Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Aboard Air Force One En Route Boston, Massachusetts
10:53 A.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, today we’re headed to Boston for two events. First, President Biden will head to Boston Logan International Airport, which is modernizing Terminal E thanks to a $50 million investment from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funding is expanding terminal capacity, making it a world-class facility that improves customer services and creating around 5,900 jobs.
Second — which is what the President spoke to all of you about moments ago, right before he got onto Air Force One — is he will be — he will head to the John F. Kennedy Library on the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s Moonshot speech at Rice University to lay out his vision for another American moonshot — a future where we end cancer as we know it.
When President Kennedy committed to putting a man on the Moon and bringing him back, the President — the United States had the building blocks to know what was possible. Today, we have many of the building blocks needed to make significant progress preventing, detecting, and treating cancer. And we already — we’re already seeing progress on our goal to end cancer as we know it.
As part of today’s trip, the President announced new actions that will accelerate our Cancer Moonshot efforts, including appointing Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the inaugural director of ARPA-H, a new agency with the sole mission of delivering innovations that will improve the health of Americans. Dr. Wegrzyn is a leading biomedical scientist with professional experience working for two of the institution that inspired the creation of ARPA-H.
Second, the President Bi- — President Biden this morning signed an executive order that establishes a new biotech and manufacturing initiative that will help ensure cutting-edge biotechnologies necessary to solve our nation’s critical challenges are developed and manufactured in America.
This builds off the actions to date that are helping us end cancer as we know it right now.
Because of President’s Inflation Reduction Act caps out-of-pocket prescription drug costs to $2,000 per year for Medicare beneficiaries, tens of thousands of cancer patients could see their prescription drug costs go down by thousands of dollars annually.
New research, trials, and resources from the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Cancer Institute including — include helping to make research more available, trials that will help accelerate better tools to detect and treat cancer, and more.
This is an issue personal to the President, the First Lady, and so many Americans. Because of the President’s longstanding commitment to this issue, we’ve developed more tools to fight and treat cancer that we didn’t even have a couple of years ago. In his remarks today, the President will rally the country around doing more to fight cancer by coming together and treating this issue with the urgency it warrants.
One last thing. The United States welcomes Tigray regional authority statement yesterday on the occasion of Ethiopia’s New Year, which indicated its readiness to cessation, participate in African Union talks, and abide — oh, I’m sorry, I messed that up — which indicated its readiness to participate in African
American [Union] talks and abide by a cessation of hostilities.
It is high time for both sides to stop fighting and turn to dialogue to resolve their differences. The Ethiopian government has stated its willingness to go to talks anytime, anywhere, and should seize this moment to give peace a change. Eritrea and others should stay out of the conflict. The United States commends and supports the African Union’s diplomatic efforts to start talks as soon as possible.
The President’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, remains in the region and is actively engaged with the parties, the African Union, and international partners to advance this important effort to peace. The Ethiopian people have suffered too much and deserve a lasting peace. They should know that the United States stands with them and will continue to be the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in response to the conflict and severe drought.
With that, Zeke, you want to take us away?
Q Thanks, Karine. First, do you have the White House’s reaction to Ukraine’s counteroffensive reportedly reaching the Russian border in the northeast of the country? Does the White House believe that that validates its decision to send advanced American weaponry to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russia? And are there any concerns about what Russia might do as a result of this latest humiliation? Will that make them more likely to resort to using unconventional weapons?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I can’t speak to Russia’s intention; that’s for them to speak to. What I can say about the counteroffensive, to your — the beginning of your question: Look, as we have said many times, we’re not going to speak for Ukrainians. We’ll leave it to Ukrainians to describe their operations. But it’s clear they are fighting heard to defend their country and take back territory.
And so, again, we’re going to just continue to support their need to succeed on the battlefield. That has been our goal.
As you all know, we announced two significant security assistance packages this past week. Brought more than 50 countries together to coordinate our support and have worked to fulfill the Ukraine request for what they need to be successful on the battlefield. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
Q Okay, a question about the Queen’s funeral?
Q A question on — sorry — Xi Jinping is headed to Russia this week to meet Putin, and we’re wondering if you can, you know, talk a little bit about how the U.S. views this visit, their efforts to — China’s efforts to build closer ties with Russia. And also, how does this impact U.S. efforts to bring China onboard on the Russia oil price embargo talks?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, I’m not going to — I’m not going to — I’ve been asked this question a couple times during a briefing last week. And we’re going to let President Xi and President Putin speak to their meeting.
We’ve made — we’ve made clear our concerns about the depth of China alignment and ties with Russia, even as Russia prosecutes a war of aggression in Ukraine.
But again, I’m not going to speak to their meeting. They can speak to that themselves.
Q The Queen’s funeral. Did Bucking- — how many invitations did Buckingham Palace give the White House for the funeral? And who will be in the delegation? Will President Biden bring any former Presidents with him?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So just to give you a little bit of a breakdown of how this all occurred: So the invitation for the President and the First Lady came in the form of a note verbale sent from the protocol directorate of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. It was received late Saturday night. And as you all know, the President accepted the invitation on Sunday morning.
And so as far as invites, I would refer you to the United — the United Kingdom, their government, on that protocol generally.
The invitation was — extended to the U.S. government was for the President and the First Lady only.
Q If he’s allowed to bring others, would he bring any former Presidents with him?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, this is a decision that is — that is made for the UK government. They decide who gets invited. Again, the invite was for the President and the First Lady only. It is for them to move to decide on how they’re going to proceed with invites, and they have.
Q Thanks, Karine. I want to ask you a question. President Biden will one day be a “former President” after one term or two terms. Does the President believe that a former President can invoke executive privilege?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to — I’m not going to get into — into any — any executive privilege conversation at this time. I know that question is connected to what is happening with the Department of Justice independent investigation. I’m just not going to speak to that at this time.
Q Can I follow up on the funeral? Does the President plan to meet any other officials while he is in London, like the new Prime Minister or the King?
And separately, does he still plan to speak at UNGA, which is butting up against the same time? At the U.N. General Assembly, does he still plan to attend?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So to your last question, he is still planning — he will attend UNGA. They’re working out the details on that.
Once we have more, we’ll be happy to share it, clearly.
On your first question, I — we just don’t have anything to preview at this time on any potential meetings. Right now, as we have said, we have — he — the President and the First Lady accepted the invitation to the Queen’s funeral, and they will be attending.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Can I ask about two things that are happening on the Hill right now? The first is: Like, six dozen House Democrats have said that they want the White House to drop support for the Manchin permitting as part of the CR. What’s your response to them?
And then, can you say what the administration’s position on the Taiwan bill that’s been marked up this week on Capitol Hill is?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the Inflation Reduction Act is the — is the biggest step forward ever on climate, as you all know. We’re going to be celebrating with thousands of supporters tomorrow on the South Lawn of the White House. It was the product of compromise. And without compromise, there would be no deal, as we understand how it works here in Washington, D.C.
The President is committed to the deal, and we recognize that an element of that is a — is an agreement between Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin to pass a permitting form — a permitting reform bill. We support that deal and that vote, and we will work with Congress to determine the best pathway — pathway forward.
On your second question, I would just need to check with the Office of Leg Affairs on where we are specifically on that bill on Taiwan.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q On the Moonshot: President Kennedy’s Moonshot, 60 years ago, was largely a competitive endeavor against the Soviets. I wonder if you can talk about any collaboration internationally on cancer research that’s evident. A lot of the stuff that’s come out so far has been domestic in nature.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I don’t have anything international to share on collaboration.
As I just laid out, what we’ve been doing and how this is incredibly important to the President and the First Lady — he signed the executive order, which we feel will — will be beneficial in getting to, you know, dealing with cancer and getting rid of cancer, as I just stated in my opening, in — opening topper here.
I don’t have any specifics on any international partnership. I’m happy to go back to the team and — and get some more specifics on that.
Q Karine, a quick question on Ukraine. Just had a quick follow-up. You know, the gains that they have made in the past few weeks, especially in the northeast, how does the U.S. view that progress?
And in terms of, sort of, you know, aid, does that — the calculus for future aid, how does — how do — how do these wins sort of impact that — the aid that they are expected to get from the U.S. and the West going forward?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I mean, I’ll say this, and I’ve said this before: Russia’s war in Ukraine is a threat to the rules-based international order that has been in the foundation of stability across the world for decades. Russia’s actions open the door to aggression elsewhere. And we’ve been very clear about that.
Look, the President also has been clear that we will continue to support Ukraine as they continue to defend their democracy against Russian aggression.
I mean, this is a war that was unprovoked by Russia, an attack on a sovereign country. And we — we see how bravely the Ukrainians have — have — you know, have been fighting to fight for their freedom. And we support that.
So we are grateful for the bipartisan support that has made it possible to provide Ukraine with unprecedented military, humanitarian, financial support, and are asking Congress to pass additional funding to support Ukraine’s effort.
Q Karine, may I ask you —
Q Karine, on the Moonshot, real quick. President Kennedy’s Moonshot, getting — getting man — the first man to step on the Moon cost something in the order — in 220 dollars — in 2020 dollars, like $200 billion-plus. Is the President calling for additional congressional appropriations to actually make this a reality and invest that same priority? Is he looking for billions of dollars for this effort?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t have any additional appropriations asked for — from the administration for the Cancer Moonshot. And when we do, we’ll — we’ll be — we’ll be sure to share that. I just don’t have anything to announce on any additional funding.
Q Karine, has President Biden ever been to the Kennedy Presidential Library before?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a good question. We would have to ask him. I’m not sure. I know he spoke to it. He wanted to — he came over to you all and spoke about today and about this important 60th anniversary and what he is doing on this issue of cancer. And as I — as I’ve mentioned to you, this is incredibly personal to him and the First Lady.
I would have to ask him if he’s been there before. I assume so. My assumption is yes, but I would have to go back to him and ask.
Q Can I follow on Ukraine? In the past, President Biden has spoken out when Russia has targeted civilian targets, or civilian infrastructure and apartment buildings — things like that. I wonder if he worries or if the White House is concerned that, as Russia loses more territory, they will increasingly target civilian infrastructure, and if they plan to do anything about that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we condemn Russia’s airstrikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, to your question, leaving people in several cities without power and clean water. We will continue to support Ukraine as it defends itself and hold Russia accountable for its war against Ukraine. So, again, we will continue to support Ukraine as they defend their territory. I don’t have much more to say on that piece.
Q Karine, there’s some reporting yesterday regarding ongoing plea talks between the U.S. government and five 9/11 defendants held at Guantanamo Bay. Does the President support an effort that would essentially take the death penalty off the table to try to create a resolution in those military commission cases? Does the President support that — that sort of deal for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some of the other 9/11 plotters?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t have any — we don’t — I don’t have anything at this time on that particular question that you just asked, Zeke. As you know, the President — the President honored the — honored the memory of those who were killed — yesterday — on September 11th and the incredible Americans who stepped up to demonstrate what was best in our country and the national duty we found in the wake of the attacks.
He’s been very clear on where he stands on Guantanamo Bay. I don’t have anything specific on those specific folks that you mentioned.
Q The President wants to wrap up — he wants to close Guantanamo Bay still. That would require some resolution of those criminal proceedings. So would it be, therefore, safe to assume the President would support efforts to try to reach a plea agreement here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — I hear you. I just don’t — as you know, we don’t — we don’t normally respond to criminal proceedings here. So I just don’t have anything to share on that.
All right. Anything else?
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, thank you.
11:09 A.M. EDT