to respond, to at the very least say, “Don’t do that”?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, first, we’ve talked — Kirby was just here talking about how — I have not seen those reports.  So I’m just going to say —

Q    When they said that they were going to maybe shoot down her plane.  Or that they would —


Q    — it would be within their rights to shoot down the plane.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  All right.  Well, we have talked about that.  We have said that there’s no need for this type of saber-rattling; it is unnecessary.  The President has been very clear: There’s been no change in the One China policy.  We continue to support the Taiwan Relations Act.

What we are seeing from — from — you know, what we’re talking about right now — and to be clear, the Speaker has not confirmed, as you heard from my colleague just moments ago, that she is going to Taiwan.  It has not been confirmed. 

And, you know, the history of this — of congressional members going to Taiwan is not uncommon.  It is something that has happened in the past. 

And — and so, again, nothing has changed.  And the President has made that very, very clear.

Go ahead, Steven.

Q    Just two more bits of pushback on the Inflation Reduction Act —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, sure.

Q    — that Pharma is — Pharma is running ads in this town and probably others that says that the payfor when it comes to Medicare and allowing Medicare to negotiate some prescription drugs will result in money coming out of the Medicare system and research and development perhaps being crimped.

There’s also the National Association of Manufacturers, which says that the payfor — the 15 percent minimum corporate tax — is essentially a tax on domestic manufacturing because it would, in some ways, target the accelerated depreciation that many factory owners use to pay for equipment.

Does the President — is the President confident that the — if passed and enacted, the bill will neither affect the Medicare program and the way that drugs are developed in this country, or his goals to increase domestic manufacturing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I’ll say this: There are 55 companies — corporations in this country who make tens of billions of dollars who are paying zero — who are paying zero dollars when it comes to taxes.  So this bill is going to fix that tax loophole and make the tax code fairer.  And that matters. 

And when you think about what that’s going to do, you think about that $300 billion that’s going to go towards deficit — making sure that we continue to bring down the deficit — $1.7 trillion, we saw from last year, add another $300 billion — that is going to save costs.  That’s going to save costs for the American people.  And that is so critical, so important, especially as we’re talking about inflation and high costs right now. 

And so as it relates to the Medicare, just want to just say, like, the AARP, who you all know — an advocacy group for seniors — has endorsed this piece of — piece of legislation.

While the limit of costs of medicines and cap out-of-pocket expenses to $2,000 a year for people on Medicare, it will limit that, which is so important for many seniors.  This will also strengthen Medicare by reducing its expenses, which saves tax — taxpayers money and helps fight inflation. 

And so that is really important.  These are the things — if you ask a family and you say to them, “What are some of the costs that you want us to bring down?  What are the things that really hit your pocketbook?,” they will say prescription drugs.  Many will say one of those things are prescription drugs. 

And so this is an historic investment that’s going to make — that’s going to just be a game changer for families.  That is incredibly important.  And that’s what the President cares about, and that’s how the President wants to continue to support this legislation.

Q    Karine, just one question about the President’s COVID case.  Given the importance of getting him back on a regular schedule, was there any discussion here about taking any additional steps to try to help them clear the virus faster — putting him back on Paxlovid, giving him more fluids, letting him sleep more, anything like that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything more than what the — what his physician shared today and also the last couple of days to all of you. 

How he’s feeling?  He’s feeling very fine.  He’s doing great.  We heard from him directly say that.  And we expected — again, we expected with Paxlovid to be a relapse.  It’s not unusual; it’s common.  We shared that with all of you the last couple of days during his — during his bout with COVID.

And so, again, this is not unusual.  He’s feeling fine.  We will continue to share an update from his physician.  You’ll get one tomorrow.  And — and so we’re just going to continue with what the doctor lays out and takes his — take his word for it.

Q    When will the President sign the CHIPS bill?  Is that something that he’ll do while he’s isolating?  Is that something he’s going to do when he can resume travel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, we will have something on that very, very soon. 

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Don’t have anything for you at this time.  We will have something on that for you very soon.

Q    Okay.  Just one more question.  Has the U.S. received an official answer yet from Russia on its offer of a prisoner swap? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we have — we’ve talked about this the last couple of days.  Look, as you know, we want to see Brittney Griner home.  We want to see Paul Whelan home.  They are wrongfully detained. 

We have been very clear about that.  We put forward a substantial offer.  And we — you know, we want to have a good-faith conversation on that.  We want to make sure that we get this done as soon as possible. 

What we have heard, as you’ve heard from my colleagues, is in bad faith.  It is — and so, you know, is — it’s not a serious — there was a counteroffer that was made, which we don’t see it as a serious counteroffer. 

Clearly, not going to negotiate from here.  I’m not going to get into any specific details. 

But as you can see from the substantial offer, as you can hear from Secretary Blinken, and as you’ve heard from this President: We are taking this very seriously.  And this is top of mind for this President, and we want to see them come home.

Go ahead.

Q    One more on the President’s case.  You had referred to the physician letter that says “no reemergence of symptoms,” but you also said “lingering symptoms.”  So, help us square that so we understand.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, well, “no reoccurring symptoms,” meaning, like, if you look at his original letter, there’s nothing — there’s nothing severe.  Right?  Because he feels fine.  Right?  He feels — he feels good. 

But as we know, when all of us have had COVID, you do have a little — a little bit of a lingering cough, right?  You do have a little bit of — maybe a lingering sniffles.  That’s not uncommon to have.  And so that’s what we are talking about. 

Q    So he is not 100 percent symptom free.  He just didn’t have like a fever return or something like that?  Is that fair?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, he never had a —

Q    I don’t want to —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I want to be careful because we were — we went into this, about if he had a fever or not; he never had a fever.  So I want to be really clear.

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  His — it was elevated, but it was never a fever. 

Q    And I don’t want to put something in that wasn’t —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  But remember, there were — we had talked about a little fatigue.  We had talked about aches, you know, that he was tak- — he was — there was a little bit of discomfort. 

So that has not — that has not occurred.  But all of us have had COVID before, right?  We’ve had — well, not all of us — many of us.  I don’t want to call everybody out.  I could speak for myself.  And there are some — you know, you still have a dry cough.  You still have, you know, a little sniffles that — that lasts for a little bit longer. 

Q    And you emphasized —

Q    And are you saying that “you”?  Are you saying “he”?

Q    Are you saying “he” or “you”?

Q    Yeah, I’m trying to get a sense of —

Q    You are using a —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I am saying that all of us have had COVID — many of us have had COVID before, and they tend to be lingering symptoms.  And that’s what I’m talking about.

Q    So the President is still experiencing some things related to his COVID course of illness?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Right.  And also, as we know — you all have known him for some time and covered him — he tends to have a dry cough.  That is not unusual.  So that is what I’m talking about.  He tends to have a dry cough, which you all have heard before.  So I —

Q    And there’s —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — just want to be clear on that, too.

Q    There’s been emphasis on: He’s working, he’s calling, and so forth.  But to my knowledge, I don’t believe you’ve talked about him getting extra rest or taking time away from work.  Has he also had blocks of time where he’s not doing anything so that he can rest?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I can tell you is that he has been working eight-plus hours a day.  That is a schedule that he continues to keep.  Instead of doing it in the Oval Office, he’s doing in the White House Residence. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The President suggested in Saudi Arabia that there could be an announcement on oil production coming.  With OPEC meeting this week, is the White House expecting an increase in oil production to be announced?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I will leave that to OPEC Plus.  We are not a member of OPEC Plus, as you know, and so I would leave them to answer that — answer whatever they’re going to come — coming out of that meeting this week.

Q    But the President has received — received no indication.  And he did make some strong comments when he was in Saudi Arabia about potential good news and consumers feeling relief?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I leave that to OPEC — OPEC Plus.

Q    And also some clarification on how we’re counting the President’s days, in terms of when he’ll be out of isolation.  Was Saturday day zero or Saturday day one?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I believe we shared that on — on — on Saturday.  So what we shared is basically what it is. 

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, I’ll take one more question. 

Q    Afghanistan, please?

Q    Karine, one more follow-up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll take one more question.  I’m trying —

You — you right here. 

Q    Yeah —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And I’ve called on you before.  I’m — I want to call on her.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Voters in Kansas tomorrow will be the first in the country since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v.  Wade to have the opportunity to vote on an abortion-related ballot measure.  Is the White House seeing this as a vote that could have broader political significance heading into the midterms?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So if it passes, tomorrow’s vote in Kansas could lead to another state eliminating the right to choose and eviscerating access to healthcare.  Republican governors and state legislators are imposing extreme laws banning a woman’s right to choose — many don’t allow exceptions even for rape or incest.  And congressional Republicans are calling for a national ban on abortion. 

So President Biden has made this very, very clear that the only way to secure a woman’s rights to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law.  So the majority of Americans, we — they support that as a woman’s right to choose.  And again, Congress must act, as the President has said many times.  And it is also — the American people need to make sure that their voices are heard. 

All right.  Thanks, everybody.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

2:56 P.M. EDT

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