Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, September 15, 2022
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:52 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody. A lot of shushing happening. (Laughter.) Okay, today we have a special guest in our briefing room. To kick off the Hispanic Heritage Month, I have with me today — joining me is Luisana Pérez. She is the White House Hispanic Media Director.
Just to give you a little bit on Luisana’s background: In 2020, Luisana, a Venezuelan immigrant, became a U.S. citizen while working on the Biden campaign in Florida. And we are very, very lucky to have her here in the White House leading our efforts to reach the Hispanic community on TV, radio, social media, and so much more.
Q We can’t hear you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You can’t hear me?
Q We cannot hear you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Hello, hello. Oh, okay so we need to fix — (taps on microphone). Hello? Hello, hello?
Q Hello! (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll start from the top. (Laughter.)
All right, good afternoon, everybody. Today we have a special guest to kick us off for the start of the Hispanic Heritage Month.
Luisana Pérez is the White House Hispanic Media Director. In 2020, Luisana, a Venezuelan immigrant, became a U.S. citizen while working on the Biden campaign in Florida. And we are very, very lucky to have her here in the White House leading our efforts to reach the Hispanic community on TV, radio, social media, and so much more.
With that, I am so excited to bring her here to the podium. All yours, Luisana.
MS. PEREZ: Thank you, Karine. Gracias, Karine.
(Speaks Spanish. No translation provided.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Gracias. Thank you so much, my friend and my colleague.
Okay, so just to do the English version here: Today marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. When we honor the rich history and values the Hispanic community contributes to our nation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, we reaffirm that diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths. The Hispanic community enriches our neighborhoods, small businesses, workshop, media, and arts. We uplift the voices and accomplishments of the Hispanic community not only during this month, but throughout the year.
We also acknowledge the struggles and injustices that they face, particularly under the previous administration’s attack against the community.
When President Biden took office, he made a commitment to advance opportunity and equity for everyone in our country, including the Hispanic community. For the President, that promise wasn’t just words; his commitment to the community was for real action and progress.
Thanks to President Biden, we saw the biggest one-year drop in Latina unemployment, our administration has delivered billions of dollars in loans to Hispanic small businesses, expanded the child tax credit to provide help to millions of families and reduce Hispanic child poverty by more than 40 percent, expanded access to quality healthcare to thousands of Latino families, supported equity for Puerto Rico, hosted regional White House Latino economic initiative summits across the country, and protected and strengthened the DACA program while we continue the fight to build a fair, humane, orderly immigration system.
And thanks to President Biden’s student loan debt relief program, almost half of Latino students with federal loans will see their debts forgiven.
This evening, President Biden will attend the 45th Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala to kick off the White House celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, where he will honor the contributions of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Latino leaders from across our nation while highlighting the work the administration is doing to create and advance opportunities for Latinos and their families.
This national Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the progress and prosperity we are continuing to create for Latino communities since President Biden took office and recommit to lifting up Latino families.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Luisana. All right.
Okay, a couple — a couple more — more at the top for you all.
So — so, I want to turn to the tentative agreement that you heard the President talk about just moments ago earli- — later this morning, reached overnight, that will keep our railways running.
As you heard from President Biden this morning in the Rose Garden, this is a victory for our economy and for the rail workers who work tirelessly to deliver food, medicine, clean drinking water, and more to communities across America every day.
The agreement includes well-deserved pay raises, improvements in working conditions, and peace of mind on healthcare costs. And it’s also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for their critical industry.
The President thanks all parties for working hard to get this done. This would not have been possible without the leadership of President Biden; Secretaries Walsh, Buttigieg, and also Vilsack; and NEC Director Brian Deese, and also his deputy, Deputy NEC Director Celeste Drake.
This includes not only the marathon meeting of almost 20 hours that started yesterday, but hundreds of calls from the Biden administration to the various parties, stakeholders over the past many weeks and months.
The agreement reached today aligns with the President’s view that we can build a better America by rebuilding our infrastructure and supply chains here at home, with good-paying jobs and an economy that works for working people.
This afternoon, the President will also deliver remarks at the United We Stand Summit at the White House. The President is hosting today’s summit to demonstrate that hate-fueled violence has no place in our country. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds have been coming together throughout the event to say that an attack on one group is an attack on all of us.
And this morning, we announced — and the President will talk more this afternoon about it — that the administration’s civic, faith, and private sector groups are all taking action to prevent and address hate-motivated violence and foster unity.
You will hear President Biden rally a whole-of-society response to prevent, respond to, and recover from hate-fueled violence and to foster national unity.
He believes every American has a role to play in this effort.
The summit will end by honoring a group of unif- — uni- — uniters, people from around the country who are leading extraordinary work in their communities to stand together and build bridges, heal divides, and stand together against hate. They represent the best of America.
Looking ahead, some additional details on the President’s bilateral meeting that’s happening tomorrow with the South African President.
Tomorrow, President Biden will host South African President Ramapho- —
Ramaposa [Ramaphosa] at the White House. President Biden looks forward to consulting with President Ramaposa [Ramaphosa] on a range of topics, including climate crisis, opportunities to increase trade and investment to benefit both South American — South Africans — pardon me — and Americans, and other pressing global challenges.
In addition, Vice President Harris will host President Rapa- — Rapa- — Raparosa —
Ramaposa [Ramaphosa] for breakfast tomorrow morning at the Naval Observatory and looks forward to discussing the U.S.-African — U.S.-South African partnership on global health security, space cooperation, and other areas of bilat engagement.
And finally, on Friday, tomorrow, President Biden will hold meetings at White House — at the White House with Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, and Paul Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan, to discuss his continuing commitment to bringing their family members home safely.
As we have said before, we believe that Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney and Paul under intolerable circumstances. And as you know, we have been directly engaged with the Russian government through appropriate channels. We made a significant offer a couple of months ago through the same channels we used for Trevor Reed. We have followed up on that offer repeatedly, and we’ll continue to pursue every avenue to bring them home safely.
With that, Darlene.
Q Thanks, Karine. On the meeting tomorrow with the Griner and the Whelan families, is there anything more you can say about how we’ve gotten to this point where he’s actually physically going to be in the same room with the families? It’s something they’ve wanted for a long time.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, one of the things that the President wanted to make clear is — and one of the reasons he’s — he is meeting with the families is that he wanted to let them know that they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day, on making sure that Brittney and Paul return home safely.
One family member was already scheduled to be in town, and the President wanted to meet with both of the families on the same day.
Q Thank you. And on the — the migrants that are being — that are being bused to D.C. and other cities — there were some that showed up at the VP’s Residence earlier this morning — is the administration looking into whether busing migrants around the country is legal?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me just say a couple of things about this because — and it’s come up in the briefing room before, because this has been happening for the past several weeks.
So, as we have said repeatedly, there is — there’s a process in place. We have had a process in place. There’s a legal way of doing this and — for managing migrants.
Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants as political pawns is — is shameful, is reckless, and just plain wrong.
And remember, these are people who are fleeing communism, who are fleeing hardship. And if these governors truly care about border security, they should ask Texas Governor Ted Cruz and Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott why they voted against the President’s request for record — record funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
So, this is what they have done. These — both senators — Senators Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott — have voted against — did not vote for these — this funding that would have helped the Department of Homeland Security. That is just a fact.
And also, the fact that Fox News — and not the Department of Homeland Security, the city, or local NGOs — were alerted about a plan to leave migrants, including children, on the side of a busy D.C. street makes clear that this is just a cruel, premeditated political stunt. This is what they are doing.
And a couple more things. The migrants, including children, who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard were misled about where they were being taken and what would be provided when they arrived — is also deeply alarming.
The children Governor Abbott abandoned in Martha’s Vineyard, the children that the — that Governor DeSantis abandoned as well, you know, deserve better. They deserve better than being left on the streets of D.C. or being left in Martha’s Vineyard. They deserve a lot better than that.
And as we have done many times in response to attempts to create chaos and confusion by Republican governors, we are working to manage the consequences of these two stunts as well.
Q And when you say there’s a legal way of doing this, are you implying that the way it’s being done now is illegal?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ll say this: We’ve been asked about if we’re going to take any legal action; I would refer that to the Department of Justice.
But there is a process. There is a process of taking in migrants. There is a process that is in place. And what they are doing is illegal stunt; is a — is a political stunt. And — and it’s — it’s really just disrespectful to humanity.
It is — it doesn’t afford them any dignity, what they’re doing, when you are abandoning families and children in a place where they were told they were going to get housing and a place where they were told they were going to get jobs, or abandoning in the D.C. — on the D.C. streets. It is just cruel.
And it’s not about — it’s not about the process, actually. It’s about a political tool — a political stunt that they’re moving forward with.
Q On the situation along the border: Crossings are up. Drownings along the border are increasing. We’ve been to one town recently where the morgue is overwhelmed by migrant deaths.
Are you confident and do you feel that the situation at the border is under control? Are you doing enough?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So what we have — what we have been doing is doing the work that wasn’t done by the last administration. We are fixing a broken system. It is not like turning the light switch on; it is going to take some time.
But I’ll say this: More individuals encountered at the border will be removed or expelled this year than in any previous year. That is something of the work that DHS has been doing and how we have been moving forward and making sure that we’re doing our part here.
We have made — we have made over 3,000 arrests in the first three months of launching an aggressive campaign to combat the multibillion-dollar human smuggling industry. So we have seen the work that we have done and how it’s been effective.
And again, we’re — there is a process in place to manage migration flows. That includes expelling migrants as required by court order under Title 42, transferring them to ICE custody, or monitoring migrants through the alternatives to detention program as they await further processing. So there is a process in place.
What these Republican governors are doing, again, is a political — they’re using people, they’re using desperate people — people who are trying to come here because they’re fleeing communism themselves — as a political pawn. And it’s horrific, and it’s shameful.
Q The busing aside, how do you explain this influx?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, again, we understand that we have work to do. We understand that. And we have been doing the work to do that.
We have taken unprecedented action over the past year and a half to secure our border and rebuild a safer and orderly process system.
In the last year and a half, we have installed new border technology and set up joint patrols in Mex- — with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers.
We have already made 3,000 arrests, as I just mentioned.
We have secured record levels of funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
And we have put in place dedicated immigration judges so asylum seekers can have their cases heard faster.
We — we have expanded labor pathways, including H-2B — H-2B visas.
So we are doing the work. We know that — we know that it’s going to take some time. But again, we have removed more individuals or encountered more individuals at the border — they will be removed or expelled this year than in any previous year.
And so, that is — tells you a little bit about the facts of what we’ve been doing.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And congratulations on your — on your new job, your new role.
Q Thank you very much.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You’ll be leaving us, I guess.
Q Not yet, though. You’ve got a few more weeks of me.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, boy. Oh, gosh.
Q (Laughs.) So, don’t worry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q Karine, I have a question about the meeting tomorrow with the families of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.
But first, you know, you just had a pretty impassioned response to these buses of migrants getting dropped off. I wonder: What was President Biden’s response to that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have not spoken to him about this specifically. As you know, we’ve been busy — he’s been busy the last several hours with the rail — with the rail negotiations and averting a crisis, and with the work that he’s been doing with his administration. So, I’ve not had a direct conversation about this specifically.
Q And these meetings tomorrow with the families of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner — are they going to happen simultaneously? Or are these separate meetings that he’s having? And is he going to offer any kind of update for them on efforts to bring their loved ones home?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have any specifics on how the — how the meetings are going to be executed. We’ll have more tomorrow for sure, but wanted to let you all know that the meetings were happening and confirm that for — for all of you.
So while I would love to say that the purpose of this meeting is to inform the families that the Russians have accepted our offer and we are bringing their loved ones home, that is not what we’re — we’re seeing in these negotiations at this time.
Look, as we have said, the Russians should accept our offer. They should accept our offer today. We will keep working diligently until the day we get to share that good news.
But again, the President wanted to make sure that their families understood that they were front of mind and that his team was working tirelessly every day to get Brittney and Paul home safely.
Q But they shouldn’t be expecting any kind of an update in that — in a substantive way on that front, you’re saying?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, like I said, I would love to — we would love to be saying today that we have news about Brittney and Paul coming home today. That is — unfortunately, that is not where the negotiations are at this time.
Again, the Russians should accept the offer that’s at the table, and we will encourage them to do that.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Andrea Shalal, welcome back.
Q Hey. Thanks so much. I just wanted to follow up on the Martha Vineyard — Martha’s Vineyard situation. Is it possible to — I don’t know, I mean, are there — what recourse do you have when those kind of situations happen?
And then I have another question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I can tell you what the administration is doing. So, as we have done many times in response to these types of attempts by Republican governors to create — really, what they’re doing is creating chaos and they’re creating confusion. So, we are working to manage the consequences of these stunts.
The administration has been in regular touch with the cities, and FEMA Regional Administrators have been meeting with city officials on site to coordinate available federal support from FEMA and other federal agencies.
Funding is also available through FEMA’s emergency food and shelter program to eligible local governments and not-for-profit organizations upon request to support humanitarian relief for these migrants.
Q Okay. And then, just today, the World Bank and, then separately, the IMF warned about real risks, downside risks to the global economy. The World Bank says that there’s a growing risk of a global recession.
And, you know, obviously, a lot of concern about high inflation here in the United States and the rise in interest rates all over that is impacting developing countries particularly. Can you say, at this point, whether you think a global recession can be avoided and what your concerns are about the interest rate increases? I realize the Fed is independent, but the consequences of these, sort of, synchronized interest rates.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So — so a couple of things. I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. I’m not going to predict from here, especially on something so important as the economy. I’ll leave that to the experts to do.
Look, what we have said, what the President has said very clearly is that the number one economic priority is tackling inflation. You think about just two days ago, where the President held an event on the South Lawn with thousands of supporters, thousands of Americans on the South Lawn, talking about — or celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act, which is part of the President’s plan to do everything that he can to lower prices.
And you look at that plan: It’s going to lower prices — healthcare prices. It’s going to lower Medicare costs for our seniors, which is important, which is a fight that members of Congress and the President included, had been fighting decades and decades against Big Pharma. And the American people won. We were able to beat wealthy special interests.
And let’s not forget the gas prices, as you hear us talk about over and over the last couple of weeks of how we’ve seen those gas prices go down for more than 90 days every day during the summer — summer months. And it’s gone down by more than $1.30.
This is the work that the President is going to continue to do to make sure that we’re lowering costs. And it’s part of his economic plan to make sure that we don’t leave anybody behind, that we’re building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, as you heard him say as well.
Look, it is — it is something — as far as the interest rate — and, you know, we’re — the Federal Reserve is independent. One of — one of the areas that is a part of the President’s plan is that they have their independency. And we leave it to them to make their decision on what — what fighting inflation is going to look like, what the monetary tools they’re going to use to do just that. Again, they’re independent, so we will not comment on that.
But look, we also understand that, you know, high costs are really hurting families, which is why we have done the work that we have done these past several months. And we’ll continue to do — continue to make sure we — we find ways that — to lower costs for families.
Q I think what I’m asking you is: What is the impact? You’re working on a domestic problem and lowering the prices here and lowering inflation here, but it’s having a profound impact on the rest of the economy. And I wonder if you’re concerned about the impact this is all having on developing countries.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So —
Q I mean, development is arrested, stopped.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — no, I — I understand —
Q You know, cutting poverty has stopped.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I understand. You were asking me also for me to predict, which I — I can’t do from here. I am not an economist, so I cannot predict for you.
Look, we’re dealing with a global challenge. We have talked about this. We’re dealing with the global challenge of a once-in-a-generation pandemic. And we’re dealing with the global challenge of a war in Ukraine that was started by the Kremlin that has hurt food prices, that has hurt oil prices, which is why we have done the work that we have done to lower gas prices over the last couple of weeks.
But yet — yes, this is a global challenge. It’s not just America, as you all know — as you’re laying out for me — that’s dealing with inflation. And this is why the President has made this top of mind and continues to make his priority — tackling inflation his number one economic priority. So we’re going to continue to do that and focus on that.
Remember, there’s the Inflation Reduction Act. There’s the CHIPS and Sci- — and Science Act that just passed. There’s the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. There’s the American Rescue Plan. All of those things, in particular the American Rescue Plan, put us on a better footing than most of — than most of our global partners. And so that’s because of the work that we have done the last 19 months.
Okay. Go ahead, Steve.
Q Thanks, Karine. On the railroad tentative agreement, it’s been reported that the companies have agreed to give the workers one paid sick day. The unions asked for 15 paid sick days. Why is that a deal the workers should now accept as it goes to a ratification vote?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, Steve, the government is not a party to this deal, and so we’re going to leave the specifics of the deal to the two sides. It’s not something that we’re going to comment on.
Q But the President today called it a “win for the country.” He suggested that the working conditions will improve. Is he going to get engaged to see to it that the workers ratify these contracts?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the way that — as we look at the terms that was agreed upon, look: Rail workers will get well-deserved pay increases. That matters. That is important. Improved working conditions. That is important. And peace of mind around their healthcare costs. All of this is hard earned.
So the agreement is — it is indeed a victory for railway companies as well, who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of American economy for decades to come.
But we have to remember what we averted here. This would have been devastating for our economy, devastating for our supply chain.
So what we saw, you know, the last few hours in this — in this — in this agreement is that, you know, we’re — we are — it is good for our economy, and it is good for the American people.
Q What did the President say when he called into the talks last night? What did he say that maybe pushed it over the finish line?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President message, it was very clear: We must get a deal done. He pushed them, once again, to recognize the harm that would hit families, farmers, businesses, and entire communities if there was a shutdown. He asked them to be creative, to be flexible, meet the other half — the others halfway as well. And he emphasized how significant the economic impacts could be.
Q Karine, Senator Baldwin had said this afternoon that the bill on same-sex marriage is going to be pushed until after the election and that she’s confident that it will pass at that point, signaling, I suppose, that they think the Republican votes will be available after the election, not before. I’m wondering whether the White House has any comment on the timing of that bill.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the American people — Democrats, Republicans alike — support marriage equality. And so we see that just across the board. We believe the Senate should fin- — should find consensus, just as the American people have.
The President has been clear that the right to marry whom you love is nonnegotiable. And he’s been steadfast in his support for marriage equality, as well as the need for this legislation, given the Supreme Court’s extreme actions, so this right is protected everywhere.
So — so, you know, as far as the mechanics of this and how we move — this moves forward in the Senate, we leave that to Congress. We leave that to the leadership in Congress.
Q And there’s — on another sort of very different topic: A couple of Republicans wrote the White House today seeking information about the student debt plan. It’s Representatives James Comer and Virginia Foxx. They’re concerned that the officials who worked on the plan themselves may benefit from it, and are seeking documentation about how many White House aides would benefit from the student debt cancellation. Do you have any response to that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So —
Q I’m pretty sure you just got the letter today.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I haven’t seen the letter, so I — certainly I’m not going to respond to something I haven’t received. But I’ll say —
Q They’re essentially saying that they wonder if something is amiss, if people who —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — I —
Q — have debt are working on the plan (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let’s be very clear here. There’s — there’s always so much noise around the student let — the student loan debt relief.
Let’s be very clear on what this is going to do: This is going to help peo- — Americans and families who are making — Americans who are making — 90 percent of them are making less than $75,000 a year. That is going to give a huge relief to so many of them who are going to now maybe be able to put money down on a — on a house, who are going to be maybe able to start a family. That’s — 90 percent is for people who make $75,000 and under. This is going to be a game changer.
And — and so that was the plan for — that the President had. This is part of his economic plan. This is part of giving people a little bit more of breathing room. And this is what the student debt relief will do.
And I’ll leave it there.
Q Does the White House think that aides who worked on it were biased in any way if they themselves had student debt (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m not going to respond to a letter I haven’t seen. What I can tell you is the facts and how this is going to give some breathing room to — just imagine — 90 percent of people who are making less than $75,000 a year. That matters, and it’s going to be a game changer.
Q Thanks, Karine. Can you just first start off by talking about the reports that Bill Richardson is in Moscow trying to engage in the discussions to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home? And does the administration support his efforts to do that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as the State Department said yesterday — they spoke to this — private citizens attempting to broker a deal do not and cannot speak for the U.S. government. We have warned private citizens not to travel to Russia, owing to — Russia — owing to the dangers that they would face and that the State Department’s Russia Travel Advisory remains at level four.
And so what we have said, and we have been very clear — and the State Department, as I just mentioned, spoke to this yesterday — is do not travel.
Q Is there any concern that he could actually complicate the talks that the administration is having or set them
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ll say this, as it relates to Bill Richardson: So we have been in contact with the Richardson Center. I’m just not going to comment on the governor’s travels or the governor’s activities. But again, we have been very clear about American citizens traveling to Russia.
Q Okay. And I want to ask you: On the topic of immigration, the Vice President said to my colleague, Chuck Todd, over the weekend, “The border is secure.” She also caveated that to say we also have a broken immigration system and talked about the need to fix that. But does the White House stand by those comments that the border is secure?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What we stand by is that we’re doing everything that we can to make sure that we follow the process that’s been put forth. That’s why we have historic funding to do just that, to make sure that — you know, to make sure that — to make sure that the folks that we encounter at the border be removed or expelled.
And again, the facts are: More individuals encountered at the border will be removed or expelled this year than in any previous year. But that’s the work that’s —
Q Is the border secure, Karine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — that we have been doing.
Q Is the border secure?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just going to refer back to the Vice President. We agree with her. She is saying that there’s a lot of work to do. Right? She also said that in that very statement. We agree that the border is secure, but there is still more work to be done.
Q But I guess, you know, the question becomes how you can make that argument when DHS has said it’s bracing for these potentially 2 million migrants to come, which would be a record, in the coming months.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, we’ll say this: Rebuilding the immigration system, especially one that was decimated under the previous administration, won’t happen overnight. We’re not going to flip a switch and get that done. That’s what I said at the beginning. We know that there’s work to be done, but we’re doing the work to make sure that — that we remove and expel folks who are coming here who are being encountered at the border.
So, as the actions I’ve listed out show — as I’ve listed out show, we’re committed to getting it done and getting it done right. We need to do it in a humane way. We need to do it in a safe way. And as we have repeatedly said, a long-term solution can only come from a comprehensive legislation that brings lasting reform to a fundamentally broken system. We understand that. And that’s why we continue to call on Congress to also act.
So we get it. It’s a — it’s a — it’s a fundamental, long-term issue. It is a broken system. But we are also doing the work. And, you know, I have to say, the work that — what we’re seeing Republicans doing, elected officials using — using migrants as a pawn is not the way to move forward on this. That’s not how we’re going to get this done.
If they want to help us, then they should help us by voting for funding that will get the Department of Homeland Security funding that they need to fix the system, or by helping pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
So just one thing I — one more thing I want to say: According to NPR, the migrants said a woman they identify as “Perla” approached them and lured them into boarding the plane, saying they would be flown to Boston where they could get expedited work papers. The migrant said she, Perla, “offered us help — help that never arrived.”
That’s not how you treat people. That is inhumane. That’s not how we should be doing things. There is a process in place. Yes, is there more work to be done? Yes, absolutely. But there is a process in place. And that’s what we should be — that’s what these governors should be doing.
Q Sure, just one question. On the President’s remarks in a little bit over an hour, some have accused Biden of sort of fomenting divisiveness in his own right by labeling folks “MAGA Republicans,” associating them with fascism. I wonder if there’s going to be any effort in the President’s speech to sort of reconcile that or to address that. And is there any concern that as he tries to draw a line of demarcation between Democrats and Republicans in ensuing weeks, that that’ll contribute to divisiveness?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the President has been very clear that — and he said this repeatedly, I’ve said this repeatedly — not all Republicans are extreme MAGA Republicans; many are not. He’s worked with mainstream Republicans on a whole range of issues, including efforts to reduce violence and promote public safety, like COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the Bipartisan Safety Community Acts, the most significant piece of legislation to reduce gun violence in nearly 30 years.
So the President is hosting this event to highlight that the vast majority of Americans, despite our myriad of differences, are united in opposition to hate-fueled violence.
So this is a core American value that is shared by people of all faiths, backgrounds, and political parties. And he’s been very clear about that.
Q Thank you. Thank you. I wanted to ask you about Pakistan. Last week, U.S. has announced that they’re giving $450 million F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment program to Pakistan, and (inaudible) January 2018 that the then-President had announced a blanket ban on all kinds of security assistance to Pakistan at that point. And this has remained so far. Has President Biden lifted that restrictions on Pakistan?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I want to be very clear about this. The proposed F-16 sustainment package for Pakistan is a proposed sale and is consistent with standard sustainment packages. So I would refer you to the State Department for more information on that particular package.
Q But what about the President’s restrictions on — in security assistance to Pakistan? Does that remain in place, or has that been lifted?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I mean, you were asking me about the F-16, so I just — I just laid that out for you.
So I’ll say this: The strategic partnership between the U.S. and India is grounded in our shared commitment to the gover- — to the advancement of free and open Indo-Pacific region, the rule of law, and the promotion of human freedom and dignity. We consult closely with India on a re- — regional developments. But I’m just not going to comment on any diplomatic discussions.
I just laid out what the pack- — the F-16 package is consistent with our standard — stan- — sustainment packages, as I just laid out. Any more on that, any more on our — on our diplomatic engagement, I would refer you to the State Department.
Q But I was not able to explain. My question was about U.S. assistance to Pakistan, security-related issues. It was not about India-U.S. relationship.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. Because you said about the F-16.
Q Yes, F-16. But this is the first time in three and a half years that U.S. has given any security assistance to Pakistan. And this was blocked in 2018 with tweet by then-President Trump. After that, U.S. has not given any security assistance to Pakistan.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q This is for the first time after that. So my question is: Has President Biden lifted that restrictions on Pakistan?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So with that specific question on security assistance, I would have to go back to the team and get back to you on that. I thought you were asking about F-16s specifically, and that’s the answer that I provided for you on that. Nothing has changed on that particular package.
But on the security assistance, I’m happy to check with the team and get back to you.
Q And secondly, on Pakistan — it’s going through a lot these days because of floods. What is U.S. assessment of the humanitarian situation there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we’ve provided a total of $53.1 million this year alone to support disaster resilience and flood response in Pakistan. Additionally, CENTCOM is airlifting 41- — 41,200 kitchen seats; 1,500 rolls of plastic sheeting; 35,000 plastic tarps; and 8,700 shelter fixing kits, helping more than 300,000 people with shelter and household needs.
And USAID has deployed a disaster assistance response team to lead the U.S. government’s continuing humanitarian response efforts in Pakistan and has deployed technical experts from CDC to assist with the public health impacts of the flood.
Again, since 2010 floods, the United States has supported preparedness, resilience, and disaster risk reduction efforts in Pakistan, improving the ability of communities to withstand and respond to disasters like this one.
I’m going to move around.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m going to — no, I’m going to move around.
Go ahead, April.
Q Karine, two topics. What teeth are we expecting from the summit today — things that are punishable, things that are not just policy but could move into a law?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So you’re asking, like, what are the deliverables essentially?
Q What are the deliverables — concrete tangible deliverables?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So a couple of things that we’ve announced already is a new agency actions to strengthen the federal government’s coordination and community engagement to prevent, respond to, and recover from hate-fueled violence. Federal agencies are also announcing new steps to strengthen the resources available to local schools, law enforcement agencies, and cultural institutions like museums and libraries to prevent and respond to hate-fueled violence.
There’s bipartisan former White House officials — they will launch Dignity.us, a citizen’s initiative to address hate-fueled violence in America, to foster dialogue to communities across the country, and identify solutions to address hate-fueled violence.
There’s — the New Pluralists, a cross-partisan group of philanthropic and field leaders, is mobilizing $1 billion in new investments to increase support for programs that build bridges among Americans to — of different backgrounds to foster unity.
And also more than 140 mayors have signed a new bipartisan Compact to — Compact to Combat Hate and Extremism, committing to stand up against hate, violence, and increase their support of local initiatives and heal divides.
And then, there’s also service organizations led by interfaith America that YMCA and Habit- — Habitat for Humanity are launching “A Nation of Bridge Builders,” a new partnership that will train 10,000 Americans to be bridge builders in their neighborhoods and will host over 1,000 bridge-building events in over 300 communities.
And one last thing. When we think about technology communities, tech companies including YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft, and Meta are announcing new actions their platforms are taking to prevent hate-fueled violence as well.
So these — this is going to be the deliverables that are going to come out of the summit.
Q So, this is about prevention. But is there an effort to work with Congress in this moment, as you’re having this summit, to bring forth new laws, worse punishments, different punishments?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything new to preview at this time that’s happening with Congress. Clearly, we believe these deliverables is — a rundown of actions that I just provided — is a first step to getting us into a place where we’re dealing with a real issue, where we’re addressing hate-fueled violence in communities that we see across the country.
Q And then the last topic. On what you call this political stunt with the asylum seekers, let’s specifically get into the locations: Martha’s Vineyard, the Naval Observatory. Can you talk to the issue of — you said Boston. It’s an island that they sent the asylum seekers to — an island that is known to be, in some instances, a Democratic haven. Former presidents, former Democratic presidents vacation there, own homes there, et cetera. Could you speak to that, as well as the Naval Observatory?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I could say, and I’ve been very clear: It is a political stunt. That’s what we’re seeing from governors — Republican governors in particular.
And it is a cruel, inhumane way of treating people who are fleeing communism, people who are — who are — and we’re not just talking about people. We’re talking about children. We’re talking about families who were promised a home, promised a job, put on a bus, and, you know, driven to a place that they do not know. And it is a cruel thing to do.
According to local reports, Governor Ron DeSantis sent a hired videographer on the plane to Massachusetts in order to capture footage of them being dropped off. Remember, there were children on this plane.
So, I cannot speak to anything outside of what we’re seeing — right? — which is — it is indeed a political — a political play. It’s cruel. It is a cruel way for elected officials — the people who have power, the people who are elected by their constituencies — to behave in this way. And — and we should call it out.
And other Republicans should call it out. Republicans should be — their colleagues should be calling out the cruel way that they are playing and what they’re doing with their cruel political games.
And again, these are — these are families that are including children.
All right. Go ahead.
Q House Democrats are currently making a push to try and include for universal school meals in the CR as a waiver for this year. Is that something that the President would support?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to speak to any — any specifics of what’s going to be in or out of the CR. What we believe is that we’ve been here before — we were here just last year — and we were able to get this done. And we believe Congress can move forward, just like we were able to do — to do this last year.
Look, we’re going to do our job. We’re going to talk to — talk to members of Congress on the Hill. We’re going to have conversations. We’re going to make it very clear how important it is to make sure the CR gets passed. But I’m not going to get into specifics of what we’re going to accept or not accept.
Q Yeah. On trains, the deal with the railroads came down to offering unpaid sick leave. Is that a good deal for the workers? And what is the President going to do to convince workers that they should vote for that contract?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So just to — just to step back for a second, this is a tentative deal, and it is actually a standard part of the ratification process.
The tentative agreement now goes back to the unions for a vote. And as part of this tentative agreement, the parties have already agreed to a post-ratification cooling-off period of several weeks to make sure that if a vote doesn’t succeed for any reason, there is not an immediate rail shutdown.
So this deal is on — is right on track. And we expect the broad support for both the labor and industry sides to continue.
I’m not going to speak to specific items of the deal. That’s for them to decide.
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. To go back to Bill Richardson and Kristen’s questions, has the President spoke to Bill Richardson around this trip to Moscow that he’s taken?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to preview. All I can tell you is that we have been in touch with the Richardson Center.
Q Okay. And you said that Russia should accept the significant offer that the administration had made for Griner and Paul Whelan, and you had said that the administration has followed up on that offer repeatedly.
What does that follow-up look like? Is Russia not responding? Or has Russia rejected that offer repeatedly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get into private negotiations at the podium just because of security reasons and we want to make sure that, you know, we’re having these conversations in private. So, I’m not going to go into specifics.
But I can say the Russians should accept our offer. We made a substantial offer. And I’ll leave it there.
Q But when you say “followed up repeatedly,” there’s clearly — it sounds like there’s a frustration that there’s something that’s not coming back from the Russians.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, the Russians should accept our offer. I’m not going to go into any specifics or any more on that.
We’ll go the front, sorry.
Q Thanks, Karine. I wanted to clarify something you said at the top. So, the administration got no advance notice that this bus was heading to the side of Massachusetts Avenue in front of the Vice President’s Residence?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I haven’t spoken to the Vice President about this to — or her team to ask specifically if they were aware of this — of this this morning or last night when it occurred. So I can’t speak to that at this time.
Q Because you mentioned at the top that you weren’t alerted, but Fox News was. So I just wanted to make sure I understood you correctly.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep. That is exactly what — what we have learned.
Q Okay. Is there anything that the administration —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I see what you’re asking me.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You’re asking me — yes. No, we were not alerted. Like, Department of Health — Health — the Department of Homeland Security was not alerted. We were not alerted of this.
I thought you were asking me specifically about the — if they — the VP’s Residence.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q No, no, no. I meant — I mean, did you get any —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No.
Q — any advance notice from the state of Florida?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no. What I — my statement stands. We were not alerted.
Q Okay. Is there anything that the administration can do to prevent the governors of Florida or Texas or any other state from sending buses of migrants to the states of their choice?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, as far as — as far — and some folks have asked us about a legal action. That’s going to go to the Department of Justice. I can’t speak to that.
What we have done is, you know, we have — the administration has been in regular touch with the cities that have to deal with this. And FEMA Regional Administrators have been meeting with city officials on site to coordinate available federal support from FEMA and other federal agencies. And so, that’s how we have dealt with this particular issue.
I think, for us — how do we stop this? We call this out. We call this out, and we call it what it is. It is a political stunt that we’re seeing from these Republican governors. That is what is happening.
And other Republicans should call this out as well. It is — it is endangering people’s lives. It is inhumane. It is taking away people’s dignity, not affording the dignity that these — that these people should be afforded.
And also, we’re talking about children. We’re talking about families and children that are being left on the side — you know, the side — the streetside of D.C. and in — and in Massachusetts. And — and it’s shameful, and we should call this out.
Q So you can highlight it, but there really aren’t any political levers to prevent it at this time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, it’s a political stunt that Republican governors are using. And — and, you know, the question is: Will Republican — Republicans call out their colleagues for playing political — a cruel political game, a cruel political stunt with migrants and families and children who are fleeing communism. That is what they’re fleeing; they’re fleeing communism.
So, okay, let’s see whether Republicans will call this out as well.
Go ahead, Jon.
Q Thank you, Karine. Today, for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin met with Xi Jinping of China. He — Putin did say that he understood that China had some, quote, “questions and concerns” about the invasion that said he would address them to Xi. Xi also declared Putin was a, quote, “old friend.” So does the White House have any early reaction to the — this meeting between these two leaders?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we’ve made clear our concerns about the depth of China’s alignment with and ties with Russia, even as Russia prosecutes a war of aggression in Ukraine, a brutal war, a unprovoked war that the Kremlin started in Ukraine.
This meeting is an example of that alignment. I’m not going to go beyond — beyond those comments.
Q Thank, Karine. Do you think that Americans believe that the border is secure?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you is the record and the process that we have been using to make sure that we do our best to secure the border, we do our best to make sure that we fix a broken system that was left behind by the last administration.
And that’s what we’re — we’re going to continue to do. We understand it’s not like flipping a light switch. This does not happen overnight. This is an immigration system that is fundamentally broken, and it’s going to take some time.
But we also need Congress to take action. We need Congress to act and to work with us on fixing this immigration system.
And what we’re seeing from Republican governors is not the way to do it. It is, again — and I’ll keep saying it — it is inhumane. It is cruel what they’re doing to children and to families.
And if they want to work with us on securing the border, on fixing the immigration system, we’re happy to do that.
Q Isn’t there some risk, though, that voters might feel like they’re being lied to? When you — we’re seeing images of — you know, in El Paso, they’ve released a thousand migrants on the street because the processing centers are overwhelmed there.
You know, how is that humane? How is that safe, as you guys talk about so often, when it’s overwhelming border cities? And they’re asking the — the Biden administration to reimburse them for charter buses to get them out of the area, because they’re — they’re totally overwhelmed.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, it is a broke- — a broken system, the immigration system. And it was — it was decimated by the last administration. That is a fact; it was decimated by the last administration.
What the last administration wanted was a border wall that was ineffective and used — a use of taxpayers’ dollars. And — and that’s what we saw from the last administration.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But just recently, CBP reported that that new wall along the southwest border was breached over 3,000 times — that new wall. And between fiscal year of 2019 and 2021, it’s required $22.6 million in repairs. That’s what we’re trying to deal with with a decimated system that was certainly not helped by the last administration.
Look, we understand. I’m not saying that there’s not more work to do. We are saying there’s more work to do. We are saying that the system is broken. But we are saying that as well, we have — we have done — we have done a lot of work here to fix this system.
And again, more individuals encountered at the border will be removed or expelled this year than in any previous year. That is — those are the facts.
Q Do you have a message for the migrants though who are saying that the border is open? I mean, today we talked to a few who arrived in D.C. They said that the border is open. “We know it’s open because we come, we enter, no problem.” We haven’t heard a message from the administration in a few months telling people not to come. We’ve heard you guys talking about trying to make it a more orderly process, but you’re not telling people not to come.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the Department of Homeland Security — Secretary Mayorkas has been very clear. He was on TV recently talking about this, talking about the work that they do. And so, I will leave it to the Department of Homeland Security to speak to that, specifically.
But, again, this is a broken system. And we are — we want to see Congress act. We want to see bipartisanship to fix the immigration system.
We are fixing — trying to fix a system that was decimated by the last administration.
And, again, we are calling for Congress to take action.
Q And one other question on inflation. The President dismissed the inflation report and the stock market selloff on his way out of town yesterday. And then he said that test driving an electric car that cost more than double the average American’s yearly salary made him feel optimistic. Is there — do you have a response to critics who say that this administration is “out of touch”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But can you say that one more time? The President dismissed —
Q He dismissed the inflation report. He said he wasn’t worried about it. We’re talking about one tenth of one percentage.
And then he said he wasn’t concerned about the stock market selloff, because he said the stock market doesn’t represent the broader economy.
And then he went to Detroit and test drove a vehicle, an electric car, that’s just out of price range for the average American.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me — so, I get your question now. So the President’s number-one priority — economic priority has been lowering costs for the American people. You think about the Inflation Reduction Act, which was only passed by Democrats; Republicans refused to — to get on board and pass it in a bipartisan way. It lowered costs for — for Medicare recipients — capped — capped that at $2,000, a year when our seniors are paying $2,000 or more a month.
And then you have Republicans as well who want to put Social Security and they want to put Medicare on the chopping blocks.
So that is the work that we are doing as Democrats. We’re trying to do everything that we can to lower costs. We’re trying to do everything that we can to make sure that, you know, families keep their Social Security, unlike Republicans; and families have Medicare, unlike what Republicans want to do, which is take that away.
Look, the question that the President was asked about the day before yesterday, which shows more progress — that data — the CPI data, which is what he was — he was speaking to — shows more progress in bringing global inflation down in the U.S. economy. Overall, prices have been essentially flat in our country these last two months. That is welcome news for American families.
But no doubt — no doubt, we have more work to do, and we understand that. And so, we are seeing some encouraging signs, including in — inventory is up, used vehicle price is down, and a cooling housing market, which is important.
It will take more time and resolve to bring inflation down, which is why, again, we passed the Inflation Reduction Act –“we,” meaning Democrats, not Republicans — to lower costs of healthcare, to lower costs of prescription drugs, to lower cost of energy.
And, you know, the President’s economic plan is creating good jobs and bringing manufacturing back to America. We’ve seen more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs return to the U.S. in the — in the last 19 months of this administration.
I’m going to move on.
Okay, go ahead.
Q Yeah, you took — you mentioned that you — on immigration — that you would like to see, you know, Congress act. Has the White House at all engaged with, you know, lawmakers on Capitol Hill on this? Has there been any sort of updated timeline on, kind of, what you want to see any action on this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we would like to see an action as soon as possible.
So, the President proposed a comprehensive immigration reform package on his first day in office, and he continues to call on Congress, as you just heard me say, to get — to get this to his desk for him to sign.
So, again, congressional Republicans should stop blocking bills to build a set — safe, orderly, humane immigration system. It is not — there’s not a — there is not action from them to actually deal with this issue that we’re seeing with the immigration system.
So, the team here at the White House is in regular touch with Congress, as you’re asking me, on a number of priorities, including immigration reform, and we will continue to, again, urge Congress to get that bill to his desk.
Q And another question. Reuters is reporting that, you know, the Biden administration is kind of asking Mexico to accept more migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela under Title 42. Is this something that, you know, the administration is asking for? You know, are there concerns that if there’s an increase of, you know, individuals coming from those countries?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’ll say this: Any diplomatic negotiations or conversations, I would refer you to the State Department on that specific question.
But, more broadly, on the matter of Title 42, our views have been very clear. Title 42 is a public health authority. It is not an immigration authority, and that authority rests with the CDC.
As you’ve heard us say many times, a court order — a court ordered us to continue enforcing the CDC’s Title 42 authority, and we will continue to comply with the court orders for as long as it remains in effect.
But anything with negotiations with any of the countries, I would refer you to the State Department.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay, I’m going to take — let me take two more.
Let me try —
Q Can we go to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m trying to call on folks —
(Cross-talk by reporters.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q Can I do a quick follow-up on the upcoming summit, please?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Simon.
Q Okay, thank — thank you. You said at the top that during their bilateral meeting tomorrow with President Ramaphosa of South Africa, you’d discuss climate crisis, investments, and other global issues. Will that include the Russia war in Ukraine? We know that
Russia [South Africa] was one of the African countries that didn’t go — that refused to be dragged into the proxy war between the U.S. and Russia.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any more specific to what I just laid out about the issues that they would be talking about. We will certainly share more in our readout, as we normally do when there’s a bilat. But I don’t have more to share outside of that.
Q And — and is the President aware that every time he received an African head of state, African journalists who covered the White House are not allowed? Like I’m not allowed to be there tomorrow. Is that something that sit — sits well with you? Are you okay with it — to have an African journ- — an African president being received by President Biden, and the Africans who cover the White House are not allowed —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me — let me —
Q — to even be there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me check into that because that is — that is a serious claim. And we take those claims very seriously, obviously. And so let me check into that. That is not something that I’m aware of.
Q So, my question actually is: Who makes the decision? Who tells the White House not to allow us when we — we send some —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you’re saying — again, I need to check in on — on what you’re stating here. That is a serious statement that you’re making. So, before I go any further, I need to just check in on that. I’m happy — I’m always happy to talk to anyone after the briefing in my office or make — make a — you know, schedule an appointment to have this conversation.
But again, what you’re saying is a — is a, you know, a strong accusation, if you will. And I just need to check in on that before —
Q Yeah. How do you —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — before — before I move further. I need to check in on that before I moved forward.
Q Yeah. I will not be allowed to be there tomorrow, so it a thing that’s been established. And that was the same thing that happened when Psaki was here with the President of Kenya. And — and you understand the frustration of people like me who cover the White House? And —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Simon, I understand. I wholeheartedly understand your frustration. But before I can speak to this, I need to actually check in on it so that I can give you a fulsome answer.
So, let me check in on this, and we can talk about it.
All right. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. If I can please, quickly, the update on the upcoming summit. But, first, I’d like to extend to you a happy Hispanic Heritage Month as the son of a Latino immigrant. So —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, thank you.
Q My question is very straightforward. You just mentioned recently about the work that Republicans have done together with the President in combating hate. And my question is if you could share with us some of the prominent Republicans who are — plan to be participating in this upcoming summit.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, if you see the agenda, you’ll see we have bipartisan group of folks participating today. We — again, we really believe that the vast majority of Americans — including Republicans, including Democrats, including independents — are united against hate-fueled violence.
This is a core American value that is shared by people of all faiths and backgrounds and political parties. So this event is featuring people of diverse backgrounds, ideologies, as well as a bipartisan group of elected officials and leaders who share the view that we all have a role to play in bridging the divides in our communities and working to eradicate the hate-fueled violence that tears apart communities and hurts our democracy.
Again, if you take a look at the agenda, you will see the bipartisanship there.
I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Thank you, everybody.
2:57 P.M. EDT