Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:31 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, good afternoon, everybody. I just have a few things at the top. So once again, please bear with me.
President Biden has done more than any prior President to tackle the climate crisis, and today he’s making clear that he’s not done yet.
In the Rose Garden this afternoon, with environmental justice leaders and climate advocates, President Biden will sign an executive order making environmental justice part of the DNA of every federal agency. His order will mean cleaner air and water, reduced risk of asthma and cancer, and better access to safe and affordable housing, and clean transportation for communities across the country.
The President’s bold climate and environmental justice agenda could not stand in starker contrast to the dangerous proposals MAGA House Republicans are putting forward.
As you can see from the slide behind me — here you go — while President Biden is fighting to clean up toxic pollution and lower costs through clean energy tax credit, Speaker McCarthy unveiled a ransom note holding our economy hostage. It’s a 320-page plan to kill jobs, fill our cities with smog, and give asthma to our children.
The proposal would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act’s green energy tax credits, sending thousands of jobs back to China. It would make it easier for oil companies to use toxic chemicals that cause severe burns, damage people’s eyes, and quite literally melt bones.
It would severely weaken the Clean Air Act, sending us back to the times when cities across the country filled with heavy smog that dirties our air and poisons the lungs of our children.
It’s no surprise that over a dozen health and medical organizations, including the American Lung Association and the Children’s Environmental Health Network, oppose these dangerous proposals.
Speaker McCarthy extreme MAGA proposals would be a climate and health disaster that President Biden won’t allow on his watch.
Speaking of — speaking of, earlier this week, Speaker McCarthy redoubled his threat to default and hold the American economy hostage unless he can slash programs that the American people, including our nation’s veterans, rely on every single day.
While the President’s budget honors our country’s sacred obligation for care for America’s veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors, Speaker McCarthy’s proposal would cut these critical programs by 22 percent and threaten critical services for veterans.
Today, the Department of Veterans Affair has put out analysis of the impact Speaker McCarthy’s 22 percent cuts would have on those who have bravely served our nation. The extreme MAGA cuts he has put forward would mean 30 million fewer veteran outpatient visits, meaning veterans who need cancer screenings or mental health services would be unable to get an appointment; eliminate 50,000 veterans’ housing vouchers, putting veterans at greater risk of homelessness; take away vital food assistance from older veterans, the VA’s ability to care for the final resting place of veterans who lost their life serving this country.
The congressional Republican plan is to threaten veterans’ health, food, housing, and even gravesites for brinksmanship over the debt ceiling.
Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans should take those threats off the table, just as they did three times in the last administration.
Now, changing gears just a bit as we move on, I also want to take a moment to wish the millions of Muslim Americans across the country a blessed and happy Eid Mubarak. This is a special day when many gather with family and friends, cherish those special bonds, celebrate a month of charity and spiritual reflection, and rejoice over the morning cup of coffee they longed for the last 30 days.
Here in the Biden administration, for the first time ever, we’ve got over 100 Muslim American appointees joining in the celebration. These are public servants who are tackling the climate crisis, building on the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, protecting health, combatting hate in all its forms, restoring our alliances, and so much more.
It’s a testament to the commitment that the President ran on to unite the nation. An administration that reflects the diversity of this nation, the beauty of this nation is a core part of that, and it helps ensure that our government truly, truly serves all Americans.
The President and First Lady look forward to continuing the tradition of hosting the Eid celebration here at the White House on May 1st.
Now — and now for the week ahead. A couple of things.
On Sunday, the President and the First Lady will return to the White House from Camp David.
On Monday, the President and First Lady and the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, will honor the Council of Chief State School Officers 2023 Teachers of the Year at the White House. Teachers from each state and territory will be honored for their excellence in teaching and commitment to students’ learning.
Later, the President will welcome Tennessee State Representative Jus- — Jus- — Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson to the White House. They will continue their discussion on their efforts to ban assault weapons and stand for the — for democratic values.
On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks at the North American Building Trade Unions Legislative Conference held at the Washington Hilton. The President will discuss how this investing — how his Investing in America agenda is bringing manufacturing jobs back — or manufacturing, more broadly, back — rebuilding the middle class, creating good-paying jobs, and union jobs.
On Wednesday, the President and the First Lady will host President — President Yoon —
Oon [Yoon] — pardon me — and Mrs. Kim for a state visit to the United States, which would include a state dinner.
As part of the visit, the President and the First Lady will participate in a visit with President
Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim to the Korean War Memorial on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday morning, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President and the Second Gentleman will greet President
Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim for the official arrival ceremony on Wednesday morning.
Then the President will hold a bilateral meeting with President
Oon [Yoon]. In the afternoon, the President will host a joint press conference with President Oon [Yoon]. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will greet President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim on arriv- — on arrival for the state dinner.
After, the President and the First Lady will participate in a photo opportunity with President
Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim at the grand staircase on the occasion of the state dinner. Then the President and the First Lady will host President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim for a state dinner.
As you may have seen this morning, Korean American chef Edward Lee will be the guest chef for the state dinner. He was selected by the First Lady because of his experience with the intersection of American cuisine with Korean influence.
For entertainment, guests will enjoy a musical selection by Broadway stars Norm Lewis, Le- — Lea
Salonger [Salonga], and Jessica Vosk.
On Friday, the President will present the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to the Air Force Falcons during a cer- — ceremony at the White House.
On Saturday, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President and the Second Gentleman will attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton where the President will also deliver remarks.
Now, finally, I just want to say one last thing. And I know there’s a lot of interest in this. Obviously, I totally understand this. A lot of questions about all — all of this — the press reports that we have seen in the last 24 hours, when it comes to the President’s plans for 2024. I just want to say, and I know all of you in this room know this — I understand that you all know this, but there might be some folks who are watching at home who may not know, and so I just want to lay this out for all of them:
As a government employee, federal law prohibits me from discussing campaign-related topics from this podium. So I will be following that law and not discussing anything regarding the 2024 race. The President has been very clear. I know you all have reported this many times, and he has said this in many — in multiple interviews over the past several months, with multiple outlets and — on his attentions to — to — to — what his intentions are when it comes to 2024.
But beyond that, I will not be able to comment on anything, again, related to the 2024 elections.
And with that — and thank you so much for your patience with me today with our toppers. With that, Darlene, please take us away.
Q Thank you. I wanted to follow up — one housekeeping question on your topper. The Tennessee lawmakers, when they come on Monday, do you expect that to be an open event with the President and those lawmakers? Or what can you take — what can you tell us about what that visit will look like?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, first, look, we’ll have more to share. But I do want to say that the President looks — very much looks forward to meeting with the three legislators who, as you know, he spoke with, had a very important, critical — we thought — conversation with them about how to move forward with gun reform, about them doing their democratic duty, and — and peacefully protesting for assault weapons ban.
And what we saw, and what we saw happen to the three of them — as you heard the President say, as you have heard me say — it was undemocratic when they were expelled and essentially ousted out of their — out of their seats. And it was also an attack on our democracy.
And so what you’ll see is the President sitting down with — with these three legislators, having a conversation on how to move forward — on how to move forward with commonsense gun reform; how to move forward on protecting our communities, our kids, our churches. And he will hear them out, and he looks forward to having that conversation.
And we’ll have more on what that will look like and if there will be any availability for all of you to — to — to kind of experience or see that — that meeting. I just don’t have anything at this time.
Q And on Sudan, I wanted to follow up on something that John Kirby said —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q — when he was here yesterday and also this morning in his virtual gaggle, which was that “Americans should have no expectation of a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation at this time, and we expect that’s going to remain the case.”
Now, obviously, the U.S. government has warned Americans about the security situation in Sudan, but can you explain why this is the government’s position? Like, shouldn’t Americans abroad expect some help from their government getting —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look —
Q — out of a trouble spot?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Totally hear your question. And just to be clear, like, Americans in Sudan have been warned since this past — since this — since last year.
And it’s been a Level 4. The State Department, as you know, they tend to give the warnings to Americans abroad on what’s happening on the situation.
And so it is not our standard procedure to evacumate [sic] — evacuate American citizens living abroad. Afghanistan was a unique situation for many reasons, including already hosting a significant military presence and ending a 20-year conflict. The Afghanistan evacuation was not — was not the norm, as you all know, and many of you have reported that.
So, for example, in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, we do not provide large-scale evacuations for American citizens and LPRs even as those government collapsed. Instead, we urged Americans to use commercial options to leave the country while those options were still readily available. We also offered financial assistance to those who needed help departing the country, in accordance with our standard consular services for American citizens in these sorts of extraordinary situations.
But again, it is not our standard procedure. And the State Department does its best to provide information to citizens who are abroad and — and giving them the warning when necessary.
And this is something that — when it comes to Sudan, this is a warning — a Level 4 warning that we provided to them many months ago, basically telling Americans who were there to leave if they could and also not to travel — Americans not to travel to Sudan. So we’ve been very clear on that. Again, it’s not our standard pro- — procedure.
Go ahead, Mary.
Q Thank you. You mentioned Speaker McCarthy’s proposals, and I know that you discussed this yesterday, but I just want to make sure that I’m clear on your position: The President is not going to sit down with the Speaker until he agrees to a clean plan to raise the debt limit?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we have been very clear that the Speaker, without — without delay, should put forth a clean bill on the — on the floor to — to avoid default. We have been very clear about that, and that stance — that stance continues.
We are — we are always happy to have a conversation about the budget — we’ve been very clear about that — about the spending that they propose. We already have a sense of what they value with their 22 percent spending cuts. As I mentioned, veterans — when it comes to veterans’ education, Wheels — Wheels on — Meals on Wheels, and a host of extensive other programs that will really hurt Americans. Americans really rely on these programs to make their ends meet.
And so we’ve — we’re going to continue to analyze that, and we’ll have more to share. But clearly, as I — as I laid out at the top, we are clearly doing a deep dive on these different programs. But we need to see them put this — raise — raise the debt ceiling, avoid — avoid a default, and not put our economy or take our — the American economy hostage. And we’ve been very clear about that.
Q I’m just trying to get a sense of what you need to see to have this conversation between the President and the Speaker, because you’ve said you’re happy to talk about the budget; the President — or the Speaker has now put out what appears to be the closest thing he’s going to get to putting out a budget. So what are you waiting for?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what we’re waiting for is for them to avoid default. What we’re waiting for th- — for House Republicans is to put that on the floor so that they — we can avoid default. That’s what we want —
Q So then you won’t have a conversation until they put out that clean debt plan?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’ve been very clear about that. We do not want to negotiate on this. We want to make sure that they do what they did the last three times and avoid default.
They need to put that bill — put a clean bill on the floor so that we do not cont- — they do not continue to hold the American economy hostage. And that’s what they’re doing, which has — will have dangerous consequences for not just our economy, for the American people.
So that’s what we want them to do.
Q And no talking until then?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, they need to do that, and then we can go ahead and have a conversation about the budget.
Q And just one quick one, since you did the week ahead: Does the President have any plans to mark the fourth anniversary of his announcement of his 2020 campaign? (Laughter.)
Q That’s a good one.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a — yeah, that is very good.
Q Had to try. Had to try.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You had to try.
I don’t have anything else beyond the week ahead that I just laid out, but I really appreciate the effort. That was very good.
Q Karine —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes?
Q — who will be able to address questions about 2024?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you know, I don’t have anything to say about 2024 either way. It’s not going to come from here, from this podium, as I have stated. And so I’m just going to leave it there.
Q And has the President now ordered the evacuation of American diplomatic personnel from Sudan? What’s the status of that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I know that the Admiral took some questions on this earlier. And so, when it comes to the diplomats and the embassy, we have — as you all know, and you’ve heard me say this, we have no higher priority than the safety of our U.S. government personnel and their families overseas. And we have made very clear to both sides that any attacks, threats, or dangers posed to our diplomats are totally unacceptable.
As you heard from the Department of Defense, U.S. Africa Command is monitoring the situation and conducting prudent planning for various contingencies. As part of this planning, the U.S. is deploying additional capabilities to the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially falis- — fascis- — facilitating departure of U.S. embassy personnel from Sudan if circumstances require it.
So any other questions, we would refer you to the State Department. But I just laid out what the Department of Defense and U.S. Africa Command is — is monitoring and putting into place just in case.
Q I have a question about the actual Hatch Act. In the past, presidents, when they’re preparing to run for re-election, have tried to separate their job as president from the job as candidate. For example, they’ll commit to only holding political meetings in the Residence, only phoning donors from the Residence, and, in fact, I think there’s a special phone line on Air Force One, when President Obama was in office, to talk to donors. Is President Biden going to take similar steps?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to share on — on anything that’s related to 2024.
Q Okay. And at Camp David this weekend, what’s — what is the President planning to do while he’s up there? Do you have a list of staff that’s going?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I do not have a list of staff that’s attending. Well, I think usually when he leaves, we put out a little pool note on who’s traveling, so you’ll have that. You all will have that. So that is a common practice.
But I don’t have anything specific to — to lay out when he’s at Camp David. You know, that’s kind of private time with his family. Just don’t have anything more.
Q So it’ll be family time? He’s not expecting to meet with —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean family — with the First Lady or with whomever else is — is with him. I just don’t have any specifics with him, for — to share.
Go ahead, Nancy.
Q Thanks, Karine. Can you give us some details on what the White House is doing to try to win over this group of moderate Senate Democrats — Senate — Senator Tester, Senator Sinema, Senator Kelly, Senator Manchin — who are still on the fence about the Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we have complete confidence in Julie Sh- — Julie Su’s nomination and for her to be confirmed. That is something that we are confident about. I think I’ve said this many times before, or at least a couple times at this podium this past week: that when she was deputy secretary, going for deputy secretary for her confirmation, she got all — all Democratic senators to vote for her and to make — for confirmation. And so, we expect that.
The Office of Leg Affairs and other folks here are in constant communication on all of our nominees on this parti- — on their confirmation process and procedure. Again, we’re very confident, and we’re going to continue to have those conversations with those Democratic senators.
I just don’t have anything further to share on that.
Q Is the President himself getting involved in the effort to seal this nomination?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any calls to preview, but this is indeed a priority for this President and will continue to be a priority — Julie Su’s confirmation.
Again, we have confidence that we will get her through. And we’ll continue to have those conversations with them, those Democratic senators, and others — not just Democratic senators, but also Republican senators as well.
Q You’ve had a few high-profile nominees who had to withdraw their nominations lately. There was the FAA administrator, there was the FCC commissioner. Those nominations held out there for months and months and then had to, you know — basically, the White House had to go back to square one. Is the White House doing enough to run these nominations by moderate Senate Democrats ahead of time to make sure that they’re on board?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We ha- — we’re having regular conversations with Democratic senators — and Republicans as well — to shore up support for our nominees. That is something that is important. We understand how this process work. If anything, this is a President that understands how the process works in the Senate when it comes to confirmation, when it comes to putting forth your nominees, when it comes to what you need to do to get support, shore up that support for — for that — that particular nominee.
So that is not unusual. You — you’re speaking — you’re speaking about an administra- — an administration, or you’re looking at administration that is well — very well versed and experienced in that process. So, we’ll continue to have those conversations.
We’ve also had a lot of nominees that have made it through. And so, look, we’re going to be — we’re going to be optimistic about this. We’re going to continue to have — continue to do that outreach to senators on the Hill.
We think Julie Su is — is the right person for this job. As you know, she’s — she worked alongside the former Labor Secretary, and they were part of creating record — record jobs — right? — that we’ve seen in the first two years of this administration. Two- — more than 2.5 million jobs. And so, we are going to do the work to get her through.
Q Thanks, Karine. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he was visiting the White House today to meet with White House officials. He’s been vocal in wanting more support from the administration on migrants who’ve been transported to New York City. Do you know if that came up in his meetings or any more details about what he was here for today?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have details on what came up in the meetings. I could tell you that he met with our Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients, and he also met with Julie Rodriguez today. And he is going to be having a meeting, if it hasn’t occurred yet, with Secretary Yellen this afternoon. And as you know, it coincides with the meeting of mayors here at the White House, followed by a meeting with FEMA Administrator.
So he’s going to be — FEMA Administrator, Chief of Staff, Julie Rodriguez, Secretary Yellen. So he has a host of meetings with certain members of the President’s White House and administration. I just don’t have anything further to read out.
And I’m sure there — a range of issues will come up, and he is a partner on many issues that are important to this President.
Q And then, I have another one that’s a bit off the beaten path —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, my goodness.
Q — but it’s on the —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q — the Washington Commanders sale.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh.
Q You do have a role here, so let me lay it out.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, my goodness. (Laughter.)
Q The team has long wanted a new stadium at the RFK site, which is on federally owned land, but there’s been an obstacle to — for that to happen because of the scandal-plagued ownership of Daniel Snyder.
So now that that is coming to a close, is the White House supportive of transferring that land to the city to open the door for a new stadium?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I honestly — I would have to take that back to the team. I was not tracking — tracking the use of federal land, so I would have to track — get back with the team and get an answer to you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Thanks.
Go ahead, Tam.
Q Yeah. Can you say what this environmental justice announcement will mean, if anything, for the people in East Palestine, Ohio?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a very good question. Look, I think what’s important to note about this environmental justice EO is the President’s continued support in his climate agenda — his ambitious climate agenda. He has the most ambitious climate age- — agenda than any other President in history.
And one way that you can look at this today is that he’s continuing to deliver on that ambitio- — ambitious agenda. And he’s not done yet. Right? This is a continuing — continuation of what he’s promised the American people. Again, when the President walked into the administration, climate — climate change was one of the crises that he felt that he needed to deal with.
So he’ll be standing together, as I mentioned, with environmental justice leaders, climate advocates, and community leaders. And he’s going to sign a new executive order making environmental justice the mission of every federal agency. When you think about that being the DNA of the administration, I think that’s an important — important piece here.
And so, again, this is just delivering again on his — on how he sees moving forward with dealing with climate change, his promise that he made in 2020, and — as he continues to deliver throughout his — his tenure here.
And so, that is — that is going to be our focus. What — he’s going to continue to do more work to make sure that we deal with an issue that’s incredibly important.
Q Additionally, we’re — I think everyone is watching the Supreme Court to see what they do on mifepristone. Is the President also watching? And is there a scenario under which he would — he would make public remarks about the decision? And under what scenario would he?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’re all watching, as all of you. This is an unprecedented time.
When it comes to mifepristone, a — as I’ve mentioned before, it is a drug that’s been around for more than 20 years that’s been used in 6- — more than 60 countries.
It is a — it is a — it is — has been approved by the F- — at FDA, which is an evidat- — an evidence-based approval and we should not forget that, alongside of a wide range of other — of other prescription drugs that FDA get the — has the right to approve. Again, an independent agency.
All I can tell you at this time is we’re all waiting, we’re all watching — is that we are prepared. We are prepared for whatever announcement comes out of the Supreme Court.
And — and if — if need be, we are prepared also for a long legal battle. That is our commitment and our promise to the millions of women across the country.
The President has been very clear, this administration has been very clear: We are going to continue to fight for women’s — women’s reproductive rights.
Q Are we likely to see the President speak on this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have anything to share. We’re waiting to see what — what — what the announcement is going to be, what the outcome of the Supreme Court decision will be. And so I don’t want to get ahead of that.
I just don’t have anything to share for this weekend. And —
Q Follow-up please, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. I’d like to ask you about a report from earlier this week about Canada informing NATO officials that it will never meet its — the Alliance 2 percent defense target. Has the President — is the President worried for the security in the Arctic in a reality where Canada obviously cannot fill up its obligations?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me first say that the United States and Canada have a close defense partnership. You saw — you saw the two — the two leaders together just recently in Canada. So we’re committed partners in NORAD, the only bi- — binational military command in the world. And we are closely — and we are closely working together to meet the threats and challenges that we face.
And so, during that meeting in Canada between the two leaders in Ottawa just last month, both leaders committed to invest in the modernization of NORAD, including enhanced domain awareness in the Arctic to protect our citizens and sovereign territory.
The joint statement that was released with Canada during the visit contained a number of specific investments Canada is making in its defense infrastructure. So certainly I would point you to that joint sta- — statement.
The two leaders also underscored the importance of investment in modern, ready, and capable forces under the 2014 Wales Summit Defense Investment Pledge in the face of global threats.
So, again, they have a close defense partnership, and they are both committed.
Q And has the President lost hope though, Karine, of a strong Canadian involvement in Haiti to bring some sort of stability — to take a more active role to bring some sort of ste- — stability to Haiti?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know, that conversation came up during — during the meeting as well. This is a — this is something that the President addressed as well in Ottawa when he — when they did their — at their conference. We’ve made it clear that we believe the security and humanitarian situation in Haiti is worsening and the situation on the ground will not improve without armed security assistance from international partners.
And any decisions about that — about any type of military force would be done in consultation with the U.N., with the Haitian government. And those discussions are still going on. I just don’t have anything else to add.
As you know, the United States has been a strong — a strong supporter of making sure and providing assistance to — to the Haitian people. And so, we’ll continue — continue to do that.
Go ahead, April. Go ahead.
Q Karine, on — one question. When it comes to Tennessee lawmakers and the possibility — I’m hearing there’s a strong possibility of a special session in May that could deal with firearms, et cetera — what would be the President’s hope if they go back into special session to discuss this very passionate issue, not just in Tennessee, but around the — around the nation? And do you think Tennessee now could possibly lead if they do change?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we’ve seen — yesterday, I laid out a few states — Washington State and Michigan, I believe, if I’m — if I’m remembering the states correctly — who are leading — who are leading and making sure that we’re moving forward with protecting our communities, protecting our schools, and making sure that we’re dealing with this epidemic of gun violence that we’re seeing across the country. And they’re taking leadership.
And so, that is something that we certainly welcome. That is something that we want to see from statehouses, from state governments to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to protect our kids, to protect our communities.
And so, of course, the President would welcome any efforts to come — for state legislators to come together with commonsense gun laws, to come together to ban assault weapons.
What we have been calling for — so that is something certainly that we’re for. What we’ve been calling for is for Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, to take action as well — for Republicans to come together with Democrats to take action.
And so, the President is going to continue to use the bully pulpit to do just that, because we also need to see action from the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.
So, that’s what we’ve been calling for in a very — in a very consistent way over this past year.
Q And as your waiting for Congress, Tennessee State has some of the weakest gun laws in the nation for gun manufacturers in the state, and it’s very passionate.
Do you believe that if Tennessee does change anything when it comes to guns after the Covenant School deadly shooting — do you believe, though, for the states that are holding out, it could make a difference? The states — yeah.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think so, yeah. I think any state leadership on this issue — on gun violence, on dealing with this epidemic, on moving forward and protecting communities — I think is important.
Yesterday, I laid out — I talked about a few states who were doing just that. And we lifted them up because it was important for the American people and for — I know you all cover this — for us — for — for us to say it from the podium and to list out the other states that are actually taking action.
And so, yes, of course, if Tennessee were to take action and move forward in, again, dealing with gun reform in a real way that’s going to protect and save lives, of course we would commend them.
Let me go around. Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. The President will be the second sitting President to visit Hiroshima, when he goes to Japan. I know when Obama went, that there was a lot of pressure from some quarters on him to apologize for the — you know, for dropping the atomic bomb. Is that something that President Biden is going to talk about when he’s there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to get ahead of what we’re going to be doing next month. We’ll have more to share when we get closer to — to the dates, but I just don’t have anything to share at this time.
Q And other quick one, if I can. It’s not a 2024 — not a Hatch Act-type question, let’s put it that way.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s what you think. (Laughter.)
Q I’m tel- — telling you it’s (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know, I love how you’re setting it up. (Laughter.)
Q I’m getting that out of the way first. (Laughter.)
But, you know — but Donald Trump is the frontrunner at the moment — clear frontrunner of the Republican Party. He is — he is — he wants to be President, and he’s the frontrunner of his party (inaudible).
This is somebody that President Biden has described as, you know, a danger — literally a danger to the country, and his movement, an existential threat to democracy, et cetera.
So, candidate or not, is President — current President Biden — is — is he following the words and actions of Donald Trump on a fairly regular basis, considering he’s a danger, in his view?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I appreciate the question, Sebastian. As you just laid out yourself, he is a candidate for 2024. And you’re specifically talking about a result or — or what could potentially happening in that — happen in that race. And I’m just not going to speak to it.
What I can’t speak to is how the President is focusing on the American people and delivering for the American people.
Here’s what we know to be a threat: What we know to be a threat is the MAGA wing of the Republican Party and Speaker McCarthy who are — put forward a — you know, a plan, a blueprint, that’s holding the American economy hostage. That’s a threat. That’s a threat to the — our economy. That’s a threat to Americans across the country. When we think about the 22 percent spending cut that they put forward, that’s a threat to veterans, that’s a threat to our education, and that’s a threat to the American people who need these different programs to make ends meet.
And so that’s what we’re going to focus on right now. That’s what — feel free to ask me a million questions about that, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
And so, the President, when he makes his decision, he’ll make his decision. It will not come from here. I will not be talking about 2024. I made that very clear: As a government official, it’s not something that I can do from here.
But I’m happy to talk about how we’re delivering here at the White House for the American people.
Oh, boy. Okay. All right, Michael.
Q Why have you been willing to talk about President Trump before? And have you — were you in violation of the Hatch Act —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not.
Q — when you did so?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because we were talking about what the President has done in — in the —
Q No, no, no —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — the administration.
Q — not your President.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I know. I’m just —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m answering your question —
Q Oh, okay. I’m sorry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — because I’m saying President Trump —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — we were talking about what he did in the last administration. We were talking about policies that were harmful in the —
Q That’s what he just —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — past administration.
Q That’s what he just asked about.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no. He asked me does the President still believe that — that Donald Trump is a threat if he wins. Right? Because he’s going to be — he’s a candidate.
Q No. He didn’t ask that.
Q No, I (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s something different.
Q No, no, no, he didn’t ask that.
Q Can I — can I just say what I said? (Laughter.) I — I — was asking: Is the President — is President Biden — does he follow the words and actions of this person —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q — Donald Trump —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As a candidate. Right? As a candidate.
Q Today — he follows it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, yes, I’m not — I’m not —
Q He switches on the TV and says, “There’s Trump”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I’m saying I’m not talking about 2024.
Q But —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not talking about 20-
Q But that’s not 2024.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I have talked about — what I have talked about —
Q Donald Trump has been a candidate for re-election or for election — or however you want to call it —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I understand that.
Q — for, like, a year. And you’ve talked — but — I mean, you’ve talked about him a lot —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, about —
Q — and what he’s done a lot. And he — and so you didn’t —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As — as I have talked about his policies when he was President. That’s what I have talked about. That’s what I’ve talked about. We’ve talked about immigration, his immigration policies, right? We’ve talked about how he separated babies from their parents. We’ve talked about that and how — how those policies were incredibly dangerous when he was President. That’s what I have talked about.
I’ve not talked about him as a candidate, and I’m not going to do that from here. I’m just not. I’m not going to talk about the polling. I’m not going to talk about what 2024 is going to look like. I’m not going to talk about that from here.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. There was news this morning from Bloomberg that the G7 countries, including the U.S., are considering a near-total ban on exports to Russia. I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit about that idea, whether it’s one that the administration is embracing, pushing for.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, so we’re — we’re going to — we’re committed to holding Russia accountable. That’s something that we are committed to doing here. And in coordination with our G7 partners, have put in place the largest set of sanctions and export control actions ever imposed on a major economy.
These actions have had a significant impact, undercutting Russia’s ability to find and fight its unjust war.
Don’t have any new measures to announce today at this time.
But you can see from many of the — our G- — G7 statements that we are committed to continuing to hold Russia accountable and supporting Ukraine as long as it takes. And that’s going to continue to be our commitment.
Go ahead, Michael.
Q Thanks, Karine. Yesterday, Secretary Mayorkas said that the administration, next week, will announce a new border security policy in anticipation of a surge in migrants into May. So I’m wondering what you can tell us about that, what we can expect. And specifically, does the administration plan to resume the detention of parents and children who cross the border as — together as a family?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security will have more to share on this soon. So — don’t have timing on that or detail to provide at this time.
As you know, earlier this year, back in January, the Department of Homeland Security did put forth what their continuing implementation plan was going to be. And they announced it, again, earlier this year.
And the way that we see it is the plan is working; we see the data of making sure unlawful immigration goes down. And again, we’ve seen that in the numbers. But as far as any — any plans, future plans, that should be out soon.
Q And in terms of the detention of families, is that something that is on the table. Is it something —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I — they’ll have more to share later on. I just don’t have anything to announce at this time.
Go ahead, Karen .
Q Thanks, Karine. You had talked earlier this week about the President’s call to Ralph Yarl and his family. Has the President reached out to any of the other families of the victims of some of these shootings that have happened recently for these seemingly innocent mistakes that they have made?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. So, the President, as you mentioned, called Ralph — Ralph Yarl and spoke to him directly, spoke to his — to his mother. And they had a — a good conversation, talked to him — talked about how — his success in school and talked about — the President re- — recommitted to him how his focus is going to be on really, truly continuing to deal with gun violence.
Don’t have any other calls to read out at this time. The President, as you know, has talked to multiple families, sadly, in the last two years who have been — who have been victims to these gun — gun — gun violence tragedies — and so that’s — not something that is easy to do — and certainly has visited communities over the past two years that have been struck by these — by this type of violence. I just don’t have any other conversations to lay out.
Q Broadly, just kind of with this string of these examples this week of, you know, pulling into the wrong driveway, a basketball rolling into the wrong yard, what does the President make of this — of these reactions by people, that they have gone and shot people for something that is innocent, just a wrong mistake? What does he make of that — that that was what people did?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President thinks that it’s time that we — that — that Congress, Republicans in Congress take action on these types of gun violence that we’re seeing in our communities, in our school. That doesn’t change it. That doesn’t change the President continuing to use his bully pulpit to call — to call out Congress or — or really call Congress to take action. And that’s what we need to see: We need to see commonsense gun laws and we need Congress to legislate.
The President has taken more than two dozen executive action on this issue, on this gun violence, to deal with gun violence epidemic.
And now we need to see Congress take action. We need Republicans to step in. We need Republicans to show some courage in Congress. And we’re just not seeing that at this time. And it is important to do that to save lives across the country.
And I’ll leave it at that. I’ll see you guys on Monday. Thanks, everybody.
Q Thank you.
2:09 P.M. EDT