James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:39 P.M. EDT 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everybody.  A couple of things at the top.  Today’s announcement by Micron is another big win for America.  Micron is investing $15 billion over the next decade at a manufacturing facility in Idaho, and they directly credit the passage of the CHIPS Act that made this possible.

Just this week, we’ve seen First Solar, Toyota, Honda, and Corning make major announcements of new investments and new jobs as a direct result of the President’s economic plan.  U.S. manufacturing is back.

Americans have experienced an unacceptable level of flight — of flight delays and cancellations this year due to airline issues.  When these disruptions occur, it’s really difficult to figure out if you will receive a meal voucher and hotel accommodations.

So, two weeks ago, Secretary Buttigieg told the top U.S. airlines that our administration plan to publish an interactive airline customer service dashboard before Labor Day to give Americans more transparency about what airlines owe them when there is a delay or cancellation due to staffing or mechanical problems.

Secretary Buttigieg also urged the airlines to immediately improve their customer service plans before the dashboard launch. 

Today, the Department of Transportation officially launched the dashboard, and we’re proud to report that airlines vastly improved their plans.

And we have a graphic right behind me.  We love graphics here, as you know.  Before the Secretary’s letter, there were significantly more red X’s across this table.  None of the airlines had guaranteed that they would cover meals or hotels when they are at fault.

Now eight of the top airlines cover hotels and nine of them cover meals.  Before Secretary Buttigieg’s letter, only one airline guaranteed they would rebook you at no cost.  Now, 9 out of the 10 do so.

This is a huge win for American travelers.  From the start of this administration, President Biden has directed his team to work with airlines to help Americans get where they need to go safely, affordably, and reliably.  And we will not hesitate to hold the airlines accountable.  If airlines aren’t providing you with these services, file a complaint with the Department of Transportation.  Our administration has your back.

Lastly, I want to make a few comments on the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Report on Xinjiang that was released just last night.  The United States welcomes this report — this important report, which describes authoritaritively [authoritatively] the abhorrent human rights treatment of the Uyghur and other minority communities by the People’s Republic of China government.  The report deepens our grave concern regarding the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity that China is perpetrating. 

Our position on the atrocities in Xinjiang has been clearly demonstrated with our words and in our actions.  The Biden administration has taken concrete measures, including improving visa restrictions; Global Magnitsky Act and other financial sanctions; export controls; import restrictions; and the President has rallied allies and partners, including the G7 commitment to ensure all global — global supply chains are free from the use of forced labor, including from Xinjiang.

We will continue to work closely with partners and the international community to hold China accountable.  And we will call on China to immediately cease committing these atrocities, release those unjustly detained, account for those disappeared, and allow independent investigators full and unhindered access to Xinjiang, Tibet, and across China.

With that, all right, go ahead, Zeke.  What do you got?

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Can you confirm that the United States is ending humanitarian parole for Afghan refugees?  And is the administration concerned that this is going to make it more difficult for people trying to flee the Taliban’s rule to get — get to safety?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, here’s — we have an update on the Enduring Freedom — the Operation Allies Welcome, what it looks like long term.  This isn’t a — this is a — this is an update that the Department — that the — the Department of Defense announced recently.  And so, look, our commitment to our Afghan allies is enduring.  We have welcomed nearly 90,000 Afghans to our country over the past year and have been providing relocation assistance over the past year as well.

As part of our efforts continue to welcome our Afghan allies, we are adopting a new model where Afghan arrivals will travel directly to the communities where they will be moving with the help of refugee resettlement organizations, without a safe-haven stopover in the United States.

We have also been pivoting toward welcoming Afghans from visa programs that have long-term durable status, such as the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa, the SIV program — “S-I-V programs,” as you hear us call it — and refugee admissions programs so that Afghans who are looking to resettle in the United States will remain with an immigration status that provides a path to long-term, permanent residence rather than a temporary status, which is what is provided through humanitarian parole.

At the same time, we have been undertaking substantial effort to improve our relo- — relocation efforts, working to make them more efficient.  We are developing a system to help Americans with family members in Afghanistan, as well as Afghans who have arrived in the U.S. over the past year bring their family members to the — to the United States. 

So, we’re going to continue to improve the SIV process and have substantially increased the number of staff processing SIV application by more than fifteen- — fifteenfold since the beginning of the Biden administration.  So, this is important to us.  This has been a priority.  And that’s how we’re going to make this process work a little bit better.

Q    The question, though: Is the administration concerned that this process — by pushing people to that longer-term residency visa program — that that’s going to make it more difficult for people who are just trying to get out to get out?  The purpose of the parole was to allow people to get the United States and get to safety quickly.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we — look, we know that many — many of our allies and Afghans remain — in Afghanistan remain under threat in the country.  So, we’re putting the infrastructure in place overseas to increase the pace of our relocations, and we have made a number of process improvements to refugee and SIV immigration process that should make this faster. 

So we believe it’s going to make this faster.  We believe this is an improvement in the process.  And this is a commitment that we continue to have.

Q    And then can you provide an update on the situation in Jackson right now, the federal support?  What has FEMA been able to get to the city thus far? 

And has the President spoken to the governor yet?  And what’s been the reason for the delay?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, FEMA — just to give you a little bit of an update on what’s been going on on the ground and from the federal government: The FEMA Administrator, Deanne Criswell, will travel to Jackson, Mississippi, tomorrow to assess the ongoing emergency response.

As you know, the President took immediate action to improve — to approve the governor’s emergency declaration request and directed his team to surge assistance to Mississippi as soon as he got — got the declaration request. 

The President and Vice President both spoke with the mayor of Jackson yesterday.  We read out that from the President — that they spoke.  And the FEMA Administrator spoke with the governor earlier in the week. 

So FEMA has a number of personnel on site in the state — in the state Emergency Operations Center and is coordinating with the Mississippi Emergency — Emergency Management team to ensure that everyone has access to water.

The EPA also has a subject-matter expert on the ground to support the emergency assessment of the Jackson water treatment plants.  The agency is also working to expedite delivery of equipment needed to repair Jackson’s water treatment plant. 

So, we are doing everything that we can to make sure that we’re helping the people of Mississippi.  Again, we are in close touch.  We’ve had multiple conversations with the governor.  And clearly, we’ve read out the — our conversation with the mayor.  And we’ll continue to have those open lines.

Q    And lastly for me, you mentioned the U.N. report on Chinese genocide in Xinjiang.  What — the administration has been planning a phone call between the President and President Xi — sorry — or a meeting between President Biden and President Xi in the coming weeks or months?  Why is now the time, after this report — the time for a meeting between those two leaders to take place, given Chinese atrocities?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Wait.  Say that one more time?  You’re saying why shouldn’t we have this meeting?

Q    Why sh- — you’re planning a meeting right now.  Why is — are you — do you plan to go forward with that after this report?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything to read out about an upcoming meeting or — or anything like that, any specifics of a meeting that the President could potentially have with President Xi.  I just don’t have anything to share.

Q    But there’s been no change to the — the plan, after they spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago, that they were planning to meet in person.  That’s — that process is still underway?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  There’s just nothing for me — there’s not a process that I can speak or share with you at this time.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks.  You guys have talked about the President’s speech tonight as one that’s about the continued battle for the soul of the nation.  Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said this morning that the President “does not understand the soul of America.”  Since we’re a year and a half into this presidency and the country is still so divided, could McCarthy have a point?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me say a few things about the response to — to Kevin McCarthy.  And it comes from himself, like what he said on January 6th — after January 6th, 2021, one week after — after the January 6th insurrection — I’m sorry, January 13th. 

And, you know, he said the violence, destruction, and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable.  He said this on January 13th of 2021 — it was “undemocratic”; it was “un-American.”  We all should stand united in condemning the mob together. 

And then he said — and then he said, “The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob[’s] rioters.”  This is speaking about the former President. 

The President strongly agrees with Kevin McCarthy on the January 6th comments and the January 13th, 2021, comments and does not find the comments that Kevin McCarthy made then to be divisive in the least, but rather aligning with fundamental, nonpartisan, mainstream American values — that we uphold the rule of law, reject political violence, and condemn violence against law enforcement.

And that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about “protecting our democracy,” when we’re talking about “fighting [for] our democracy.”  That was — those were the words of Kevin McCarthy.  And the President agreed with that Kevin McCarthy.  He agreed with the Kevin McCarthy of January 6th.  He agreed with Kevin McCarthy of January 13th of 2021. 

And what we hear from him — what we hear from him, of course, is a change of heart.  And even formally punished fellow Republicans like Liz Cheney, who’ve had the courage to consistently tell the truth about the attack on the rule of law and the law enforcement that day, and continuing to — the threat to democracy that these extreme conspiracy theories represent.  That is what we’re talking about.

And as far as what the President is going to say tonight, we’ve talked about this.  When he talks about the “soul of the nation,” this is a — this is not a topic that is new to him.  If you follow — if you followed him throughout this administration, also through the campaign, this is a topic that he has talked about for some time, since 2017.

And the speech — just to give you a little bit about what the speech is going to be about — it’s going to be optimistic.  He will speak about how he believes we can get through this current moment — this critical moment that we are — we are currently in.  He believes this is a moment where a lot is at stake.  You’ll hear him talk about the core values of what is at the stake in this moment, and how he — we and how he is going to continue to protect for — protect equality and democracy.

He will also talk about — in a very direct way about what he sees as a threat at this moment — in this — in time.

Basically, what Kevin McCarthy said on January 6th, 2021 — what Kevin McCarthy said on January 13th, 2021 — the threat of our democracy — that insurrection, that mob that we saw come — come down on the Capitol.

Q    Just two quick follow-ups on that though.  You’re talking about Kevin McCarthy from — from that day.  We’ve obviously seen, like you said, a pretty big change of heart from Leader McCarthy, you know, who has since really distanced himself from any investigation into January 6th.  He really stood lockstep with the former President. 

So, I guess, I’m asking about: What’s the President’s relationship and thoughts about Kevin McCarthy today?  Does he can — does he have a relationship with him?  I mean, he could very easily become the next Speaker of the House.  Does he talk to him?  Does — does he view Kevin McCarthy as one of these MAGA Republicans who —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So here’s —

Q    — is a threat to democracy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Here’s what I’m going to say — you know, I’ve already laid out what I thought — what we think about — about — about Kevin McCarthy.  We’re not going to go into any more specifics on that. 

This is — what we’re talking about tonight is what the President’s going to deliver to the American people and — and why it is important for — why he sees it’s important to have this convers- — conversation, why it is so important for — to talk about what is at stake at this moment.

You know, when you ask me about the MAGA agenda, especially as it relates to Congress, as it relates to elected officials, it is one of the most extreme agendas that we have seen, and it is a part of the — it is the extreme part of the Republican Party. 

And we’re talking about: They want a nationwide ban on abortions.  They want to give tax cuts to billionaires and corporations while raising taxes on middle-class Americans.  They are threatening political violence, and they are attacking our democracy. 

And so, the President is going to take this time to talk to the American people, who — the majority agree with him — and talk about, you know, how can we continue to fight for our democracy and do it in an optimistic way.  Take that moment to give people hope, because this President believes that we can turn this around.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Is tonight a political speech?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, it’s not a political speech.  This is an opportunity, again, for the President to directly have a conversation with the — with the — the American people.

Look, he’s going to talk about — of course, he’ll talk about the importance of engagement.  He’ll talk about voter — voter participation. 

But this is a speech about such a broader subject: you know what it means to be a democracy and what it means to participate in our — in our democracy, given where we are as a nation.  And he believes the stakes are very high and that it is important to go out and articulate what those stakes are and why it’s important for people to participate in their democracy and, at the end of the day, why it is worth fighting for. 

And that is what he’s going to talk about tonight.  That’s what you’re going to hear from him.  And again, it’s a broader subject about this moment that we’re in currently.

Q    Democrats and people on the left are pretty happy about the more aggressive tone they’re seeing from the President and from the White House.  But you’re also facing some criticism, which has been brought up, that this aggressive tone is also stoking the divisiveness that he’s trying to heal.  Any concerns about that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You know, the President is never going to shy away from calling out what he sees.  And I said this yesterday, and I — and I’ll say this now.  You know, I’m assuming the divisive tone is coming from — from whom?

Q    From the right. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  From the right.  So, look, we understand we hit a nerve.  We get that.  We understand that they’re trying to hide.  And we understand that ultra MAGA officeholders want to play games here and dodge accountability for their extreme proposals and actions, but they’re just telling on themselves.

Look, the President has always, always squarely targeted his criticism on elected leaders.  This is about what they’re doing in Congress — those extreme MAGA Republicans, those who are — who hold office.  The first time that the President said “ultra MAGA” was about Rick Scott’s radical plan to raise taxes on millions of middle-class Americans and put Medicare on the chopping blocks, put Social Security on the chalking block. 

I just mentioned national abortions — that ban that these MAGA Republicans want to do.  It is important to call that out. 

And let’s not forget: When you think about Medicare, when you think about Social Security, those are popular things.  When you think about Roe and protecting women’s right to choose, those are — a majority of Americans support that. 

So how — so that’s what we’re talking about here.  We’re talking about an agenda that is not popular.  We’re talking about an agenda that is incredibly extreme.  We’re talking about an agenda that is not in line where majority of Americans are.

So, yeah, the President is going to talk about that, and he’s not going to shy away. 

But again, this is going to be about — a speech that will be optimistic, that will talk about participating in our democracy and how important it is to do that and how important it is to continue to fight.

Q    Just one quick Russia question.  Does the White House have any intelligence or reaction to the death of the chairman of Lukoil, the second largest oil producer in Russia?  He’d been a criti- — he apparently died after falling out of a hospital window and was a critic of the war in Ukraine. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m — I don’t have a comment on that.  We’re certainly not going to get into any speculation on — on how he died.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Going back to Jackson.  Yesterday, you detailed, kind of, the myriad of federal funding sources that could be used to address what they’re dealing with right now.  Are there any concerns, however, about — you know, there’s a difference between allocation and the money actually arriving in certain places — about the process for Jackson to access that funding once the federal government has allocated it and perhaps the state is dealing with the contracts, with the grant applications?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, you’re talking about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan?

Q    Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So we — we have put real emphasis on making it easier for state and local governments to access the federal funding.  That is something that’s been important in this administration to do.  That’s one reason we asked every state to appoint a state infrastructure coordinator to help streamline communications and information flow. 

And the White House infrastructure implementation team has also been engaging directly with state and local governments and Tribal governments to help them quickly access the necessary technical assistance and capacity to underserved communities in particular. 

So we have also partnered with nonprofit organizations to assist communities in assessing and deploying federal infrastructure funding, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, Ford Foundation, and others, and so much more. 

Our goal is to help, again, state, local, Tribal, territory — territorial governments navigate, access, and deploy infrastructure resources that will build a better America.  This is why the President fought so hard to get this Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — a law that is historical and will make — and will change — and will change the lives of so many Americans.

Q    So, is it the view that because of what you guys have done that Jackson has had the access or the ability to tap into the funds you’ve allocated to the degree they need in this moment in time?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, again, we’re — our goal is to make it as easy as we can for state and local governments to access those funds.  We’re going to — we have an implemation [sic] — implemate — implementation team, as I just spoke about, and we’re going to continue to work with state and local governments.  There’s also not-for-profits on the ground and other organizations that we will work through. 

And our hope is to make sure that the people of Jackson have what they need. 

And, again, we’ve been in constant communication these past couple of days, with the mayor of Jackson, with local officials.  The director [Administrator] of FEMA, Criswell, is going — will be there tomorrow. 

So, as you have seen us in times like these, when there is catastrophe, sadly, in the states, we have — the federal government has acted quickly in order to help the people in that — in that community and that state.

Q    And then, one more quick one — just with Jobs Day coming up.  This may sound a little bit paradoxical, but stick with me here.  Given the robust, kind of, aggressiveness of the Fed Chair in Jackson Hole, is there any concern that perhaps a better-than-expected jobs report will create an economic response from the Fed that drives something that the White House does not want?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, Phil, we don’t comment on the — what — what the Fed is going to do.  Part of our fighting inflation — the plan that the President has put forth — is to give them their independence to make the monetary decision to deal with inflation that we see across the country. 

And, again, we believe, like, they have the best monetary plans, policies to make that happen. 

As it relates to the jobs — the jobs report — I spoke about this a couple times already — look, you know, I don’t want to get ahead of the numbers tomorrow.  We have been very clear that we see that the economy is in transition after a historic economic growth that we saw last year.  And we believe that we can continue those gains. 

But again, we’re in a transition into a more stable and steady — a steady growth.  We won’t see — we believe we won’t see those 600,000 numbers that we have seen for some time.  And — and that that number is going to be a — it’s going to cool a little bit.  You’ve heard us say that.  And so that’s our anticipation, which we think is where the economy is going.

But, again, we have a strong labor market, which is important.  Consumer spending is — is up.  We see business investing — all of those things are critically important.  And so we’re going to look at all the economic data, but certainly not — I’m not going to get ahead of the jobs numbers for tomorrow.

Go ahead, Zolan.

Q    Thank you.  I just want to circle back to the Afghan refugees.  So, just — is any — is the anything being done for Afghan allies who — or those who have sought to come to the United States who already filed for parole and are currently waiting in the backlog of applications?

And to be clear: Are their only options now — as well as anybody who tried to flee Afghanistan and come to the U.S. — either SIV or the refugee program?

And I have a follow-up.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, sure.  And, as you know, there’s a — there’s the act that is in Congress that we have been really working — that the administration continues to support the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act to provide Afghans who have come to the U.S. through Operations Allies Welcome — which is what I talked through a second ago — and a pathway to durable immigration status.

So, there is that pathway as well that we’re going to continue to work with Congress on.  So —

Q    But — I’m sorry, but they would need an approved application in order to do that, right?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, absolutely.  I’m just wanted to — I just wanted to make sure that I stated that as well.

Look, as of August 9th — just to give you some numbers here — over 17,000 individuals have submitted all documents required to apply for Chief of Mission review or — beyond the Chief of Mission stage.  We are working to process those as quickly as possible and welcome them into the United States.

So we are — this is something that we’re working on pretty regularly.  This is important to the Department of State.  And so the Afghan SI program remains active.  And the — State continues to receive and process new SIV applications as expeditiously as possible.

As part of our efforts to improve the program, we have cut the average COM review time to a sixth of what it was under the previous administration — from 510 days in June 2020 to 82 days in June 2022.

I don’t have the specific numbers, as you were asking, about the backlogs.  But we are quickly trying to move that forward, to move that through.  And again, you know, we have welcomed nearly 90,000 Afghans into the country thus far.

Q    What you just referenced though is the SIV application backlog.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes, it is.  It is.

Q    So — but my question is: For those who have filed an application for parole — a program which is now ending —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I’m so sorry.  Yes, I hear what you’re saying.

Q    — will they still have a chance to get parole, or are they basically — should they ditch that, just forget about the fact that they’re in that pipeline and try to refer to the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s a very good question.  I would refer you to the Department of State on the — on the parolees and the — and where the ones who are kind of in that — in that process and where they are going to ultimately be and what their — what their options are.  I don’t have that specific with me.

Q    And just lastly, the two programs you referenced both still have years-long backlogs, even with the movements that you were just describing to increase staff.  Does the Biden administration think that at this point, for somebody who’s trying to flee Afghanistan and they’re pursuing either SIV or the refugee program, that there’s actually a realistic chance that they could make it through the pipeline within, I mean, the end of this presidential term?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we take care of the families — the American families that are still in Af- — in Afghanistan and also our friends and allies in Afghanistan as well.

So we’re going to do everything that we can to make it happen.  I know the Department of State has been on top of this.  They have been working through this, you know, for some time now.  And so this is a priority of ours, for sure.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks.  If we could go back to tonight’s speech, you said the President is going to speak in a direct way about what he sees as a threat.  Does that include former President Trump?  Will he mention the former President by name or any Republicans by name?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’ve said this before: The President is never going to shy away from talking about his predecessor.  He hasn’t —

Q    Is he going to name names then?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m about to answer your question, so give me a second.

But it’s not a speech about the former President or about a single politician or about a political party.  It’s about the American democracy, which is what I’ve been trying to lay out here. 

This is so much broader, so much bigger than any one party, than any one person.  And it’s an optimistic speech, again, about where we are as a nation and where we can go.  And it’s about the fundamental struggle around the globe between autocracy and democracy, and how democracy is a critical foundation for this country to move forward, and about what we can do — can be done right now to beat back the forces that are threatening — that are threatening us.

And so, he’s been working on this for a while; he’s been thinking about this speech for a while.  He’s talked about soul of the nation.  The first time you’ve heard him do that was when he wrote an op-ed in The Atlantic back in August of 2017.  So this is nothing new to him.

He feels it is his responsibility to bring the — to bring American people to together and to answer a fundamental question about what kind of nation we are going to be.  And that’s what you’re going to hear from the President tonight.

Again, he’s been thinking about this for some time.  This is not a new subject or topic for him.

Q    But if that includes things, as that you were saying to one of my colleague’s questions — you know, concerned about this MAGA Republican, this extremist agenda — and that’s something he’s going to talk about tonight, how is that not a political speech?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I said he’s not going to shy away from that.  And, of course, he’s going to talk about voter participation.  Of course, he’s going to talk about getting Americans to get involved and participate in this effort to fight our democracy.  That is something that he’s certainly going to talk about.

But what we’re — what I’m trying to say is: This is a broader speech.  And you’ll hear from him directly.  This is not about one political party.  It is not what — about one political — one person in politics.  This is about what we are going to do as a country to continue to fight for our democracy — again, something that he has talked about for some time.  And — and that’s what you’re going to hear from him.

If you followed him through the campaign, if you followed him through the administration, this is not new.  And he will speak directly about that, directly about the current events. 

But, again, he’s not going to shy away from — from the extremism that we see today.  But, again, this — there is a broader component of the speech, and you’ll hear about that later this evening.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  On this Russian oil cap, the U.S. is trying to get that in place before EU sanctions go into place in December that would ban seaborne shipments of Russian oil.  If the oil cap fails, what’s the level of concern inside the administration that those EU sanctions — sanctions can drive up the price of oil and reverse all the gains that you all been touting for the past few months?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals from here.  They’re going to be meeting — the G7 Finance Ministers — Ministers Meeting is happening tomorrow, so they’ll have that discussion.

Look, this is — this is exactly what the President and G7 leaders have directed relevant members of their team to explore — as you know, the mechanism to set a global price tag — cap on — for Russian oil, you know, to starve, as you know, Putin of his main source of cash and forcing down the price of Russian oil to help blunt the impact of Putin’s war at the pump. 

They’re going to meet tomorrow, as I said — the Finance Ministers — the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting.  And — and we’ll see what comes out of that.  I don’t want to get ahead of that meeting, which is happening tomorrow.

Q    Would the U.S. consider lifting its ban on imports of Russian oil if the price is capped?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to get ahead of a meeting that’s happening tomorrow.

Go ahead, Tam.

Q    Yeah, thank you.  Given the ongoing threats of political violence and the majority of Americans saying they’re concerned about American democracy and something like 40 percent of Americans saying that they think civil war could happen in the next 10 years, how is the President going to deliver an optimistic speech?  How is he optimistic in the face of all that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Have you followed Joe Biden?  Have you listened to him make speeches in the past before?  This is a President, I would argue, who knows how to do that, who knows how to deliver an optimistic speech — at the same time, call out what is happening in this moment.  And that’s what you’re going to hear from this President.

You know, if you — if you look — listen to his past speeches, he has done that.  How do we bring people together?  How do we get people involved in this part — in this process, in this participation in our democracy?

And, look, just because you call out what you’re seeing in this current moment — the extremism, the attack on our democracy, the attack on our freedom, the concerns that Americans have themselves, doesn’t mean you can’t bring the country together and show a positive way forward, show some hope, give some people some hope.  And you’ll see that from this President tonight.

Q    Completely unrelated, also not a thing to be optimistic about — the National Assessment of Educational Progress is — has this new testing that shows that nine-year-olds lost ground in both math and reading in pretty dramatic ways as a result of the pandemic.  What is the President going to do about it?  What is the administration going to do about this severe learning loss?  And does the administration shoulder any blame for not pushing schools to reopen sooner?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let’s step back to where we were not too long ago when this President walked into this administration: how mismanaged the pandemic — the response to the pandemic was; how 47 percent of schools were — in less than six months, our schools went from 40 per- — 46 percent to — open — to nearly all of them being open to full time. 

That was the work of this President.  And that was the work of Democrats, in spite of Republicans not voting for the American Rescue Plan, which $130 billion went to schools to have the ventilation, to be able to have the tutoring and — and the teachers and being able to hire more teachers.  And that was because of the work that this administration did.

We were — we were in a place where, again, schools were not open.  The economy was shut down.  Businesses were shut down.  And what we have seen is — you know, we’ve seen the numbers, but I think that’s what we see.  That’s how we saw — it shows you how mismanaged the pandemic was and how the impact of that mismanagement had on the — on kids’ progress and academic wellbeing.

And so, again, our priority remains to make sure states and schools and districts are using these funds — that $130 billion.  This is going to go, again, to tutoring, to more teachers — real solutions, real solutions to make sure that our kids are getting what they need.

And, you know, every Republican in Congress voted against that money.  That is the reality.  We had to do this on our own. 

And so, you know, we’re going to make sure that those funds are directed to — the most resources towards students who are — who will fall — who will — who fell the furthest behind, which is important.  And we must repair the damage that was done by the last administration, the mismanagement that was done by the ma- — last min- — administration.

But again, this is something that we take — we took very seriously, which is why we passed the American Rescue Plan, which is why we put in $130 billion to deal with what we were seeing in schools. 

And so, you know, we’re going to continue to make that — to continue to do that work and work closely with the schools.

Go ahead.

Q    Karine, two questions.  One on Jackson.  It is in a state where — this water crisis is — one of the poorest states in the South.  With that said, it’s compounding — the water crisis is compounding so much negatively in that community.

And I remember during the Bush years, during Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was set aside as a special case — as well as Detroit was set aside as a special case — for them to work on revitalization — renaissance, if you will.

Is Jackson one of those places that this administration would hold in that kind of category because the economy is definitely impacted — a poor state, et cetera?  People are not working right now.  It is unsanitary to go without water this way.  Is Jackson one of those places that could have a special designation because of the compounding negatives and now this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the Biden-Harris administration — we’re committed to helping the people of Mississippi cope with this current emergency, and we are going to continue to work with the state and local government officials to explore, I can tell you, all options to ensure that the people of Jackson have the access, to your point, to clean, safe drinking water.  I don’t have any announcement to make.

I listed out yesterday the American Rescue Plan and what that provided for water upgrades, which was $450 million.  Twenty million went to Jackson — has already gone to Jackson to address water and sewer instruct- — infrastructure needs.  The state also has about $75 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding available to provide clean and safe water.

And so, we’ll continue to partner closely.  We’re going to look at all options.  I don’t have anything for you at this time to announce.

Q    And lastly — I asked the same question a week ago — tomorrow now, there’s expected to be a civil rights meeting with the President.  What can you read out about that meeting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to comment about — about any potential meeting, any expected meeting.  I’m just not going to comment on that.

Q    But are we in a moment where — the civil rights leaders and the President have a lot to talk about.  Voting rights has gone — I mean, so many different issues that impact a community that’s still underserved with some of the highest numbers of negatives in almost every category.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we have been in — had continued conversation with civil rights members and leaders since the beginning of this administration.  We value those relationships.

The President has met, as you know, with civil rights leaders as President a few times.  And we take — you know, we — we respect that — that relationship.  We respect our conversations that we have with them.  And there’s always a long list of things to talk about, including voting rights and so many other issues that affect different communities.

I don’t have anything more to share.  I don’t have an agenda to share with you at this time.  But that is a relationship that we have held as an important one not just during the President’s — not just during this administration as President, but during Vice President and also as senator.

Q    And lastly, a couple of months ago, TheGrio did a story on the President’s Black agenda.  He carries a card in his pocket and on that he writes things.  And at some point in time, he had a list of items with the Black agenda.  What are some of those Black agenda issues today, if you were to go to him and ask him if that’s on his card?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, when it comes to — if you look at the President’s economic plan, he’s been very deliberate.  If you — I just talked about the American Rescue Plan.  I talked about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how that plan is helping the Black community.  I laid out what it’s — what we have — what we have put forward to help Jackson, Mississippi.

But it’s not just that.  We know about education, what he’s done for HBCUs — more than $6 billion that he has put forth — a historic amount of money to help HBCUs.  So, education has been really important. 

You think about the student loan — loan forgiveness that he put forward last week.  That’s going to help communities at need.  Right?  It’s going to help the folks that — who are at the most risk — if you think about 90 percent of that plan is going to help people who are making under $75,000.  That is part of the President’s plan.

If you think about — going back to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that’s going to — that’s going to create jobs for people.  Ninety percent of what you see from that law is going to — 90 percent — it’s going to create jobs where folks, you know, don’t have to have a high sch- — a college degree.  That is going to be important.

We’re talking about building economic wealth.  We’re talking about having that generational wealth that’s so important for brown — brown and Black communities that they don’t have.  That’s what the American Rescue Plan does when it helps start small businesses — for folks to start small businesses so they can develop that generational wealth.

All of those things are part of what the President has worked on to make sure that he’s building the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

So, he’s going to continue to do that work.  It doesn’t end there.  We just passed the Inflation Reduction Act that’s going to help many communities as well.  It lowers costs of prescription drugs.  When you think about communities of color, how much our seniors have to pay — thousands of dollars a month on prescription drugs.  So that work continues.  It doesn’t end — it doesn’t end there.

But we would say that there’s been so much historic effort, historic legislation that’s been done under this administration that’s going to help many communities, including the Black community.

I’ll come back down.  Go ahead.

Q    More on the soul of America, from the back? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll come to the back.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.

Q    What do you think the President’s message tonight is for Americans who consider themselves Republicans or may still support the former President?  Is there something in the speech directed to them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, look, the President really does believe that this — that what he’s going to talk about is something that many Americans are going to care about.  It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle that you care — that you sit at.  When you think about the possibilities of our democracy, when you think about how we are going to fight for — to protect our rights — right? — to protect our democracy, he thinks that’s going to touch a lot of people.

We have seen — somebody just talked about polling and how we see that.  Many people are concerned about where our democracy is.  I would argue that’s probably across the board.  And when we talk about extremism, we’re talking about a very small piece — a component of — of the American public, right?  We’re talking about a very small component of MAGA Republicans in Congress that — that is something that they believe, right?

But we know, and the President believes and is optimistic that there are many — many Americans who want to continue to make sure that we uphold our democracy.  And so, that is something that — that we’re going to hear: some hope about the direction of America and the future of America, building toward a more perfect union.  That is something that we have heard throughout our history in this country. 

And — and so, he’s going to speak directly to them.  He’s going to make the case.  He’s going to be optimistic.  He’s going to lay a path forward.  And — and that’s what matters. 

And that’s why it’s not — he’s not going to focus on a political party.  He’s not going to foc- — focus on a political person.  He’s going to focus at what is — what matters, what is currently mattering in this moment.  And as it is at the heart of who we are as a country — talk about who we are as a country.  And — and that’s what you’re going to hear from the President.

Q    Can I follow up on the foreign policy —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hold on.  Hold on.  I’ll come to the back. 

Go ahead.

Q    I just want to try again on oil price caps.  The Russian Deputy Prime Minister said today that Russia will not export oil to the world market if the price is capped below the cost of production.  So given those comments — it’s not entirely hypothetical, given he’s said that — is the White House concerned that Russia would refuse to sell oil under the cap, which would then cut off supply and potentially raise prices?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, the meeting is happening tomorrow.  I’m going to let the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting occur.  And we’ll get back to you on that. 

But I just want to just lay out what we’ve done already — the strong actions that we have taken to ban Russian oil.  And U.S. allies have — have announced plans to wind down their own imports of Russian oil.  We’ve heard them make those — those announcements. 

And, you know, but Putin has continued to try to find new markets for Russian oil.  So this is the most effective way, we believe, to hit hard at Putin’s revenue.  And doing so will result in not only a drop in Putin’s oil revenue, but also global energy prices. 

So we’re going to continue to — continue to have our conversations with the G7 leaders.  This is what’s going to happen tomorrow with the foreign — the finance ministers, and we’ll have more to share. 

Q    Karine —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to go to the back because people have been saying I’ve not gone to the back. 

Go ahead, Phil. 

And then I’ll come around. 

Go.  Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Returning to our discussion yesterday and following up on some other things that you’ve said today, I just want to clarify: Does the President believe that the effort to restrict abortion, to restrict that freedom is semi-fascism?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say that — how is this connected to yesterday?  I’m just trying to think.

Q    So, in terms of extremism — the extremism conversation that we’re having yesterday, does the President believe that the effort to restrict abortion — whether it’s at a local level or the federal level — to restrict that freedom — does he believe that that is semi-fascism?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, he was very clear — he was very clear that MAGA Republicans in Congress have an agenda that is extreme.  And that’s what you hear from them.  The national ban on abortion is extreme.  And also, it’s not in line with where a majority of Americans are.  It is just not.  It is taking away people’s rights.  It is taking away people’s freedoms. 

And, you know, he doesn’t — he believes that is an extreme agenda.  You’ve heard that from him directly.  I don’t even need to confirm that from here.  He’s actually talked about how extreme it is.

When we saw what was done with the Dobbs decision on June 24th — to take away a right that people had for 50 years — a constitutional right for 50 years that women had to make a decision for themselves on their healthcare.  And — and so, yeah, we see that as extreme. 

Q    So — but I’m trying to figure out which bucket in particular to put it in, because the administration, as well as the President, has used different language here.  There’s “extremism,” and then there’s also the “semi-fascism” moniker that he used.  I mean, this is an effort that’s been around for a long time.  Does he believe that this movement — working through — whether it’s the state legislature or Congress — is in either of those buckets?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  When we talk about semi-fascism and you talk about the attack on our democracy, that’s what we’re talking about.  Right?  An attack on our democracy.  That’s what we’re seeing — attack on our — on our freedoms.  That’s what we’re seeing from the MAGA Republicans in Congress.  That is what they’re doing. 

That is — when you’re talking about inciting violence, that’s — that’s — that is an attack on our democracy.  And when you’re —

Q    And —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — when you see a mob that is attacking the Capitol and you don’t call that out, or you call it out one day and then change your mind the other day — another day, what is — what message are you say — saying about our democracy?

Q    But specifically with regards to limiting these freedoms — I guess my question is: The Supreme Court created this space for the anti-abortion movement at the state level and also perhaps at the federal level to try and restrict this freedom.  Where do they fit into all of this?  How would the President describe them after that decision?  Were they just extremists, or were they, you know, part and parcel of a semi-fascist —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, here’s what I’ll say: We continue to — continue to see attacks on people’s fundamental rights — right? — of Americans with new abortion laws across the country. 

And when you have national Republicans who are — who are leaders in their — in their political party; who sit in office; who say that they want to take away the rights even in case of incest, in case — and not — and in case of rape; and taking away a woman’s right to make a decision on her body — that’s extreme. 

And — and, you know, the President is going to call that out.  He’s going to continue to do everything that he can to make sure that we protect people’s freedoms.  He’s going to do everything that he can to call that out.  And, you know, that is important to call out.  That is important to talk about. 

And, again, we see a majority of Americans who disagree.  And so, when you are not with where a majority of Americans are, then, you know, that is extreme.  That is an extreme way of thinking. 

I’m not going to — that’s what I have for you, Phil.

Q    Will he call out the Supreme Court tonight?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I just laid out what he’s going to talk about.  It’s not a political part- — it’s not about a political person.  It’s not about a political party.  It’s about where we are currently today — where we are currently today with our democracy.

Q    Thank you, Karine.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Has the administration seen a spike in the request for COVID free at-home tests since the deadline is tomorrow?  And has there been an increase this week on the website?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, there has been a significant increase this week in demand since we announced the suspension, as you know, which is happening tomorrow, of the COVIDTests.gov because of a lack of funding from Congress.  And as we prepare ahead of the winter, we had to make some tough decisions. 

Look, millions of orders have been placed.  This is a testament of how strong the demand of a popular program has been.  Americans want ready access to tests to protect themselves and others. 

With more funding, we’d expeditiously resume the program.  That’s what we’re hoping to do.  And we’re going to continue to work with Congress on getting that funding.

Q    But everybody who requested them this week will be able to get the order they placed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we get people their — their tests.

Q    And one more COVID question: With the new boosters likely rolling out next week after the FDA gave the EUA yesterday — with pharmacies now being told to retire the old boosters and now, going forward, only the new boosters will be given out, what happens to all of those old boosters?  Can they be reused, repurposed?  Can they be donated to other countries?  Or will they be just wasted at this point?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So that’s something that I — I can’t speak from here.  That’s going to be something that the FDA will clearly give some guidance on.

Q    Karine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll come back down.

Q    Thank you.  Going back to tonight’s speech, obviously, you said that the President is going be calling out these lawmakers that are MAGA lawmakers in Congress.  But yet, 74 million people voted for Trump last time around.  You said it’s a small number that the White House believe are extremists.  Can you give us an idea of a ballpark?  Are we talking a million of that 74 million?  Are we talking about 1 percent, 20 percent?  What kind of number are we talking about?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I’m talking about — I’m talking about specifically of MAGA officeholders.  That’s what we’re talking about.  They’re the ones —

Q    Not supporters?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re — I’m talking specifically — I already answered this question about how, you know, we feel like we’ve touched a nerve — right? — when folks are saying that we’re trying to be divisive or that we’re talking about millions of voters.  That’s not what we’re talking about here. 

We’re talking about MAGA officeholders, who — who have put forth an agenda that is extreme; who have put forth an agenda that takes away people’s rights; who have put forth agenda that, you know, want to give tax cuts to billionaires and corporations while raising taxes on millions of Americans.

We just had a back-and-forth about how they want to do a national ban.  They’ve called for a national ban on abortion.  Those are extreme — that’s an extreme agenda that is not in line where a majority of Americans are.

I know, you’re asking me about 10 — millions of voters out there, but we’re talking about — if you look at the items that I just listed, a majority of Americans don’t support what the MAGA Republicans in Congress are doing.  That’s a fact.  That’s what polling shows us. 

When you’re talking about an agenda from Republicans in the Senate who are talking about getting rid of Medicare, putting that on the chopping block; putting Social Security on the chopping block — that’s not popular.  That’s not something that a majority of Americans want.

Q    So if it’s MAGA officeholders, we’ve seen Democratic groups, something like the Democratic Governors Association, boost Trump candidates — like Maryland, if you think of Dan Cox, who just got the nomination.  Is that then hypocritical if you’re saying, “We’ve got to make sure these MAGA supporters are not in office,” but you’ve got Democratic groups that are boosting their campaigns in the primary election?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I can’t talk about campaigns and what another — another candidate is doing or a committee is doing.  I can’t speak from that from here.

Look, I can say this: The President has been — has always been clear: There are going to be people who disagree with his programs and legislative priorities, and that’s what democracy is all about.  Like, we understand that, right?  But people accept elections, and we move forward as a nation, right?

But there is a growing number of people who refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections, people who actually — openly talking about subverting elections in the future.  This is not a speech where he’s going to tell people to vote for one party or the other.  That’s not what he’s going to do.  He’s going to —

Q    He did that in Wilkes-Barre.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m talking about tonight.  I’m talking about tonight. 

He’s going to talk about uniting the people of this country who believe in equality and democracy.  And this is about bringing people together who believe in America.  That’s what this speech is going to be about and that’s what he’s going to focus on.

Q    And obviously, there has been a lot of focus on previous speeches, previous comments, the one in Maryland the other day.  Is it only on the far right that deserves to be called out?  Or are there elements of the far left that also deserve to be either scrutinized or lectured?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’m — I just laid out there’s going to be some people who agree with him and who disagree with him, who agree who — whether its legislative initiatives or programs.  That’s going to happen.  But what we’re going to hear from him is how to move the country forward.  That’s going to be the focus of the speech tonight. 

He’s going to be — it’s going to be optimistic, it’s going to be hopeful, and it’s — but it’s also going to lay out what’s going on currently in this moment.  That’s what you can expect from him tonight.  And — and, you know, we’re going to try and see how we can move this country forward.

Q    Last one from me is: You know, he’s going back to Pennsylvania tonight.  He’s going on Monday for Labor Day.  He’s doing Wisconsin.  You know, everybody here has been asking about Mississippi.  No plans to go see what’s going on on the ground?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I just said the FEMA Administrator —

Q    FEMA is going.  What about the President?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I just — I just said the FEMA Administrator is going there tomorrow.  That’s going to be important.  She is — she is the Administrator of FEMA, one of the most important agencies, as we’re — as we’re dealing with — with this catastrophe that we see in Jackson.  That is not unusual.  That is not new for her to be the first one on the ground to make sure — to get a sense of what’s happening and what is going on.

We’re — you know, we have the EPA — EPA, who’s also involved.  The EPA agency is also involved as well.

The President is going to continue to have conversations with local governments, the local elected officials in the state, and — and our team is going to continue to do that.

I just don’t have anything else to preview.  But it is not unusual — right? — to have the FEMA coord- —

Q    So she goes first and then the President goes?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not saying that.  I just said I don’t have anything to preview.  But it’s not unusual for her to go down there, as you’ve seen with other — where we have other catastrophes, sadly, across the country.  And FEMA takes — takes action, and then they take the lead.

Q    Karine, can I have a follow-up on the speech, please?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes, go ahead. 

Q    Thank you.  So you mentioned autocracies and democracies will be part of the theme that the President will touch on today.  Does that mean he’s returning to — you know, to the, kind of, foreign policy theme that he’s often highlighted in the beginning of his administration?  Will there be a foreign policy component in the speech?  And he will he mentioned specific countries?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to get ahead of the President. 

I just laid out: It’s going to be an optimistic speech.  It’s going to be about how — where our country is currently in fighting for our democracy, how we’re going to move forward, and also how Americans can also participate in making sure that we protect what’s important to us as a country.

Q    But you did mention there’s going to be autocracies and democracies —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  And he’ll — he’ll — I said he’ll talk about that.  But you’re asking me specific things.  I’m just not going to get ahead of the President.  I just laid out what he believes he wants to talk about tonight, what he believes this moment is all — is all about. 

Remember, we’re going to do this at Independence Hall, which is a historic — which is a historic place to do this speech.  So this is an important moment — doing it in primetime, making sure that he connects with the American people. 

And again, this is something that we believe a majority of Americans care about.  And so you’ll hear from the President tonight.

Q    And just another follow-up on Afghanistan from my colleagues.  I understand the focus now is on the SIV program.  But just to follow up on a more brief note: I think earlier this month — I believe August 5th — you said that the withdrawal anniversary is an opportunity to honor the lives that we lost and recognize the lives that we saved and how we are on a stronger strategic footing now that we’ve ended the war. 

And so, it seemed at that time that the administration was at least — I mean, to me, and correct me if I’m wrong — planning to mark the event in a way that would highlight those issues that you mentioned at that time. 

But instead, we have this narrow statement from the President not on the withdrawal itself, but on the anniversary of the Kabul Airport attack. 

So can you explain the thinking behind the — that messaging strategy?  And could you please respond to the criticism that the administration’s goal here is to downplay the withdrawal anniversary and kind of just “put it in a rearview mirror” as soon as possible?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’ll — I’ll say a few things:

We remain committed to supporting the Afghan people.  And we are proud to be the largest single provider — just to remind you all — of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. 

We are working closely with the United Nations and other partners to provide the assistance directly to the Afghan people without benefit to the Taliban. 

We will remain vigilant against any terrorist threats, as we demonstrated in July when we took down — or took out the — the leader of al Qaeda. 

We will continue to prioritize relocation effort for our Afghan allies, and welcome our Afghan allies to the United States since our commitment to them is enduring.

And we will continue to press the Taliban for the safe release of Mark Frerichs, and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls.

That is our goal.  That is our commitment.  That has been our commitment for more than a year now. 

And — and, again, we are committed to supporting the Afghan people, and we will do everything that we can in what I just listed. 

Q    Karine, what are you —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to keep going.  I’m going to keep — I’m going to keep going.

Q    Why won’t the President say that in his speech tonight?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m gong to keep going. 

Go ahead.  

Q    Yeah, thanks, Karine.  So, you read at the top of this about the President’s statement on manufacturing and announcement of those new jobs.  When will those jobs materialize? 

And when the government subsidies go away — like the CHIPS Act and the American Rescue Plan — will those jobs also go


MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the reason that we announced these — why — we announced what Micron is doing — First Solar, Toyota, Honda, and Corning — if you think about Micron, they’re going to — a $15 billion investment over the next 10 years.  That is going to create a lot of jobs.  And that’s going to be in Idaho. 

Look, they’re going to — I’m sure they’ll share more on what that process is going to look like.  But the point that we’re making is, because of the work that we’ve done — the CHIPS Act — let’s remember, that was actually a bipartisan piece of legislation.  The fact that we were able to come together to work on this important manufacturing bill — right? — that’s going to help by — make sure that we create semiconductors here. 

That’s what this — but what — that’s what this manufacturing facility is going to be about: making sure that we strengthen our supply chain, making sure that we strengthen our national security, making sure that we’re doing the “Made in America.”  That is an important step forward. 

And so, they’ll provide more information.  But certainly, $15 billion that they’re saying that they’re going to invest and create their first manufacturing to deal with semiconductors — that’s an important step forward.  And that’s because of the work that this administration has done.  And that’s why we highlighted it.

Q    And then one more quick one.  So I want to ask about campaign promises.  While candidate Biden said that he would end the fossil fuels industry — then went back and said that he’s not going to end all fossil fuels.  We’ve seen increased regulations and restrictions in that industry.  Pennsylvania is the third-largest coal producer in the United States.  In the past year, we’ve only seen about 1,600 jobs in net added to mining and lodging in that state.  So why not just change the energy policies, help out Pennsylvania with jobs and energy security?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we just passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which is going to — which is going to do — which is going to change people’s lives and is the most — which is the most historic investment that we’ll see — that we have seen in this country to deal with climate change — right? — to deal with — to deal with energy.  And so, that is important there. 

And let’s not forget the Bipartisan Infrastru- — Infrastructure Law as well that’s going to deal with climate change. 

And so, look, we’re going to continue to do the work.  This is a commitment that the President has.  He has created, as you know — you’ve heard me say this — almost 10 million jobs — new jobs since he’s gotten into office.

The Bipartisan Infratur- — Infrastructure Law — Infrastructure Law is going to create jobs where you’re not going to need a college degree.  That’s important.  Ninety percent of those jobs you won’t need a college degree.  That’s going to be important to Pennsylvania.  That’s going to be important to many communities across the country. 

And he’s going to do this in a way that he’s mit- — he’s — he’s going to meet his campaign promises. 

And so, when it comes to the climate — the climate change and fighting climate change, when it comes to making sure that we’re creating jobs, when it comes to building up the — the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, that’s what he’s committed and that’s what you see from all of the pieces of legislation that has come out of this legislation when it deals with the economy. 

Q    Thanks, Karine. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  All right, I’ll be back tomorrow, guys. 

Thank you.  Thanks, everybody.

3:42 P.M. EDT

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