James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:16 P.M. EDT
(Ms. Jean-Pierre steps over a cable on the press dais.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This happens every time.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Q Good afternoon.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, I know there’s a national emergency alerts that supported to potentially — or alert system that’s supposed to start at 2:20 at a rolling basis. So, hopefully we can get through it.
Okay, guys. I know it’s been a busy 24 hours on the other side of Pennsylvania. I wanted to note at the top that we continue to see the election of a Speaker as an internal matter of the House of Representatives, just as we have previous — in previous leadership elections in Congress.
But as I said in a statement last night, the President hopes the House will quickly elect a Speaker because the urgent challenges facing our nation will not wait. You just heard the same kind of sentiment from the President moments ago in the Roosevelt Room.
The American people deserve leadership that puts the issues affecting their lives front and center — as President Biden did yesterday with more action to lower prescription drug prices, as he did today by delivering student debt relief for more Americans.
Once the House meets their responsibilities to elect a Speaker, President Biden looks forward to working together with them and members of both parties in Congress in good faith on behalf of the American people.
The President’s — the President has demonstrated his commitment to bipartisanship throughout his career and through the more than 300 bipartisan bills he has signed into law as president, including historic investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, veterans care and medical research, stopping gun violence, the overdose epidemic, and much more.
That work must continue, and the President is ready to work with anyone willing to work together with him in good faith to continuing to deliver for the American people.
Speaking of delivering for the American people, we have a pretty vivid split screen today here at the White House.
While a group of extreme congressional Republicans have opposed student debt relief, denying more than 40 million of their own constituents thousands of dollars in debt cancellation, and tried to block the SAVE Plan, which is helping borrowers save money on their student loan payments — on the other hand, just moments ago here at the White House, as I stated, the President announced that an additional a hun- — an additional 125,000 Americans have been approved for $9 billion in debt relief through his administration’s efforts to fix Income-Drive[n] Repayment Plans and public service loan forgiveness and by canceling debt for borrowers with total and permanent disabilities.
To date, the Biden administration had — has canceled more than $127 billion in debt for nearly 3.6 million student loan borrowers.
President Biden has long believed that college should be a ticket to the middle class and not a burden that weighs on families. That’s why, from day one, his administration has taken unprecedented steps to fix the broken loan system, making college more affordable and bring the promise of higher education in each — and in reach for more Americans. And he is not done yet.
Under President Biden’s leadership, this administration continues to work to open an alternative path to provide debt relief to as many student borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible. And the Department of Education provided an updated — and updated on our efforts just last week.
As borrowers begin repayments, the President will continue to use every tool he has to give borrowers the extra breathing room they may need.
With that, Darlene, good to see you.
Q Good to see you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You want to kick us off?
Q Thank you. Two quick questions on Ukraine. We just heard the President announce that he’ll be giving a speech on Ukraine. What more can you tell us? What is the timeline? Is he going to do this tomorrow or next week or —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) So, we’ll have more to share on the President’s speech — as he said, a major speech on Ukraine. Don’t — don’t want to go beyond what he said. But as soon as we’ve locked that in, certainly, we will share that with all of you — the timing and the date.
Q And then, he also talked about another means of potentially funding — getting U.S. support to Ukraine. Do you have any details on what he was talking about there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything more than what the President shared.
Look, the President was very clear, right? He said — he basically said, you know, he was able to bring 50 nations together — right? — allies and partners together to give a commitment to bring forth a commitment to Ukraine as they are bravely fighting for their — their freedom — right? — fighting for their democracy.
And what he said is, basically, it would be — it would be a major mistake for us to walk away from that, for us to walk away from what you — the brave people of Ukraine are doing every day — every day for this past more than a year.
And so, there is a broad, broad commitment. We see that from both the House and the Senate, with both Republicans and Democrats, to continue that support — that funding support that we have provided for Ukraine. And he believes that still stands. He believes that has not changed. And we need to continue that.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. So, Biden said today that he’s worried about additional funding to Ukraine. So, if someone like Jim Jordan, who has said he’s against moving an aid package to Ukraine, is elected Speaker, does the White House believe they can still get more funding through?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we’re not going to comment on who’s in the race or who’s not in the race for speakership. That is something that the House needs to figure out, that House Republicans will deal with.
What we can say and what the President said as well, just reiterating this, is that he’s committed to working across the aisle in good faith to get things done on a common ground — right? — to — making sure that we’re getting things done for the American people.
And so, that is what matters. And we’ve seen him do this before in the last two years. I just mentioned the bipartisan infrastructure deal — legislation — right? — that was — which puts investment in infrastructure that we haven’t seen in 70 years — right? Making sure that we continue to be competitive with China — right? When we think about the CHIPS and Science Act, when we think about the veterans’ care. All of these things that he was able to do in a bipartisan way.
So, look, he wants to deliver for the American people. He’s willing to work in a bipartisan way, in good faith, with whoever — whoever is willing to do that with him in the House and in the Senate.
Q But is there any regret that, you know, Kevin McCarthy was a known quantity, but with this next person that it will be even harder to work with? Any regret that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look —
Q — there wasn’t more support for the existing Speaker?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m not going to get into who’s running or who’s not running. That is, again, something for them to — for them to figure out.
Look, here’s the reality: The important fact is Republicans in — in the House — they have the majority, right? This is — this is for them to figure out. This is for them to figure out how they’re going to move forward, right? This is a situation that they have created.
And I — you know, I don’t want to speak for every American across the country. But I would say the majority of Americans are sick and tired of the infighting that they’re seeing in the House right now. They want to see us work in a bipartisan way. The President is willing to do that, right? And so, that’s, kind of, where we are.
The — the Republican Conference that we see currently in the House, it is — it’s — it’s — we’ve — we’ve — you know, we’ve never seen that type of behavior. They stand apart from any other conference that we have seen before, whether it’s — you’re talking about the Senate or the House.
And so, this is their creation — this chaos. If you think about it, this is like shambolic behavior that we’re seeing from House Republicans. And so, they need to figure it out. They need to end the infighting.
And the President is willing and ready, as he has for the last two years, to work in a bipartisan way to get the job done for the American people.
Q Karine —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q This speech, is it something that emerged in the last 24 hours? Or has he been talking about it for a while? And just —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’m not going to get into internal conversations on — on the speech. You heard directly from the President: He wants to give a speech on Ukraine. You heard him say even — even during his remarks and answering the questions that he wants to lay out how important it is to continue — he wants — continue to fund — continue that funding for Ukraine.
Look, again, he said: We brought 50 na- — he brought 50 nations together, allies and partners, to make sure that commitment to Ukraine was there. He wants to continue it.
And this is important to the American people. This is important for our nation to continue that support to Ukraine. We are — it is — it is a direct connection.
And so, that’s what you’re — that’s what — that’s what you’re going to continue to hear from the President.
I’m not going to get into specifics about the speech that the President laid — mentioned.
Q He’s gone from confident to worried about it. So, what changed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, and I’ve said this before, of course it is of conc- — concern when you have a small fraction, you know, in Congress, like the House Republicans, who are causing this type of chaos. I’ve said this before, right? Of course, it is of concern.
And as it relates to the funding, we continue to see broad support — majority of — of bipartisan support — right? — majority of support in a bipartisan way in both the House and the Senate to continue our commitment to Ukraine.
And this is a promise. This is a promise that both House — both House Republicans and Democrat — both Repub- — Democrats in the House — in the Senate, pardon me, and Republicans in the Senate have made.
And so, we want to make sure — we want to see that commitment continue for the — for the people of Ukraine.
And so, that — nothing has changed there when — they’ve been very public about that. Nothing has changed.
It would be a major mistake if we do not continue to do that. And that’s what the President made clear today in the Roosevelt Room.
Go ahead, Nancy.
Q Thanks. Following up on that. Just yesterday, you told us, John Kirby told us that the President reassured all these world leaders that he is confident that Congress is going to approve this aid. And now, today, he’s saying that he wants to deliver a major address to warn about how problematic it would be if Congress didn’t approve this aid. So, is he confident or is he not confident —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, he’s —
Q — that Congress is going to do this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, he’s confident because there has been a broad support for this — right? — majority support in a bipartisan way to continue — to continue this funding. That hasn’t changed. We continue to hear that. And so, that is what we — we are going to point to, obviously.
But, look, and I’ve said this: When you have a small fraction of — as I just said to Steve, when you have a small fraction of a party that is causing that type of chaos, you know, it doesn’t look great across the — across the globe, right? That doesn’t — that doesn’t look very promising.
But let’s not forget: These — these nations also have their own domestic — domestic kind of processes and things that they have to deal with as well. So, they understand certainly how — how that works for us as well, trying to get through the domestic — the domestic policies or, you know, process or politics here as well.
Look, what we want to make very, very clear is that we cannot walk away from our commitment. We cannot. It would be a major mistake. That’s what the President wants to be — make very clear.
And, you know, the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said this the last time he was at the podium — is that the cost of doing nothing is so much greater than the cost of providing continued support.
And so, the President is going to reiterate that. He’s going to reiterate — he’s going to reiterate those — those sentiments that we have. He’s going to reiterate what you heard from him: how it’d be a serious mistake if we walk away from that commitment.
Q The President seemed to suggest a moment ago that there might be some alternative funding source he could tap into if Congress does not pass more aid for Ukraine. What — what is that funding source?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get beyond — go beyond what the President said. You’re going to hear directly from him. As he said, he has — he’s going to give a major — major remarks on Ukraine. I’m just not going to get beyond that.
Q Thanks, Karine. Our colleagues at CNN are reporting that the U.S. is sending seized weapons from Iran to Ukraine. Can you confirm that? And is that something that we’re going to see more of if Ukraine aid continues to be stalled?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m not — I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t connect the two.
Here’s what I can say: CENTCOM put out a — CENTCOM put out a — a statement on this. The Department of Defense announced that the U.S. government trans- — transferred 1.1 million rounds of small arms ammunition for Ukrainian infantry units.
And as I — as I mentioned, U.S. Central Command naval forces seized these munitions as they were en route from Iranian Revolutionary Guard to militant groups in Yemen, in violation of international law and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.
We will continue to take actions to support Ukraine in their fight for freedom against tyranny and to curb Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and beyond.
And so, that is our commitment that we will continue to have. And this is a way that we felt that we can also continue to support Ukraine.
Q And to Nancy’s question about alternative ways to — to fund Ukraine, was that the deal that the President was referring to again today when he said that the Democrats had a deal with Speaker McCarthy — maybe it wasn’t to bring a bill to the floor on Ukraine, but maybe this other avenue to get aid to Ukraine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to go beyond — get ahead of the President or go beyond what he said today. He’s going to speak to this when he’s ready to do so.
Q Can you describe the nature of President Biden’s relationship with Jim Jordan?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President has been vice president. He’s been senator, right? He has had — he has many, many relationships with members of the Republican Party in the House and in the Senate, more specifically. Just not going to get into characterizing specific relationships that he has.
But the President has been known, for a long time, to work in a bipartisan way and have — you know, have pretty good relationships with Republicans — Republicans in Congress.
I’m just not going to get into every — every member of Congress and his relationships with them.
Q So, I suppose that means you don’t want to answer about his relationship with Steve Scalise?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get into characterizing each relationship that the President has.
Go ahead, Marek.
Q Thank you. I have — I have just asked President Biden if he promised President Zelenskyy ATACMS for Ukraine. And he answered that “everything [President Zelenskyy] asked for, we’ve worked out.” It’s hard to imagine that Zelenskyy didn’t ask for ATACMS. Does it mean that some kind of solution for delivering ATACMS has been achieved?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to say on that today. Look, I’m not going to go beyond what the President said. He —
Q He also —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — as you know, he has had multiple meetings with President Zelenskyy. And — and we work very closely with his team. We talk to them very regularly. And just don’t have anything to share beyond that.
Q So, one more question about Sweden’s NATO membership. It’s been almost three months since President Biden thanked President Erdoğan for dropping his opposition to Sweden’s NATO accession. Is President disappointed that Sweden is still not a member of NATO?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we — we still stand very strongly on believing that Sweden should be welcomed into NATO as soon as possible. Sweden is a strong, capable defense partner that shares NATO’s values. They will strengthen Alliance and contribute to European security. And we’re going to continue to urge Turkey — we’re going to continue to urge Turkey to move forward with NATO ratification process as soon as possible.
And, you know, don’t have anything else to share beyond what we’ve been very consistent on.
Q Thanks, Karine. John Kirby said yesterday that the White House prefers that Ukraine funding should be separate from anything connected to the border, but there does seem to be some momentum behind linking border security and Ukraine in the next funding package. What’s the President’s reaction to it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look — and (inaudible) we’ve talked about this a little bit earlier in the week. The President — and we believe this, and we’ve seen this, and the President has done — has taken action when it comes to delivering funding — record bording — record funding for the border security. And, you know, he’s reques- — requested additional funding.
The most — the most extreme House Republicans have sought to eliminate thousands of Border Patrol folks at — at the — at the border, and the President — let’s not forget: The President got 24-, 25,000 Border Patrol — additional Border Patrol law enforcement at the border. And that is something that no other president has been able to do.
Meanwhile, just two weeks ago, House Republicans proposed cutting DHS funding by 8 percent. That’s what they have said that they want to do.
Let’s not forget, the President just recently requested $4 billion in supplemental funding to — to save — to do — to — to work — to work that system in a very safe and hu- — humane — humane way.
When it comes to Ukraine — and you heard me say this — they — we want to con- — continue to see the bipartisan support for funding in Ukraine.
And we’ve heard — you’ve heard from House Republicans and Democrats. We’ve heard from Senate Republicans and Democrats in a — in a overwhelming way — right? — a majority that say that they want to continue that funding.
And so, that’s what we want to see. And — and the President, again, asked for $4 billion in — in supplemental funding to deal with the border.
And so, look, we’ve been very clear on how we want to move forward with the border. And you have Republicans — House Republicans who want to take away that funding, take away the work that the President has done.
Q So, there is no red line against having a joint package that focuses on the border?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, the — the Admiral spoke to this yesterday. You know, he was very clear about this. And we’re — we want to continue to see the support for Ukraine in a bipartisan way. We continue to hear from both parties, saying that they want to do this. And so, that’s what we want to see: continue the commitment to Ukraine, continue to that — that commitment so they can continue to fight against the aggression that we’re seeing from Russia.
And when it comes to the border, we’ve taken action. We’ve taken action by getting record funding to deal with the border.
Q I know you can’t speak specifically about the alternative means that the President was talking about for funding Ukraine. But can you say: Is that part of a broader effort by the White House to try and find these workarounds if Congress isn’t able to pass new aid?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just not going to get — go beyond what the President said.
And in the absence of a Speaker, I’m just wondering, broadly, are there practical concerns at the White House about things like continuity of government, about national security events? Are there particular scenarios that you’re concerned about, you know, in the next week or however long it takes to vote for a new House Speaker? Are there practical concerns about not having that person in government?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’m just — I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. But what I will say is that we want to see House Republicans to end their infighting, to end their chaos that they’ve created. This is of their creation. They have the majority in the House. They can fix it. They can get their — their affairs in order, and they should on behalf — not because — for us, on behalf of the American people. That’s what we want to see.
I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.
Q Why is the President sending recorded remarks for Senator Dianne — Dianne Feinstein’s funeral tomorrow instead of attending in person?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, it’s not unusual for the Vice — as you know, the Vice President is going to be attending tomorrow. And so, she will be — I would refer you to her office. I believe she will be providing remarks. And so, it’s not unusual for the Vice President to go to a funeral instead of the President. Don’t have anything beyond that.
As you know, the President has, you know, put out a statement on the passing of — of a — of the senator. He thought that she was an effective elected official. She was a historic — a trailba- — -blazer. And they worked together on many, many issues across the — across her career, in the — in the 15 years that they were senators together, certainly — especially the — especially — especially when you think about the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, which — which was incredibly effective for those 10 years that it existed.
And so, look, he — he’s — he — you’re going to hear directly from him. They’re going to hear directly from him tomorrow at the — at the service. But I don’t have anything beyond his — his travel.
Q Thanks, Karine. The Vatican is holding historic meetings on the future of the Catholic Church on issues like allowing women to become ordained as deacons and the blessing of same-sex marriages. Is the President monitoring this meeting that’s going to be taking place over the next few weeks? And does he have thoughts on this agenda, as somebody who’s a practicing Catholic?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’re not going to get into the internal workings of the Catholic Church. That is something for them to work through. But, certainly, the President is a — is proud of his faith and enjoys a warm relationship with Pope Francis. They share a lot of common goals.
And so, I’m going to leave that there, let them deal with their internal, kind of, workings, and just not going to comment beyond that.
Q And the Pope singled out the U.S. in his new document on the environment, specifically on emissions in the U.S. — on climate change, and said “…that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact.” What’s the White House reaction to this tough criticism from the Pope on something that’s a big priority for the President? And is that something that the Pope expressed to the President directly when they’ve had conversations?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I certainly am not going to speak to any private conversations that the Pres- — the Pope has had — or the President has had with the Pope.
What I can speak to — and this is something that the President has done since day one, or said since day one — how climate change is indeed an emergency.
And — and he has taken actions. He’s taken actions to deal with climate change and, you know, declared climate as a basis for emergency action under the Defense Production Act — DPA; set aside $500 million from DPA to jumpstart heat pump manufacturing and build out our electric gi- — grid; deploy tens of millions more from the DPA to stand up solar manufacturing and source critical materials for EVs; signed the most ambitious climate bill in history, the Inflation Reduction Act, as you know, which is going to actually put forth investments to deal with climate change; and conserve more land and wa- — and waters in his first year in office than any president since — since JFK.
So, the President has shown his commitment. He’s — you know, he’s walked the walk, if you will. And he’ll continue to — to — to work through whatever else he can do to deal with climate change.
Q Thank you. The governor of Illinois has written to President Biden to say “…the federal government’s lack of intervention and coordination at the border has created an untenable situation for Illinois.” Does anybody outside of the White House think the immigration policy is working?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here’s what I can tell you. I just mentioned that the President requested $4 billion for supplemental funding to address what we’re seeing at the border — right? — and to manage what is happening currently at the Sou- — the Southwest border more specifically. And Republicans continue to block us. They do. They continue to block us.
And without Congress, the President has taken action. He’s taken action, whether it is — whether surging resources to the border; we have removed and returned more than 250,000 — -50,000 people since May 12th; and working with partners and countries across the region to actually deal with this issue.
So, the President has continued to put — try to put forth actions in ways to deal with what we’re seeing at the border, and Republicans continue to block us.
I just mentioned moments ago, like two weeks ago, they put forth a CR — a CR that would take away law enforcement — law enforcement at the border.
Q Different topic.
There are some new pictures of Commander Biden biting a staffer again. How many times has that dog bitten the Bidens?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would — I would refer you to the Secret Service and also the First Lady’s Office.
Q Okay. It’s the 12th known incident of this dog biting a White House staffer. A lot of times when that happens, there’s a lawsuit. Isn’t the President worried about getting sued?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would refer you to the Secret Service or the First Lady’s Office.
Q Okay. My last one: Is any part of the West Wing here just loving the fact that Republicans don’t appear to be able to govern the one part of the government that they actually control?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Nobody is loving anything when it’s — when we’re not — when we’re not able to deliver for the American people. Nobody is loving that.
When — it is important for Congress to work — not for us, but on behalf of the American people. It is important to make sure that we meet the challenges of the American people. That’s what’s important.
What we saw — and you heard from the President — what we saw on Saturday should have never have happened. We’re glad that a deal was made. We’re glad that we’re not in a shutdown. But House Republicans should have never gotten us that far.
And so, they are the majority in the House. They can fix this. They’re creating the chaos. That is not helpful to the American people.
That’s why you saw the President today talk about student debt relief and talk about what else he’s doing to make sure that we’re giving a little bit of breathing room to the American people.
That’s why you heard from the President yesterday talking about — or our announcement talking about how we’re continuing to beat Big Pharma so we can lower prescription drug costs for the American people.
That’s what the President cares about. That’s what he wants to see: What can we continue to do to help Americans as they face really tough challenges?
So, this is not — we’re not loving it. It is not helpful to any — any American across — across the country.
Q In any of the meetings about this in the last 24 hours, has anybody in the West Wing heard anybody talking about the possibility of Speaker Trump?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is something for House Republicans to figure out. This is something for them to fix. We’re not going to get involved in the speakership. We don’t care who they — who is in the race or who is out the race. That is not for us to figure out.
The President doesn’t have a vote. No one here has a vote. They have to figure this out.
Go ahead, Peter.
Q Karine, if the President is confident that the Congress is going to pass the necessary funds to continue providing aid to Ukraine, why is there the need to have discussions about an alternate vehicle to provide that funding?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get beyond or go beyond what the President said.
Q Well, that’s going beyond. That’s going behind. That’s things that have happened in the past.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m going to — I’m going to — I’m going to let the President speak to this. He said he’s going to give a speech on Ukraine. I’m going let him speak to this.
Q I guess I’m confused because the President — you — we said here that the President was confident that the aid would continue. But today, the President himself conceded he was worried about that. Are those two — can those two align?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think he’s confident — and I just dealt with this. He’s —
Q Yeah. I was just trying to follow up because I was —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, I’m happy —
Q — didn’t understand it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m happy to repeat myself.
He’s — what we’ve heard from House members both Republicans and Democrat, what we heard from senators both Republicans and Democrats have said — have said that they want to continue the support in Ukraine so that Ukrainians can continue to fight against Russian aggression. We’ve heard that. A majority, right? Overwhelming majority.
So, that still stands. Right? That has not gone away. That still stands. That — that commitment that we have heard publicly from them still stands.
So, that is where we are with that. That is why we are confident that — yeah, you know what? There is broad support.
Now, if the President wants to take an extra step and explain and talk through the importance of — of supporting Ukraine, that’s what he wants to do. It’s not the first time. He’s done it multiple times, even when we’ve had bipartisan — continue to have bipartisan support.
Q So, he’s doing it because he’s confident not because he’s worried, I guess I’m saying.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m — I’m going to let the President lay out when —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — when the time comes as to why he wants to — why he wants to speak to Ukraine.
What I can say is what we’ve heard from Congress — because it is up to Congress — right? — right now to move forward on how they’re going to move forward in funding — in funding the support for — continued funding support for Ukraine.
But it’s important for us to point out what they’ve said publicly.
Q Has the President spoken to Speaker McCarthy, the for- — now former Speaker McCarthy since yesterday? Has he spoken to the Speaker Pro Tem McHenry in the time since? Has he had any calls that you can share with us with those? Because he needs them, as he acknowledged, to try to get Congress working and to get America working again for the American people.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Not going to get into any private conversation.
You’re right. The President was very clear. He believes that they need to get back to work. The House needs to get back to work. They need to figure out who their Speaker is going to be.
He’s willing to work in good faith with whoever the Speaker is.
Q Just — when you say — just to be clear, when you say “I’m not going to get into private conversations,” you’re not acknowledging that there were private conversations, just that you won’t say yes or no.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right. What I can say is as — what I can say is senior — senior staffers, as I’ve said many times, have been in close touch with members in Congress over the past several weeks, over the past several months. That’s something that happens pretty regularly.
Q But not the President. Yeah.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And I can say this — that the President himself regularly, often has conversations with members in Congress because of his long — some of them are relationships that he’s had for some time now.
Just not going to get into each conversation that he’s had, their private discussions. We don’t read out each and every conversation that the President has. That’s where I’m going to leave it.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. I’m going to follow up on my colleagues’ questions about the President’s speech. I know you can’t speech about — talk about the substance of it. But can we understand this as an acknowledgement from the President that he perhaps could be doing better in terms of explaining to the American people why supporting Ukraine is within their best interests and maybe an acknowledgement that there is waning support from the American public?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, it — the President has spoken multiple times about the importance of funding — continuing to fund Ukraine. He did it on Monday. He did it on Sunday. He did it today.
And he talked about how there’s a direct link in supporting Ukraine, continuing that funding to our own national security. That has — that — that is something that he’s been pretty consistent about.
I’m not going to get into what he’s going to say in his speech. You’ll hear directly from him, obviously.
But, you know, we have seen the polling, just like you have — you all have seen the polling. I believe the Admiral was asked about this as well. And yeah, we see the polling, and we get that. We understand.
But we also believe that it is fundamentally important to our own national security as well as — as supporting the brave people of Ukraine — to continue that support. It is.
(A test of the National Wireless Emergency System is heard.)
Oh, there you go. Okay, thanks, everybody. I’m just kidding. (Laughter.)
Q I turned mine off.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. It’s — I know, it’s long.
Q It works.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It works. Every couple of years, folks.
Q Your last statement set off the alarm.
Q Can I please follow up on that (inaudible) —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Your last statement set off the alarm. (Laughter.)
(A test of the National Wireless Emergency System is heard.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t even know what I — was last statement. But go ahead.
Q It’s a rolling alarm.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead, Patsy.
Q It’s delayed?
Q Thank you —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s going to go on a rolling — rolling basis. Be ready. (Laughter.)
Q But to address that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — that waning support from the American public and, you know, as well as the trajectory that there is waning support from Congress — (a test of the National Wireless Emergency System is heard) — at what point does the White House — would the White House reconsider the messaging on Ukraine?
I mean, you know, “for as long as it takes” may be an effective message in the beginning of the war, but maybe the American people at this point need to hear something less indefinite, less open ended. Is this something that the White House is considering?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to get into the — the substance or the specifics of what the President is going to say.
I mean, the President said it today, right? He said that he was able to bring 50 nations together to show the commitment to Ukraine as they stand up against Russian aggression. (A test of the National Wireless Emergency System is heard.) (Laughter.)
And he even said — and went further and said that to walk away from that — (inaudible), right? — to walk away from that would be a mistake. And he talked about how what they’re doing, what the brave people of Ukraine is doing and fighting against that aggression from Russia is directly linked to our own national security.
And so, he’s going to — he’s always going to continue to make that very clear. We’ve heard that from the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, when he was here recently. We heard that from the Admiral. It is important. It is important that we continue to help Ukraine.
And so, we’ve always made that clear. We’ve always made that clear over the past — how many? — more than a year now
that this ongoing, you know, unjust war that we’re seeing in Ukraine by the Ru- — by Russia.
Go ahead, Dan.
Q Thanks, Karine. Just going back to — to the, you know, the 50 nations.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q How worried should they be that the President is worried about the funding?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you know, the President spoke to many — many of those allies and partners yesterday. And the Admiral said here — and we said that none of them brought up that they were concerned. They did not bring up any concerns. And so, I think that’s important.
And they understand. We believe that they understand. They have their own domestic political issues that they have to deal with as well. And they understand that as well — right? — what we’re — what we’re doing, what we’re seeing here.
But the President is going to continue to — continue to speak to the importance of why we need to support Ukraine — Ukrainians as, again, they continue to fight against this tyranny. And the President is going to continue to do that.
That hasn’t changed. None of that has changed.
And so, you know, the President said he’s going to give a major speech. I’m not going to get ahead of him. (A test of the National Wireless Emergency System is heard.) He’ll lay that out for all of you. We certainly will share when it will happen — the time and day of when that will happen. I just don’t have anything beyond — beyond that.
Go ahead, Gerren.
Q Thanks, Karine. Two topics.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is quite something.
Q This is going to be a good test. (Laughter.)
Q Does the White House have a reaction to the shooting that occurred on Morgan State University?
While details are still emerging, it has raised concerns about security on HBCU campuses — something that came up last week during the HBCU conference. And Congresswoman Alma Adams said that she’s — plans to seek additional funding for HBCU campuses, specifically for security. Does the President support such additional funding for security on HBCU campuses?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I haven’t seen that request, so I can’t speak to that directly.
But what I can say is: The President and the First Lady are praying for those wounded in the shooting at Morgan State University last night. And we know how traumatizing this continues to be for everyone on cam- — on campus, for the partner — for the parents and families of every student, and for the community.
Last night and this morning, the White House team was in touch with the governor’s team in Maryland — Governor Moore’s office — as well as Baltimore mayor and the president of Morgan State University about the shooting and offered our support.
The AA- — ATF is actively assisting in the investigation as the — as the search remains underway for the shooter. We urge everyone on campus and in the community to heed the guidance of safety officials.
Morgan State is in our hearts today. And we will continue to do everything we can to provide support needed as the community recovers from this horrific shooting.
In fact, as we just announced, as you all know, on Friday, when we announced the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention is — precisely why we did that is to improve what we’re seeing — right? — this gun violence that we’re seeing across — across the country. And not just on campuses — right? — in communities just across the country.
And so, we want to be there for the survivors in the communities who are impacted by the shootings. And we’re going to do that. And certainly, that is one of — of the — kind of the important parts of having the office.
As it relates to any additional funding, just don’t have anything to share with you at this time. This is a president that has given more than any other president as it relates to HBCUs — more than $7 billion. You see his commitment to HBCUs. I just don’t have anything to share beyond that.
Q One more topic: The
NAAC[NAACP] President Derrick Johnson sent a letter to Secretary Cardona requesting that the President’s SAVE program for student loan debt is expanded to Parent PLUS loan borrowers. He makes the argument that this is an equity issue, that Black households disproportionately take out Parent PLUS loans. Is the President open to retooling this program for these borrowers?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I don’t have any policy announcement to make at this time. What I can say is that through the rulemaking process, we are certainly focused on making sure that we continue to give relief to borrowers. I mean, that is part of the, you know, multiple announcements that you’ve seen since the SCOTUS decision.
The President is very much — very much committed to his student debt relief program. We’ll have more once the — through the rulemaking session.
And, look, the President is always committed to trying to find a way to give Americans — in this case, borrowers — a little bit of a breathing room — a little bit of a breathing room. He talks about dignity — offering up and making sure people have dignity so that they can provide for their family.
And this is what you’re seeing from his student debt relief program. Just don’t have any policy announcements to make.
Q Thanks, Karine. In regards to this speech. Russia invaded Ukraine, which is enough in the past for most Americans to join together with the band, and we would find some unity. We do not have that unity, and there continues to be a lot of criticism of this administration’s efforts in Ukraine on Capitol Hill with Republicans in Congress.
So, does this at all speak to the administration’s ability to communicate to the American people that there is a problem that we should be behind? Or do you believe it falls chiefly on the GOP?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay —
Q Did I get you there? I’m sorry. (Laughs.) I wasn’t trying to be confusing.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. As it relates to — and I’ve said this multiple times at this point — we have seen overwhelming support to continue the support — to continue the funding for Ukraine. We’ve seen that in the House, in the Senate, from Republicans, from Democrats. They’ve been very public about it. And we don’t believe any — that has changed. We do not believe that has changed.
And so — and so, we want to continue that support. Again, you said — right? — Russia invaded Ukraine, right? Ukrainian people are fighting for their democracy, fighting for their freedom. That is incredibly important.
As you think about the NATO Allies, the NATO countries that surround Ukraine, it is incredibly important that we support Ukraine, right? It is imp- — incredibly is important that we do so.
And so, the — again, the cost of doing nothing is so much more than the cost of providing continued funding for Ukraine. And so, as the President said, he was able to bring allies and partners together to provide that commitment to Ukraine, and it would be a serious mistake if we were to walk away from that.
You’re going to hear from the President. He said it. He’s going to give a speech on it. He’s spoken about it many times before. He’s going to speak about it again. And it is important — we believe it is important — the President made this point — for our own national security to make sure that we continue to provide support.
Q Will he speak to the concerns that the GOP and others have about continued efforts to aid Ukraine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — look, I — I get your statement. But we’ve also heard from overwhelming majority of folks in the House, in the Senate — both Republicans — right? — in both chambers and Democrats in a bipartisan way, supporting the continuing — the continued funding.
Q And finally, this is my every-two-months request: He just spent time — the President just spent time with the pool.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Which is great. And took —
Q Took four or five questions from the pool
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He took questions. And he did so on Sunday as well.
Q Could we just get him to come out here into this room for those of us who are not a member of the pool to ask him questions?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, the President loves taking your questions. He’s done it a couple times this week. I don’t have anything to commit to all of you. He’s going to continue to do so when he can.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead — oh, all right, I’m going to take — go ahead, Jon. Take the last one.
Q Thank you very much, Karine. Some House Republicans have raised this idea of linkage: the idea that they would support another round of funding for Ukraine, but only if there’s additional funding for border security at our southern border.
What would be problematic with that particular idea? After all, it is divided government, and you do need to have some sort of compromise with divided government.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I literally just answered this question about 10 minutes ago. So, I will say this: When it comes to the border, the President has — has provided record amount of support — of funding to deal with the border.
And Republicans do the opposite. They literally put forth a CR two weeks ago that would take away funding to have law enforcement at the border. That’s what they put forth. That’s what they continue to do.
And so, you know, the — the President is going to continue to do everything that he can to deal with what’s going on at the border. He asked for $4 billion in supplemental funding. And House Republicans want to take away law enforcement at the border.
And so, you could not have two different ways of moving forward and dealing with the border. And as it relates to Ukraine — I’ve said this over and over today — we have seen bipar- — overwhelming bipartisan support to continue this — to continue the funding in Ukraine. That has not changed. That still stands. Members in the House and in the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, have been very public about that. And that’s what we want to continue to see.
Thanks, everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow.
2:29 P.M. EDT