James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:44 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Goodness. 

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  A lot going on.

Q    I hope you answer my question because —


Q    — Afghan woman has expectation.  Thank you so much.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Well, the — the outfit certainly stands out, my friend.

Q    Thank you so much.  You make my day, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  It’s good to see you.  It’s good to see you.

Q    Good to see you, too.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  Good to see everyone.  Happy Wednesday.  And Happy International Women’s Day — a day where we recognize the achievements of women and girls and recommit ourselves to the work of delivering full equality. 

President Biden has made improving the status of women and girls a cornerstone of his administration, and we are focused on lifting up the rights of women and girls through every aspect of both our foreign and domestic policy. 

We all have a better future when women and girls are able to reach their full potential.  To mark the occasion, First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Ant- — Antony J. Blinken will host the 17th annual International Women of Courage — IWOC — Awards Ceremony later today.

The ceremony will take place at the White House for the first time in the award’s history.  The annual IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. 

The First Lady wanted to bring the stories of these incredible women to the biggest stage we could — and that is, of course, the White House — and ensure that girls everywhere know that there are women fighting for them, transforming their communities, and building a better world for all of us. 

On a personal note, I am looking forward to participating and meeting the recipients of this year’s awards. 

And we have some other news for you.  The President’s budget, which we will release tomorrow, will cut the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next 10 years.  That’s nearly a $6 trillion difference between the President’s budget and congressional Republicans’ agenda, which would add $3 trillion to the debt. 

Some context here: President Biden took office after his predecessor signed a reckless and unpaid tax handout for the wealthy and large corporations, which added nearly $2 trillion to the deficit.  He also inherited a poorly managed pandemic response. 

The President has taken a different, respons- — different, responsible approach.  Thanks to his unprecedented vaccine — vaccination program and economic recovery, the deficit fell by one-point trillion dollars [$1.7 trillion] in the first two years of the Biden-Harris administration.  And the President’s Inflation Reduction Act will reduce the deficit by more than $200 billion over the next decade. 

Building on that record of fiscal responsibility, the President budgets cuts the deficit, again, by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade. 

The budget achieves this while lowering costs for families, investing in America, and protecting programs Americans have paid into because it proposes tax reforms to ensure the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share while cutting wasteful spending on special interests — interests, like Big Oil and Big Pharma. 

That’s a stark contrast to congressional GOP proposals, which, again, add $3 trillion to the deficit over 10 years with handouts to the rich, big corporations, and special interest groups. 

And, Josh, it’s always good to see you.

Q    Always good to see you, too, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We always go — we always do this.  How are you?

Q    I know.  I’m good.  How are you?  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You know, it’s Wednesday.  It’s International Women’s Day.  It’s a good day.

Q    Yeah, they run my house.  So — (laughter) —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Are you a gir- — you’re a gir- — are you a girl dad?

Q    I am a girl dad.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Girl dads.  That’s a good thing. 

Q    Full-fledged.  Full-fledged.  She’s now BTS fan because of this.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh.  (Laughter.)

Q    That’s another subject.  Let’s talk —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We may have broken them up, so — (laughter) —

Q    Let’s talk about —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Let’s go, Josh.

Q    — two news items.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    First, on the budget —


Q    When Biden ran, the — he essentially proposed what fiscal watchdogs would say were policies that would add to budget deficits.  He’s now, kind of, making budget deficit reduction a cornerstone of his policy.  Why did this become more of a priority?  And what does he think this does for everyday Americans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as — as you just, kind of, alluded to and laid out, this has been a priority for the President.  When we talk about deficit — deficit reduction, when we talk about having — being fiscally responsible, this is something that the President has talked about since the campaign. 

And you hear me, just as I did moments ago, talk about the $1.7 trillion deficit that he did the first two years.  And it was important to the President, as he’s going to put forward his budget tomorrow and as we — as you’ve probably heard us to say, we see this as a value statement on what the President sees in the future of this country.  And so, he wanted to make sure it was fiscally responsible. 

And so, look, I think, when you think about the deficit — the deficit reduction and what we’re talking about and what it means for Americans — right? — this is important to Americans across the country, American families, when you think about lowering costs for families — right? — when you think about investing in growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out.

The President does not believe in trickle-down economics.  This is something that he’s talked about even during the State of the Union, where we know it doesn’t work. 

So, the President has rejiggered that thinking and wants to build — build an economy that matters for everyone, asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and cutting wasteful spending on special interest groups. 

And so, this is something that we think is important.  This is something that shows the American people that we take this very seriously when we think about the fiscal responsibly, when we think about how do we move forward not just for Americans today but for Americans — other generations that are going to be coming behind us.

That’s why we’re talking about the 10 — 10-year — right? — $3 trillion over a decade.  That’s going to matter.  And still doing that by growing the economy and making sure that we don’t leave anybody behind. 

So, that’s what is important to the President.  It’s — if you look at it holistically in his economic plan. 

Q    And then secondly, the Justice Department released this report on the police in Louisville, in Jefferson County, Kentucky, after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.  I was curious what the White House thought about the findings that the police there engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights.  And what obligation does that leave the Congress and the White House in terms of addressing these inequities?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, specifically on the — the investigation that Department of Justice laid out, we know they are independent, so we refer you to any specifics of that particular investigation on their findings. 

But what I would say, more broadly, as we look at this from a 30,000-foot view: The President has said repeatedly he believes that a key part of building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve is ensuring that there’s accountability when — when we see an officer violate the law. 

And this is something that we have been very consistent about.  You heard the President talk about this in the campaign and, certainly, in the last two years. 

That is why he signed an executive order to advance effective accountability, community policing.  And this is — remember, he put that forward when — this executive order — when Congress was not able to get the job done. 

And so, he took federal action, historic action, to make sure that he was able to deal with this on a federal level. 

So that executive order required federal law enforcement agencies to implement tighter use-of-force standards and to greatly restrict the use of no-knock warrants, and has a host of provisions to incentivize those and other reforms at the state and local level.

And so, I just want to say very clearly that the President has said himself Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy — a blow to her family, her community, and also to America more broadly. 

And the President continues to call for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to be sent to his desk that he will sign. 

The President also understands that Black women experience a disproportionate share of violence in this country, and he will continue to fight for legislation that advances police reform and making sure that we keep — that we keep Black communities safe.  

And so, that is going to be his commitment as he — as we continue into his administration.

Go ahead, Mary.

Q    A question on the economy.  The Fed is forecasting, of course, that unemployment may have to go up before they reach their goal.  Just wondering if the White House shares the view that unemployment might need to rise in order to keep inflation down. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, again, when it comes to the Fed, it is independent.  The President believes in its independence.  And so he believes in giving the Fed the space needed to make decisions on monetary policy.

As it relates to unemployment, and I’ve heard — we’ve heard the comments that have been made in Congress.  Look, when we look at the recent economic indicators and we look at the data, it is not consistent with a recession or even a precursory period. 

And the reason why: As you see, unemployment is at the lowest in 50 years, and that’s a record low.  More than 500,000 jobs were created last month, representing a very strong labor market.  GDP grew by 2.9 [2.7] percent just last quarter.  And real wages are higher than they were seven months ago.

So we believe that households are indeed very strong, in a strong position.  And household net is above the pre-pandemic levels, and measures of financial distress are below — are below the pre-pandemic levels as well. 

And so, the data and the indicators — those economic indicators that I just laid out — shows us that, again, we’re in a strong position as we move forward. 

Q    But how concerned are you that if unemployment does go up, that it may hinder that very economic message?  Because unemployment, as you just did, is often a bright point that the President points to.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  But I think — the reasons I laid out the economic indicators — they’re showing us that because of the President’s — because of the President’s economic plan, we — we see that his plan is working.  And I think that’s important to point out too.

We understand that there is concerns.  We always say there’s always more work to do, obviously.  But our economists believe that what the President has put forth as a plan to make sure that we’re building an economy from the bottom up, middle out is indeed working.  And we see that in the data when you look at the unemployment record low, when you look at wages going up.  And that is occurring because of the work that we have done. 

Now, is there more work to do?  Of course.  But, again, those indicators give us confidence. 

Q    And just a quick logistical question.  This is the second day in a row where the President hasn’t had any public events on his schedule.  What’s he up to?  And is there any sort of strategy to having him —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  “What’s he up to?”  “What is the President up to?” 

Q    — kind of out of the public eye before this big speech tomorrow?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, yesterday, as I think we read out two heads-of-state calls that he had with — I believe with the Oman and also with President Macron.  We read those two calls out.  And so the President is always working, always making sure that he — not even always making sure, he does have the American people at the top of mind every day.  He is constantly meeting with his senior staff. 

And you will see him tomorrow for the big day as we roll out the President’s budget.

Go ahead.

Q    Karine, thank you.  Could you confirm our reporting that President Biden is going to host the Australian and British prime ministers in San Diego on Monday?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, don’t have anything for you at this time on the AUKUS.  And as soon as we have more information, surely we will — we’ll share that. 

And as you know, every Friday we lay out the President’s week ahead.  I just don’t have anything to preview at this time or to announce. 

Q    Okay.  And then I just wanted to see if there’s a reaction to Senator Manchin saying he’s going to vote against your nominee to lead the IRS.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me first say that our relationship — the President has a longstanding relationship with Senator Manchin that goes back years, certainly over a decade, and we respect our relationship with him.  We have done — we have been able to deliver for the American people historic, really consequential pieces of legislation. 

And so we appreciate the closeness and — and how we’ve worked well with — with Senator Manchin.

As it relates to our nominee: Danny Werfel is a public- and private-sector leader who has served under both Democratic and Republican administrations; of course, more than 15 years of governen- — government service.  He has — he served President Barack Obama, as some of you know, and President George W. Bush to lead some of our most complex management challenges of [as] the IRS Acting Commissioner and Office of Management and Controller at the OMB.

As you — as I just laid out, he’s worked for both a Democrat and a Republican, so has had that bipartisan experience as well. 

He’s well qualified for this position.  He was reported from — from finance with bipartisan support, and we urge the Senate to confirm him to this important role at an incredibly crucial time. 

Again, but we — we appreciate our relationship with Senator Manchin, which has been fruitful, especially as we speak to delivering for the American people. 

Q    And just finally, I saw that you had a comment out this morning about some broadcasting on the Tucker Carlson program on Fox.  And I was just curious if you had any broader comment about the ongoing lawsuit between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News, which has turned up evidence that there may have been falsehoods in the reporting that they did around the election, which Fox, I should say, has said that those are cherry-picked anecdotes. 


Q    But do you have a reaction to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, I do have a reaction.  Look, we agree with the — the Chief of Capitol Police and the wide range of bipartisan lawmakers — you heard them all yesterday; you guys reported on it — who have condemned this false depiction of the unprecedented violent attack on cons- — on our Constitution and the rule of law, which cost police — police officers their lives.  And that’s what we saw on that day, on a very dark day: an attack on our democracy. 

And so we also — when — as it relates to the Tucker Carlson question, we agree with Fox Nation’s own attorneys and executives who have repeatedly stressed in multiple courts of law that Tucker — Tucker Carlson is not credible when it comes to this issue in particular. 

And we have — you know, NPR back in — back in September of 2020, they had the following: “You Literally Can’t Believe The Facts Tucker Carlson Tells You. So Say Fox’s Lawyers.”

Again, in the Washington Post most recently, just last — just a day ago: “Fox [executive]: Hannity, Carlson shows are not ‘credible’ sources of news.” 

And so to have said what he said, when we — when we saw Capitol Police officers lose their lives, or police officers lose their lives, is just a — is just shameful.

Go ahead.

Q    Hey, thanks, Karine.  So, for over a month now, President Biden has been saying that this budget blueprint that he’s going to release is going to have $2 trillion in deficit reduction.  You guys are now saying it’s nearly $3 trillion.  So could you give us a sense of how you got there and why that number has increased?  Are there specific revenue raisers or spending cuts that you’ve now added that weren’t previously there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m going to be mindful.  The President is going to put out his budget tomorrow.  Certainly not going to get ahead of the specifics on how that all looks.  I know you guys were asking me about math yesterday.  So I’m going to lay that out. 

We talked about — I did talk about quadrupling the tax on corporate stock buybacks is something that he’s already mentioned in the past, making the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share without raising taxes on Americans that are making less than $400,000, and ending wasteful subsidies for special interest groups like Big Pharma, which is — which are things that we have talked about. 

But as for the specifics in laying that out, we will be transparent with the American people.  And certainly, you’ll see that tomorrow.  And the President is going to go to Philly to speak to that. 

The changes that you saw from $2 trillion to $3 trillion: As we work through the budget process, the proposals that the President supported and wanted to include in this year’s budget added to nearly $3 trillion in deficit reduction. 

Again, I was just asked by Josh the importance that the President sees in making sure that we deal with the deficit in a — in a way that is important to the American people.  This is something that he’s talked about since the campaign.  And he believes in being fiscally responsible, and that’s what you’re going to see from the President tomorrow.

Q    And then, on this new bill relating to TikTok, the administration has now thrown its support behind this RESTRICT Act that would give the administration new powers to restrict or ban TikTok in the U.S.  Why did the administration decide that now was the time for congressional action?

And more broadly, what’s the strategy here?  Is there frustration with the status of the talks between TikTok and CFIUS?  And is this aimed at giving negotiators more leverage?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You know, I have to say, we’ve talked about this many times, and we said we were working closely with Congress on — when it relates to TikTok. 

And, look, we commend the bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Warren and Thune, who introduced the RESTRICT Act.  And as you — I’m sure you guys saw the statement from our National Security Advisor — the President’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, just yesterday.  And we want to make sure that the digital products and services Americans use every day are safe and secure.

And we have talked about this multiple times.  I think this came up a few times yesterday in the briefing room.  And we have said we were going to continue to have the conversation with Congress.  And we think this bipartisanship and moving this issue — this important issue to the American people forward is important.

And so, look, you know, we got to make sure that there’s a comprehensive way, an effective way to address this issue.

Q    Are you still hoping that an agreement can be reached between CFIUS and TikTok, or are you now looking to act unilaterally based on these new authorities?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — look, we’ve talked about — we’ve talked about there was a CFIUS, you know, review on this, and we’re going to let that review continue and continue to foc- — let them continue to focus on their work.  But we’ve also said that we were going to work with Congress closely, and this is what you’re seeing — in a bipartisan way, which I think is important to lay out.

Q    And just a quick one.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has now called on President Biden to allow the tennis player Novak Djokovic to compete in the Miami Open despite him being unvaccinated for COVID-19.  Do you guys have a response to that? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, on a question of regarding the vaccination requirement, I would refer you to the CDC.  They’re the ones who deal with that.  It’s still in place, and we expect everyone to abide by our country’s rule, whether as a participant or a spectator.

And as for what goes on specifically with the BNP Open, those are — those are questions for them.  It is a private entity, and so we will let them speak to that.  But again, this is something that the CDC speaks to.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you so much.  On the budget, just to follow up quickly on that, as you said, it will include a number of proposals for tax increases.  What are Americans supposed to make of that, given that a number of Republican lawmakers have said that’s already dead on arrival?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I was saying this a little bit at the top where, when you look at the budget, it’s a statement of the President’s values.  And if you think about the 81 million people who voted, they voted for a growing economy from the bottom up and the middle out.  They voted for investing in America and lowering costs for families.  They voted for protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare and reducing the deficit by more than $2 trillion over 10 years, by making the wealthy and the big corporation pay their fair share.

When you look at that last — the last point that I just made, that is something that Americans believe in.  And so, that is what you’re seeing.  When we’re saying that we’re going to, you know, make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share, the ones who are — the specific piece of the President’s policy is the 400 — more than — someone who makes more than $400,000.  That’s something that Americans believe, right?  They think the wealthy and corporations should indeed pay their fair share.

And so, that’s what you’re going to see.  This is nothing new.  This is something the President has spoken to many times, and we see support for that.

Q    Understood.  But, you know, given that the President has talked about the importance of bipartisanship, he is now dealing with a divided Congress, there doesn’t seem to be anything in those tax increases that are an olive branch.  Should people see this within the broader context of 2024, as he prepares for reelection?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I get — and you’re right, the President believes in working in a bipartisan way.  That’s why he’s been very clear.  If — if Republicans in Congress want to work with the President on lowering costs, lowering — lowering costs — right? — this is something that they ran on during the midterms, how they want to move forward in that way — the President is going to work with them.

If they want to talk to the President about how we’re going to reduce the deficit, he’s willing to have that conversation.  But that’s not what they’re putting forth.  And the President is going to fight for those things — right? — those programs that we — that they’ve been talking about cutting, Social Security and Medicare.  The President is not going to allow that on his watch.

Q    I want to just ask you about the footage that was released by Speaker McCarthy.  Speaker McCarthy said his decision to release the footage to Tucker Carlson was out of transparency.  What is your reaction to that?  And does the President want to see Speaker McCarthy release all of the footage broadly to other news outlets and the American people?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I — I’m just — I’m not going to speak directly to that at this time.  That’s something that —
you know, that the January 6th committee and, clearly,
the DOJ is dealing with.  And so, I’m just not going to speak to that.

You know, that is something that the Speaker needs to answer from — from his colleagues and to the American people.

Q    Well, let me ask it this way: Does the President, does the White House feel the need to set the record straight about the footage that exists and what happened on that day in the wake of the footage that has been released?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say — can you say more?  Like, what do
you — like, set the record straight?

Q    Does the White House feel as though, basically,
all of the footage should be released so people can see it within its full context?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the President believes we need to get to the bottom of what happened on a very dark day in our democracy.  The President has been very clear about that.  We need to get to the bottom of what occurred.  The footage that we have seen, the footage that the American people have seen is devastating. 

And what we saw was an attack on our Constitution, was an attack on our democracy.  And we should be calling that out.  And, you know, members of Congress — all members of Congress should be working very hard to get to the bottom of that. 

Q    Just finally, very quickly, has the President spoken to the families of those killed in Mexico and those kidnapped?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, I’m not sure if I’ve said this, but members of the administration has been in touch —

Q    Has the President?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — with the family.  I don’t have a — I don’t have a call or a scheduled conversations to read out at this time.

Q    Does he plan to get in touch with (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I just don’t have anything more to share.  Clearly, our hearts go out to the family members who lost — who lost a loved ones.  It is devastating, clearly, the news that we heard and the reports and what we know of the case thus far.  And so, our hearts go out to them.  I just don’t have anything to read — to read out. 

Go ahead, Nancy.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I know you said you didn’t want to get ahead of the President and his speech tomorrow, but there are some details that are out there, so I wanted to see —


Q    — if you would confirm some or all of them.  One is that the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  Some.  All of them.  One.

Q    All of them —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Not at all, maybe.  (Laughs.)

Q    — would be best. 

One is that the President is proposing a 5.2 federal pay hike, which would be the largest federal pay hike since Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, of course, you’re going to have to wait for the budget on that piece.  But what I can say more broadly is, you know, we value the federal — the federal employees and what they do for the nation day in and day out, and recognize their commitment and dedication.  And so, we think it is critical — it is critical to position federal government to better compete in labor market, to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce.

As the President has said, the strength of our organization rests in its people.  But I’m not going to — I can’t share — I can’t share everything, Nancy.

Q    Okay, well —

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

Q    — can you share this?  (Laughter.)  A new 20 percent — well, I guess it’s not new because he has proposed something similar before, but a new 20 percent minimum tax for billionaires or people making over $100 million a year. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to get ahead of the President at this time.  You’ll see the budget very shortly.

Q    Okay.  And —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Very shortly.

Q    All right. So, zero for two.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  In less than 24 hours.

Q    So, back to the RESTRICT Act for a moment.  Is it the President’s intention to ban TikTok on U.S. phones if the RESTRICT Act passes and gives him that ability?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to get into specifics of — of the legislation.  I’m just not going to do that at this — at this time. 

And, you know, what I will say — and we have called for this, and I think — you know, Kristen was asking me about working in a bipartisan way.  And you see that here, on a critically — in a critical issue, as we talk about our national security.  You saw Congress come together to deal with an app that we have said we have concerns with.

But I’m not going to get into individual pieces or authorities within the legislation.  And we’re just going to let it play out. 

Q    Should we take the administration’s position on the RESTRICT Act to mean that the White House does not believe that ByteDance has gone far enough to ensure that its American users’ data is safeguarded from the Chinese government?

ByteDance says it’s spent 1.5 million dollars — billion dollars so far to ensure that that information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I think this is an answer that I’ll give you more broadly, which is: We have said we have concerns with this particular app, TikTok.  We have said that as it relates to our national security, as it relates to, you know, individual Americans who use this. 

And we want to make sure that we protect Americans.  And we’ve always said protecting Americans is — especially as it relates to national security — is a priority for this President.  And that’s what you’re seeing.  You know, CFIUS is doing its review.  There’s bipartisanship in — in Congress.  And I think that’s an important way to move forward. 

Go ahead, Tam.

Q    Yeah.  Thank you.  I just want to — I know you don’t want to get ahead of the President’s budget —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)

Q    — but just taking —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The theme of the day.

Q    Yes.  Just taking this topline number of nearly $3 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, still, the deficit is going to be huge over the next 10 years, and billions — or trillions of dollars will be added to the national debt. 

There are critics who I’ve spoken to who say that this budget, although a statement of priorities, doesn’t go far enough in dealing with the structural problems that the United States faces fiscally. 

So, I mean, the President has expressed concerns about the deficit.  Does he think his budget goes far enough?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, let’s let the President speak to his budget tomorrow.  We’ll lay that out, and he can speak to that. 

But you just said something, Tam, that is so important, which is: Yeah, you know, the last administration added $3 trillion — or $2 trillion to the debt when they put forward a, really, irresponsible piece of legislation that gave — that gave tax breaks to the wealthy, especially millionaires and billionaires.  Right?

That is something that we’ve had to deal with, and we have to really call that out.  And that continues.  That continues with this current — current Congress where Republicans are saying that they want to — you know, they want to cut or get rid of or repeal IRA — the Inflation Reduction Act — which would add to that deficit, because we know the Inflation Reduction Act actually lowers the deficit by more than $200 billion. 

So, we are trying to counter and really be fiscally responsible in what we’re seeing on the other side. 

And so, here’s the thing: The American people support what we’re doing, and there’s a choice to be made.  How do we move forward here?  How do we make sure that it is — what we’re putting forward in this budget is fiscally responsible?

That’s what you’re seeing from this President.  And he has said over and over again, in the last three years or more, that he wants to make sure that we are reducing the deficit. 

I’m not going to get ahead of the President tomorrow.  He’s certainly going to lay out his budget.  He will go point by point on how he sees this is — this is a budget that is important to the American people.  I’m just not going to get ahead of that. 

I think it’s — I think it’s good news that we went from $2 trillion, over a decade now, to $3 trillion.  And that’s because his team went through the budget and realized, “Hey, we can actually — this is going to be an extra trillion dollars in lowering the deficit in the next decade.”  And that shows how committed his team is and how committed the President is as well. 

Q    Just one other small question.  And I realize this was —


Q    — probably asked yesterday.  But is the White House treating this as a major address?  Or is this a, like — you know, typically a budget gets rolled out, and it’s just like a big paper dump and maybe, like, a small speech in a small room.  And this is the President going to another city.  So are you treating this budget unlike other budgets?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I think we — I think the way to see this budget is that the President wants to lay out in a transparent way to the American people how he sees us moving forward as it relates to the fiscal year, as it relates to the budget — and I keep saying this because it’s true — in a fiscally responsible way. 

And we hear Republicans in Congress talking about how they’re going to release a budget.  And we are calling on them to show us: What’s in your budget?  What — how is — is it going to be transparent?  Is it going to be fiscally responsible?

And the thing that makes us really speak to this even more is because they have talked about, as you all have reported, in, you know, cutting some programs that are incredibly — two programs and more — that are incredibly important to the American people: Social Security, Medicare, ACA, Medicaid.

That’s what they’re saying they want to move forward with.  And the President is saying, “You know what?  I’m going to continue fighting for the American people.  I’m going to continue fighting for taxpayers who have paid into these programs since they were — started their first job, some of them as teenagers.”

And so, we’re going to continue to call that out.  And this also plays into how the President is growing an economy that works for all.

So, that is important to the President.  He thinks it’s important to the American people.  And he’s going to lay that out tomorrow. 

Go ahead, Raquel.

Q    Thank you so much, Karine.  Two questions.  The first is about the Iranian warships in Brazil.  Is the White House communicating with the Brazilian government about these?  And did the administration raise concerns with the Brazilian government?  Because we know there was pressure for Brazil not to let the warships to dock there.  There are some calls also here for sanctions on Brazil.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, this question has been asked a couple of times in the briefing room.  And we’ve pretty been — pretty much been consistent. 

Look, Brazil is a sovereign country.  They — they make their own decision on how they engage with any country, including with Iran. 

But more broadly, these ships have been designated for U.S. sanctions and have been used to facilitate illicit activities.  We have made clear to relevant countries that these ships have no business docking anywhere.

Hosting Iranian naval vessels belonging to a regime that is brutally suppressing its own people at home, providing weapons to Russia for use in its war of aggression against Ukraine, and engaging in terrorism, and destabilizing weapons proliferation around the world sends the wrong message and is in the — in a wrong direction.  So, we’ll always be very clear about that. 

But, again, as you know, Brazil is a sovereign country and they are allowed to engage — you know, make their decision on how they’re going to engage with another country. 

Q    One more question about the President of the European Commission, who is meeting President Biden on Friday.  And she’s expected to raise concerns about some of the green subsidies for American companies that are part of the Inflation Reduction Act because they hurt investments in Europe. 

And there have been some discussions with both sides in the last few months.  So how would you characterize the status of those negotiations?  And would the U.S. meet some of the Europeans’ demands?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just a couple things.  I’m not going to — well, the first thing is I’m not going to get ahead of — of a visit that — with the Eu- — the European Union president.  I just don’t want to get ahead of what’s going to be on the agenda and — and what will come out of that discussion.  Certainly, we’ll have more to share as we get closer to Friday. 

Look, of course, our deepening — our — deepening our cooperation with EU to develop secure, high-standard supply chains and consistent with our objectives to increase domestic manufacturing will be the topic of conversations with — with President von der Leyen here, when she’s here on Friday.

The IRA’s benefits expand beyond the U.S., as you’ve heard me say before.  Investment will help drive down costs for clean technology, which will help our nation go further and faster in building our own clean energy economies. 

So, energy security is national security.  That’s the way we see it.  But I’m certainly not going to get ahead of the visit at this time. 

Go ahead, Karen.

Q    Thanks.  Medical experts say that a nationwide shortage of liquid albuterol, used for asthma and other lung conditions, is expected to get worse because there was a shuttering of a major manufacturer. 

This drug has been on the FDA shortage list since the fall.  But is the White House concerned about this right now?  And what does the White House see as the cause of this specific shortage that’s causing headlines right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I would refer you to the FDA.  As you just stated, Karen, this is something that they’ve been monitoring since — since this past fall.  And as we’ve done, you know, with — periodically, with shortages of medical products, as you’ve — I know you’ve asked me multiple questions about other — other products — federal health officials are working closely with manufacturers, as we have done, again, with past products, and healthcare providers to alleviate any choke on the system.  And don’t — and don’t want to hesitate to take further action, if necessary, using all tools that they have available. 

But this is certainly something that the FDA is tracking — has been tracking for months now.  And we’re going to continue to have conversations with the manufacturers.  And we take — of course, they take — they take this seriously. 

Q    So there have been steps taken by the FDA and the administration?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  This is something that they’ve been tracking.  They’ve been having conversation with manufacturers.  And — and this is something that, of course, with — like any other product that has come — come up where there was a potential shortage or some questions of shortage, they’ve dealt with this.
Q    And, broadly, does the White House believe it’s the job of the administration to make sure that there aren’t shortages of vital medications like this? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, you’ve seen us take action.  We’ve seen the FDA take action over a host of products, as I just mentioned, to talk to manufacturers to see what’s going on, to see how — how we can be helpful if at all possible, because we think it’s important.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  A couple different topics here.  First, on the DOJ report: Does the President view the DOJ report on Louisville as an engine to revive any of the bipartisan police accountability measures that failed to materialize in Congress in 2021?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as I said at the top, we believe that — and the President has continued to say this over the last several months since that biparti- — since the — since the George Floyd Policing Act did not go through, he’s called on Congress to move forward with it. 

And when it didn’t move through, he took executive action to see what he would be able to do, using the tools in front of him on a federal level to act.

But he is going to continue to call on that.  He’s — he did most recently, and — and so that is not going to change.  It is up to Congress.  Congress needs to — needs to move forward in a bipartisan way so he can sign — sign that bill into law.

Q    And on the national security front: Jake Sullivan had said last month that while no call was currently scheduled between President Biden and President Xi, that he anticipated that the two leaders would speak in the not-too-distant future.  Did the comments from the Chinese foreign minister change the timing of that prospective call in any way?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, there’s no call to preview.  We don’t have — we haven’t had — we don’t have one on the books at this time to lay out for you at — in this moment. 

And I kind of answered this question — well, I was asked this question about our approach and our relationship with China yesterday.  And I would say that it hasn’t changed.  It is one of competition, not conflict, and — and that’s how we’re going to continue to move forward with China. 

Of course, it is important to keep those open lines of conversation with the Chinese government.  You saw, yourself, with Secretary Blinken, when he was in Munich, he met with his count- — counterpart, Wang Yi.  And so that is what we want to continue to see. 

I don’t have a call at this time to preview.

Q    And then lastly —

Q    I have a question about Afghanistan —

Q    Sorry, the President said in — the President had said in an interview last month that he, quote, had “too many other things…to finish in the near term” before he starts a campaign.  The budget is a big one on that list.  What else does he want to finish in the nearer-term future?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, you know, I think the State of the Union pretty much laid out how the President sees his work moving forward.  Yes, you know, the — the State of the Union lays out the state of the nation and where we are currently, but he also had a very forward way of seeing how we need to continue to grow the economy for Americans, not leave anybody behind.  How we — and you see — you’re going to see that in his budget, as you just laid out, which will — we’ll — he’ll speak to tomorrow. 

And, you know, he thinks it’s — it’s very important that he continues to do the work.  We have to build on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation.  We have to build on the Inflation Reduction Act. 

And the — and what I will say about the Inflation Reduction Act, in that — just recently, we heard from Eli Lilly, who was — who took — who listened to the call that the President put forth about lowering insulin costs for Americans, which they were able to do, which is building on what the President laid out in the Inflation Reduction Act, when you think about insulin — lowering that insulin cost to $35 for seniors, and now they were able to do it for — for all of their — for everyone, not just seniors. 

And so those are the things that the President wants to continue to do and wants to continue to see: how are we going to lower costs for American families, how we’re going to build an economy that leaves no one behind.

And what the budget is is just one part of that. 

MS. DALTON:  Karine, you’ve got about two minutes. 

Q    Afghanistan, please?  I’m asking for Afghan people, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I have two minutes.  Okay, I’m going to — I’m going to — I’m going to try and got to the back. 

Q    It’s a big day for Afghan people. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:   Go ahead, Courtney.  Go ahead, Courtney.

Q    It’s the Woman International Day, Karine.  Please.  

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I wanted to follow up on the bill I had asked you about a couple days ago, the Senate-passed bill on declassifying certain information about the origins of COVID.  Has the President made a decision on the bill?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I would — I would just refer you to the ODNI on that piece.  I don’t have anything else to share on that.

Go ahead.

Q    Karine, quick question — two quick questions on the Mexican kidnapping.  Can you tell us if there are U.S. agents on the ground in Mexico cooperating to find these kidnappers?  López Obrador has said he doesn’t want intervention, so I’m just wondering what this working together looks like.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as I mentioned — well, first, let me just say: We’re saddened to hear about the two individuals — I think it’s important to say that — who were killed.  We send our condolences — I said this a little bit earlier — to their families and friends during this time.  We understand this is a difficult time for them. 

You heard the Attorney General say yesterday that the United States will be relentless in pursuing justice for the victims.  We will do everything in our power to identify, find, and hold accountable the individuals responsible for this attack. 

And we — you know, we continue to work in coordination with the Mexican government.  And we mentioned the U.S. law enforcement — FDA — I’m sorry, FB- — FBI, D- — DEA, and DHS — have been working closely with our — with the Mexican government.

I can’t speak to exactly who’s on the ground or who’s not on the ground.  I would refer you to those three agencies. 

But this is clearly a priority for us.  And we want to get to the bottom of this.

Q    And also, is the — would the President consider calling these cartels or naming them terrorist organizations, as some Republicans are calling for?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, this — the — the FTO — the foreign terrorist organizations.  Look, designating these cartels as FTOs would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t really have at this time.  So the United States has powerful sanctions authorities specifically designated to combat narcotics-trafficking organizations and the individuals and entities that enable them.  So we have not been afraid to use them. 

In the last few months alone, Treasury has announced a series of actions against cartels that are a danger to the public safety.  And we have also taken action that further enables Treasury to sanction foreign pers- — persons who knowingly receive property tax [that] constitutes — so it is derived from proceeds of illicit drugs trafficking activities.  And this means that drug traffickers can no longer use family or friends to hide their assets from the — from the reach of the U.S. government. 

So, again, we don’t believe that this will grant us any additional authorities.  And so I will leave it there.

And I will see you all tomorrow — oh, not tomorrow.  Friday. 

Bye, everybody.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

1:25 P.M. EST

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