James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:27 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hello. Welcome back, everybody. Okay. A couple of things. Good afternoon.

Q Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This Saturday, our nation marked the six- — 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, a seminal moment in our history and in our work towards equal opportunity for all Americans.

Sadly, this day of remembrance ended with yet more American communities wounded by an act of gun violence, including communities in Boston, Chicago, and Joppa[towne]. At least one shooting this weekend was reportedly fueled by hate and carried out with two firearms.

On Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, a white gunman went on a shooting rampage at a store near a historically Black university and killed three Black individuals. Even as we continue to — to — we continue searching for answers, we must say clearly and forcefully that white supremacy has no place in America.

As the President said in his statement yesterday, we must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store or Black students going to school — to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin. Hate must have no safe harbor. Silence is complicity, and we must not remain silent. And we must continue to do all we can to keep guns out of dangerous hands.

The President and the First Lady are praying for the victims and their families, and this entire administration grieves with the people of Jacksonville.

Earlier today, the President spoke to Governor DeSantis and told him he quickly approved the emergency declaration for Florida. The President also expressed the administration’s full commitment and support to Florida.

At the President’s direction, FEMA has deployed two incident management teams to Tallahassee and has one in Atlanta ready to pivot as needed. The President continues to be briefed on the current trajectory of Tropical Storm Idalia, and the team here will continue to update him as the system progresses.

Unfortunately, as you all know, Floridians are no strangers to these types of storms. It’s important that people prepare today; get supplies — so they get food, water; and charge your electronic devices. People should visit Ready.gov for — for tips on how to prepare.

Lastly, if you are in the storm’s path, please listen to your local and state officials for guidance on evacuations or any updates.

As we just announced moments ago, President Biden will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, on September 10th following his participation in the G20 Summit in New Delhi. While in Hanoi, President Biden will meet with key leaders to discuss ways to deepen the cooperation between the United States and Vietnam.

The leaders will explore opportunities to promote the growth of technology; focused and innovative — innovation-driven Vietn- — Vietnamese economy; expand our people-to-people ties through education exchanges and workforce deployment — development programs, I should say; combat climate change; and increase peace, prosperity, and stability in the region.

And on Monday, September 11th, the President, the Vice President, First Lady, and Second Gentleman will mark — all will mark the 22nd anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. The President will travel from Hanoi to Alaska to participate in a memorial ceremony with members of the military and their families.

The Vice President and the Second Gentleman will participate in a commemoration — commemoration ceremony at the National — at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York City. And the First Lady will lay a wreath at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to honor the lives lost on September 11th.

Today, the President and the First Lady visited students at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Washington, D.C., to mark the start of the school year. This visit kicks off a number of back-to-school activities for the First Lady this week, as well as Secretary of Education Cardona will soon hit the road for a back-to-school bus tour.

When President Biden took office less than half than — less than half of the kindergarten-to-12 students were going to school in person. Thanks to his swift actions and historic investment, every school in America is open safely for in-person instruction. The administration remains committed to supporting schools and the students they serve.

And today, we are joined by the senior advisor and pres- – — and president — to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Stephen Benjamin, who is here to discuss the President’s March on Washington commemoration engagements today.

And the floor is yours, Mayor, if you’re ready. (Laughs.) This is also his first time in the briefing room, so welcome.

Q Welcome.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, come on up. Come on up.

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: That means be nice to me — (laughter) — is what it means.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Be nice to him. Yes.

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: So, today, the President and Vice President Harris will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. As you may have seen, the Washington Post op-ed penned by the President to commemorate the sacred day and outline how the Biden-Harris administration is working to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of redeeming the promissory note of our nation.

The President and — and Vice President will meet privately with organizers of the march, community leaders, and members of the King family shortly, in just about a half hour. This meeting will take place exactly 60 days [years] after the initial Oval Office meeting between President Kennedy and Dr. King on the morning of the original March on Washington.

Later this evening, President Biden will host a reception as well and provide remarks to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.

And I’m happy to take any questions you might have right now.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, April.

Q Sixty years today, 1963 was a pivotal year in civil rights. Medgar Evers was shot and killed in June of ’63. The March on Washington in August of ’63. Two weeks later, four little girls were killed in a Baptist church. That was 60 years ago.

Today, we are witnessing what’s happened in Jacksonville. We’ve got laws on the books, policies, et cetera. What can this administration do to quell the hate that is on the rise that the FBI has quantified?

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: Sure. I would say this: The administration has, since day one — since the President signed his first executive order on making sure that everything we’ve done is focused on — on equity in this administration — and all of his work since then — including, obviously, another executive order signed on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday to make sure that the — the sacred right to the franchise is protected.

It is — it is sacrosanct in everything this administration does.

Obviously, there’s a full investigation going on in Jacksonville right now. We’re going to let law enforcement authorities do their job.

But everything in this administration is focused on making sure that we try to appeal to the better angels, against, it seems, a rising tide of not only racism — antisemitism, Islamophobia, violent attacks against our — our LGBT brothers and sisters, and even significant crimes against our AANHPI community. That’s why it’s so important that we remain vigilant every single day from all aspects of the administration, a whole-of-government approach, recognizing that that the work — there’s work yet to be done.

It’s important to note that — that while we’re not where we want to be, we’re certainly not where we used to be. The progress that has been made not only in the Biden-Harris administration — which has had a number of historic firsts, I might add — but over the last 60 years, this country has come a long way.

And we have to — I believe people of goodwill have to lean into that progress, but realize that we are on the frontline against a rising tide of a lot of “isms.” And we’ve got to continue to push — push back together.

That’s embedded in the President’s piece in the Washington Post. I encourage everyone to lean into it.

Q And a follow-up on that, if I could.


Q There’s a lot of racial rhetoric going on in this political campaigning atmosphere. Is there going to be — or am I making a reach in this question — will there be a reach across the aisle to say, “Enough is enough, we’ve got to stop this”? Because a lot of this — people are saying are stemming from a lot of this rhetoric.

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: Sure. And I would give a brief response to that. The President has endeavored — and I watch it in every engagement that I have with him and every engagement he has with the public — to recognize the fact that he’s the president of all of the United States of America. He speaks to people on both sides of the line — urban, rural, and suburban America. And he speaks, again, in a way that brings people together. That will continue to be his position, as well as the Vice President’s position.

But yes, it requires the President, the Vice President, but all of us, again, to lean in and make sure we’re working to pull people together and push back against that rhetoric that we do see, April.

Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Franco.

Q Thanks, Mayor. Does the White House see any connection with the changes that the Florida governor has made in teaching about African American history to the kind of violence that we saw in Jacksonville?

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: The President is — has been very clear — again, in the piece he penned this morning and I think probably more so in action — his actions last month in working to establish the — the monuments to Emmett Till and Mamie Till — Mamie Till Mobley, of course, recognizing, commemorating the sad event of his murder but also recognizing the courage of his mother in making sure that she helped light the fuse that set in action significant events of the Civil Rights Movement.

That action establishing these monuments in Mississippi and in Illinois was meant to make sure people understand that we cannot rewrite American history. We have to tell the good with the bad, and that is edifying to the soul of this country.

And the President — since day one, you’ve heard him talk about his personal reaction to Charlottesville. Redeeming the soul of America is cent- — central to who Joe Biden is as a man and why he chose to run for president as a — as a candidate.

So, I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that — that trying to rewrite American history is not only wrong but it also encourages our children and those among us not to lean in to the — to the beautiful and also painful past of what our history looks like and encouraging people to move forward together.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Zolan.

Q Thank you for the question. Looking at the op-ed today, a lot of the achievements that are listed in here obviously resonate but have to do with the economy: lowering unemployment, health insurance, investing in small businesses.

I’m wondering if the administration still believes that those achievements will resonate when you still have hate crimes happening across America; you still have Supreme Court decisions that have obviously led to setbacks on some of the more sweeping proposals by this administration, such as student loan relief or even affirmative action. When many people still feel that their civil liberties are being infringed upon, are — is the administration confident that some of these economic achievements will really resonate among Black Americans throughout —

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: Sure. Well, we certainly hope so. Not — and not only in the context of electoral politics, but just simply because it’s the right thing to do.

The President has been incredibly supportive of and hoping for the pass of the John Lewis Act, encouraging we protect the — the sacred right to vote, and certainly even the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to make sure, of course, we’ve led from the front as it relates to federal authorities and chokeholds and the like. But we’d like much more support from Congress in moving these things forward.

It is a difficult environment to move forward some legislation, but every single thing that we can do by executive order the President has been leaning on. There are a lot of challenges that people face. But we certainly believe that part of Dr. King’s message, and all the other amazing organizers of the March on Washington, focused on — on the economy — on the economy and jobs and — and freedom.

So, these amazing investments that have been made in — in Black businesses and minority-owned businesses — small businesses across this country.

Making sure people have access to healthcare, more people insured now than ever. Thirty-five dollar insulin. Making sure that people don’t have to make decisions between poverty and getting the medicine that they need.

Clean water. Removing lead pipes from communities all across this country.

I do believe that when the rubber hits the road, people will pay more attention to these dramatic investments in their quality of life and — and listen more closely to these important issues.

But that’s politics. I want to make sure we stay closely to the policies.

Q Quick follow on lead pipes, too. Is the administration still on track to do that in the next decade?

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: As far — as far as I understand.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jeremy.

Q Thank you. Mr. Mayor, the President said yesterday that he will speak to the people of Jacksonville. Does he have any plans to visit the city and to meet with folks? And has he spoken yet with any of the families of the victims of that shooting?

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: Well, as of right now, the President has spoken to the mayor and to the sheriff. Now, obviously, as Karine mentioned, he had a separate conversation with the governor today.

As of right now, I don’t think there are any travel plans. But, obviously, that is always subject to change.

Q Has he reached out to the — to the families of victims or does he have any plans to speak with them?

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: As far as I know — I think the — the victims are only identified as of this morning. So, I don’t believe that, but I can’t speak to it with any — any facts.


Q Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Obviously, students are going back to school around this time of year. The President has talked about book bans; a lot of these bans are going into effect. Could you talk about what the White House — what the administration is doing to address the fact that, as we — as you talked about earlier, parts of Black history, parts of American history are being impacted by these book bans in various states?

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: Sure. No, it’s a — it’s — it’s so important. And purely if — if some people — you know, we come from a world where we know that even two people equally (inaudible) can see the same thing very differently. Rewriting history is not necessarily one of those things.

But if you do see these things philosophically differently, it’s important to know, however, that our children, if we’re going to compete on a global stage, must at least know their own history. You can’t step into a job interview on one of the other continents and the people in that room know more about your history than you do.

And I think — I think purely as a matter of competition, not — not equity and common sense — it’s important that children understand, again, the beauty of the greatest democratic nation in the history of the world but also the challenges that brought us to this point.

So, I do know this is something that the President and Vice President feel very strongly about and will continue to make sure that we make full access to American history available to all of our children.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Last question. In the back.

Q Thank you. Mayor Benjamin, I’m hoping I can get your reaction — both as one of the President’s top advisors and also just a Black man living in America — to former President Trump’s supporters comparing his mugshot to that of Dr. King, given the anniversary that we’re celebrating here in D.C. this week.

I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but there have been a lot of posts on social media.

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: I’ve not seen that, and I feel better that I haven’t seen that.

The reality is that the sacrifices made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — and not just him — and A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin and Whitney Young and others ought never be minimized. And — because they not only represent the leaders of the past — I sat with Clarence Jones this weekend and Ambassador Andrew Young and heard some of these stories firsthand — but they represent the sacrifices of so many people we don’t know — people who labored in anonymity who gave everything, who marched and cried and died so that this nation might live up to its better angels, might live up to its promise.

And I think it’s so important that as we look backward, that we work to preserve the importance of that legacy because it’s going to quickly determine how we look forward and determine what America is going to be like not 60 years ago, but 60 years from now.

Thank you all so much.

Q Thank you, Mayor.

Q Come back anytime.

DIRECTOR BENJAMIN: I don’t know about that. We’ll see. (Laughter.)

Q Please do come back.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Please do come back. Thank you, Mayor. Please do come back.

Q Sooner than 60 years? Let’s do that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Not sure of the connection, but okay.


Q Hi, how are you? The President and the First Lady visited a middle school today. Test scores for this age group are the lowest in decades, despite billions of dollars in investment from this administration. Is the White House’s approach failing in not improving these test scores?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: If anything, look, there’s going to be a lot of more work to do. Right? That is understandable that — that the work doesn’t — doesn’t end, you know — didn’t end when the President was able to open up schools, as I mentioned at the top.

Remember, when the President walked in, more than 50 percent of schools were shut down because of COVID, because the last administration didn’t have a plan, didn’t have a comprehensive plan to deal with COVID and what it was doing to our economy and what it was doing to our kids.

And because the President put that — put schools reopening and businesses reopening and making sure that people got shots in arms — made that a priority — we were able to open up the schools.

Now, is there more work to do? Absolutely. As we’ve seen, the pandemic — COVID has had a devastating effect on our kids. And — and so, look, the President is committed to — to making sure that education for all of our children — regardless if you’re in rural America, urban America, all across the communities — is — it’s a priority and this — that the students and the kids get what they need.

And it’s not just education, right? We talked about mental health, right? We talked about kids making sure that they’re getting healthy lunches. Right? That is something that this administration has provided.

And so, we’ve seen the data. We’ve seen the numbers. What it means to us is that more work needs to be done. And we’re committed and this President and this administration is committed to doing that work.

Q So, what is that next step?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we’re going to hear — as I mentioned, Secretary Cardona is going to go on a bus tour. He’s going to go across the country as we’re — as school is opening up. He’s going to lay out what the Department of Education is doing to continue to improve our schools to make sure that students get the education and get the rightful- — rightfully, the education that they deserve. And so, the work continues.

I don’t have — I don’t have a 10-step laid out for you, but I can say for sure that this President is committed. And you see that through the Secretary of Education. And, of course, this is something that’s incredibly important to the First Lady as well.

Q Also, a new AP poll asked Americans an open-ended question on their thoughts on the President. And the most common response has to do with his age — how old he is, the oldest president in history. Does the White House have additional plans to demonstrate that he can continue to, you know, do the job at his advanced age and, kind of, allay some of those concerns?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look — look, I appreciate the question. I get the — I get it often, as you know. And what I would say — and I’ve said this many times, and many of my colleagues have said this, the President says this: If you watch him, if you’ve seen what he’s done in the last two years, this is — the President has had an historic administration in just two years.

If you look at the 13.- — 13.5 — more than 13.5 million jobs that he’s been able to create; if you look at how he’s been able to turn the economy around so that it works for middle-class Americans; if you look at the Inflation Reduction Act and what it’s going to do to really help — to really help Americans as it relates to healthcare, as it relates to utility bills; if you think about the CHIPS and Sci- —

I mean, this is a president who has done hist- — who has taken historic actions — and not just with Democrats on the Hill, but in a bipartisan way.

I just mentioned the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act. In many ways, this President has been able to do things that is going to change how American families move forward, whether it is economic — with the economy, whether it’s healthcare, whether, you know, it is trying to make sure that they are able to — to give to their — you know, do what they can for their family, for their kids. That is important.

And so, that’s what we will happily — happily to discuss as we — as it relates to age, what the President has been able to do and how he’s been able to deliver.

Q And the last question is — the press pool spotted President walk into the Oval Office with his personal physician, Dr. O’Connor, a few minutes ago. Did — is there an appointment? Did he have a meeting about a health concern? Did —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is the first time I’m hearing of that. Clearly, I did not see that, so I can’t — I can’t speak to that. I just don’t know.

Go ahead.

Q Thank you, Karine. Good to see you. Following up —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good to see you. It’s been a while.

Q It has for a lot of us, but good to be here. Still has the new briefing room smell. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, it does. Like a new car.

Q Yeah.

In the call he had with the governor of Florida this morning regarding the approaching storm and the shooting in Jacksonville, any chance the President raised his concerns with the governor about the state’s new slavery education standards?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, they kept it to — they kept it to what the readout was. Clearly, we always be — are very careful not to read out private conversation. They talked about — clearly, about the President offering any assistance that the governor might need as — as we are talking about the Jacksonville shooting, as you all know, and also the storm, Idalia, that is headed to — to Florida.

That is, kind of, the — the — that is clearly what’s on everybody’s mind as we see this potential Category 3 storm and as a community is mourning.

I don’t have anything else to read out from that call. But clearly, those are the two, kind of, pertinent things at the moment that they were able to discuss.

And the President wanted to make sure that he — that not just the governor, but the people of Florida knew and understood that this is the Pres- — the President, the federal government is — is with them through their — through the different — through the different kind of events that they’re dealing with at this time.

Q And if need be, they’ll get back on the phone together in the next few days or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: If need be. Absolutely.

Q Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: If need be.

And let’s not forget the major declaration the President approved within hours — right? — as I — as I mentioned, as we are now watching this potential Category 3 hurricane that’s — that could hit Florida, which is important.

Q Two others, if I could. Now that we know that he’s officially going to Vietnam, it raises a question we’ve sort of had throughout the year. And that is: Are there still plans to somehow, someday soon, meet with Chinese President Xi?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I’m just going to go back to what the President said during his press conference at Camp David very recently; he spoke to this. Don’t have anything else to add. He has been very clear that he is looking forward to having that discussion at some point. I just don’t have anything to share on this now.

Q The White House would like to do that this year?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just don’t — I’m not going to put a timeline on it. But, you know, they’ve spoken multiple times in the past two years — or more than two years of this President’s tenure. I just don’t have anything else to share.

Q And the House Speaker, yesterday, said moving towards impeachment now is, quote, “a natural step forward” and would be an opportunity for Congress to “get all the information they need.” Those were his words.

What is the White House’s response to the apparent march to impeachment by House Republicans? And does it make working with him this fall, on matters of dollars and cents especially, any more difficult?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look — look, Ed, you know, I can’t really speak to the House Republicans and what they’re focusing on. They can speak to that. You’ve heard from Speaker McCarthy. Not going to dive into what’s in his head or what they’re thinking or what they want to do on the other side of Pennsylvania.

The President is focused on what real Americans care about — the real priorities that Americans care about.

I just talked about how the President and the First Lady visited a middle school today. And one of the message that he wanted to make sure that was hi- — that he highlighted is the importance of every child in America having access to quality education — public education. And — and also, let’s not forget what’s — what we’re celebrating today — 60 years — or commemorating today. That’s what the President is going to focus on.

Later this week, he’s going to focus on lowering healthcare costs, which is something that this administration has worked on the past two years. Response to Maui wildfire. You just asked me about his conversation with the governor of Florida and what they’re dealing with — a very devastating shooting that we saw in — in the city of Jacksonville and this hurricane that’s — that’s about to hit — potentially hit Florida. Those are the things that the President is going to focus on.

Look, and you asked me if — how the President is going to work with Speaker McCarthy. Look, this is a president who wants to work in a bipartisan way. And he has been able to do that, as it relates to historical pieces of legislation. He wants to continue to do that. And he hopes congressional Republicans will continue to join him, or join him on doing that.

And that’s going to be — that’s going to be his focus, instead of, you know, more baseless political stunts. That’s what they — that’s what they’re focusing on.

Q Some of the frustration appears to be the inability to get information out of the State Department, the Homeland Security Department, other aspects of the government. Is there any validity to those criticisms, in the view of the White House? Or should the White House be, perhaps, urging departments to cooperate with ongoing investigations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we always — we are always — of course urge — urge different agencies and departments to — you know, to — to work with Congress. Of course, that is something that we will always urge. And — and I can’t speak to — to — to that, to what they’re complaining about.

What I can speak to is what the President is focused on. And, again, we want to work in a bipartisan way with congressional Republicans. That’s what we want to do. We want to get things done for the American people — issues that actually matter to them, not these political stunts that they’re clearly focused on.

Go ahead, Mary.

Q Three U.S. Marines were killed in this Osprey crash in Australia during a training exercise. Has the President been briefed on any early read or early information about the potential cause of this? Any sense about whether it was, you know, weather related, mechanical?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, any specifics to what caused it and what was related to it, I would certainly refer you to the Department of Defense for any specific questions.

Yesterday, the President extended his condolences to the families of the Marines who lost their lives in this horrific, horrific crash, as well as his prayers to those who also suffered injuries.

Any — any additional information on the specifics of the crash or what — what caused the crash, I would have to refer you to the Department of Defense.

Q Does the President have any broader concerns that we are seeing, it seems, you know, too many of these aviation incidents, these — these mishaps in the military? Does he feel there needs to be some sort of reevaluation or reconsideration of — of training or focus on maintenance?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President is — of course is — when it comes to our military force, he’s always going to be concerned. He’s always going to want to make sure that they have everything that they need and, of course, that they’re safe.

Anything related to this — I don’t want to get ahead of what the Department of Defense might be looking into, what might be causing this. I don’t want to get ahead of them. So they would have to answer more specifically on those questions.

Q Just one additional —


Q — question on the House Speaker. He’s also said that he’s likely to investigate the federal response to the deadly wildfires on Maui, saying he’s very concerned about the response. What do you make of that? And does the White House stand by your response and your efforts in the aftermath —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things —

Q — of this tragedy? Anything you would do differently?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — I appreciate the question. A couple of things that I want to say. Since the onset of the unprecedented tragedy that we saw in Maui, the President launched a whole-of-government approach — you’ve heard me say that; you’ve heard him say it directly; you also heard the FEMA Administrator say this as well — an effort to — to support the residents who were affected by — the communities.

Let’s not forget, they not only — they lost so much. They lost historical land. They lost their community.

And — and also, as soon as the governor in Hawaii, Josh Green — and he has said this himself — requested a major disaster declaration, the President signed it. And you’ve heard from the governor. You’ve heard from the two senators who have — who have lifted up and said how quickly this President responded, the federal government responded. So, I would just refer you to — to their own words.

Last week, as you all saw — a week — a week ago today, the President, the First Lady, they met with survivors. They met with emergency responders and state and local and federal officials. They saw firsthand themselves the overwhelming destruction that caused the wildfires, and it was heartbreaking.

And so, the — what I can say here and now, and as the President has said, he is committed to delivering everything that he — he can to the people of Hawaii — what they need — and we will be with them as long as it takes for them to rebuild. The President has been very clear about that. The First Lady, clearly, has supported that. The FEMA Administrator has said that.

I will say this — what — what is currently on the ground: The federal government has deployed more than a thousand staff members on the ground, and the — FEMA has already given nearly $15 million in assistance to families.

And so, again, we will be there, the federal government will be there, certainly at the direction of the President, as long as it takes for this community to rebuild. And, certainly, our hearts are — continue to be with — with the families and the people in Hawaii who have lost so much.

Go ahead, Steve.

Q Have you got any closer to determining what brought down Prigozhin’s plane?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, a couple of things on — a couple of things on that. I know that folks have had questions on Prigozhin.

So — so, we are increasingly confident that Prigozhin died in the plane crash that took place on August 23rd, this past Wednesday. I don’t have any new assessment on th- — on — for you on this. So, I’ll just — I’ll just leave it there.

Q And, secondly, the President said in Tahoe that he had tentatively decided to recommend everyone get the new vaccine. When is he going to decide finally?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as — I think you’ve heard from the FDA and CDC, they’ve made an announcement on the new vaccine. So, certainly, they said that they will have an — there’ll be an updated vaccine September — mid-September —

Q I think so.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — I believe.

So, we know that, as you all know, vaccinations against COVID-19 remains the safest protection for avoiding hospitalization, long-term health outcomes, and death, which is why we are — we are going to be encouraging Americans to stay up to date on their vaccines.

I would refer you to DHS [HHS], as they have — as you — I just mentioned, FDA and CDC mentioned that they will have the new vaccines by September — mid-September.

Go ahead, Jeremy.

Q Thanks, Karine. We’re about a month away from the government running out of money and potentially shutting down. What’s the President’s plan to avert a government shutdown?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’ll defer to Congress on — on on the government shutdown. There should be no reason — right? — for Congress to shut down the government. None at all. None. They should fund vital government programs for the American people and these critical needs we’ve requested emergency funding for. There should be none. And so, that is for Congress to speak to.

And, as you know — you know, senior administration officials, including the OMB — OMB Director Shalanda Young and our Legislative Affairs shop — we have had numerous conversations with members of Congress. We’ll continue to do that. And — and we’ll continue to engage with them, and we’ll continue to underscore the importance of delivering on these bipartisan priorities that was agreed upon, that the American people want to see.

And so, look, that is for Congress to answer. There should not be a government shutdown. There shouldn’t be.

Q Does the President support passing a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded? And does he have any plans to speak with the Speaker about this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, again, that’s something that I’ll defer to Congress on the length of potential continuing resolution. Again, there should be no reason for a government shutdown.

I don’t have any conversation to — to read out or to — to predict for you that the President is going to have with the Speaker. As I mentioned, the OMB — OMB Director Shalanda Young has been in — in contact with members of Congress, so has his Legislative Affairs shop. They have been — have continuous conversations about this, underscoring the importance — the importance of these vital programs that the American people need.

And so, they should uphold — uphold this bipartisan commitment. That’s what the American people want to see.

Q And then, as it relates to COVID vaccine funding, the President said that he had signed off on a proposal internally to present Congress with a request for additional funding. Do you have any additional details about the size of that funding request, what it would be used for, and what would the impact be if Congress does not provide that additional funding on Americans and their ability to get that vaccine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have anything new to say or to add to what the President — what the President said at this time.

What I can say is that we are prepared for the fall — as the CDC and FDA mentioned, that we will have vaccines available by mid-September. We are — we believe we are in the strongest position yet to — to fight COVID-19. A lot of that is because of this work that this President has done since day one of his administration.

Go ahead.

Q Thank you, Karine. A couple of weeks ago, some members of Congress — it was over 50 Republicans and Democrats — they sent a letter to the administration asking for help with H-1B workers and the backlog.

In light of concerns about Canada recuiting — recruiting H-1B holders from the United States, I wanted to ask: Does the administration agree with these members of Congress that these workers — these H-1B workers — need more flexibility to do things like change jobs, travel abroad, for example?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as we have said many times before: This is an outdated immigration system.

We’ve asked Congress to update our woefully outdated immigration system — we’ve been very clear on that — including — including the temporary visa programs that haven’t been updated in more than two decades — in more than two decades.

And so, under current regulations, as you know, workers on certain temporary visas usually have 60 days to secure new employment, pursue a different visa classification, or make preparations to depart the United — the United States.

So, Congress needs to do their job and pass legisla- — legislation updating our immigration laws to reflect the needs of where we are — where we are currently in this 21st-century economy.

So, look, the President, even on his first day — as we’ve said many times before — he put forth an immigration-reform legislation, because he took this very seriously. He wanted to make sure that we — we — that was part of — part of the — that was the first piece of legislation that he put forward on day one, because this is such a broken system.

Q They’re — they’re asking specifically, though, for executive action. Is the adm- — is the administration not willing —


Q — to go that far?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We are saying that Congress needs to do their job. That’s what we’re saying. They are — they — this has been two decades since this particular visa has been upgraded and updated. And so, it’s for Congress to act. That’s what they need to do.

Q And can I ask you — just briefly, can you talk about Thursday, the Philadelphia trip? What’s — what’s the plan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have anything to share on Thursday. We’ll certainly have more to share in a coming day or two.

Go ahead.

Q On China, there are a lot of different tension points, but one of them has — we’ve been reminded of. And that is the fact that China retains ownership of all the pandas at the zoos in the United States, including the Smithsonian National Zoo. And is there any chance the President is going to ask President Xi to let the pandas stay?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I think the panda is supposed to leave at the end of the year?

Q At the end year.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, I don’t have anything new to share — any update to share on — on the panda’s timeline. But as soon as — if we have anything to share, we certainly will share it.

Q Would the President share the concern of many Americans who love the pandas?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) Look, we all love the panda. I just — this is not a conversation I’ve had with the President. (Laughter.) I appreciate the question, Kelly O.

Q You didn’t see that one coming?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I did not see that one coming.

Q Okay.

Q Let the record reflect she is grinning and bearing it.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know my — my kid loves the panda, as well as so many other Americans across the country who have visited and seen this panda. But I don’t have anything to share.

I’ve missed you. Welcome back.

Q Thank you. It’s good to be back.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah? How’s baby Karine?

Q (Laughs.) She — she’s good. She —


Q — very nice to her dad.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, during your — your — your leave?

Q Just like adult KJP. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, that’s good. I like — that’s good. Well, okay.

Q I have another question that you probably were not expecting.


Q Does President Biden want to limit Americans to two beers a week?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I — where is this coming from?

Q It’s coming —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Maybe I did- — maybe I didn’t miss you so much. (Laughter.)

Where is this — where is this coming from?

Q All right, well —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)

Q Dr. George Koob, who is the director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says the U.S. may soon follow Canada and recommend just two beers a week. How do you guys think that’s going to go over?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me tell you what I’m not going to get involved in — in that in that question right there. I — I have no idea. I’ve not seen the data. I cannot speak to this. I will leave it to the experts and not weigh in.

Q So, if the experts say two beers a week —


Q — that’s okay with President Biden?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I will leave it to the experts. I’m just not going to comment on that.

Q Okay.

Something else: The Secret Service is paying $16,000 a month now to stage near Hunter Biden in Malibu. Who’s paying for that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a question for the Secret Service.

Q Okay.

Hunter Biden is reportedly selling art to pay for his $15,800 a month rent in Malibu. How can you guarantee that people are not going to be buying this art to gain favor with the President?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is a question for Hunter Biden and his representatives.

Q It’s — it’s a question of —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I know. I hear — I hear —

Q — of ethics at the White House.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I hear your question.

Q We know that one of the art buyers got a job from the Biden administration. Can you guarantee that there is no —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I hear — I hear your question.

Q — quid pro quo?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get involved in this. That is a question for Hunter Biden’s representatives.

Q So — but we know that from a Hunter Biden associate now that he sold the appearance of access to then-Vice President Biden. Are you confident that he has stopped doing that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is a question for Hunter Biden and his representatives.

Q If somebody is selling the appearance of access to the White House —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is — that is —

Q — that is a question for the White House.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, that is — that is your — your — I don’t know — how you’re perceiving that.

Q That is my reading of sworn —


Q — testimony by Devon Archer. He said —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I am just not — Peter, I’m just not going to get into this. I’m just not.

Q So, this testimony — since the last time that I was in here, Devon Archer talks about how he and Hunter Biden tried to profit off the Biden brand. What is the Biden brand?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get into it from here. I’m not going to get into it from here. We’re going to move on.

Go ahead.

Q Thanks. I have a question. First of all, happy first day of school.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Happy first day of school.

Q But seriously, what is the message that the administration has for the millions of girls in Afghanistan who can’t go to school because the Taliban won’t let them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the President has always been very clear about the importance of girls — not just here in America but globally — being able to — to live freely and be able to go to school and get the education.

And so — and we have been very clear in laying out our concerns, such as girls’ education, with the Taliban. We have been consistent with that. We’ve been very clear of that. And so, we also remain laser-focused on trying to support and assist the Afghan people without bolstering the Taliban.

And so, that’s something that we’re going to continue to do. That’s something that the President is going to continue to be clear about — not just him but his administration. And so, that doesn’t end today or — or — and two years ago. That certainly will continue throughout his administration.

Q Do you have a message for the girls themselves, I guess?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, we have — this is — this is a president, this is an administration that certainly supports girls being educated — again, not just here but also in Afghanistan. We are going to make that very clear as we — as we consistently assess our relationship and approach — right? — with the Taliban.

That — that is going to continue. And we’re going to assist — we’re going to assist the Afghanistan — Afghan people as much as we can — right? — without bolstering the Taliban. And that has been our commitment — our commitment — not just the last two years, certainly, for the past few decades.

Q And then, quickly on Vietnam: The statement you put out doesn’t mention human rights or the fact that the chairman is the leader of a socialist communist country that has been backsliding on human rights. Is that going to be part of the conversations? And what —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And you’ve heard us say this many times — you’ve heard it from our national security advisor; you’ve heard it from — from the President; you’ve heard it from many members of this administration — that this is a president that never shies away on bringing up human rights with any leader.

And so, I’m not going to get ahead of the agenda. I’m not going to get ahead of a conversation. But certainly, this is not something that the President — when it comes to human rights, it’s not something that the President shies away from and bring — he certainly brings that up.

Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. The President was asked yesterday if he would speak to Governor DeSantis and responded by saying that he’d speak directly to the people in Jacksonville. Did he just mean at the top of his remarks later this afternoon? Or is he planning to travel to Jacksonville?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t — as — as the Mayor just stated, we don’t — we’re not tracking, certainly, any — any travel to Jacksonville.

The President — you saw the President’s statement. You heard it from me, you heard it from — from the mayor — our — our hearts going out to the people in Jacksonville. Certainly, we’re going to do everything that we can. We — the President spoke to the sheriff. He spoke to the mayor.

So, don’t — just don’t have anything else to share beyond that.

Q On Vietnam, Politico reported that part of what would be announced — and I know you gave kind of a long readout at the top — was the strategic partnership agreement on AI and semiconductors. Is the — are you expecting them to sign that while he is there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we’ll have more to share on that trip — on the agenda, deliverables, what we’re — what we’re expecting the conversation to look like and to be. I just don’t want to get ahead of that at this time.

Q Last one. While you were gone, there was a report that you guys were considering a meeting with MBS around the G20. He’ll obviously be attending, I think, for the first time as a — sort of the Head — Head of State designate, and it comes as energy prices have been high this summer and headed into next summer where there’s a lot of anticipation that they could remain there. So, I’m wondering if that’s something that’s actively in the works or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, don’t have any — don’t have anything to share on any bilateral meetings that the President might have on — at the G20. If we were to have any, certainly we will lay that out for all of you or announce that to all of you.

Q Do you have any sort of topline stuff about what you’re hoping to accomplish with the — at the G20?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The G20 more broadly? So, he’s going to reaffirm — the President will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the G- — at — to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation globally. He’ll discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues, from the clean energy transition and combating climate change; to mitigating the — the economic and social impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine — obviously, that will be a big part of the conversation; to increasing the capacity of the multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to better fight poverty and take on the significant transnational challenges that are affect- — afflicting countries across the world.

So, we have a packed agenda, as you can imagine. And we’ll have more to share in the coming days. And, again, any bilateral or meetings that could potentially happen around the G20, we certainly will share that with all of you.

Go ahead, Toluse.

Q Thanks, Karine. Want to get your response to some comments from Senator Sanders over the weekend. He said the President has every right to be proud of his record, but he seemed to suggest that the President should spend less time touting his record and Bidenomics and more time speaking to the anxieties of Americans who are still struggling in the current economy. He said, “Democrats, up and down the line, are going to have to be much clearer to the American people as to what they stand for.” I wonder if you have any reaction to that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, first, we’re very thankful to Senator Sanders for, certainly, being partners with us in passing some of the key pillars of Bidenomics, right? When you think about the key pieces of legislation — historical pieces of legislation that had led to unemployment being under 4 percent, when it led to millions of jobs being created, when it leads to the middle class really building — rebuilding that middle class, not leaving anyone behind, certainly Senator Sanders has been a key partner. And we really appreciate the efforts that — his leadership, I should say, in Congress, and making that happen.

And so, look, we — we agree with the — with the senator, right? When it comes to — what we’re doing is just the beginning, right? This is like — this is — this is part of trying to make sure that we do build a middle class; that we build an economy from the bottom up, middle out. That is incredibly important to this President. That’s why he has said that the last two years. This is not just the last two years. He doesn’t believe in trickle-down economics. He knows that doesn’t work.

And so, when it comes to — when it comes to the President going out there and talking to the American people directly to let them know what this administration has been able to do with the help of — of senators like Sanders, I think it’s important — we think it’s important for them to hear directly from this administration.

And so, look, we think there’s more work to do. We’re going to hear from this President this week about how he’s going to continue to lowers cost — right? — low- — lower healthcare costs for Americans — something that the President, you know, has — has been leading on, and has — his administration has continuously put out ways to do that — Inflation Reduction Act, how it’s going to be able to help Americans lower costs — healthcare costs, how it’s going to be able to make sure seniors are — are not paying more than 35 bucks on insulin.

All those things are key. They’re critical. They’re important. And so, the work continues. The work continues. And so, we agree with the senator: Yes, the work continues. And we’re going to — hopefully we can work — continue to work together with him on getting that done, getting more done — done for the American people and American families.

Go ahead, Karen.

Q Thanks. To go back to the President’s comments from Fri- — Friday about the COVID funding request, when he said he was asking — or he’d signed off on a proposal to present to Congress a request for additional funding for a new vaccine, why was that not included in the $40 billion supplemental funding request to Congress that was sent out this month?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just — I don’t have anything else to share on the President’s comments at this time. So, I want to be very clear at that. Just don’t have anything more to add.

What I can say is that we are prepared for the fall. We believe that we’re prepared for the fall. We believe that we’re in a better position than we’ve ever been to combat COVID-19. And that’s because of the work that the President has done. You heard from FDA, you heard from CD- — CDC, pardon me, who have said that there’s going to be new vaccine that’s going to be available mid-September.

And, look, because of the work that this administration has done, with the leadership of this President, we have been able to put together a comprehensive way to deal with this pandemic, to deal with COVID-19. And we have put forth multiple tools to do that. And a vaccine, clearly, is one of that.

As — as it relates to what the President said, I just don’t have anything to add at this time.

Q And on that new vaccine that’s going to be available in mid-September, the CDC data — it says that only 56 million Americans, 17 percent of the population, received the updated shot last year. What type of public messaging campaign or effort will the administration and the White House be doing starting in mid-September to get people to get that shot — to get more people than last year to get that shot?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, Karen, this is an issue that you have followed very closely for the past two years. And you have known that this — this administration, when it comes to informing the American people about these vaccines, about the different tools that this Pres- — that this President and this administration has put forward, we have really put informing Americans as a priority. And so, we’ll continue to do that.

We know that — that COVID-19 vaccinations are the safest to protect — protection for avoiding hospitalization, long-term health outcomes, and death. And that is why we are going to continue to encourage Americans to stay up to date on their vaccines. And so, you’ll hear more from us on that.

And as you know, that is something — when it comes to informing Americans, American families about this vacc- — about the vaccine, we certainly have been really — something that we put at the forefront as we move forward with our comprehensive approach to dealing with this pandemic.

I would also refer you to the HHS on anything more — specifics on this new vaccine.

Go ahead.

Q Thank you, Karine. Question on foreign policy. Israel’s foreign minister revealed that he met with his Libyan counterpart, which lead to her firing and demonstrations in protest. Does this complicate the administration efforts to expanding on the Abraham Accords and kill any chance of normalization now between Israel and Libya? It was reported that the administration is angry at the Israeli leak of the story.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on that particular question, I would have to refer you to the Libyan Government of National Unity and the government of Israel. That’s where I would have to refer you on that particular question. I just don’t have anything else to share on that.

Q Mr. Burns went to Libya, and he met with the Prime Minister. And he encouraged him, apparently, to approach Israel for this special relationship. So, the administration has an interest in this.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I understand the question.

On any conversation or meeting, I would have to refer you to the respective governments.

Go ahead.

Q Given what you’ve said so far about the President’s preparing for — for COVID and being ready for any sort of fall surge and what the President said today at the middle school, does the administration believe that all of the resources are in place, that they’re adequate should there be a case uptick that maybe is concerning to some districts and they maybe consider whether or not to leave kids in the classroom?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. So, I’ve talked about the historic progress that our administration has made in the ability to manage COVID-19 so that it’s no longer a meaningful disrup- — disruption to — to the way that we move in our day-to-day life, right? So, that is something that the President has taken seriously.

We’re — we believe we are in the strongest position yet — in the strongest position yet to deal with COVID-19, as I’ve said multiple times at this — at this point and — you know, any — anything that we might see in the fall or in the winter.

And that’s because safe and updated vaccines that will be available in mid-September — widely available at-home COVID, tests. Right? I talked about the different tools that this — this administration has been able to — to put forward: widely available and effective treatments, which can reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

And we are also going to encourage — we’re going to encourage Americans to get their updated COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to their annual flu shot — let’s not forget — that is important for Americans to get — and RSV immunization for people over 60 and for infants. That is something that we’re going to continue to make very clear to Americans across — across the country.

As it relates to any uptick nationally: While the CDC is reporting an increase in infections and hospital — and hospitals — hospital admissions overall remains low.

But, again, we believe that we are in a good position — in the strongest position that we have been in the past three years or so to deal — to deal with COVID — COVID-19. There’s going to be an updated vaccine in mid-September.

We’re going to continue to encourage Americans to get their updated vaccine, to stay updated on their vaccines more broadly, but also to make sure they get their RSV and also to make sure that they’re getting the flu shot.

Q But I guess specifically though, is there a message to school districts as kids are back in school now? And, you know, it’s not just COVID. As you’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of things that can make kids, you know —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. No, I total- —

Q — sick this time of year.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, that’s why we — I mentioned the RSV. That’s why I mentioned the flu, right? That — those — all of those things are important for Americans to stay updated on.

So, as kids returns to school, to your point, CDC continues to — to recommend that people are up to date, again, on their COVID-19 vaccines. The agency has also laid out a number of steps people can take to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

If you — they — if folks go to CDC.gov. It’s important if — if Americans or if families across the country have any concerns, any questions, they should go to CDC.gov. And they’ll lay out ways to protect their loved ones, to protect their kids.

Decisions at the — is at the district level. As you all know, when it comes to any decisions on what tools they’re going to use, whether it’s masking or whatever — however they’re going to move forward, that is something that’s decided on a local level.

But, again, the CDC has a — has laid out ways for folks to — for schools and — and families to move forward if they have concerns.

But, again, we are encouraging — we are going to continue to encourage folks to be updated on their vaccine. The RSV — let’s not forget. Make sure they get that. And also the flu — the flu vaccine.

All of those things are incredibly important, as we head into the fall and winter months, to keep — to keep our loved ones safe.

Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. The — so, on oil. The administration is engaging now with dictator Nicolás Maduro to increase oil production. Why not, through regulation, show encouragement here in the U.S. for oil production?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. So, we continue — the U.S. is going to continue to work to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. That is something that we’re going to continue to do.

And it has been our longstanding position: Should Venezuela take concrete actions toward restoring democracy leading to free and fair elections, we are prepared to provide corresponding sanctions relief as well.

At this time, Venezuela has not taken the necessary steps, and our sanctions remain in effect. So, nothing has changed there.

Q So, new leases were issued for the Gulf of Mexico for drilling — yet, in that, they removed 6 million acres of land to do that. Plus, there were additional restrictions placed on ships, specifically for oil and natural gas, to deliver those products. Why constrict — continue to constrict the U.S. energy industry?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Meaning in Venezuela specifically?

Q No, no, I’m talking about — I’m talking about the Gulf of Mexico. Now I’m talking about oil. Second —


Q — second question about it.


Q So, there was a — new leases were offered —


Q — for the Gulf of Mexico. But in those new leases, the administration has reduced the amount of acreage by 6 million acres to do that.

And in addition, they restricted ships taking the oil from the rigs — and natural gas — from the rigs to the shore. So, again, why continue to add restrictions on that industry?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we don’t believe we add restrictions on that industries. I want to look specifically on what the — what you lay out those restrictions were and what was provided on the Gulf of Mexico. So I want to get back to my team and make sure that what you laid out is exactly how it — how it was announced. And we’ll get back to you on that particular questions. But that is not something that we believe that we are doing.

Q One — one more on UAW.


Q Is the President going to get involved? Has he been talking with UAW at all?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you heard from the President yesterday, and he spoke — he spoke to this when he was asked about the UAW.

Clearly, he has been — this is somebody who — this is a president that believes in investing in America, has ensured — right? — when it comes to the future of automaking, it will be built here in America and by American workers. He has been very clear about this.

This is a president that has overseen historic increases in labor union participation during his time in office.

And unions themselves have labeled him as — you hear us say this all the time — the most pro-union president.

And so, look, we’re not going to read out every — every conversation that this President has with parties in these negotiations, but the White House remains in close touch, as we have been in many other — in many of these other discussions with the UAW and the Big Three Automakers.

And, look, the President believes in collective bargaining, as we — you hear him — and you hear us say all the time. And it has worked. We have seen it worked in the past two years.

Q I think it’s time to gather for the next event.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Oh, that — oh, yeah, we have to gather for the next event.

We’ll see you tomorrow, guys. Thank you, everybody.

2:25 P.M. EDT

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