James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:45 P.M. EST  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hi.  Good afternoon, everybody.  Apologies for the briefing starting late today.

I want to start by saying: Happy Women’s History Month — a time when we celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity in our nation.  And we reaffirm our commitment to continue advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls in the United States and around the world.

The President is honoring this commitment with action.  He signed into law historic legislation to advance gender equity over the last year, including to support women in the workplace, such as the Pregnant Workers Family — Fairness Act — pardon me; the Speak Out Act; and the Pump for Nursing Mothers Act, as well.  And to ensure all people can live free from violence through the strengthening and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The President is also proud of having the most diverse group of women at the highest levels of government in U.S. history, including the first woman Vice President and the first gender-equal Cabinet.

This Women’s History Month, we remain committed to continuing this important work in service of advancing the full participation of women, a foun- — foundational tenet of our democracy.

And I wanted to lift up some really good news that all of you saw this morning and you also heard from the President as well speak to this, which is the lowering health cost for American people that we heard today. 

So, as you know, for far too long, American families have been crushed by drug cost many times higher than the cost to make them and what people in our — in other countries are charged for for that same very — that same prescription.

Insulin costs less than $10 to make, but Americans are sometimes forced to pay over $300 for it as well.  As the President said this morning, it’s flat wrong.  That’s why the President fought tooth and nail to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps the price of insulin for Americans on Medicare.

This was a critical action to lower healthcare costs for American people.  But the President has been clear that the insulin cap should apply to all Americans.  And that was something that we saw congressional Republicans blocked at that time.

In this — in his State of the Union address, he also called on pharma companies to continue this progress and bring prices down for everyone on their own. 

Today, Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the United States, heeded that call and announced that they are lowering their prices, capping what patients pay out of the pocket — out of pocket for drugmakers’ insulin products at $30 — at $35.

This is great news and important progress toward lowering costs for all Americans.  Unfortunately, congressional Republicans are making — are among the few left that believe insulin costs should be sky high.  In fact, they are fighting to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which would increase healthcare costs for American people and increase the deficit as well.

And finally, last night, House Republicans voted to overturn the Department of Labor’s rule that investors make their own investment decisions free of government interference.  The Senate will vote on the measure today. 

Republicans talk about their love of free markets, small government, and letting the private sector do its work.  The Republican bill is opposite of that.  It forces MAGA Republicans’ ideology down the throats of private sector and handcuffing investors as well.  The bill would bar fiduciaries from considering significant risks like extreme climate threats and poor coop- — coop- — corporate governance when they make investment decisions.

It would give investment professionals less flexibility to make prudent decisions, meaning they won’t be free to maximize the retirement savings for millions of Americans.  That would jeopardize the retirement and life savings for police officers, firefighters, teachers, and tens of millions of retirees all across the country.

This is unacceptable to the President, and that is why he will veto this bill if it does come to his desk.

President Biden is focused on protecting workers’ hard-earned life savings and pensions.  And that is — that is what he’s going to continue to do.  You’ve heard him say that many times. 

And with that, Aamer, you want to kick us off?

Q    Yeah.  Thank you.  So, Chicago had their mayoral — or first round of their mayoral elections yesterday.  And it’s the latest big American city where frustrations about crime was a central issue of the cycle.  Does President Biden — does he feel that this administration and, I guess, Washington writ large is putting enough attention on dealing with the issue of crime, particularly in areas — big urban areas like Chicago?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me just first speak to the mayor’s race.  Look, the President is committed to working with who — whoever — whomever the — you know, the people in Chicago or the people on the ground, whichever — if it’s a city or a state — whomever they choose to represent them.  So, that is — is the case and will continue to be the case. 

And so I’m going to withhold commenting on any specific race, but I know you’re asking about crime specifically.  Look, the President put forth, as you know, a comprehensive Safer Communities plan.  And he put that forth after inheriting a rise of crime.  That is something that he has been focused on since the beginning of his administration.

Let’s not forget, in that plan, he calls for more than 100,000 police officers to go into the community, to work with communities, and make sure that communities feel safe, families feel safe.  And that’s what the President has put forward.

And you’ll see — when you see his commitment to crime — you’ll see that in his — in his budget next week.  As you know, we’re going to release that March 9th.  And it will reflect his commitment, as well, as we’re trying to continue to fight crime, which is — the President has been leading at from the beginning of his administration.

But what we have seen is that, for years — for years, congressional Republicans have been doing the opposite.  When you think about the COPS program, which is something that the President put forward, they have wanted to defund that, to take that away. 

And if you think about that, that leads to defunding the police.  Just recently, they called on defunding the FBI.  And you think about the border security funding; they want to take that away as well.

So the President has been committed.  And one more thing I would add: Let’s not forget the banning assault weapons.  That is a key part of this — when we think about crime, when we think about gun crime — that we believe will help alleviate the crime that we’re seeing, keep families safe, keep communities safe across the country.

So, the President has walked the talk.  The President has been very consistent on making sure that communities feel safe and fighting crime.  And he’ll continue to do that.

Q    Okay.  So just one on a different topic.  If TikTok isn’t safe for federal government workers’ devices, does the President believe it’s safe for Americans’ children’s smartphones?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m glad that you asked about that because, look, we have been clear about our concerns about TikTok, apps like TikTok — and, certainly, our concerns with countries, including China, as they seek to leverage digital technologies and Americans’ — and Americans’ data in ways that can present harm and — and risk to our national security, clearly.

There was — to your point about families, there was a piece of data, of CDC data, that just found recently that nearly 60 percent of teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, and — and 30 percent seriously considered suicide.

So, this is something that the President has taken action on.  If you look at the executive — executive — using his executive branch authorities.  When you think about his Unity Agenda, a couple of things that he was able to do was stop collecting — stop collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data companies collect on all of us.

And so, this is what the President calls on for Congress to pass in a bipartisan way — you know, privacy legislation to hold bi- — big tech accountable.

And so, the President is going to continue to take actions.  But we see that.  We see that in the data how this has affected young people, especially during this pandemic in the last couple of years.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  To follow on that, does the President believe TikTok is a threat to national security?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we have said that we have concerns.  We have concerns about the app.  And that’s why we have called on Congress to act and — including — and I mentioned earlier, just moments ago — including what China — how China is trying to collect the privacy of Americans in a way that it would have — it would — can present national security risks.

So, yes, we have concerns about that.  And — and, look, we’re going to continue to — again, to call on Congress.  I just laid out the President’s Unity Agenda and what he’s looking to do and the actions that he wants to take from the executive branch, his authority.  And so we’re going to continue to call that out.

Q    But does that — do the actions include a ban on all devices in the U.S.?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, what I would — what I would say is this: The White House does not use TikTok.  And — but we do believe — we do believe that — that, you know, Congress took action.  And so, therefore, clearly, we’re — they took action and put this into law.  And clearly, we’re taking — taking those steps as it — as it relates to the federal government.

Outside of that, we know that CFIUS has an ongoing investigation or ongoing — looking at this — looking at this situation.  So I’m not going to go beyond what CFIUS is doing. 

Q    I guess what I’m trying to understand is: You know, has the President not issued a federal ban on TikTok on all devices because he does not think it’s a threat to national security or because he does not have a legal mechanism to do so?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to get into the specifics on what he has legally to do so or to not do so.  What I’m saying — and we’ve been very clear that TikTok, you know, poses a problem and an issue.  And so, we have concerns about that as it relates to Americans’ data — collecting Americans’ data and the potential national security risk.  And we’ve been very, very clear on that.

Again, CFIUS has an ongoing process that they’re going — they’re working through, so I’m going to let that speak for itself, what they come up with. 

Q    And then just one more on the — the intelligence assessment on the Havana Syndrome.  The community does not believe it was a foreign adversary that is to blame for these cases, but rather things such as pre-existing conditions, conventional illnesses, environmental factors.  Can you elaborate on what that might mean and what else you’re doing to try to pinpoint exactly what caused it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, so a couple of things.  So, look, nothing is more important to this admin- — administration, to this President than the health and the wellbeing of our workforce.  So that is a priority for this President. 

With bipartisan support with Congress, we have focused on ensuring that our colleagues and their families who report anomalous health incidents receive the support and access — care that they need.  And so that has also — that medical treatment, the medical care that they need has been incredibly important.

So we also asked the — the U.S. intelligence company [community] to surge resources to help advance our understanding of the AHI reports to date and examine all possibil- — all possible explanations.  We have committed to be transparent with the workforce because we believe that’s what they deserve and with the American people as well. 

But what the IC has learned — and we would refer you to, clearly, ODNI — as it relates to the assessment and what the specifics of that assess- — assessment and the key judgments that the IC released, that’s something that we clearly would recommend to them. 

But it is important to note that what the Director of the National Intelligence said and underscored today is that today’s IC assessment does not call into action the very real experiences and symptoms.  Like, we acknowledge that, and we understand that people are truly — truly went through — went through an ordeal.  And so, you know — and that’s something that, clearly, our colleag- — our colleagues and their families had to deal with. 

So, our commitment and the President’s commitment to the health and safety of U.S. government personnel remains unwavering.  And this is why the departments and agency will continue to provide timely care on the medi- — as we look at the medical care and make sure that — that the reports are thorough, support research efforts, and process HAVANA Act payments as requested.

So, again, when it — as it relates to the specific — any specific questions to their assessment, I would refer you to ODNI. 

But this doesn’t change the commitment that the President has in making sure that, you know, these families, our colleagues in the workforce get the help and the assistance that they need.  And we’re — they’re going to continue to — to work through that.

Q    Thank you.  And just to follow up on that, is the President satisfied with that report, with that assessment on the Havana Syndrome?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’ll say this: You know, what’s important to the President is that we take this very seriously, as the intelligence community has.

And you saw the assessment.  They laid it out pretty — pretty clearly from ODNI.  What we are committed to is making sure that — that our workforce and their families get the assistance that they need through this — the medical care.  And, look, the work is ongoing.  It continues.

Q    So the — that extra, special financial support that came from the HAVANA Act that the President signed, the White House still believes that the people who are suffering from these symptoms, even with this assessment now, that those people should still get that extra financial support?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Absolutely. 

Q    That’s the position of the White House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, absolutely. 

But I do want to send a message to the American people: Look, it is — it is important, again, for the health and wellness of the — of our workforce to be a priority. 

And that’s what you — you saw from the intelligence community assessment.  And — and it — look, and even from the assessment, that doesn’t alter that.  It doesn’t alter our commitment, the President’s commitment to their health and safety.  And so that’s what I would say.

There is a commitment there to make sure that we make sure that there is a safe workforce for folks who are working for the U.S. government and who are clearly employees.

Q    If I can just — on one topic that you had brought up: the Eli Lilly news.  Did the President make a personal appeal directly to any company executives ahead of this announcement to lower the cost of insulin?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’ll say this: I mean, the President has the biggest bu- — bully pulpit, right?

Q    Yeah, beyond what we heard from him, of course, in the State of the Union.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I mean, I think that’s pretty important, right?  I think when people ask what is the President doing using the bully pulpit, as he did at the State of the Union, and calling out or laying out how we can help the American people is critical.  It’s important here. 

And we saw that, right?  We saw that.  He talked — he spoke to insulin and how costs need to go down.  And here we see Eli Lilly taking action. 

And so, look, this is something that he’s going to do.  Using the bully pulpit as the President of the United States is an incredibly powerful tool, and the President uses that in a very important way not just to talk to the American people and lay out his platform, lay out how he’s working every day to make sure — in this case, lowering costs for Americans, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s energy — and making sure that we continue to deliver, but it’s also speaking directly to companies out there like Eli Lilly and saying, “Hey, you know, we need — you all need to change how you move forward, especially on something like insulin that affects so many families across the country.”

Q    But one-on-one conversations with anybody —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I don’t have — I —

Q    — or other companies?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a — any conversations to preview.  But I think it is important to really speak to the importance of the bully pulpit, as the — and the way that the President uses that in a way that’s effective and in a way that communicates what the American people need. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  China is going through its party Congress process right now, and they’re expected to implement the biggest government reshuffle in a decade over there.

Do you — what will U.S. engagement with the Chinese look like once this process is over?  Do you have a comment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the approach — the approach that we have to China hasn’t changed, right?  We’ve — you’ve heard us say, “We seek competition, not conflict.”  You’ve heard us say that it needs to be practical.  That’s the way we approach it: calm with — and resolute.  And that is not going to change.

And the President will always do what is required to defend our interests, the American people’s interests.  Still believes it is important to keep the lines of communication open. 

As you all know, Secretary Blinken very recently, when he was in Munich, had a — had a meeting, a conversation with Wang Yi, his counterpart in China.  And so, again, keeping those lines of communications open. 

So, as you mentioned, they’re going through the annual parliament to put in place its government representative.  We maintain working-level lines of communication as they go through this process.  And after that’s done, as we have said, we are prepared to have high-level engagement with China from — from the President on down. 

I don’t have anything to preview.  I know many of you have asked me about if there’s a conversation with the President and President Xi.  There — I don’t have anything to read out for you at that — at this time.

Q    Xi is expected to further tighten his grip on China after this process is over.  Is that — how is the administration viewing that?  How is the administration planning to engage with him?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’m not going to get into what — how the process of their annual parliament.  I’m going to let them — you know, that’s something political.  We don’t really respond to that.

They’re going to go through their process.  Once that is over, we’re going to continue having an open channel conversation. 

As I mentioned, Secretary Blinken had a conversation with his counterpart, Wang Yi, very recently in Munich when they all — when they all gathered there for the summit. 

And so, we’re going to keep — continue to have those line of communication. 

Look, as I said just moments ago, it’s going to be resolute, it’s going to be practical, and it’s going to be calm.  And we have been very, very clear: Nothing will change on how — on our approach with handling — with dealing and our — our relationship with China in this — in this past two years. 

Q    And I had one on another topic.  The Ron DeSantis opportunity-ed in the Journal yesterday, where he talked about signing a law that ended Disney’s self-governing status in Florida that essentially provided the company with a favorable tax structure; they were able to get away without paying taxes around regional infrastructure developments.

How does the White House that has been cracking down on corporate tax evasion view this move by DeSantis?  I mean, is there — is there any line of thinking that perhaps supports what has just happened in Florida with Disney?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m going to be very frank with you, Nandita.  I have not read the op-ed, and I — frankly, I don’t plan to.

Look, the President has been very clear here.  He’s going to deliver for the American people. 

I talked about lowering costs.  We just talked about Eli Lilly and their great announcement or — of capping $35 for insulin, which is going to be so important to families across the country.

We just talked about — I was just asked about crime and the work that the President has done over the last two years to fight crime in communities, something — something that he inherited, when you think about the rise of crime in the last couple of years. 

And so, we’re not going to play political games.  That’s not something that we do here.  We’re going to continue to stay very focused — laser-focused on delivering for the American people. 

And I’m not going to read that op-ed.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  There’s a bipartisan rail safety bill that was introduced or proposed today in the Senate.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed the broad outlines of the proposal.  Has the White House seen it?  Does the White House support it in the wake of the East Palestine disaster?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we’re glad to see bipartisan support.  This is something that — you know, that Secretary Pete has been calling for.  And this is, clearly, to bring forth several rail safety measures, which is incredibly important.

So, you know, the bill would increase the maximum fines for safety violations.  It would strengthen rules governing trains carrying hazardous materials.  It will accel- — accelerate the timeline for phasing in safer tank cars and establishing a permanent requirement for two-person train cars.  So, this is a good first step, and we welcome it.

We encourage Republicans and Democrats to continue to work together to enva- — advance these commonsense rail safety measures.  And it’s an im- — again, an important first step, and we welcome it.

Q    Is there anything, just on the executive branch side, that you guys are considering or weighing in terms of assistance to East Palestine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as far — you’re talking about economic — more economic assistance?  Look, we — you’ve heard from Secretary Buttigieg, you’ve heard from the EPA Administrator speak to how we’re going to hold Norfolk Suffolk [Southern] accountable here to make sure that they pay and they pay for the mess that they created on the ground in the community of East Palestine.

This is something that we are incredibly focused on and serious about.  You’ve even heard the EPA Administrator say that if they don’t, they will — they will have to pay this three times over. 

And so, look, we’re going to keep them — keep them accountable.  And that’s going to be our focus. 

Q    And just one final one.  The President nominated Eric Garcetti roughly 600 days ago to be ambassador to India.  I think he’s supposed to have a committee approval process next week.  The vote, I think, is still kind of up in the air. 

Does the administration believe that he will be confirmed? And do you feel like this is a make-or-break moment for a long process?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  As you know, Phil — you know, Eric Garcetti was voted out in a bipartisan way — out of committee.  And so, clearly, he has had bipartisan support, which is very important in this process. 

And we encourage and look forward to the Senate — the Senate, you know, moving forward with his nomination on the floor. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I just wanted to circle back to crime.  As soon as next week, Congress could end up overturning a new sentencing law in D.C. that reduces penalties for some violent crimes, among other measures.  Is the President prepared to issue a veto if that vote passes and it crosses his desk?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I know we’ve been asked this question before. 

Q    Yeah, but given that Manchin has signaled support, I thought (inaudible) update.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President takes this very seriously when it comes to crime.  I’m not going to get ahead of — of what — of what the — you know, of what the decision is going to be or of what it’s going to ultimately look like.  Don’t want to get too much into hypotheticals. 

But what I can state clearly, and I’ve said this before: The President is very committed to make sure that our communities are safer, that families feel safer.  That’s why he put forth a plan very early on, making sure that we put more police in — in communities, that work with communities so that they feel safer. 

That’s — and you’ll see that as it — as it relates to funding, you’ll see that in his budget next month. 

I’m not going to get into too much of hypotheticals from here.  But the President, I believe, in the last two years and throughout his career has shown his dedication in making sure that we keep communities safe. 

Q    Okay.  And just a second one.  Since it’s March 1st, do you have any information about the President’s planned trip to Ottawa this month?  It’s been reported that he’s going to be visiting Trudeau.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything to share.  Nothing to preview at this time. 

Q    Okay. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    I wanted to ask you about the student loan arguments that were before the Supreme Court yesterday, and many justices seem to take issue with — with the program.  And I wonder if the administration has a message to those who have had loans already forgiven and are kind of in limbo right now. 

And given the skepticism from a lot of the justices, are there any plans from the administration in the event that you don’t have the authority or the authority is struck down?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple of things.  We, you know — the plan that we put forward in August is the plan that we have — right? — which is a — which is also a plan that you heard the Solicitor General really defend in a — in a very strong and powerful way yesterday.  And that’s our plan.

And we believe in our legal authority to get that done, to get it implemented.  And let’s not forget, it is a good plan.  It is a plan that’s going to give American families — middle-class families who truly need it, individuals who truly need it — up to $20,000 in relief; to give that, again, a little bit of breathing room for, again, working families and middle-class Americans.

You heard — I don’t know if you saw this, but Secretary — Secretary of Education sent out an email to borrowers yesterday, and basically saying that we have their back.  And I think that’s also very important.  That’s the message that we sent to borrowers who need this opportunity right now as we’re coming out of this pandemic, going through this pandemic — a little bit, again, of breathing room. 

Q    I guess my question is: If that plan is deemed unconstitutional, is there a backup plan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I just said, that’s our plan.  This is our — our focus right now is getting this done. 

It is — you saw — again, you saw the Solicitor General really give a strong argument yesterday in front of the highest court in the land.  There’s a reason why we took it to the Supreme Court: because we believe that we have legal authority. 

And let’s not forget who this helps.  It helps teachers.  It helps firefighters, nurses, police officers.  That is who we’re talking about and giving that extra little time and extra breathing room to make sure that they can either start a family or buy a house.

And let’s not forget: When that happens, when that occurs, it actually puts money back into the community and helps the economy more broadly. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Follow-up on —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh — (laughs) — go ahead. 

Q    Is it me?  Or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, it’s okay. 

Q    Okay.  Thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You’ve got the floor, my friend.

Q    A follow-up on Mayor Garcetti’s nomination.  It looks like he doesn’t has the bipartisan support, as this week, Florida Senator Marco Rubio placed a hold on his nomination, along with six other senior diplomatic position, including Rich Verma, Geeta — Geeta Rao. 

What do you have to say on that?  Is the President calling these senators — some of the senators to get these nominations through the Senate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, it’s basically what I just said.  We think that Eric Garcetti is — you know, is qualified to serve this vital role.  That’s why the President nominated him, right?  The President nominated him because he thought he had the experience to be the U.S. ambassador to India.

And as I mentioned moments ago to one of your colleagues, he received bipartisan support going out of committee.  And we — we would like to see the — you know, the Senate to move him forward and to continue getting that support. 

Q    One more.  Secretary Blinken landed in Delhi today to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting — attend (inaudible) — Foreign Ministers Meeting and his bilateral with his Indian counterpart.  Is he carrying any message from the President for the Prime Minister and (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  On his visit, Secretary Blinken will reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-India relationship and express our commitment to continue working together and in groups like the Quad to advance economic growth for our two countries and expand cooperation as we have our shared priorities. 

So, that’s what you’re going to hear from Secretary Blinken.  That is the message that he will deliver. 

Q    Thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Just following up on the HAVANA Act, which technically stands for the “Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks” Act.  The predicate, obviously, of that law the President signed is that these are attacks.  And now the intelligence community is saying that the — seven agencies are saying that it was either “unlikely” or “very unlikely” that that’s the case. 

So, understanding your position that obviously the administration wants to ensure that personnel across the government gets care — but that’s not what this law outlines.  This law outlines care for those who have been a subject of attacks.  Is that a concern of yours?  And how do you plan to address that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I think what the President wants to make sure that occurs, that happens is that we show our commitment to — to government employees, to the workforce, as they’re going through a real issue here.  This is a real problem that they have all experienced. 

And so, we want to make sure that they continue the medical care that they’re getting, that they get the resources that is needed as they’re working for the U.S. government.  That doesn’t take that away. 

And — and so, that is a message that we’re going to send to the workforce, the U.S. government federal workforce, and also the families who are going through this, the individuals who are going through this right now. 

And I think that’s an important message for the President to send.  They had a real experience that they all went through, that they reported, that, clearly, the intelligence community looked into to see exactly what it was.  They have a conclusion; they came up with an assessment.  I would leave it to them to speak directly to that. 

But it doesn’t — it doesn’t take away what they went through.  And so, the President is committed to that.  And I think that’s the message that we want to make sure that goes forward. 

Q    And just quickly following up on that: Now that this assessment is in, does the President feel, does the White House feel as if this is a settled matter?  Or does he have more (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — honestly, I would refer you to the ODNI on their specific assessment and where they are and what they concluded.  I’m not going to speak from — to that from here.

I just — what I want to reiterate again is that we want to make sure that the workforce, our federal workforce, understand that their health and safety is indeed our priority.

Go ahead, Jen.

Q    Yeah.  On the Federal Reserve search — the search for the Vice Chair — can you say, is the President looking for a more dovish counterbalance to Jay Powell, which is what some progressives would prefer?  Or is that not a factor in this search?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, this is a priority.  Making sure that we fill this vacancy is a priority to this President.  I’m not going to get into specifics on what the President’s process is, but I would tell you that he — he thinks it’s important to get that vacancy filled, and he’s going to clearly continue to make that a priority.  And we hope to have something to share in the near future.

Go ahead.

Q    FISA 702 reauthorization.  What’s the White House’s position on reforms to 702 in this round?  Would you be open to reforms?  Or is the White House insisting that the section be reauthorized without any changes?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything new to — to share on that particular piece.

Q    Okay.  If I could go back to the question about the D.C. Council action and the likelihood that the Senate will send the President a bill that forces him to make a decision.  Is it fair to say the President is at this moment undecided?  Has he not yet decided what he’s going to do?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.  I just — what I can say to you is the President’s commitment just more broadly, as it relates to crime, as it relates to making sure that Americans and families feel safe, and what he’s done in the past two years but also beyond.

And so, that’s what I can speak to at this time.  Just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.

Q    Okay.  So let me ask you it this way:  There –basically there are two ways to look at the question.  One is to side with the mayor, who said that the Council’s action went too far and she vetoed it.  The other is to side with members of the Council who insisted on enacting it against her objections.  But has the President decided where he stands?  Does he stand with Mayor Bowser?  Does he stand with mayors — members of the Council?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, what I can say — so as it relates to D.C., I’ll say this and the President has been very clear about this: You know, we think that we must do more to — to reduce crime and save lives.  And that’s why the President has taken those actions.

As it relates to more — D.C. more broadly, and the President has said this as well, it’s a clear example of why D.C. deserves statehood.  Right?  And that’s something that the President has called for since the campaign.

But again, I’m not going to get into — into particulars, into hypotheticals. 

The Safer America Plan was something that the President has put forward to lay out how he sees making communities safer, how he sees dealing with an increase of crime that happened — that he inherited, that happened before he walked into office.

So I’ll just leave it there, and I won’t speak further to any hypotheticals.

I’ll go to the back, and then I’ll come back down.

Go ahead.

Q    Yeah.  Thanks, Karine.  So I want to ask you about the Labor Secretary pick, Julie Su.  While she was labor secretary of California, the — during COVID — the state lost between $20 billion and $32 billion in unemployment insurance to fraudsters.  Meanwhile, 5 million people had benefits delayed and a million people had them wrongfully canceled.  Is the President concerned that this will impact her getting confirmed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple of things, because there’s — we got to put this all in context of what was happening at the time.

It was a historic crush of unemployment claims at the onset of the pandemic.  That’s what we were seeing.  The design of the initial pandemic unemployment systems and years of national investments in UI modernization led to challenges — right? — including fraud attacks, as you were just stating, across the nation in red and blue states alike.  That was happening across the country during the very early stages of the pandemic.

But under her leadership — under Julie’s leadership, California took important steps to process a number of claims — we’re talking about one in five, which is in the entire nation — that’s what California was dealing with — to ensure that working people who were — who were out of work, and this was not their fault, could continue to pay their rent, could continue to put food on the table, continue to put the — keep the lights on.

So, look, she believes in safety nets and — need to be strengthened.  That is something that she indeed believes in. 

And — and I’ll add — I’ll add this as well.  When the President took office, he — he prioritized combating potential frauds of relief funds, just as he did aggressively and successfully as the Vice President.

So this is an issue that’s important to her, strengthening those safety nets, and also an issue that’s important to the President that he’s actually taken action on.

Q    So, does he think she can be confirmed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, absolutely.  Yes.  He thinks that the Senate should confirm her and she is the right person for the job and has the experience to do the job. 

And let’s not forget: She has spent the last two years working hand in hand, you know, with — with Secretary Walsh.

Q    You talked about TikTok earlier.  I’m just curious now, why did the administration then wait so long to ban TikTok in all federal employees?  Twenty-nine states have already done it.  And the President, his first month in office, canceled an investigation by the Commerce Department into TikTok.  So why did he wait so long?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’m not going to speak to any investigation.  Look, the process is happening now.  That’s what we’re seeing.  What I can say is that the President has very — been very clear about his concern with apps like TikTok.  And I just laid out the CDC reporting and how it’s affecting our children, and the importance of making sure that we deal with this in a real way, which is why he put forth his Unity Agenda and laying out ways that we can deal with an issue that is affecting the emotional growth and — and also — of our children.

And so, look, the Unity Agenda kind of lays out how the President wants to move forward.  I’m not going to go beyond that.

Go ahead.

Q    A quick follow-up on the ESG Labor rule.  You had framed, the White House has framed this as kind of MAGA Republicans imposing their views on the free market.  The fact that two Democratic senators say they’re going to vote for this bill, does that undermine that argument?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, not at all, because this is a — this is something that Republicans have pushed forward.  This is their — this is their — this is their agenda, which is kind of in line in how they want to move forward with a very extreme ideology, the MAGA — the MAGA Republican ileo- — ideology.  And what they’re doing, again, is they’re really pushing down the throats of private sector.  That’s what we’re seeing.  This is what this piece of legislation is.

Q    And a timeline question.  Any timeline on when the President would issue this veto if we assume this bill passes today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, it depends on the mechanism of the Senate and what ultimately happens in the voting dynamics.  I can’t speak to that here, on the timeline.

Go ahead, Peter.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Why is President Biden afraid of China?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President is not afraid of China.

Q    Well —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Did you see — did you see the President last week, when we went to — when we went to — when we went to Ukraine, went to Kyiv?  This is not a President that’s afraid of anything.  It was a historic trip that many of you said was brave. 

So, clearly, this is a President that’s not afraid to go to a warzone.  He’s not afraid to go there when there’s no military presence on the ground. 

So, there’s nothing that this President fears.

Q    China flew a spy craft over the U.S.  The President didn’t really do anything to China.  And according to the FBI director, China may have created something that has killed more than 1.1 million people in this country.  And President Biden is not punishing them.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, you’re — you’re giving me two — two things here.  So let’s take them in parts.

As we talk about the Chinese surveillance — the China surveillance balloon, the President did take that down.  And he did it in a way that, as it was on its path, we collected information from it; we protected our national security information on the ground; and we did it in a way that was smart, effective, and also protected the American people.  That’s what the President is always going to put forth, is the — is the safety of the American people.  So that’s what the President did with that particular issue.

Look, as it relates to — you’re talking about the COVID origins, we’ve been very clear.  We’ve been very clear that we need the data, and we need to figure out how to get to the bottom of the COVID origins.  And that’s something that the President has said since the beginning of this administration.

So, that — none of that has changed.

Q    But with his campaign, it was all about shutting down the virus and how hard it is for families with an empty chair at the kitchen table because of COVID.  If we now know, according to the FBI director, who is most likely responsible for all those empty chairs at all those kitchen tables, why not do more to try to hold them accountable?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So — so, I’m going to flip that on its head for a second.  It was because of this President that took action — by the way, the last administration did not; they did not have a comprehensive plan to actually —

Q    But before that —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, no, no, no, no.  No —

Q    That is responding to COVID. 


Q    But where did COVID come from?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, but — but —

Q    If we know that it’s China —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Peter, you can’t tell — first of all, you can’t tell me how to answer the question.  I’m going to answer it for you.  Right?  So just give me a second.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So because he took those actions, he actually helped to save lives.  Because he — he took action to make sure that people got shots in arms and put a comprehensive plan in front of the American people and put in the work, we actually were able to get to a place where COVID is not gone, but we now are in a place — we’re in a different place in the pandemic.  And that’s because of the President.  And that’s because of his leadership.

So, let’s not — let’s, like, be very real about what the President has done over the last two years to take on COVID, to make sure that the economy is growing again, to make sure that we’re really working for the American people.  So that’s number one.  I want to be very, very clear on that.

Now, to your question about COVID origins: As we’ve known — as we know, we have seen many — many different conclusions — right? — from — from the intelligence community.  Some of them have made some conclusion on one side.  Some of them have made conclusions on the other side.  Some of them say they don’t have enough information.  So I want to be also very careful there as well. 

And it was because of this President, very early on — the first several months of his administration — he went to the intelligence community and said, “We need to figure out how to get to the bottom of this.  We need to figure out how this all occurred.”  Because, who knows, we have to try and prevent any future pandemics.  So that is the work that this President did. 

And it included, clearly, the Department of Energy that has National Labs.  And so, now they’re continuing to double down and try to get to the bottom of this.

Our relationship with China has not changed.  It is — it is very different — I’m going to be very clear — very different than how we have seen it in the last administration. 

All right, I’m going to continue.  Go ahead, Peter.  And I’ll come to the back.

Q    Just a separate thought on China, if I can quickly.  The administration has constantly described the relationship between the U.S. and China is one of strategic competition, a point that the President made himself a couple of weeks ago when he spoke about this issue. 

The congressman, Mike Gallagher, who was the Republican Chair of the House Select Committee on China, yesterday referred to this relationship as an “existential struggle.”  Does the White House agree with that characterization?  And is the White House understating the threat from China right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, under this President, we are more prepared to outcompete China, protect our national security, and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific than ever before.  That’s under this President.  And that’s because of the Pres- — of the work that he he’s done in the last two years and also the experience.  This is an experienced President.

As you know, he spent more than 30 years in the Senate.  He spent eight years as Vice President.  And so, he understands national — how to deal with foreign policy relationships, foreign leaders. 

And so, that’s how we see our relationship with China moving forward.  Many of our efforts we have been pursuing are bipartisan.  They’re underscoring the alignment at home on key issues, and we will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans, because the way we have moved forward is indeed in a bipartisan way. 

Q    Let me follow up on a separate question that was asked by one of my colleagues in the room about the student loans and the wait for the decision from the Supreme Court as it relates to this. 

I know that you said earlier that there is no other plan.  The plan right now is the one that’s being presented before the Supreme Court and you feel strongly in your case.  Obviously, those who have loans that they would owe, in case this is rejected, don’t have that same ability.  They have to have a backup plan in case.  I know that two months would pass before they would have to pay those loans again, in case the Supreme Court rejects this here. 

But what do you say to those Americans who have tens of thousands of dollars that they might be responsible for two months after the Court makes its decision, if they choose reject it?  How should they be preparing right now for that?  And what would you do to protect them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And I’ll just add that, yesterday, right in front of the Supreme Court, you saw many of those Americans speaking out loud —

Q    We did.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — and clear, and saying how important the President’s plan is to them.  Because they’re being crushed, right?

Q    But what’s the — what should be —


Q    — the plan B? 


Q    Because everybody who has their own budget at home has to have a plan B.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I totally — I — I hear you, Peter.  And you asked me what the message was to the American people.  You heard — I just laid out or mentioned how Secretary of Education put out, sent an email out to those borrowers saying that, “Hey, we have your back.” 

This is an administration, when you think about the President and the last couple of years here — he has — that is kind of his motto, right?  “We have your back.”  We will do everything that we can to protect Americans and give them, again, some space to actually be able to be part of this growing economy. 

And so, look, we do not — we do not — again, we do not have another plan.  This is our plan.  This is it. 

We believe that we have the legal authority.  That’s why we took it to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court.  And we’re going to continue to fight.

And you saw — you saw the solicitor general do a fantastic job in putting forth a strong argument defending — defending the President’s plan. 

Q    Just to be clear, though: So you don’t have another plan?  Which is to say for those other — and you have those individuals’ backs, which is to say, if this is rejected though, there isn’t anything in the works right now —


Q    — by this administration to have their —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I’m saying to you, Peter —

Q    — back going forward?  They would be —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I’m saying — what I’m saying to you, Peter, is: This is our plan.  It is a good plan because how it helps Americans across the country, especially working Americans, middle-class Americans.  So this is our plan. 

And you heard it.  You heard it.  The reason I mentioned the folks that were in front —

Q    I get it.  I’m just asking on behalf of —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — of the Supreme Court.

Q    — those folks that have tens of thousands they owe.  What should they do? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  I — and — and —

Q    So what should they do? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And I sa- — and I said —

Q    Do they need to start saving money?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — they should know that we are going to continue to fight, that we feel strong in our legal authority here. 

And you heard it.  You heard it from the — from — from the SG yesterday, who did a — who did a — who defended it — the President’s plan in a forceful way in front of the Supreme Court.

Q    Has the President spoken to Jimmy Carter in recent days, given the fact that he appears to be doing well, considering the circumstances?  Have they had any opportunity to speak?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have any call to preview or to speak to.  As — as you know, the President, I think, spoke to this when he did his ABC interview recently, that he has known Jimmy Carter for some time, was the first senator —

Q    But no new calls to share with us then?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — the first senator to endorse him.  And so they have decades of relationship behind them.  And so I would just say that, you know, he continues to wish him well. 

But I don’t have a call to read out. 

I’ll go to the back.  Trying — all the way to the back.  Go — behind you.

Q    Thank you.  So, shifting gears.  The Daily Beast reported yesterday that Republican Congressman James Comer invoked President Biden’s son, Beau Biden, over not being prosecute- — prosecuted, excuse me — saying, “This U.S. attorney had had an opportunity to go after the Bidens years ago.”  He goes on to say, “It was Beau Biden, the President’s other son, that was involved in some campaign donations from a person that got indicted.”

So I’m wondering if the White House has a response to Chairman Comer invoking Beau Biden and whether the President thinks it’s potentially — if Mr. President thinks it’s potentially appropriate that Mr. Comer investigate his deceased son.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, it’s completely unappropriate [sic].  And it’s ugly, the comments that he made.  And it says a lot about the chairman, which is not good, by the way.  To — to make the statement that he did is incredibly ugly and inappropriate. 

And here’s what I would say: Instead of — instead of House Republicans focusing on attacking the President and his family, why don’t they actually focus on what the American people put them in office to do, which is to deliver for them, which is to actually work with — with their colleagues — the Democratic colleagues, the President — to actually put forth pieces of legislation or put forth policies that’s going to make a difference in their lives?

And, you know, you don’t have to listen to me: You can look at the results from — from the midterms that said just that.  They want to see — they want to see Congress working for them.  That’s what they want to see. 

They want to make sure that their Medicare is protected.  They want to make sure that we’re lowering costs.  They want to make sure that their family feels protected.  They want to make sure that their rights are protected. 

But that’s not what House Republicans are doing.  Instead, they want to do political stunts. 

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  In the back.  Way in the back. 

Q    Thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Way — way in the back.  Go ahead. 

Q    Thank you.  The Attorney General, Merrick Garland, was testifying up on the Hill today, and he was asked a lot about fentanyl.  I have a few questions for you on that front. 

He was asked by Senator Graham — he said — Senator Graham said, quote, “Would you agree with me that whatever we are doing, as relates to sentencing guidelines, is not working?”  And the Attorney General said, “I would agree with that because of the number of deaths that you pointed out.” 

Does President Biden believe that sentencing guidelines around fentanyl deaths need to get stricter?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to just — I just caught a bit of that — of the coverage.  I didn’t catch all of it.  And I — I will say that the — the Secretary — or the Attorney General spoke to a number of issues from what I understand.  What I know for sure that he did, he spoke to the department’s independent — the Justice Department’s independent work and his commitment to rule of law. 

I’m just not going to go beyond — beyond that. 

Q    The Attorney General said — was asked if he opposes making the most cart- — the senior-most cartels being labeled as “foreign terrorist organizations.”  And he said he would not oppose that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I’m not —

Q    Does the White House believe that —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not — I’m —

Q    — the cartels need to be labeled “foreign terrorist organizations”?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I only saw a bit of the coverage.

What I can say is what he’s committed to.  I’m just not going to go into this.

Q    So let me go a little bit broader for a second.  The number of fentanyl deaths in this country has doubled in the last two years.  The Attorney General described it as an epidemic.  Can you describe what the administration has done to take on, to curb, and to try to tackle this epidemic, as he put it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So the — this administration, when you think about fentanyl and you think about the work that this President has done, it has been very much focused on getting — making sure that we keep our families safe, making sure that we keep our communities safe, and getting fentanyl off the street.  And we’ve done that in record numbers. 

You’ve heard me talk about that.  You’ve heard me talk about the work that this President has done on fent- — fentanyl more specifically, which I was just talking about the plan that he put forward to make sure that we keep communities safe.  And that is part of that as well. 

We have seen record number of fentanyl, you know, come off the streets because of the work that the President has done, because of what he has committed in protecting the border’s security, making sure that he put forth historic funding.

There’s still more work to be done.  We would like to do that work with Republicans.  They’ve refused to work with us.  If anything, they want to take away — they want to take away that border security funding.  They want to defund the FBI.

But the Pres- — the President is using the tools that are in front of him right now on the executive level to seek — to make sure that we do every — he does everything that he can, without the help of many — of many Republicans in Congress, to make sure that we keep our communities safe.  And that’s what he’s going to continue to do. 

Go ahead, way in the back.  Owen.

Q    Okay, thank you.  Thank you, Karine.  Two questions for you, please.  Thank you.  Number one, just recently in California — a very tragic story.  Catholic Bishop David O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, he served the area of 45 years ministering to migrants, the poor, victims of gang violence; known as the peacemaker.  And he was gunned down at his home, murdered, just — again, just a few weeks ago.  I know the White House is aware of it, but do you have a statement you — or is there —


Q    — something you want to tell the faithful there in Los Angeles? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Absolutely.  And I appreciate the question. 

We do have something that we want to share, which is: The President and the First Lady join Archbishop Gómez, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the entire Catholic community in the mourning of Bishop David O’Connell.  We also express our sympathy and prayers for the family and friends of the Bishop, who will certainly — certainly remember his legacy of service to those on the margins of society. 

And so, again, we offer up our condolences to — to the community. 

Q    Thank you.  And then secondly, is the President — is President Biden aware of this leaked document that recently came out of the Richmond, Virginia, field office that compared Catholics — conservative Catholics — to violent extremists? 

Several attorneys general have written a letter, and they say, quote, “Anti-Catholic bigotry appears to be festering in the FBI, and the Bureau is treating Catholics as potential terrorists because of their beliefs.”  Again, they wrote that in reaction to that leaked document. 

So, my question is: Is the President aware of that document?  And what would he tell Catholics seeing these headlines who might be worried “They’re coming after us — the Feds — because of our faith”?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I — look, I have not seen this leaked document.  I have not spoken to the Pres- — I haven’t seen it, so therefore I haven’t spoken to the President about it.  So I just don’t want to get ahead of — of that.

Q    Would you look at it eventually and give —


Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m happy to.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  About Labor Department’s ESG rule.
I have a follow-up question on that.  Today, Senator Jon Tester joined Senator Manchin, and he — he voiced his opposition to this ESG retirements rule.  I understand the President will veto this bill.  But what’s your reaction to his statement today?
And how does the White House feel about growing opposition to the ESG investment in Congress and in general?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I spoke to this at the top of the briefing, and I laid out where the President is on this.  I — as it relates to the dynamics of the Senate and where this is going to go, I’d leave that to the — to Senator Schumer.  That’s something for him to speak to.

What I can say is that if this bill reaches the President’s desk, he will veto it.  And I’ll — I’ll leave it there for now.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks a lot.  I want to ask you about Merrick Garland’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  He was asked a number of questions in regards to Hunter Biden and the ongoing investigation that’s being conducted by the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. 

And during that particular testimony, he said it would be a “national security problem” if the President’s son had been receiving payments from a foreign government as a means to influence the administration.

Do you agree with that statement from the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S.?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re going to continue to be prudent from here and not speak to any investigation that is currently underway by the Department of Justice.

And when it comes to Hunter Biden, I would refer you to his personal representative.  He’s a private citizen.  So I will leave it there. 

And we’re going to continue to be consistent from here.
Q    Let me ask you another question on a separate matter entirel- — entirely — a foreign policy matter.  Two Iranian warships are going to dock in port in Brazil on Sunday.  As you well know, the President of Brazil was just here meeting with President Biden.  President Biden lauded the shared values of both countries.  Do you have any issue with Iranian warships docking in port in Brazil?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And so, we’ve been very clear when we’ve been asked these types of questions of meetings or any engagement.  We just won’t speak to that from here.  I would refer you to the respective countries.  I’m just not going to speak to a potential meeting or a potential engagement.  Just not going to do that.

Court- —

Q    Well, it’s not a meeting.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Courtney.

Q    It’s not a meeting.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I’m just not going to — clearly, there’s some sort of engagement happening.  I’m just not going to speak that — to that from here.

Go ahead, Courtney.

Q    Thank you.  I wanted to ask you about the case that is before a judge in a federal court in Texas about abortion medication.  We’re expecting that judge to rule any day now in the decision that could either temporarily, permanently — depending on how the legal process goes — ban access to mifepristone in certain places.

What’s your message to patients that are worried about this?  I know that you’ve, so far, spoken out on how you disagree with this court challenge.  But what should doctors know, what should patients know when this can happen at any day, especially given that this judge has been relatively hostile to this administration?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I mean, I spoke to this very recently.  Like, we don’t know what the court is going to do, as you just stated.  Ultimately, it’s for the col- — court to decide.  So we’re always very careful.

The decision would be unprecedented, as you know, and devastating to women’s health.  And we may find ourselves in uncharted territory.

And so, we’re closely — closely working with the Justice Department and DHS — HHS on this, on how to be prepared for any range of outcome or potential outcomes.  And so we’ll continue to do that.  We’ll continue to be steadfast.  We will — we’re monitoring this and waiting, like all of you, to see where the decision goes.

But again, we’re not taking this lightly.  We’re taking this very seriously.  This is going to be — depending on where this goes, this could be unprecedented and uncharted territory.  And we’re going to continue to do our — our work internally to see which way — how we would respond.

Q    I also wanted to ask you about education for practi- — (sneezes) — excuse me — practitioners, doctors who perform abortions in certain states.  When they’re in medical school now, it’s difficult to get practice with the procedure given that it’s so limited or restricted. 

Vice President Harris has expressed interest in working on that issue, either by sending students to other places to get practical experience or other ideas.  Can you provide any update on that and if you’re engaged in that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, I know she — she spoke about this recently.  I don’t have anything more to share than what she laid out about her concerns and the potential next steps.  Don’t — just don’t have anything further to share with — than what the Vice President laid out.

Go ahead.

Q    If the Supreme Court rules against the President’s student debt plan, will you all consider extending the payment pause while you come up with a plan B?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, we don’t — our plan is what we — what we laid out in August.  That is our plan.  And we believe it’s a good plan as it delivers — as it relates to the American people — middle-class Americans, as it relates to working people.

This is a plan that’s going to give relief to tens of millions of Americans across the country.  And we heard from many of them yesterday in front of the Supreme Court.

I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals. 

We believe — we believe that we have a strong legal authority here.  That’s why we took it to the Supreme Court.  And you heard from the solicitor general.  She made a very strong case for why the President’s program is important.  And — and I’m just going to leave it there for now.

Q    Just another question on TikTok.  You all have had TikTok influencers in the building before; you’ve briefed them before.  Given the focus on the national security concerns, do you still feel like that’s an appropriate way to engage with the app?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, as — as I’ve mentioned before, the White House, clearly, does not — does not use TikTok.  But one thing that we do believe in is meeting the American people where they are.  And the reality is some — many of them — millions of them are — are on this app.

So we engage with people who are using their own platforms.  It’s up to them on how they use the content.  But we’ve always said from here — this is something that we’ve said for a long time — that we’re going to try to communicate with the American people and meet them where they are.  But we’re — also have been clear about the concerns that we have with this — with — with apps like TikTok.  And that’s not going to stop.

Q    Thanks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Oh, go ahead.  You’re the last question.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  We just learned the TSA officers at a Pennsylvania airport stopped an explosive device from getting onto a plane Monday.  Do you have any comment on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have any comment from here at this time.  I would have to talk to our team.

Q    More broadly, do you have a message to Americans who are hearing about flight safety incidents, close calls, devices on planes?  How can you ensure that the airs are safe — the air is safe?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, Secretary Buttigieg has been on the airwaves today, this morning, the last couple of months on this, speaking to our commitment to making sure that we keep Americans safe, especially Americans who are — are, clearly, flying. 

And — and so we’re going to continue to do that.  The President is committed to that.

As it relates, for example, to the — the objects — the three recent objects, one of the reasons the President took that — the actions that we took was because we wanted to make sure that we kept civilian air- — airways safe.  So, you’ve seen him take really bold actions in that way. 

But as it relates to, you know, just what we’ve been seeing the past couple of months and just most recently, look, we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we — that Americans feel safe flying.

I know there’s an FAA investigation on this most recent incident, and so, you know, we’re going to see where the investi- — investigation goes and how we can prevent that. 

All right.  Thanks, everybody.  See you tomorrow.

3:45 P.M. EST

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