James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:43 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.
Q Good afternoon.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, President Biden, as you all know, has met with countless survivors of gun violence and families mourning loved ones. And the message he hears most often is: Do something.
Today, President Biden will build upon the historic actions he’s taken through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the two dozen executive actions he’s taken to date, and announce the establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
This new office will be overseen by Vice President Harris, who has been a — who has been a key leader in the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic.
The office will be held by Stefanie Feldman, a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention, and two leading gun violence prevention advocates, Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox. They will join the administration as deputy directors of the office.
Ahead of this afternoon’s event in the Rose Garden, I am pleased to welcome to the podium someone who has more authority to speak on this issue than nearly anyone else in this town — and I say that sadly: Congresswoman Lucy McBath.
Through her grief and because of her perseverance, she has become a tireless advocate for gun safety reform. For some, this is an abstract debate, but not for Congresswoman McBath. She has lived within — with the awful and tragic reality of the gun violence epidemic in this country. I can think of no better person to share what today’s news means to so many families across the country.
On a personal note, she’s a hero of mine. In 2018, as a — as I was at a previous job I held, we were sitting around deciding who was going to go to the district — districts — different districts across the country, obviously, to organize and knock on doors. I stood up and asked to go to Lucy McBath’s district because she has so inspired me and, I know, so many others out there with her strength, with her smarts, and her vision for this country.
So, I literally went door to door, knocking in what is now your district for your first election.
REPRESENTATIVE MCBATH: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And it is a — really, truly an honor to have you here today on this important, important historic moment here at the White House.
The podium is yours, Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE MCBATH: Thank you. Thank you. Well, thank you so much, Karine.
And while I serve as a member of Congress today, I am speaking to you first and foremost as a mother. Just over a decade ago, I was living like any other mom in Georgia — in the Georgia suburbs, and I dedicated my entire life to raising my son, Jordan.
Then on November 23rd, 2012, within the course of three and a half minutes, a man drove up next to my son and his friends as they were parked in their car at a convenience store gas station, firing 10 rounds into the car and killing my only son.
In an instant, I was robbed of every dream that a mother holds for her child. I would never send Jordan off to college. I would never see him attend his high school events. He would never graduate from high school. I would never see him get married.
Nobody wants to experience what I have, but my story is becoming far too common in the United States of America. Every single day, over 100 people are shot and killed in the United States.
Gun violence has no boundaries. From the suburbs, to the cities, to rural America, over 100 families a day are living their worst nightmare.
Our kids are continually trauma- — traumatized by lockdown drills, while their schools teach them how to hide behind their desks and corner themselves to shield themselves from gunfire.
President Biden knows the deep pain of losing a loved one. And today, he is taking decisive action by declaring loudly and clearly: We do not have to live this way.
The historic creation of the gun — of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention marks a new era in the fight to keep us all safe. The office will increase coordination between states and ensure proper implementation of the gun safety legislation that we have already passed in Congress.
President Biden’s actions today truly, truly will save lives.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE MCBATH: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things before we go into questions. Today, extreme Republicans are voting in a House committee on four destructive appropriation bills as they continue to march toward a shutdown that would hurt our economy and threaten our safety.
House Republicans failed multiple times this week to do their basic duty: keep the government running. Instead, they were pushed to the extremes with increasingly severe cuts to programs Americans rely on, which have no hope of passing the Senate. And having accomplished nothing — having accomplished nothing this week, they have all decided to go home.
That’s not delivering for the American people. It’s chaos. It’s failing. It’s actually failing the American people.
Now, you don’t have to take my words for it. As you know, we like to take it straight from the horse’s mouth, if you will, and do quotes here. So, House Republicans have said — they said it themselves.
Representative Frank Lucas said there are, quote, “Folks who want to use this as an opportunity to blow the place up.”
Representative Jerry Carl said, quote, “I truly think that they want it shut down.” End quote.
Representative Matt Gaetz said, “We will have a government shutdown.” “We cannot blame Joe Biden…” “We cannot blame House d- — House Democrats.” End quote.
That’s because House Republicans are to blame. And we’ve seen that week after week after week.
So, now the question for House Republicans is very simple: Do they continue to pursue increasingly extreme bills that would hurt their constituents by slashing education, slashing healthcare, Meals on Wheels, and much more, all while barreling toward a needless shutdown that would threaten nutrition assistance for nearly 7 million mothers and children? Is that what they want? That’s a question for them. They have to answer this.
Or do they keep their promise and abide by the bipartisan agreement two thirds — two thirds of House Republicans voted for — for this bipartisan agreement just four months ago, back in May? It’s not complicated here. It’s truly not complicated, because a deal is a deal.
So, another thing before we — we continue. Here at the White House, this afternoon, the President is taking another action to save lives: signing a bipartisan law that will make the ar- — the organ transplant system work better for more than 100,000 people on the waiting list for organs.
Everybody knows the system has been broken for years, with heartbreaking consequences. Now, with the President’s signature, we are taking significant steps to improve it.
The law will break up the current monopoly system, harnessing competition to allow HHS to contract with the best entities to provide a more efficient system for the people it serves. The law will also eliminate the funding cap to allow additional resources to modernize the system, which is a critical lifeline for thousands of Americans. And this will save lives by creating a more transparent and accountable system that allows more Americans to access the organ transplants that many so desperately need.
And finally, finally, finally — on Monday, the President will host Pacific Islands Forum leaders at the White House during the U.S.-Pacific Island Forum Summit taking place here in Washington, D.C.
This is the second summit with Pacific leaders that the President will be doing here. It will reaffirm his support for strengthening ties with the Pacific Islands and discuss how we address complex global challenges, like tackling the existential threat of climate change, advancing economic growth, and promoting sustainable development.
Over the past year, we’ve taken our engagement with PIF countries to new heights. And we’re looking toward — to continue to deepen our partnerships.
And we’ll have more for all of you later this afternoon. There will be a call that all of you can jump on. I believe it’s at 3:30. And so, stay — stay tuned.
And with that, Will.
Q Thanks. I have two topics. First, on Senator Menendez, did the White House know that an indictment was coming today? And does the President believe the senator should resign?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. I’m going to be really careful here — this is a — and not comment, because this is an active matter.
We learned about this just like all of you. But again, this is active matter, so I’m not going to comment.
Q Should he resign?
Q No comment on a resignation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I’m just — active matter. I’m not going to comment.
Q Okay. On the — on the UAW strike. The UAW has invited President Biden to the picket line. I’m wondering if he’s going to — he has any plans to go.
And also, they — the strike is expanding to 20 states. Is the President going to feel more pressure to move both parties towards a resigna- — a resolution —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a cou- —
Q — resolution?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep. On your first question, I don’t have any updates to the President’s schedule at — at this time. Just don’t have anything to share.
But certainly, the President appreciates the — Shawn Fain’s inviting him, including him, certainly, with the — with all the family and friends of the UAW.
And so, the President has been really clear about this. He believes the un- — the union built the middle class. That’s something that he has said for years now. And, of course, he is a union guy who will continue to fight for UAW and also union workers. So, that will not end. That is something that he has certainly been steadfast about for the past several years.
So, we are, of course, in touch with the parties. As you know, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and also Gene Sperling have been in regular touch for the past several weeks with all parties.
Certainly, the parties continue to remain at the negotiation table, which is incredibly important. And so, we’ve communicated to each of them the importance of continuing to work 24/7 to get to a win-win agreement, as you’ve heard us say many times.
And look, the auto industry will remain here in America. That’s what the President has been working towards, investing in that in the last two years. And, you know, UAW workers remain at the heart — the heart of a growing industry.
And so, we will do anything — everything that we possibly can to help in any way that the parties would like us to. But again, they are at the negotiation table, and they — we believe that’s incredibly important.
I know — I know your — your dad had some thoughts about our back-and-forth yesterday, so maybe we sh- — we should try this again.
Q I — same question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)
Q Same question as yesterday.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you repeat the question?
Q What do you call it when 10,000 people illegally cross the border in a single day?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here’s what I will say. And you’ve heard us say — you heard me say this a couple of times — and I’ll say it again because it is the facts: On day one, the first day of this President’s administration, he put forth a comprehensive immigration reform that we believe — we believe that was desperately needed for this country. Right?
As we know, and you’ve heard us say this many times before, we are dealing with a broken system. And no action was taken from Congress.
And so, what the President was able to do: He imposed consequences for those who do not have the legal basis to remain. And he has removed more than 250,000 individuals — this administration has done so — since May 12th. And so, we’ve taken action.
The President has secured — he also secured record funding. And — and let’s not forget: This record funding that the President fought for over the last year or so was — was opposed by the House Republicans. This is something that they opposed and didn’t want to see.
And so, what it allowed us to do is actually hire about 25,000 more — bring on CBP agents and really do something that was historic, that we hadn’t seen.
And so, a broken system. It’s been broken for the past couple of decades. The last administration certainly gutted the immigration system for four years. That’s what they did.
And you had Speaker McCarthy and the Republicans in Congress who continuously — continuously take step to undermine what is currently happening, trying to undermine getting border security.
We saw that — we saw that this week with the — with the CR, where they put forth another — another piece of legislation to cut — to cut — to propose continuing to cut — cut some important resources that’s needed, whether it’s CBP — 800 fewer CBP is what they wanted to do. Fifty thousand pounds of cocaine, that’s what it would — that’s what it would hurt — right? — in — in trying to prevent that from coming in. Right?
When you think about more than 300 pounds of fentanyl, when you think about more than 700 pounds of heroin, more than 6,000 pounds of methamphetamine to enter the country — that’s what they were trying to prevent from the work that we’re trying to do — prevent from coming into the country.
So, we would love to do this in a bipartisan way, but we’re not seeing that. We’re seeing — what we’re seeing from House Republicans is wanting to defend — defu- — defund, pardon me, DHS.
Q But when you spoke last month —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — and you said, “We are stopping the flow at the border,” is 10,000 migrants in a single day stopping the flow?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I will say is — I just mentioned 250 [thousand] individuals have been — have been stopped who do not have the legal pathway from coming in. That has been since May 12th.
And — and as we are, you know, looking at Eagle Pass — and I know this is a — this is a — where — where kind of the — the issue is at the ti- — at the moment. You know, CBP quickly surged resources and personnel to the area. And thanks to their great work — their great work, we’re able to swiftly vet — vetted and processed into custody more than two hun- — 2,500 individuals and cleared the area where migrants had congregated.
And that’s the work of our law enforcement. That’s the work of our law enforcement at the border.
Remember, House Republicans are trying to cut that. They’re trying to cut that.
Q Totally different subject.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q There are some new relaxed standards in town. Would President Biden ever show up to an official meeting wearing shorts and a hoodie?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You’ve — you’ve — I’m assuming you’re talking about the Senate when you say “relaxed standards.”
Q He was in the Senate for a long time.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know, but I’m just —
Q He used to be the president of the Senate.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just want to make sure we’re clear what you’re talking about here.
Q Does he think these are appropriate changes?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You — you know the President. You’ve seen him. You’ve seen him for the past — as vice president, as senator. He — he dresses better than — than most of us here. (Laughs.) And so, I’ll just leave it at that.
I’m not going to comment on how Senate is running their business and the decision that they’re — made. That is — that is up to them.
Q And then —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is not for us to decide or speak to.
Q — last one. At a fundrai- — at a fundraiser this week, President Biden told donors about how Charlottesville inspired his campaign. And then, according to the pool, a few minutes later, he told the story again, nearly word for word. What’s up with that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you is — and I’m going to be careful not to talk about — because this was a campaign event for this upcoming campaign, obviously, in 2024. So, I’m not going to speak to that, put that out there for the Hatch Act.
What I can speak to is — look, the President was making very clear why he decided to run in 2020 and 2019. He made it very clear as to what he saw in this country and what was going on. And he got 81 million votes — a historic amount of votes — from Americans across the country who believed that this was a president who can help get our — protect our democracy, get our economy back on track. And — and could be a leader and the adult in the room. And so, that’s what you saw.
I’m not going to speak to comments that were made and — during a campaign — campaign event, but I can certainly speak to why the President is president today and why he decided to take on this job.
And it is important for him to continue to deliver for the American people, and that’s what he’s going to do.
Go ahead, Nancy.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Nancy.
Q I know you don’t want to interfere with an ongoing investigation. But given the unique nature of the charges against Senator Menendez, taking bribes from a foreign country — he’s the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee — what message does it send to other countries if he’s allowed to stay in that role?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I believe, from some of your reporting, I think there’s discussions happening about his next steps — the senator’s next steps. So, I leave it to the leadership of the Senate and certainly lead it — leave that to the senator’s office.
I have to be really careful because it is, indeed, an ongoing matter. And so, I cannot comment on this.
But as far as his leadership role in the Senate, that is something for Senate leadership to speak to.
Q Given that this is now the second time that he’s faced really serious federal charges, would the President advise him to step down? Does he want to see him continue in the Senate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’re going to be very, very clear about this: We’re not going to get involved. It is a ongoing matter. And so, we’re going to leave it to — to the prosecutors to move forward with however they see fit, but we’re not going to comment.
Q On the UAW, the initial plan was the President was going to send Julie Su and Gene Sperling to Detroit. They stayed here. Why was that decision made for them to stay here? And now, given that the strike is expanding, are there plans to now go ahead and send them to Detroit? Or are they going to continue to — to make those conversations from here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, there was a mutually agreed decision that was made this week that we — that was believed to be the most productive way to move forward — was for — for Gene and Julie to stay back and to help from Washington in the best way possible. That was a mutually agreed agreement.
And look, we are in constant — those two are in constant conversation with all parties. They actually spoke to the parties today. And so, that certainly is going to continue. We are going to help and assist in any way that they feel necessary.
But look, I think the most important thing is that they are still at the negotiation table. That is incredibly important. They have done — they have been really focused on this the last — the last 24/7. And so, I think that’s important.
The President has always said he’s a union guy. He — he appreciates being called that by unions and labor leaders out there.
And so, we’re going to do everything that we can to be helpful. But we are encouraged that they are continuing to have that conversation.
Q Thanks, Karine. Beyond placing the blame on Congress, what’s your message to federal employees at risk of going unpaid?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, our — our message is: This doesn’t have to happen. The shutdown does not have to happen. The Republican shutdown does not have to happen. They can do their — they can do their job and keep these vital programs continuing, keeping the government open. And that’s our message.
Our message is: This should not be happening. We should not be putting American families’ lives in turmoil. We should not be putting their — even their lives at risk, potentially, because of what this could mean for the different programs that these families and Americans need.
And so, all they have to do is do their job. And what they’re doing is putting forth incredibly extreme, partisan — partisan policies forward and — you know, and saying, “Hey, we have to get this done,” in order to keep a deal that they made back in May.
And so, this should not be happening. It should not be happening. And so, look, we’re going to continue to be very clear what we’re — what we’re saying to them privately is what we’re saying to all of you publicly — is that they need to do their job.
Q Do you know when federal workers would miss their first paycheck?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have the specifics on any of that. The OMB director and the OMB more broadly, certainly, is working — is working on what — on plans of what this could potentially look like if there is a shutdown, talking to the different agencies.
So, that is — that is certainly in progress right now. Just don’t have any specifics on payments or what that would — what that would look like.
Q And the new announcement today on the gun violence — Office of Prevention of Gun Violence. That has been something advocates have been pushing for for years. Why do you think it took so long?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, here’s the thing. As you know, there was the bipartisan piece of legislation that the President was — signed, and it was the first major piece of legislation on gun violence that was able to be — to move forward in 30 years.
The President did two dozen executive actions, because he took this seriously. He called the gun violence in this country an “epidemic.”
And so, I said this yesterday and I’ve said this many times — you’ve heard this from the President: There are people who are sitting at their kitchen table every night who is missing a loved one because of this violence. Because you can’t go — you can’t go to your congregation, you can’t go to your grocery store and not worry about potentially getting shot down.
You have kids who are going to school who are — you heard directly from the congresswoman — what they have to go through now because of this gun violence epidemic.
So, right now is the right moment to establish this office. We want to accelerate — accelerate what the President is — put forward in his two dozen — two dozen executive actions. We want to accelerate the law that he was able to sign — sign into — sign into law — legislation he was able to sign into law — to get — to continue to get the work done.
And so, this was the right time to do that. But let’s not forget the work that the President has done the last two years to get us to where we are. But more work needs to be done. He’s not going to stop calling on Congress to continue to do the work that they need to do to protect our families from gun violence.
But this is an opportunity to accelerate what the President has been able to do to — to protect communities, to really deal with gun violence. And that’s what the importance of this office is.
Q Thanks, Karine. Did President Biden and other Five Eyes leaders raise their concerns about Canada’s allegations of Indian involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen at the recent G20 meeting?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know that the National Security Advisor spoke to this yesterday, and I know there’s been some new reporting. I don’t have anything to — certainly — and this is something that Jake said himself — you know, I’m not — he was not going to comment about private diplomatic conversations. I’m not going to do that either. You know, if the — just — just following what the National Security Advisor said.
And so, I’m just not going to comment on that. Obviously, you know, we are deeply concerned, as he said as well. And — and so, what — what the Prime Minister has referenced here — the Prime Minister of Canada. And so, we remain in regular contact with the — with the Canadian governor — government and the Canadian partners. But, of course, I’m just not going to comment on diplomatic conversations from here.
Q Jake did also say that the — that the issue was being raised at the highest levels with the Indian government. Can you tell us if that’s — if you’re staying in regular contact with them about this as well?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we have engaged, as — as — as Jake said — our National Security Advisor — with — with the Indian government. But, certainly, we’re not going to get into our private diplomatic conversations, as he said as well. But, yes, there has been conversations with our partners in the Indian government, as Jake — Jake stated yesterday.
Q Karine, a follow-up?
Q In another realm of diplomatic conversations, can you say whether or not President Biden promised President Zelenskyy yesterday that the U.S. would provide the weapons known as ATACMS?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, with this, I’m just not going to confirm the reportings that are out there. Look — and Jake said this as well when he was here — the President has long said, in the past, that ATACMS are not — are not off the table. And — but I just don’t have anything new to announce.
But, look, I will say this, more broadly — is that what we saw yesterday, this bilat between the two leaders — between President Zelenskyy and President Biden — was really important.
It sent a strong signal to the world that — that we will continue to support Ukraine. And let’s not forget, we also announced a significant weapons package yesterday to continue to show that support that we have to Ukraine — their counter- — to support their counteroffensive and strengthen their air defenses against Russian attacks, which is our fourth package, as you know.
So, we’ll — going to continue to show our support for Ukraine with these security assistance. And so, that is our commitment. We will be there as long as they — as long as it takes. I just cannot confirm those reports.
Q Follow-up on Canada?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Back on the auto workers strike. There’s been some behind-the-scenes talk about a loan or grant program to help the auto suppliers. Is there any movement on that? And if a program would happen, could that be potentially affected by a government shutdown?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, there’s negotiations happening right now. I’m not going to get into the — into the details of the negotiations at this time. I’m going to let them have their — we’re going to give them the space and let them have the conversations. We are encouraged that they are — continue to be at the table. I’m just not going to go — I’m just not going to go point to point on what’s being discussed or what’s being put forward.
Q Is there — is there any discussions in the administration about helping the suppliers as this strike continues?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Don’t have anything to share at this time from — from how we’re going to potentially move forward.
What we are encouraged of is that they are continuing to stay at the table, and that’s what we want to see. And so, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals at this point.
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. A possible government shutdown would coincide with the restart date for federal student loan payments. That starts on October 1st. Is there any consideration right now to pushing that date back if there were a shutdown?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s a really good question. We are — right now, OMB is having those discussions with agencies at the moment to see how to move forward if there is a potential shutdown. Don’t have the pa- — specifics of what the different programs like the student loan program that we’ve — the different parts of it that we’ve announced is going to look like because those conversations are just now happening.
Q Can you say, from the White House, how worried you would be if there were Education Department employees furloughed — who would obviously be a part of this — but if there was a shutdown and those employees weren’t there, how concerned would you be that this would not go smoothly then, starting on October 1st?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know, the student — student debt relief program the port- — the President put forth is incredibly important to him, right? It is something that he believed — the reason he put it out there was to make sure that we give Americans a little bit breathing room, especially coming out of the pandemic. And so, it was a — clearly, part of his economic policy to make sure that we don’t leave anybody behind, especially, again, as we’re coming out of this pandemic.
Don’t have — I don’t want to get too far into the weeds into this, because, again, these conversations are just now starting — that OMB is having — so I don’t want to get ahead of that. But certainly, we’re looking into it, and we’re planning accordingly.
Q Yes, Karine. Also on the shutdown. You mentioned yesterday that, potentially, food safety would be under threat —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — in a shutdown. I understand that in previous years, USDA has considered those sorts of inspections as essential. Is there something else that you think will change that would make it non-essential?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, those conversations are happening, as to what the effects might be — right? — to those certain programs and how these agencies are going to move forward. Don’t have anything more to share.
Certainly, I laid — I laid out what the impacts would be for a shutdown, because it’s important for the American people to know what this means, with this Republican shutdown that they’re certainly seeming to barrel forward with. But just don’t have any specifics on that.
Again, OMB is having these conversations with agencies. And so — to — to look to see — to try and figure out how this is going to affect Americans across the country.
Q Karine, thanks. Can you expound on what the President is doing and what he will be doing to avoid a government shutdown? I understand you all have been saying that Congress needs to do its job. But surely the President must want to do something to avert this.
And is there a possibility that he would at all alter his travel schedule next week?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look — look, I don’t have anything to speak to on the President’s travel schedule. But this is — the President did his job. He did. He helped broker a bipartisan agreement back in May to move forward with a budget that, as I mentioned, two thirds of Republicans voted on. He did his part. So, a deal is a deal.
This is not something we can fix. The best plan is to not — is to not have a shutdown. The best plan is for House Republicans to stop their partisan political play and not do this to hurt Americans across the country. That’s the plan. The plan is to — for them to actually do their job.
The President found it so important — right? — to make sure that there was a bipartisan budget agreement that he did — he — he ma- — he helped brokered that.
And, again, a deal is a deal. And so, there should not be a shutdown. There should not be a shutdown. They should keep their promise not just to the President but to the American people.
And so, you know, this is for them to fix. This is something that House Republicans have to fix.
Go ahead. And then I’ll go to back. Go ahead.
Q A couple of things I’d like to follow up on. First of all, when you referenced the signing of the organ donation, if we had coverage of the signing of the organ donation, that would certainly expand attention to that important issue. So, just as an ongoing request that coverage of bill signings —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I appreciate that.
Q — would be — would be appreciated.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I appreciate that. Yep.
Q Following up on the UAW and — and so forth. Isn’t it an acknowledgment that the offer to send Julie Su and Gene Sperling was a misstep because they have not gone and you want to give this space?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, ab- — I don’t think it — I wouldn’t call it a “misstep,” because I said it was mutually agreed upon that they would stay back as they continue to have their conversation. And when I mean “they” — meaning the parties that are — who are a part of this negotiation process: obviously, the Big 3 and UAW.
And so, wouldn’t call it a misstep at all. I mean, again, it was a mutual — mutually agreed that it would be — it would be more — most productive for Gene and Julie to stay back and do the meetings and — from Washington, D.C.
Now, let’s not forget, this is something that they’ve been doing for the past several weeks; it’s nothing new. And so, we are — you know, we appreciated that — again, mutually agreed.
And so, if there’s travel that needs to happen, we’ll certainly assess that when the time — when the time comes.
But what is the most important thing here — what is the most important thing is that all parties continue to have these — this conversation and to continue to negotiate. And that’s, I think, what is the most important part of this.
Q And following up on Peter’s comment about the fundraiser. For — you know, we all understand these are off camera. We were not witnesses to that, except for our pool that was present. But for the President to retell a story we’ve all heard him tell many times —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — in full — and stipulating that we often — as human beings, you know, we misspeak. We do things. I’ve done it myself. So, stipulating all of that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — is it any concern that he would fully retell a story in the same space in the same event?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sometimes I re- — re-speak as well from here and retell a story.
But, look, you know, I think it’s important to note that the President was speaking, as you said, at a fundraiser, and he was speaking from his heart. He was speaking about why he decided to do this. And you hear the President talk about this. It’s always incredibly emotional for him, because he didn’t have to. He went through a incredibly difficult time when he was deciding to jump into the race.
And so — but he saw — you know, as somebody who served as senator, as somebody who served as vice president — what was going on in this — in this — in this country under the last president.
Q So, you think knowingly and mindfully that he wanted to retell it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, I have not spoken to the President about it, certainly.
But what I can’t say is: The passion that he has when he tells that story and how important it is for him to have done something because he believed, you know, our democracy was at stake. You know, and that’s — and — and what he saw.
I mean, you all saw what we saw in Charlottesville. It was devastating. It was a part of our country that was devastating to see.
And so, you know, he spoke to that passionately. And, you know, that’s why he’s in this. He’s in this because he believes that he can — he can help move this country forward in a way that brings it to — to its best — right? — when he talks about possibilities. And that’s why he was speaking to — in an incredibly passionate way.
Okay. Go ahead, Gerren.
Q Thanks, Karine. While gun violence impacts communities all across the country, Black, Jewish, and marginalized communities often fall at the intersection of gun violence and hate-fueled violence. In many parts of the country, those who commit hate crimes can still have legal access to a gun. How important is it for this office — this new office to address gun violence intersectionally?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, it’s — I mean, it is incredibly important. When we talk about gun violence, it’s not one community that’s affecting, as you just laid out; it’s multiple communities. So, this is something that is at their intersection. It is so important that we do not forget a community here.
As you know, this is going to be overseen by VP Harris — the Vice President, Harris — which is going to be incredibly important. We have Stef Feldman, who’s going to be the director, and she’ll have two deputies.
We’re taking this very seriously, and this is about all communities — all communities. As we hear the horrible stories — right? — we hear story — stories of different brown and Black communities, rural communities, urban communities being affected by gun violence. And enough is enough.
Remember what I said at the top of this — at the top of the briefing: The President hears from multiple — multiple victims, and the thing that they say to him is, “Do something.” And it doesn’t matter where he is around the country, who he’s comforting during these awful attacks, that’s what he hears, because all of these communities are feeling the same thing. They’re losing loved ones.
And so, it’s going to be incredibly important to make sure that we don’t leave any community behind. This is not a president that does that. This is the president that talks about inclus- — being inclusive. And — and so, that’s what you’re going to see from this office.
What this office is going to do — as I said moments ago, it’s going to accelerate the work that the President has already put forth: the bipartisan — the bipartisan law on gun — for gun violence, when you think about the two dozen executive actions that he’s taken. It’s going to help accelerate all of those really critical pieces, so that we can get to a place where we’re in — — where we’re not sending our kids — being frightened — to school because there might be — there might be gun violence at their school or going to — or going to a grocery store. Right?
And so, that’s the importance of this office — is to really get to work and accelerate the work that we’ve already been doing.
Q Thanks. On Ukraine. After Zelenskyy’s visit yesterday, Biden — Biden said that he was counting on a good judgment of Congress to keep approving aid for Ukraine. How confident is he that Republicans are going to keep approving additional funding in an election year?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, this is something that Jake — Jake Sullivan spoke to — our National Security Advisor spoke to yesterday. As you know, he’s been very much involved and having conversations on — on the Hill with congressional members — both Democrat and Republican — sitting down, talking through the importance of continuing the funding.
We have said over and over again how much we appreciate the strong bipartisan support that we have seen for Ukraine in helping them fight — fight in this war, as they’re fighting for their democracy.
So, we’re — we’re going to continue to be confident. We’re going to continue to have those conversations. And — and we believe — and that’s what I — you know, what I said earlier about how important it was for the two leaders to have this bilateral engagement yesterday, the message that it sends is that we should — that — that we are going to continue to support Ukraine.
So, we’re confident in that support, that bi- — that bipartisan support for Ukraine. And so, we’re just going to continue to have those conversations.
Q Also, on Israel. Netanyahu said today that he believes Israel and Saudi Arabia can achieve a historic peace deal, and that President Biden can clinch the deal. But he also said that we should not give the Palestinians a veto.
How confident is the White House that Israel and Saudi Arabia will normalize relations? Is it possible — a deal without the Palestinians? Would Biden still like it — I mean, if it doesn’t include the Palestinians?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. And this is something that Jake Sullivan spoke to when we — when he spoke to normalization.
So, many of the key elements of a pathway towards normalizations are now on the table, as you just stated, and there is a broad understanding of these elements, which will not — which we’re, of course, not going to discuss publicly.
So, the specifics require an incredible amount of legwork, discipline, rigor, and all of the stakeholders in this are applying — applying that as we speak. This is coming from Jake yesterday.
And that said, we don’t have a formal framework here. We don’t have the — the terms ready to be signed.
There’s certainly a lot of work to do, and we’re going to work through it.
Look, a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia will include a serious component dealing with the fundamental issue between Israeli and Palestinian. This is to your question.
But I — I certainly don’t want to get ahead of a process. There’s a lot of legwork to be done. And don’t have a formal framework. And so, we’re going to work through it.
And certainly, I’m not going to get into the specifics from here.
Q Thank you, Karine. Just to follow up on the new office on preventing gun violence. I was wondering if there’s an international component to the scope of this new office. For example, will it be able to help curb the trafficking of illegal guns to Mexico from bordering U.S. states?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, our — our gun policy has always been comprehensive. And — and, of course, this is — this office is going to continue to talk to in regu- — be in regular contact with NSC and Homeland Security team.
And, so we’re going to do everything that we can to combat international trafficking and smuggling, as well.
And so, this is a — a comprehensive approach and — that we’re going to certainly move forward with.
Q Okay, and just really quickly, a quick confirmation, if I may. Our sources say that U.S. and Chinese officials are still working towards a Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco on the sidelines of APEC in November. Can you confirm that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything more to what the President has shared on this. I think most recently may have been Camp David when he was asked this question. I don’t have anything to share on a potential meeting or details on that.
Surely, if that were to happen, we would share — we would certainly share that with all of you.
Go ahead, Jon.
Q Thanks a lot, Karine. A follow-up in regards to the gun violence prevention office that the President will announce in a few moments. Why can’t the Domestic Policy Council do the same work that this new office is setting up? Can you explain what the Domestic Policy Council does versus what this new office will do and if there is any overlap between those two offices?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, this office is going to implement and expand upon the key — key executive actions. Right? It’s going to zero in and focus on those key executive actions, get that moving, accelerate that, and — and also the legislative action. That is what it’s going to do.
And, look, I said it, the President has said it — you’re going to hear from him moment- — in a few moments — and the Vice President: This is an epidemic. Gun violence is an epidemic in our country. And so, we need to do everything that we can.
And we believe having this office is going to be — is showing — is sh- — continuing to show the President’s commitment. But it’s going to be incredibly important, pushing what the President has put forward. And that’s what you’re going to see.
And I think having it separate and apart from D- — DPC shows our commitment, yes, but also shows that we are taking this an extra step — right? — an extra step on how seriously we’re taking it and how important it’s going to be.
So, this is the President saying he’s wants to — he wants to save more lives. This is what — this is what we’re going to try and do. We’re going to continue to see what we can do to save more lives.
Q And then a separate question in regards to President Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington yesterday. He was up on Capitol Hill; he met with members of both parties. From what you’ve heard, was he able to change any minds, particularly those House Republicans that are opposed to providing any additional aid to Ukraine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ll leave that to the House Republicans to speak to their meetings with — with the Pres- — President Zelenskyy.
As you know, he met with them and shared — shared, you know, certainly, his — when he speaks about this, as he’s dealing with this, he speaks about it in such a passionate way. And when he — when President Zelenskyy speaks, people listen, because he knows what he’s going through every day with his — what his country is going through, the people in his country is going through. And we have said how bravely they are fighting for their democracy and for their freedom.
So, that’s up to House Republicans to speak to, or House — House — House congressional members to speak to.
What we can do is continue to do what we showed yesterday, right? We announced another security assistance. Again, we — you saw the bilateral — the bilateral engagement between the two leaders, which we believe showed our commitment to Ukraine. You heard from the President at UNGA — speak to this in a very forceful way, what this means if — if we were not to continue to support Ukraine.
And so, we’re going to — the President is going to continue to do — to speak very forcefully, to show how much he supports Ukraine. But that is up to Congress.
But, with all of that said, we appreciate the bipartisan support that we have seen for the funding for Ukraine. And we are going — we are optimistic that that’s going to continue.
AIDE: We can take one more, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: One more? Okay.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good to see you, Cristina.
Q So —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s been a while.
Q Yes, it has been. Thank you for taking my question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely.
Q If there is so much at stake in case of a government shutdown, is the President willing to support or even broker negotiations between more moderate Republicans and Democrats to help Leader McCarthy avoid the shutdown? Is there any chance for bipartisanship here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look — Cristina, look, I appreciate the question — really do. And I’m just going to reiterate what I said moments ago: This is something for House Republicans to deal with. It is their job. It is one of their basic duties to keep the government open. It truly is.
And instead, they’re going in a very bipartisan way — in extreme ways in putting forth policies and, you know, CRs that’s going to hurt American families.
We — the President did his job, right? He helped broker a bipartisan legislation that two thirds of that legislation was voted by Republicans.
And so, a deal is a deal. They need to stick to what they agreed upon — what they, themselves, voted on.
And so, that is for Speaker McCarthy to — to figure out — to figure out how he’s going to move forward here. But this is for them to fix. This is for them to fix.
So, I’ll leave it there.
Have a great weekend, y’all. I’ll see you on Monday.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
2:29 P.M. EDT