Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the Cast of “The L Word” and “The L Word: Generation Q”
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:22 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody.
Q Good afternoon.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What’s going on? (Laughs.)
All right, happy Tuesday. So, this week is Lesbian Visibility Week. And as the first openly queer person to hold the position of Press Secretary for the President of the United States, I see every day how important visibility and representation are.
Today I’m honored to welcome the cast of “The L Word” and “Generation Q,” two Showtime series that chronicle the friendship, the love, the challenges, and the triumphs of strong, funny, and resilient queer women.
Up here with me are the amazing, talented actresses who play those very roles — Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, and Katherine Moennig — and the show’s co-creator, writer, and executive producer, Ilene Chaiken.
After hearing from them briefly at the podium today, the cast will meet with LGBTQI+ staffers of the Biden-Harris administration to talk about our administration’s work to advance full equality for our community.
Last year, I had the personal privilege of attending the filming of an episode showcasing the marriage of two characters, Bette and Tina, a moment — (laughs) — that meant so much to queer women across the country.
Even though I grew up in one of the most diverse cities in the world — as some of you know, I grew up in New York City — as a young queer woman of color, I felt alone and sometimes invisible.
For so many people in our community, “The L Word”’s impact cannot be understated. Being able to see diverse narratives that reflect our lives is incredibly important. It is important that young people see characters on television and in the books who they can relate to, whose life stories and identities inspire them to reach their highest — their highest potential.
It’s important that LGBTQI+ people are represented in government, in shows, in institutions across the country.
And this work is more important than ever as the LGBTQI+ community continues to face relentless attacks from some Republicans across the country. From books bans to “Don’t Say Gay” laws, MAGA extremists want to roll back the visibility and progress we fought so hard to achieve.
But LGBTQI+ youth are resilient — and you’ve heard me say this before, you’ve heard the President say this before. They are fierce. They fight back. They aren’t going anywhere.
And there are people from the White House, from the President to the Vice President to this administration and beyond, who have their back.
This week is a testament to how far we’ve come and the work that remains to advance equality to all people.
And with that, I just want to give a special thanks again to the team behind me, the amazing actresses who — again, who have played these historic roles over the past several years. And a warm, huge thanks to Ilene, who created a show that only told our stories and — but also — and this is, I believe, very, very true — saved precious lives. And also, one last thing is change hearts and minds.
So thank you so much, Ilene, for your creative brilliance in putting this to life.
And so, with that, I believe you’re up next, Ilene.
MS. CHAIKEN: All right. Thank you, Karine. We are honored to have the opportunity to be here today standing beside the first out lesbian press secretary in our history, who serves the most pro-LGBTQI President in our history.
When “The L Word” debuted in 2004, we too accomplished a few firsts by bringing our stories into homes and communities across the country and around the world. We learned by the beautiful response to our show how profoundly important it is for people, particularly young people, to see themselves reflected in our entertainment culture and to know that they’re embraced, valued, and not alone.
We’re delighted that “The L Word” lives on and speaks to a new generation. But we’re painfully aware that our struggles are far from over. We face new threats against our community, from online harassment to legislative acts of violence to actual physical violence — astonishing, backward, mean-spirited attacks by groups and individuals who in trying to deny our humanity only diminish their own.
We’ve been fighting this fight for generations, and we’ll never stand down. They may try to erase our stories from classrooms and libraries, but we’re here. We’re here today at the White House.
And we won’t be erased. We will continue to be visible, powerful, engaged, contributive, creative, loving American citizens.
We’re galvanized by President Biden’s leadership, from strengthening non-discrimination protections for our communities to signing the Respect for Marriage Act into law, to supporting LGBTQI kids and their parents.
And we’re thankful to this President for giving us the first out lesbian press secretary, who represents hope and possibility for so many people, young and a bit older.
My colleagues and I want to wish President and Dr. Biden, Press Sec- — Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and her family, and each and every one of you an enlightened Lesbian Visibility Week, month, year, decade, century, and so on, and on and on.
Thank you so much. And here’s my colleague, Leisha Hailey.
MS. HAILEY: Good afternoon. Thank you, Karine. First, let me say it’s a privilege to be sharing the stage with you today.
I’m standing here today because, as a young gay girl in Nebraska who raced Soap Box Derby cars and wore rainbow suspenders, I was seen by my family. Their love and support gave me the courage and confidence to live my life openly.
As an actor on “The L Word,” I have had the enormous honor and responsibility of being visible for over 20 years. But visibility is not just the act of being seen, it is the ability to see.
So to the librarian in Texas advocating to keep books with LGBTQIA themes on the shelves, we see you. To the LGBTQIA people leading their communities as rabbis, pastors, and ministers, we see you. To the LGBTQIA community in Missouri about to lose their gender-affirming care, we see you. To the LGBTQIA community affected by the Dobbs decision in Idaho, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Tennessee, we see you. And to the first openly LGBTQIA press secretary, we see you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
MS. HAILEY: Visibility starts in our homes and our communities. And even if it feels like you’re under attack, know that we see you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much. Okay, thank you, guys. Thank you.
MS. HAILEY: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, thank you. All right, thank you.
All right, thanks, everybody. This is like the quietest I’ve heard you guys. (Laughs.)
Okay, now let’s continue. I have a couple of things at the top, and then we’ll open it up for questions and answer, per usual.
So, speaking of the MAGA proposal that we have talked about many times over the past week, we’ve learned some important details in the last 24 hours.
First, we learned Speaker McCarthy’s bill would cut the American economy off at the knees. In a new analysis, Moody’s Analytics finds that the Speaker’s legislation would increase the odds of a recession, cost 780,000 jobs, weaken the economy, and increase the unemployment rate.
Second, the Department of Hom- — of Health and Huma- — Human Services released new analysis showing how Speaker McCarthy’s proposal would jeopardize healthcare for 21 million Americans who are enrolled in Medicaid. It would reduce access to health centers across the country. An estimated 630,000 patients in rural areas could lose access to health centers.
And third, the Department of Education shared how the Speaker’s bill would remove up to 60,000 teachers from — from classrooms, reduce support for as many as 7.5 million children with disabilities, gut funding for schools serving low-income students, slash mental health and violence prevention services, eliminate student debt relief for more than 40 million Americans, and make college more expensive by reducing Pell grants for millions.
It’s clear that the Speaker’s bill breaks House Republicans’ commitment to America.
In the run-up to the 2022 election, House Republicans promised to put cops on the beat. Instead, they’re fighting to put fentanyl on the street by defend- — defunding Border Patrol.
Their proposal makes clear that only things House Republicans are committed to giving to Americans are increased crime, lower economic growth, and more manufacturing jobs sent back to China.
The Speaker’s position is that unless the President and the Senate agree to that job-killing, cost-increasing, anti-farm, anti-healthcare, anti-education agenda, they’re going to default and crash the economy. That’s not just unreasonable, but it’s also incredibly dangerous.
Instead of playing these games, they should avoid default, take it off the table, and have a conversation with the President, his administration, and other congressional leaders about the budget, about spending.
Now, moving on to the next topic: Today, Washington State has become the 10th state in the nation, alongside Washington, D.C., to ban assault weapons and get weapons of war off America’s streets.
President Biden commends the leadership of Washington Governor Jay Inslee and legislative leaders, as well as the advocates, survivors, and elected officials who fought for years to make today a reality.
In so doing so — in so doing this, they have made every community in the state, from Seattle to Spok- — Spokane and everywhere in between, safer and more secure.
Despite President Biden’s historic actions to reduce gun violence through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and two dozen executive actions, too many Americans continue to lose their lives to gun violence.
The President has continued to press for more action to keep our homes and schools, communities safe, including federal laws requiring background checks for all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
In the meantime, he continues to urge other states to join Washington State, along with California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Illinois to ban assault weapons at the state level to save lives.
And finally, I know you heard from the President already on this, but I ask for a point of — a point of personal privilege to acknowledge the passing of a true — a incredible legend, a barrier-breaker, and a remarkable talent. Of course, I am speaking of Mr. Harry Belafonte.
He enriched our world. He inspired generations. And he was a role model to ten mil- — tens of millions of young people just across the country, dare I say across the world, including myself.
I got to know him a bit, and we have stayed in touch over the years. He called me, in — in a jokingly fun way, a “Haitian tsunami.” That was his nickname for me. I can tell you why later.
Like so many whose life he touched, I am a better person because of Mr. Belafonte, because of his influence, because of his guidance, his kindness, and his wisdom, and his such incredible talent.
The world lost a true one-of-a-kind today. We will always cherish his memory and celebrate his amazing, incredible accomplishments.
With that, Josh, the floor is yours.
Q Wonderful. Thanks so much, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely.
Q Two subjects. First, now that the President has announced, is the White House doing any additional, like, seminars or guidance internally on how to comply with the Hatch Act? And what are your guidelines and the contours of where you’re able to go and where you’re not able to go so that we understand how you’re thinking about this issue?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, it’s a great question and I appreciate you asking it.
Look, this is an administration that is — that — and a President — that believes in the rule of law. Certainly, you’ve heard me over the past couple of weeks and months, probably painfully so, trying to make sure that we respect the rule of law and not to — not to break the Hatch Act. That is something that we’re going to continue to do and do our best to do that.
As you know, we have the White House Counsel’s Office here, who certainly is going to give guidance to — to the team here and also to White House staffers to make sure that we understand the protocol and the process.
As far as White House staff — you know, as you know from covering past reelection, Josh — reelection campaigns — the law does provide for limited involvement from some select officials.
And so, I don’t have any announcement to make on — on those selective — chosen folks, but those people would be — who those people would be, but our approach would be consistent with past norms.
But again, you know, now that — now there has been an announcement, I will very often, if not always, refer you to the 2024 presidential reelection campaign.
Q Gotcha. And then, secondly, the Discord leaks contain details about South Korea and its potential role of supplying arms to Ukraine. What should the public know about what President Biden intends to tell President Yoon about these leaks?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, the President and the First Lady are very much looking forward to welcoming the President of South Korea and also the First lady of South Korea, obviously, which we — we will see. We will be seeing them later — later this evening. And certainly, there’ll be many opportunities tomorrow.
So, as to your question, U.S. officials, as we have said many times, are engaging more broadly with our allies and partners at hal- — at high levels to reassure them of our commitment to safeguarding intelligence and — and fidelity to our security — security partnerships.
Our commitment to the ROK is ironclad. And that has been and will continue to be so.
We have engaged, again, at high levels with allies, including the ROK, on the subject of the unauthorized disclosures, and we take this very seriously. And — and — and it is consistent with being close and enduring allies.
Again, it is ironclad — our commitment to them.
Q I want to circle back to something I asked last week, because clearly the President did have plans to mark the anniversary of his 2020 campaign launch.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. Yes, and I — and I — and I congratulated you for being incredibly clever with the question. Yes, I remember.
Q Thank you. We tried. I’m going to try it again.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs) Okay. Here we go.
Q When did the President make this personal decision that now was the time to announce? And, you know, what was the factor that tipped the scale here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, going to be very careful here. 2024 election. I actually don’t have anything to share,
like behind the scenes, on his decision-making.
I think the President spoke to this himself when he was asked before today about his intention to run and his plans to run. And so, I will refer you back to what he has said more explicitly when he had those interviews.
So I don’t — again, don’t want to say — say much more than that from here. But — but, again, you know, want to be really mindful. There’s now a presidential campaign — reelection campaign. And so those type of questions, I would refer you to them.
Q Sure. But this is a question about, like, his personal decision, not — not politics.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. No, I totally understand. I don’t have anything to share on that. I would refer you to — totally understand, like, “What was his decision? What was his thinking process?” I would certainly refer you to the 2024 campaign.
Q And can you just tell us when was Julie Chávez Rodriguez’s final day here at the White House as a senior advisor?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Don’t have anything to announce or share on — and on a timeline from here.
Q So, on Sudan, Karine, what diplomacy are you engaging in to try to get the ceasefire extended?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things, Steve, that I want to lay out for you.
So, the President’s senior national security team has been in direct const- — contact with the SAF and RSF leadership — you heard directly from the Nat- — our National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, on this yesterday — to — to urge the generals — to urge them to end hostilities immediately without preconditions. And we are consulting very closely with regional and other partners as well.
And I know many of you have been reporting this, but following the intense negotiation over the past 48 hours, the SAF and the RSF have agreed to implement a na- — na- — nationwide, 72-hour ceasefire that started at midnight just last night, on April 24th.
And during this period, we urge — we’re going to continue to urge SAF and RSF to fully uphold the ceasefire, and, you know, to support a durable end to the fighting.
The United States is coordinating with regional and international partners and Sudanese civilian stakeholders to assist in the creation of a committee to oversee the negotiation, conclusion, and implementation of a permanent ceasefire of hostilities and humanitarian arrangements in Sudan. We will continue to work toward the shared goal of a return to civilian government in Sudan.
Look — and you’ve hear- — you’ve heard us say before: There is no military solution to Sudan’s political crisis. The ongoing violence threatens the safety of all civilians, jeopardizes the progress made to date in negotiations to restore Sudan’s democratic transition, and undermines the aspiration of the Sudanese people.
And so, I’ll leave it there.
Q And secondly, on the debt ceiling, what’s your best estimate on when the extraordinary measures you’ve taken will run out and the debt ceiling will be reached?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, that is something that Secretary Yellen has spoken to. That is something that, clearly, the Treasury Department is overseeing and keeping a close eye on.
I’m not going to go into timelines from here. I will let the Treasury Department answer that specifically.
Q Can I ask you just one follow-up on Sudan and then a —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — a Congress question? Has the ceasefire created any new opportunities in terms of what Jake was talking about yesterday: Americans getting into convoys being able to reach naval assets at the port?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I know you guys asked about –Jake about, as you just mentioned, the naval — kind of, the naval assets.
Look, we’re — and Jake said this; I’m just going to repeat what he said — we’re moving naval assets within the region to assist with potential contingency off the coast of Port of Sudan — Sudan.
I don’t have anything else to share beyond what — what our National Security Advisor shared. But, clearly, this is — this is important to us and important to the President.
Q And then, on Senator Manchin: Granting that you guys always say you have a close and respectful working relationship with him, he said last night that the administration broke their word to the American public and threatened to vote against — to repeal his own legislation. Do you have any response to that threat?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you just said, we have a strong relationship with Senator Manchin. We have, in the — in the two years or more so — two years of this President’s tenure here, we’ve been able to pass some incredibly historic pieces of legislation that’s going to change the lives of many Americans — millions of Americans across the country — that the President is very proud of. And so, we look forward to continue to working with Senator Manchin.
Look, as it comes to the Inflation Reduction Act, we are — we are proud of this. This is something that the President is proud of.
The goals that it’s going to achieve are lowering the deficit by more than $200 billion, ensuring American energy security, bringing supply chains and manufacturing home, creating good-paying manufacturing and energy jobs, reducing costs for hardworking families, and investing in energy communities and towns across America that have been left behind.
So, look, again, as I just stated, we’re going to continue working with Senator Manchin on other shared priorities, including reducing the deficit, as the President was able to do this first two years and has stated that he’ll do in — in his budget for fisca- — fiscal year 2024.
He’s going to — if you look at his budget, he’s going to reduce — it’s going to reduce the budget — the deficit by an additional $3 trillion over the next 10 years.
And that is the commitment. That is the commitment that this President has.
Q Do you dispute, though, the characterization that you broke your word, or this administration has broken its word to the American people?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we are — I know he was speaking to the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. Look, we are faithfully implementing all the parts of the Inflation Reduction Act, including parts that we don’t like. Right? And that’s what you do as President and as an administration. That includes components of the Inflation Reduction Act that don’t have anything to do with clean energy.
So, we’ll still faithfully implement — implement the law and implement, again, the piece — pieces that we — like I said, we don’t even — we don’t even like as well.
And so, that is going to be our commitment to follow the law. And that’s what you’ll see from this administration.
Go ahead, Steven.
Q Thanks, Karine. As a matter of housekeeping, to whom should we direct our questions about the campaign?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would — I would — I would direct them to the 2024 campaign, the reelection campaign.
Q Is there a particular individual that is taking questions at the moment?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I don’t have a specific individual, but I’m sure we can figure that out and make sure you have contact with the right people. Yeah.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And I would probably just go to the generic email — right? — that’s connected with the — for now — that’s connected with the campaign.
But again, that’s who you should go directly to, as it relates to anything that’s related to 2024.
Q Okay. I want to ask you broadly about the theme that the President has been speaking of not just today but since — really since the start of the year: this idea of “finishing the job.”
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Can you explain what it means? I mean, you know, the President’s powers are limited. His term in office is limited. What is “the job”? How could any President finish it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, while — the President talked — has talked about this many times, including members of his administration. You heard him talk about it during the State of the Union — finishing — finishing the job.
Look, he ran and won on his agenda in 2020. And so he has, of course, used similar language to update the American people as he works to fulfill his promises.
The President believes that he needs to continuing deliver — to deliver for the American people. You hear us talk about his economic policy and how it has, because of the historic pieces of legislation that have gone through, has — how that has en- — been able — enabled him to build an economy from the bottom up, middle out.
So, when you think about that, you think about Medicare — Medicare being able to negotiate for lower drug — drug costs. You think about the infrastructure — bipartisan infrastructure legislation.
Let’s not forget: In the last administration, “Infrastructure Week” was a joke. It was a tagline to make fun of.
And this is a President that’s been able to make that happen.
So that is, you know, getting the job done and also finishing that up by making sure that we’re implementing those — those laws, implementing those — those important policies. Again, that’s going to change the lives of millions of Americans.
And so, you’re al- — you’re going to continue to hear him say this. He say — he said this the past — the past year or the past several months. And he believes it’s a way to communicate with the American people, is to communicate to let them know that we are — we are — we are going to do the job and finishing up the agenda that he laid out in 2020.
Q One more question about that. The issue of the President is 80 years old — oldest man ever elected, would be 86 at the end of his second term. Our CBS News poll this morning shows that only 22 percent of Democratic-leaning voters are excited about the prospect of President Biden running for reelection.
I want to ask you this: As a young man, when he was coming of age, a President who was inaugurated in 1961 said it was time to — that a torch had been passed to a new generation. Why has President Biden not decided to pass the torch at this point? Why does he still want to hold it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, a couple of things. I want to be very careful. Again, this is the 2024 — related to the 2024 reelection, so I want to be very careful on — on that piece.
But what I can say more broadly is that, you know, as it relates to your first part of the question, you know, when it comes to age, it’s the same thing that we heard in 2020. Right? We heard that over and over in 2020.
And — and if you look at what the President has done this past two years, he’s been able to deliver and get things done — right? — where Republicans are trying to — Republicans in Congress, Republicans on the other side of Pennsylvania are trying to pull us back, not move us forward.
And again, I talked about negotiating — Medicare being able to negotiate. I talked about the infrastructure legislation. I — you know, the CHIPS and Science Act, making sure that we’re competitive against China and bringing manufacturing jobs here, which we have seen. Eight hundred thousand manufacturing jobs have been created under this President.
So there is a whole host of accomplishments that this President has been able to do and that, you know — you know,
Republicans in Congress have not. They literally have not been able to get things done. And so, I want to be very clear about that.
As it relates to the polls — again, mindful of the 2024 election — and we understand what the polls are saying — I will say this: In 2022, let’s not forget, more Americans voted for this President than any other President in history.
And — and, let’s not forget, in 2022, the midterms election, against all odds — right? — against everything that we were being told, that this President had one of the most successful midterm elections for a Democratic President in 60 years. And we were able to stop that red wave; that did not happen. And we were able to hold on to the Senate.
And so that’s what I lay out, and that’s how we’ll deal with the question that you just asked me.
Q Karine, on the reelect specifically, can you tell us when and how you learned that the President was going to announce he was seeking another term?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just like all of you.
Q You learned about it from the video this morning?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just like all of you. I am — I am not — from this perch, from being a government official, I cannot talk about 2024. I’m not involved in the reelect. And I learned just like all of you this morning, at 6:00 a.m.
Q And specifically on Senator Klobuchar’s comments on Sunday about her position on what the President should do with respect to meeting with Speaker McCarthy, she said he should negotiate on the budget. “That is the place to negotiate, and they should start those negotiations now, not using the American people and their mortgages as hostage, because right now [you’ve] got to simply make clear we’re going to avoid default and get this behind us.”
Is that something the President would be open to? Is that something that he is ready, from that specific suggestion, to start at?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, here’s what — and I said this at the top — here’s what House Republicans are saying to us, along with the Speaker. They’re saying to us that — that they want us to agree or to support — they — “us,” meaning the Senate — the Senate and the President — to agree with every agenda that they put forth in this bill. The entire agenda.
And I said this at the top: That is not negotiable, and that is — that is a devastating ask of us, especially what it’s going to do to the American people.
We’ve talked about the 22 percent ta- — cuts that it’s going to make to programs that matters to veterans, seniors, our children. I mean, that’s what they put forward.
And to say to us that the only way you want to move forward here is to — for us to agree on everything that they laid out in this bill is just ridiculous.
And so that’s what we’re talking about, right? We’re not going to negotiate on — on something that they should be doing, which is avoiding default. And we’ve been very clear we’re just not going to negotiate on that.
But when it comes to the budget, when it comes to how they want to see spending cuts for the American people, we’ll have that discussion. But right now, that’s not what we’re seeing. That’s not what they’re doing. That’s not what this bill is. It has linked those two things together.
And we’ve been very clear that we’re not going to negotiate on default.
Q Can I just follow up on that question? Doesn’t the President risk rattling financial markets if he does not agree to speak with the Speaker? Speaker McCarthy says he wants to meet with Biden. Why has that happened yet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s the Speaker McCarthy and the MAGA wing of the Republican Party that is doing this. We’re not doing. They’re the ones who are saying they want to hold the American economy hostage. They’re doing this.
And what the President is saying is, “You need to do your job.” He’s saying to House Republicans, “You need to do your job, your constitutional duty, and avoid default.” That’s it. Something that they were able to do — Speaker McCarthy and other Republicans — when Democrats joined them in the last administration three times — three times to make sure that they did their constitutional duty.
This is something that the Speaker is doing. This is something that — that he has sided and aligned himself with MAGA — MAGA wing of the party. So that question, honestly, is for them, not for us.
Q But investors don’t really care who’s to blame. They just want to know that there’s a plan to avoid default.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, but you’re asking me a question, and I’m answering it. This is — this is — I — honestly, this is a question for Speaker McCarthy and the MAGA wing of Republicans to answer. They are the ones who are holding the — the American economy hostage. Literally, that’s what they’re doing. That is exactly what they’re doing.
What we’re doing is calling them out and telling them to do their constitutional duty.
Go ahead, Toluse.
Q Thanks, Karine. You just talked about the MAGA wing of the Republican Party. Kevin McCarthy is trying to rally votes for the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which the White House has threatened to veto. If he’s able to get 218 votes for this bill, does this become a mainstream Republican position as opposed to just a wing of the party?
And if this is the mainstream position —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let’s —
Q — what’s your — what’s your —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Appreciate the question, but I’m not going to jump into hypotheticals from here. I’m not a House whip. He has to do his job as Speaker and see if he can get the votes for this bill that is, again, detrimental and dangerous. It is dangerous to American families.
If you look at the bill, as I’ve said many times, it is going to hurt families who are trying to make ends meet. That’s what this bill does. So that’s up to the Speaker to see if he can whip the votes.
We have been very clear: This President does not support this bill. I think Leader Schumer has been very clear about this bill, and I’ll let the Leader speak for himself. We have spoken — we — we read out a conversation that the President had with Leaders Schumer and Jeffries, agree that we won’t negotiate over avoiding default. We’re just not going to do that. And we’ve been very clear.
I’m going to try and go to the back because I know I haven’t called on some folks.
Go ahead, Chris. And then I’ll continue.
Q National Republicans released this AI-generated video looking out into the future under President
Obama [Biden]. Does the administration have a position about official groups using AI to put videos out? Is this something that the White House would consider doing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I haven’t seen this — this AI video, so I have to take a look at it and talk to our team. What I can say more broadly: We have a comprehensive process, which is underway, to ensure a cohesive federal government approach to AI-related risks and opportunities.
But we’ve said this many times before, which is tech companies have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe before making them public.
As it relates to this specific video, the AI video, and asking us if we will do the same or how we — how we see this video, I just don’t have anything to share at this time.
Q And just one more.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Does the President plan to serve all eight years?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I’m not — I’m just not going to get ahead of the President. That’s something for him to decide. I’m just not going to get ahead of it. And we’re — there’s a 2024 campaign. Anything related to that, I would refer you to that.
Go ahead, Gerren.
Q Thanks, Karine. First, on President Biden and Vice President Harris’s trip — meeting with the Tennessee Three yesterday: One of my colleagues asked Representative Justin Jones if he raised up the issue of declaring gun violence a public health emergency. Did that come up in that conversation? And is that something the President would consider doing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I will say this: I don’t have anything to share about if that came up in the conversation, but I’ll say that the President has been calling gun violence a public health epidemic. He’s been doing that for several years now, before even he became President. And he’ll continue to do so.
You’ve heard many of us in this administration call the gun violence that we’re seeing an epidemic — that we’re seeing in this country.
But with respect to a legal declaration of a public health emergency, the President’s team has looked into this and have done a little bit of a dive in into this issue. And based on their current analysis and ho- — what they’ve been able to come up with, the legal grounds for declaring gun violence a public health emergency is questionable, and it would not actually provide any meaningful funds or authorities.
So what we need — and we’ve been very clear about this — is we need more funding for AF- — for AF- — ATF. But we’re — but we don’t sec- — but we don’t secure those funds through a public health declaration. It just doesn’t work that way.
So we secure funds through the budget the President proposed. He needs more authority to ban assault weapons and require safer storage for firearms. And again, a public health emergency does not give them the — that authority, and new le- — new legislation would — would be the way to go here.
Q One other question. On Uganda: Despite pressure from the international community and often even global businesses, it seems like President Museveni still intends to sign this bill into law. He sent the bill back to Parliament to make adjustments related to rehabilitation. Activists say it’s — it’s essentially conversion therapy. What is the White Hou- — how concerned is the White House on these latest developments?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We ha- — we have grave concerns, and I think I’ve spoken to — to this particular — particular act a couple of weeks ago.
Look, this bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world. Human rights are universal. You heard the President say this, and he brings that up when he has meetings with world leaders just across — across the globe.
No one should be attacked, imprisoned, or killed simply because of who they are or whom they love.
So the U.S. is engaged with the Ugandan government at the highest level on this issue.
But to your question of if we have — if we have concerns, yes, we do have grave concerns.
Go ahead, Marek.
Q Thank you very much. I have two questions. First, on South Korea: Is President Biden going to ask President Yoon to send weapons and ammunition to Ukraine? South Korea is a major producer of weapons and has large stockpiles of ammunition.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m not going to get ahead of the discussions that the two leaders are going to have. We — so just to give you a little bit of — of — of — of what — what the visit is going to look like, a preview — I know there’s going to be a call tonight at 4:30 with NSC directors, so certainly I would refer you to that call.
But we appreciate the ROK’s actions in support of Ukraine, ranging from backing san- — sanctions and export controls against Russia to providing Ukraine with humanitarian and non-lethal assistance. The ROK has also taken steps to backfill U.S. supplies of key — key munitions to Ukraine. And we welcome any further support the ROK can give to Ukraine.
But certainly not going to get ahead of the two leaders and their discussions that they will have in —
Q And one on —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — the next 36 hours.
Q — President Biden’s decision to run for reelection. I’m not sure if you can answer this question, but I’m wondering if the war in Ukraine was a factor in his decision to run for reelection, and if so, in what way it influenced his decision.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’m not going to get into the per- — the President’s personal decision-making that he made. Again, anything like that, I would refer you to the 2024 campaign. So I want to be very mindful there. But again, I’m not going to get into —
Q It’s a presidential decision though, and you keep calling it a campaign decision. The President has to decide to enter the campaign. That’s a presidential decision.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I would refer you to 2024 campaign.
Q Thank you, Karine. The Israeli Knesset is coming back into session early next month. What has, if anything, the White House done, given the President’s stated concerns over the judicial overhaul proposal, to use these past couple of weeks to try and push a compromise?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you say that one more time? Sorry.
Q Yeah. The Israeli Knesset is coming back into session at the beginning of May. And, obviously, the President has stated concern with the judicial overhaul proposal that they’ll take up when they come back into session. Has the White House taken advantage of these past couple weeks to push a compromise?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I think we’ve been, publicly and privately, pretty consistent on — and you heard from the President as well — on what we — on our concerns that — about the recent developments in Israel. And — and we’ve been very clear about calling for a compromise before moving with these — with these reforms.
And — and so, again, we’re going to continue to have those conversations, again, privately and be pretty vocal publicly. I just don’t have anything to share on — on any private conversations that have had — that have been — have had here at the White House or in the administration more broadly.
But again, we’ve been — we’ve been very clear about our concerns, and we’ll continue to do so privately.
Q (Inaudible) please. What it means “unfinished” when it comes to (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hold on. I’m just going to get around, guys. Go ahead. Go ahead, Ed. I’ll come to the back.
Q Thanks. Thanks, Karine. So Americans are seeing — when we talk about the economy —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — in general, Americans are seeing energy prices up 24 percent, including electricity, since President Biden took office. Food prices are up 18 percent in the last two years. Manufacturing lost jobs for the last two months in a row. And inflation is outpacing wages for 26 months in a row. How does the President then sell to the American people to keep going with these economic policies?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, again, I’m going to be careful about 2024, anything that’s related.
Q (Inaudible) —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I’m going to answer the question.
Q How about in the next year?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m going to — I’m going to answer your question. Just want to be — because you said “moving forward,” so I just want to be very careful here.
Look, the President always is very clear: When he talks about the economy, he always says — one of the things that he says very frequently is that when it comes to inflation, when it comes to lowering costs, that is a priority for him. And he has shown to do that.
And if — you talked about inflation. Annual inflation has fallen over the last nine months. It is moderating. That is something that we have seen from the data that — that has come out.
Wages are higher than they were nine months ago, incomes are up, and consumer spending is strong. But he understands that American people are still feeling, you know, some — some of what of the — of this inflation — right? — still feeling some of the higher cost.
But again, we’re doing the work. We have laid out the President’s economic policy, and you’ve seen it. You’ve seen 12.6 million jobs have been created since the President took office. We’ve gained all the jobs lost during the pandemic and created 3 million — 3 million more. You always ask me that question, so there goes your answer. And unemployment is nearly 50-year low, and Black unemployment is at a record low.
So we see that in the data that comes out pretty regularly — right? — monthly. And — and the President is going to continue doing the work. Again, understanding — understanding that some of — some Americans, many Americans, are still feeling some of the high costs, which is why the President has made this a priority.
Q So in his event this afternoon, with the union event, he says that there’s more that can be done. What is he doing right now? What is that “more” that he could be doing right now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, he’s always going to make sure to take action when it comes to — I don’t have any — I don’t have anything to announce at this time of any actions that’s being taken. But if you look at the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, you look at the Infla- — Inflation Reduction Act, you look at the CHIPS and Science Act, these are pieces of legislation — historic legislation — that has touched on the very things that you just laid out, right?
We think about the CHIPS and Science Act bringing back manufacturing jobs here; 800,000 manufacturing jobs have been brought ba- — brought back under this administration. You think about creating good-paying jobs; the President talked about that. He talked about 12.6 million jobs being created.
That’s going to — that’s going to continue under the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. That’s going to continue under the Inflation Reduction Act. That’s going to continue under the CHIPS and Science — Science Act.
So, again, there are — there are things that this President has done that is going to have long-lasting effect. And that’s going to be important to millions and millions of Americans and American families across the country.
I’m going to go to the person behind you.
Q Thank you. Thank you. Senator Tester a couple of hours ago announced he’s going to be blocking the slate of nominees for the Board of Directors of Amtrak, which is, I know, the Pre- — one of the President’s very favorite agencies. Does the White House have any comment on that and his concerns about there not being nominees for the Board who are from more rural states?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I actually have not seen Senator Tester’s — that story on Senator Tester.
Look, we’re going to continue — the commitment that we have here is going to continue. Our Office of Leg Affairs and other offices here at the White House have those conversations with members of the Senate when it comes to nomination, when it comes to pushing important, key roles in nominations.
And so, don’t have anything to read out on how we’re going to move forward. But we have those discussions all the time and try to garner support for things that really matter not just to the President but to the American people as well.
Q And are you — and would you say the same about the Secretary of Labor nominee? Since the President was just at a — giving a speech to a labor group earlier, is the same — does the same apply to the status of the Labor —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, absolutely. We are — we are confident in — in — in her nomination as well. She’s gotten a lot of — many labor — labor organization has supported her nomination. This is something that the President is — is proud to have nominated her and is going to continue to do the work that we need to do to get her to — to be the Secretary of Department of Labor.
And let’s not forget, as Deputy — as Deputy Secretary, she was able to get all Democratic senators to — to move forward her nomination. And she stood alongside Secretary Walsh during these last two years to do the incredible work; I just laid out the job creation that we were able to do. That was also because of the work that she was able to do with the Sec- — with then Secretary Walsh.
And so, look, we’re confident, and we’re going to continue to have those conversation to make sure that happen.
Q Thank you, Karine. On foreign policy, when the President looks at his foreign policy victories, does he want to see Ukraine becoming a NATO member before the end of his first term?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we’ve had con- — I’ve — I’ve answered this question many times. And so — look, that is going to be up to NATO and the NATO Allies to decide. The U.S. position, when it comes to NATO accession, has been clear for decades. We support an open-door policy for NATO. And any decision, again, has to be made by the membership between NATO Allies and countries aspiring to join NATO.
And what our focus is right now — we’ve been very clear on that — is to make sure that the brave people of Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom, fighting to defend their country have the economic assistance, the humanitarian assistance that they need to push back against Russian aggression.
And we’ve been very consistent on that, being one of the leaders of that this past — this past year.
Q Just to be clear, is it the President’s view that Ukraine belongs to NATO?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just answered the question. Our position as — our U.S. position has been very clear. When it comes to NATO accession, we support an open-door policy, and that is a decision that is between NATO Allies and the countries aspiring to be — to join NATO. So I will not get ahead of that.
Q Thanks, Karine. Senate Democrats are preparing a vote this week on the Equal Rights Amendment. Senator Schumer makes the argument that the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion and on some various actions by the states have left women with an uncertain future. And he said that’s why you really need to try to resurrect this amendment. I just wanted to hear the White House position on this.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. The administration supports the Equal Rights Amendment and has called on Congress to act swiftly. In the United States of America, no one’s rights should be denied on account of their sex. It is long past time to def- — definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution.
The President and this administration believe that gender equality is not only a moral issue; the full participation of women and girls across all aspects of our society is essential to our economic prosperity and security and the health of our democracy.
Q To the back, Karine?
Q Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I’ll come to the back in a second. Go ahead.
Q What’s — what’s the White House’s reaction to the police detective who shot and killed Breonna Taylor getting hired by a sheriff’s office that’s actually fairly close to Louisville, where the tragedy occurred?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. So, look, I — I’m not able to speak about this specific individual, but I want to reiterate what the President has said himself when it comes to Breonna Taylor’s death. It was a tragedy and a blow to her family, her community, and also America more broadly.
And 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 we see an officer violate the public trust. That’s why he signed, as you know, the executive order to enhance accountability at the federal level and why he continues to call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice Policing Act to increase accountability at all levels of policing.
What he was able to sign, as you know, in his executive order, dealt with the federal level, but we need legislation here so — to make sure that this is, again, across all levels.
Q It seemed like the police misconduct database, which was in that executive order, was put in for — for something like this, so that the public would be able to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — track where officers, you know, are — are moving various departments, what have you, that have been accused of misconduct. What’s the status of that database? Is it (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I know you — and I know, Zolan, you’ve asked me this question before. I just don’t have anything to share at this time. We’ll — we’ll let you know when there’s more information. I just don’t have anything at — at this time.
All right, I’m going to go to the back. Go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah.
Q Oh, thank you so much.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, wait. Oh, okay.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) Go ahead, and then I’ll — go — go ahead. Whoever wants to go, go ahead.
Q Sorry. I’ll — I’ll be quick.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, go ahead. And then I’ll — go ahead. Go ahead. Whoever wants to go, go ahead.
Q Sorry. I’ll — I’ll be quick.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, go ahead.
Q Let me just ask you about the state visit tomorrow. Are President Yoon and President Biden going to discuss the $7 billion in frozen assets held by Korea that belong to Iranian sources? And what would the U.S. like to see in exchange for those — those funds being unfrozen?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m just basically going to — to say what the National Security Advisor said here yesterday. I’m not going to get ahead of the two leaders having a discussion. There’s going to be a backgrounder just to give a little bit more color of what we’re going to see the next 24, 36 hours with the two leaders, but not going to get ahead of what’s going to be discussed or what specifically the leaders are going to lay out in front of each other.
So we’re just going to be really mindful there and not get ahead of the President.
Q Cool. So we think that Putin might be going to South Africa in August for the BRICS Summit. Suddenly, South Africa’s president wants out of the ICC and ostensibly out of the obligation to arrest him. Has the White House been in communication with Pretoria about this? What do you think that South Africa should do?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m not going to get into any — don’t have any conversations to preview. Certainly not going to get involved in or lay out any private conversations that we have had — had or not had.
Go ahead, Brian.
Q Thanks. Thanks a lot, Karine. Was the timing of Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice’s departure at all related to the New York Times article that came out last week with — that described marginalia that she wrote on a memo about Title 42 impacting family separations —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No.
Q — where she wrote, “This is BS.”
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, not at all.
Q Was it accelerated by the — or that report coming out?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me just say: Her — her departure has been in the works for some time. She has said that she was going to do the first two years of this administration. She extended her stay here to do this job.
And I’ll just add that the suggestion that Ambassador Rice was aware of concerns about migrant child labor is — is categorically false, and it is not connected. Again, she had always planned to — to do two years, and she extended her stay here. And we truly appreciate her service to the American people.
Q As you know, Japan is holding the G7 Summit next month. And there’s a concern over Korea’s coming — the President of Korea is coming tomorrow. There is a grow- — there is a concern of a growing number of countries that are using — not using the dollar for transactions and a concern that the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency is beginning to be weakened. Is there an understanding of that and some efforts to either prevent that or at least address it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any —
Q For example, Japan —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah?
Q — holds 1.1 trillion, the largest U.S. debt.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I totally understand the question. I don’t want to get ahead — I know you were talking about G7. We haven’t really announced at this time yet if the President is going to be attending, so don’t want to get ahead of that.
And just — well, I’ll just leave it there for now.
Q Thanks, Karine. I wanted to ask you: There was a story this morning out in Politico about a law firm head buying property from Justice Gorsuch a couple of days after he was confirmed for the Supreme Court. I wanted to ask if the President’s position on ethics or Supreme Court ethics being mandatory has changed at all —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So —
Q — especially what we saw with Justice Thomas.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we have not commented on Justice Thomas or — or will not be commenting on Justice Gorsuch. I’m just going to leave it there and let the Supreme Court deal.
Q If I can also ask you about Title 42 lifting in a couple weeks. Where are you on preparing for that specifically for migrants coming from Central America? I know we’ve talked in here about the four countries (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security will have more to share soon.
As you know, the Department of Homeland Security shared their plan back in January. And we have seen from the data — we have seen the — that the unlawful immigration is down. And so, what they have put forth — forth in their protocol and their processes is working. But they will have more to share in the upcoming days or weeks. I just don’t want to get ahead of — of what the two agencies are going to share.
Q One more question. Who is running the Intergovernmental Affairs now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to share at this time.
Okay. Naomi, go ahead. And then I’ll need to wrap it up.
Q Thank you. Senator Elizabeth Warren is foreshadowing action to confirm Pentagon nominees despite Senator Tommy Tuberville’s abortion-related holds. Is she liaising — liaising with the White House about that at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, Senator Tuberville, as you know, is blocking all Defense Department nominations, including promotions for more than 180 military leaders and nominees. This political showmanship could have a serious impact on our military readiness, on our military forces, and our national security.
And as the Secretary of Defense said, and I’ll quote, “a rip- — a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready when we need to be.” It prevents officers from taking on their new commands and deprives our force of leadership.
It also affects military families and the kids of military officers and what schools they go — go to because they won’t be able to change their duty station.
So, I know that Senate Republicans have also urged Senator Tuberville to drop his hold. We agree and would urge him to do so without delay.
And I’ll leave it there. I’ll see you guys on Thursday.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, everybody.
3:15 P.M. EDT