1:43 P.M. EST
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Apologies for the very long two minute there, guys. We had some technical difficulties, so I apologize.
So, we are aware of the terrible shooting that took place at Charles University in Prague, claiming the lives of at least 15 people and injuring dozens more.
The President and the First Lady are praying for the families who lost loved ones and everyone else who has been affected by this senseless act of violence.
On behalf of the United States, we send our condolences and also wish the survivors of this tragic event a speedy recovery.
Federal authorities are in — in touch with Czech authorities as they investigate this incident, and we stand ready to provide additional support as needed.
As we close out the year, we wanted to take a look back at the progress made since President Biden and Vice President Harris took office.
So, from day one, our administration has taken on historic challenges, and almost three years in, we have a record of delivering for the American people.
President Biden vowed to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and families, and he is delivering on that promise. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which every single Republican member of Congress voted against, we’re taking on Big Pharma. And here’s a couple of things that has allowed us to do: It has allowed us to cap the cost of insulin at 35 bucks for seniors, allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for the first time ever, and save 15 million Americans an average of 800 bucks per year on their health insurance.
Despite never-ending attacks from Republican officials, more Americans are covered by quality, affordable health insurance than ever before, including 7 million more Americans enrolled through the Affordable Care Act.
Now, the ab- — the President and the Vice President have also taken executive actions to fight back against state abortion bans that put the health of women in jeopardy, force women to travel out of state for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors.
Onto the economy for a second. Over 14 million jobs have been created under President Biden. That’s every job lost in the pandemic plus almost 15  million more jobs.
And Americans have filed a record 15 million applications to start new businesses. That’s helping wages and wealth rise — both are now higher than before the pandemic.
We’re also cracking down on price gouging by banning hidden junk fees in airline tickets, credit cards, banking, healthcare, and apartment rentals. That work is saving Americans billions — billions of dollars each year.
And when it comes to our climate, the Biden-Harris administration continues to lead and deliver on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, including securing a historic agreement at the COP28 to transition away from fossil fuels and triple renewal [renewable] energy globally by 2030; launching the American Climate Corps to mobilize a new, diverse generation of clean energy, con- — conservation, resilience, and workers; taking bold action to cut emissions across the economy, including strong standards to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas operation.
This historic agenda is unleashing a manufacturing and clean energy boom with over $600 billion in private sector investments since the President took office.
President Biden and Vice President Harris will continue building on this pres- — on — on this progress that we’ve made the first two years in the years ahead. And that is how we see our progress has been over the last two years under the Biden-Harris admini- — administration.
And now, as you all know, we are joined again by Admiral John Kirby, who is here to take a few questions on Israel, the — and the deal to — to bring home wrongfully detained Americans from Venezuela, and the President’s call with President AMLO that he had earlier today.
And with that, Admiral.
MR. KIRBY: Thanks, Karine. Good afternoon, everybody.
Q Good afternoon.
MR. KIRBY: The President had a chance this morning to speak by phone with President López Obrador of Mexico. They had a chance to talk about ongoing efforts to manage the unprecedented migratory flows in the Western Hemisphere, building on the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection that President Biden launched in Los Angeles back in June of ’22.
The two leaders agreed that additional enforcement actions are urgently needed so that key ports of entry can be reopened across our shared border.
President Biden has asked Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall to travel to Mexico in coming days to meet with President López Obrador and his team to discuss further actions that can be taken together to address current border challenges.
And just a quick update, if I could, about humanitarian assistance going into Gaza. Yesterday, some 120 trucks entered through Kerem Shalom and more than 71 through Rafah. This brings the total to almost 200 in just the last 24 hours. And, of course, we’re going to continue to work as hard as we can to increase that flow through both those border crossings and then make sure that there are processes in place to get that aid and assistance to the people who actually need it inside Gaza.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Zeke.
Q Thanks, John. The United Nations says one in four civilians in Gaza is starving. Does the U.S. believe that assessment or — or accept that assessment of the situation on the ground in Gaza? And who is to blame for the humanitarian situation on the ground (inaudible)?
MR. KIRBY: Well, we’re certainly not — not in a position to dispute those numbers or that — or that — that assessment. I mean, we certainly agree that — that there is an immense amount of suffering inside Gaza — hunger, obviously, but altho- — also health needs as well. And with winter coming, harsh — harsher weather is going to make it tougher for people that are not able to shelter.
So, we certainly share the concerns about the humanitarian crisis that’s going on inside Gaza, which is why every day I come out here and talk to you about the things we’re doing to alleviate that suffering.
Q And in terms of the responsibility, why are more trucks not getting in now? Who is saying, “No more trucks”? Is it inspection capacity? The Israelis say that the U.N. doesn’t have the capacity to deliver the aid inside Gaza. Where is the bottleneck?
MR. KIRBY: It’s not — it’s not that somebody is saying, “No more trucks.” We’ve been working closely with our Israeli counterparts to get that — the — the level up and sustained. And we’ve had days where it was and days where it wasn’t.
I mean, you have to remember this is also a war zone. It’s an area of conflict. And that greatly increases the complexity of getting humanitarian assistance in in a safe, secure manner and, more critically, making sure, at the end of the pipeline, that it’s getting to people who are actually in need. And the U.N. is leading efforts on the ground, as they rightly should, to — to try to see if — about local distribution.
So, this is a tough — this is a tough problem set, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to back off of it.
And, again, the — the — you know, the last 24 hours, you had more trucks going in through Kerem Shalom than you had through Rafah. So, I’m not — obviously saying there needs to be more, but it’s — it’s a good thing that Kerem Shalom — you can see the impact that that crossing is having on getting aid in.
Q And just the bottleneck question. Where is it? Is it the distribution?
MR. KIRBY: It is a — I wish I could tell you there’s, like, one bottleneck. There’s a bunch of reason- — every day is different. And every day — some of it’s — some of — some of the — the limits are on the end of it, where the — the fighting is just making it harder to get trucks in. Some of it is the inspection regime and making sure that there’s enough inspectors and that the trucks are adequately looked at and — and gotten through that process. Some of it is the availability of — of the assistance itself and the — the trucks themselves.
So, I mean, every day, it’s a little bit different. But we are working at this really, really hard.
Q And just one — one little quick one on the inspection regime since you — since you brought that up. We know there’s a Security Council debate over this new resolution here. And the issue of who is doing the inspections is a key — key one in that — in that ongoing discussions up there.
Is the U.S. position that the Israelis must remain part of the inspection regime of what is going into Gaza?
MR. KIRBY: I — I’m not going to negotiate this language here from this podium. We’re still actively working with our U.N. partners about — about the resolution and the — and the language itself.
Israel has had — and understandably so, has had a role in the inspection regime — a key role, a pivotal role. And we understand and respect that. And I think I’ll leave it at that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Trevor.
Q So, on — on Israel, I know you’ve said before many times that you’re trying to push Israel to end this high-intensity effort. There’s —
MR. KIRBY: No, that’s not what we said, but go ahead.
Q Okay. There’s eff- — there’s a request from lawmakers that you do, in fact, do that. Could you talk a little bit about where that conversation stands, what Israel has agreed to in terms of moving to lower-intensity conflict in Gaza? And have they agreed with you on a timetable?
MR. KIRBY: The Israelis say they, too, recognize the need to transition to a different phase of fighting.
I mean, in any military campaign, Trevor, you’re going to — you’re going to transition to a different set of objectives. And you’re going to achieve those different set of objectives through different tactics and operations. That’s just standard for the conduct of military operations.
They understand. They have said themselves that they realize they’re going to have to transition from a higher-intensity level of operations, such as what they’re doing now, to something a bit lower intensity.
They will decide when. They will decide what lower intensity looks like and what that means.
What we have done — Secretary Austin was just recently in the region, as well as Secretary Blinken — have talked to them about our lessons learned in doing those kinds of transitions and what we learn- — what we did right, what we didn’t do right, what they should be looking for, what questions they should be asking themselves, as well as asking them some tough questions.
And certainly, when Jake was there, just in the last few days, had lengthy discussions with his Israeli counterparts about — and the War Cabinet — about those questions, answering those tough questions.
So, again, this is — we’re not going to speak for their military operations. We recognize and they recognize that a transition is — is not — not only reasonable, but probably the most viable way to continue this fight. They’ll — they’ll work it out.
Q I guess my question: Do you have a common understanding on what the — that timetable looks like at this point?
MR. KIRBY: We are not dictating terms and timelines to the Israelis.
We have certainly talked about the importance of moving to lower-intensity operations. And obviously, we don’t want them to do it sooner than they think they can do it safely and effectively. But we do believe — we believe that a transition, you know, in the near future is the best possible outcome.
Q Point of clarification on the President’s comments yesterday on Venezuela. He said that there was an agreement with Maduro where Maduro said he would agree to essentially everything that U.S. had laid out on election reforms. Does that include having María Machado be represented as an opposition candidate on the ballot when that election takes place?
MR. KIRBY: I’m going to not get too involved in the diplomatic specific conversations that we had.
What the President said was that the Maduro regime did agree to certain electoral proposals to include and were supported by opposition parties. It’s important that they meet all those commitments. I think I’ll leave it there.
Q But does that include having her specifically?
MR. KIRBY: I’m going to leave it — I’m going to leave it the way I just put it.
Q Okay. Just one — one more — just on Mexico. In that conversation, was there any discussion between the President and AMLO around fentanyl? There has been some reporting that we’ve done that Mexico has been essentially inflating its statistics on how many of these fentanyl labs it’s actually taking down. Is that something that came up?
MR. KIRBY: Well, you know, we’ve talked to the Mexicans routinely about the flow of fentanyl and other narcotics and trafficking of drugs across the border. That’s a routine part of our discussions.
The focus today was really about the — the migratory flow and — and the pressure that’s being put on the southern border.
Q Thanks, I appreciate it. On the border. We’ve talked to CBP officials who say that they’re resourced at about half — to deal with about half the volume of encounters that they’re seeing, that smugglers are putting migrants more and more at risk by dropping them off in more and more remote locations.
Can you point to one thing the White House is doing right now that is making an impact on the border, is making an impact with this current surge?
MR. KIRBY: Well, one of the things that we — well, obviously, it’s a big part of the supplemental request. And should we get the funding we’re asking for, it will give us an opportunity to put more Border Patrol officers out there on the border. It will give us a chance to increase the asylum court officers and help with that process. And there’s some physical security measures that are baked into that funding as well.
So, part — part and parcel of the supplemental request was very much recognizing that more needs to be done on border security, and we’re willing to keep having that conversation with members of Congress.
I would also add that one of the things that President López Obrador and the President talked about today was trying to work on getting at the root causes of migration. We’re seeing record levels of people. More people are on the move in this hemisphere than — that has been the case since World War Two.
There’s a lot of factors. And part of that is, of course, dealing with instability — political and — and domestic instability in the region.
So, the work that we did with Venezuela here — not just to get Americans back, but to get the Maduro regime to ascribe to certain electoral reforms — that’s important. That’s important to help get at some of the root causes of migration.
Q And then on — on Gaza again. It’s the end of the year. I think a lot of — as you can see in the other questions — Americans are reflecting on this humanitarian crisis. You know, we’ve seen the estimates that the death toll reached 20,000. The WHO saying repeatedly that one child is killed in Gaza every 10 minutes. Can you just reflect a little bit more on the humanitarian crisis that you’re seeing and how Americans are supposed to sit with that reality?
MR. KIRBY: Nobody should — nobody can look at the images coming out of Gaza and not feel and not — not — not feel a — a sense of pain and anguish for so many innocent people that have been displaced from their homes, families killed, many wounded, a lot of fear and uncertainty. We feel that anguish, too, every single day. And that’s why we have worked — we’re leading the world in terms of getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
What I would ask Americans who are concerned about this as we head into the holidays to remember is how hard President Biden truly is working. The whole team is. And, again, we’re leading the world, in many cases, in terms of alleviating this — this pain and suffering of — of the people of Gaza.
And — and we’re going to keep — we’re going to keep doing that.
Q But then why are we seeing these Democratic lawmakers — you know, Tuesday, we saw this letter from, really, moderate Democratic lawmakers saying that he’s not doing enough, that he should be using even more levers of power to try to change how military — how — how the Israeli military is prosecuting this war. I mean, is he out of step with his party? He’s not the — even Democrats are saying he’s not doing enough.
MR. KIRBY: The President leads on foreign policy issues from a place of principles and values. That’s the core of every foreign policy approach he takes. And that is no different here.
And there are multiple principles and values at play here. One is making sure that Israel can defend itself against Hamas, that October 7th can never happen again. No nation should have to put up with that. And so, we’re going to continue to support them in that effort.
Another one is, again, helping the people of Gaza and the Palestinian people get the humanitarian assistance but also in terms of trying to get hostages out and getting a pause in place, which actually also reduces civilian casualties.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. We’re r- — we’re actually running out of time. Go ahead.
Q On Mexico and the Biden administration officials that are going down. What exactly are they trying to accomplish with that trip? And is it related to the talks that have been taking place on Capitol Hill about border security?
MR. KIRBY: Their visit will really be about getting at the migratory flows and talking to President López Obrador and his team about what more we can do together. To the question I got earlier, you know, “What — what are you doing?” I mean, there’s lots we’re doing, but there’s probably more we can be doing. And — and in order to do it effectively, you’ve got to be in full partnership with Mexican authorities.
We have been. There’s been terrific cooperation. We’re proud of that. And I think we — I think it can be expanded, given the record levels of migrants that we’re seeing come a- — come across.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Ed.
Q And — sorry, when it comes to — to Gaza, when we saw Vice President Harris go to Dubai, she had pretty forceful words about the number of Palestinian deaths. Why did the White House feel that it was important for her to deliver that message there and at that time?
MR. KIRBY: Well, first of all, it’s a message we’ve been delivering for quite some time. We don’t want to see any more civilians harmed or wounded or displaced out of this conflict. The right number of casualties for civilians is zero. We’ve been very clear about that.
And it was appropriate, since the Vice President was — was in the region, for her to address that and to address that in full lockstep with the rest of the national security team about the messages we’ve been delivering to our partners in the region privately and to — and to do it publicly.
It was absolutely part and parcel of, again, the principled valued — principled approach that the President is taking and in accordance with our values as a country.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Ed.
Q Admiral, the Venezuelan President said when his friend got back to Venezuela yesterday that Alex Saab had been physically and psychologically tortured. How does the Biden administration respond to that?
MR. KIRBY: Well, we can’t verify those reports.
Q Okay. Other U.S. officials have said — have denied that. You’re — you’re not responding to that.
MR. KIRBY: I know of no indications or — that — that those reports are valid. I can’t — I can’t verify that.
Q How does this not invite other autocratic leaders around the world to take Americans hostage in order to get something or someone they want?
MR. KIRBY: This is the perennial question we get. Every single time we — we get Americans home, we get this question. I would say a couple of things: Number one, we — we don’t advise Americans to travel to Venezuela.
And Venezuela is one of those countries where we have a D designation for. Like, if you go, you know, as you — business or — or pleasure, you need to realize what the potential detention threat is. And in Venezuela, that — that threat is high. That’s right there on the website. If you’re going to travel, go to State.gov. It’s all right there.
We can’t guarantee that — that if you go against our advice and warnings, that — that something might happen to you. And there are regimes, there are leaders around the world that — that make this a staple, in terms of some of their policy approaches, to — to — to wrongfully detain Americans and then, you know, try to make deals for it.
Again, we — you know, that — that’s — that’s been perennial. That’s been before this administration, and that will be after this administration. Doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to do everything we can, if you’re wrongfully detained, to get you home.
And sometimes that means making a tough decision. Sometimes it means making a decision that makes you kind of have to swallow hard to do it. This is one of those decisions.
But we got 10 Americans back home. And we got Mr. Leonard, who was responsible for one of the worst bribery crimes throughout the Indo-Pacific with the United States Navy — he’s now going to face justice here in the United States. That’s a good outcome.
And the last thing I’ll say on this is the — while the President is willing to make these tough decisions, he’s not going to make decisions that’s — that is antithetical to our national security, our ability to protect and defend our national interests around — around the world.
Q What would he say to current and former Justice Department officials who helped arrest and prosecute Viktor Bout and saw him handed over to Russia, and then helped arrest and were working on prosecuting Alex Saab and saw him handed over? What’s to say that they’re not working today on some other case that may end up with that person being returned to their home county?
MR. KIRBY: He would say to them, as he would say to Americans around the world: As we make these tough decisions — and they are tough, Ed — he’s going to do it with our national security interests firmly and foremost in mind. But he also has an obligation as President of the United States to look after the safety and security of Americans overseas, particularly those who have been wrongfully detained.
And so, again, tough decisions — none are black and white and easy calls to make. But I would also encourage people to ask those families now — those families that are going to be reunited for the holidays — how they feel about the decision-making process. I think you’re going to find that — that they’re pretty grateful for the work that we’ve done and the leadership that we’ve shown.
Q Since we don’t get to ask him ourselves — we would have last night, maybe, if he’d stuck around a little while — what would the President say is his foreign policy achievement of the year?
MR. KIRBY: There’s a lot that we’ve achieved in foreign policy.
And Karine has already made sure that she — that you know that we’re — we’re running late, and I don’t want to — I don’t want to belabor this. So, I — this answer could go on for, like, 20 minutes.
But, I mean, from the Indo-Pacific and the Quad and the AUKUS deal to get Australia nuclear-powered submarine capability; to what we’ve done with supporting Ukraine, pushing back — they’ve clawed back more than 50 percent of the territory that Russia took in the early months of the war. You think they — you know, obviously, they did that through courage and bravery on the field. But they certainly did that with United States support.
Look at what Israel has been able to do to put pressure on Hamas in the wake of the worst terrorist attack they’ve — that they’ve ever — that they’ve ever succumbed to.
I mean, I could go on and on. There — there has been — I think if I had to bucket it into one thing, the — one of the most important things he’s done on the foreign policy front is shore up and revitalize our vast network of alliances and partnerships. No other nation in the world has that kind of a network at their disposal the way United — the United States does.
And our leadership on the world stage is stronger because he took the time to in- — invest in those relationships — many relationships that had been let lapse by the previous administration.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thanks, John. That letter mentioned earlier from members of Congress — moderate members of Congress, including Representative Abigail Spanberger to Seth Moulton, coming from, like, an intelligence, military perspective here —
MR. KIRBY: Yeah.
Q — in the letter, they said, “We know from personal and often painful experience that you can’t destroy a terror ideology with military force alone. And it can, in fact, make things worse.” Does the White House agree with that assessment?
MR. KIRBY: I have said that many times from this podium that we don’t — we don’t believe you’re going to be able to wipe out the ideology that inspires Hamas through military action. I have said it many, many times.
And as Secretary Austin said out at the Reagan Forum, you know, we want to make sure our Israeli counterparts don’t turn “a tactical victory into a strategic defeat.”
So, that is not a new notion. And certainly, we agree that that’s a risk here.
Q And they’re criticizing the President for not taking enough strong action here on — on how Israel is going about with their military operations. Have there been any recent conversations with the President and members of Congress who have been critical and — and want the President to do more here?
MR. KIRBY: I don’t know of any specific conversations that the President ha- — has had with members of Congress about this. But I can tell you, there’s not a day that goes by where we’re not having those conversations with our Israeli counterparts.
And as I’ve said before, they have been receptive to that message. They have tailored, they have changed, they have structured military operations in a way to try to be more cognizant.
Now, that doesn’t mean that more can’t be done or more shouldn’t be done to limit civilian casualties. Absolutely. But they have made an effort, and they will continue to make that effort.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Aurelia.
Q Thank you so much. On the U.N. Security Council resolution debate, are there tensions within the administration on the decision to make here?
And another one. If there is another veto, how concerned are you about the international image of the United States blocking one resolution after another while people are dying and starving in Gaza?
MR. KIRBY: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There isn’t a resolution to vote on right now. We’re still working with our partners up there about what that language ought to be.
It’s important to us, of course, that the humanitarian situation in Gaza gets addressed. We are working harder than any other nation to actually address those concerns.
So, we certainly would — would agree that that needs to be part and parcel of the language. But I — again, I don’t want to get ahead of where we are.
And we are working as a team to — to push forward the President’s approach and his policies with respect to supporting Israel and to supporting the Palestinian people. A key to that is still working towards the promise of a two-state solution.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Josh.
Q There’s a report, John, that the — that the U.S. and the EU are working together, looking whether seized Russian assets can be used to help fund Ukraine. Are you able to speak to that specifically or more broadly to what you will do if you do not get a supplemental? Is — are — you know, are there, sort of, extraordinary measures that you are considering as you —
MR. KIRBY: So, we’re kind of — we’re kind of talking about two different things here. We still need the supplemental request to be able to support — there’s no magical pot of money, as Shalanda Young said, to support Ukraine going forward.
I won’t talk to that specific proposal. But I will say, just broadly speaking, that — that we have talked to many of our allies and partners about what Russia’s role ought to be post-conflict, in — in terms of the restructuring, the —
the recovery inside Ukraine long term. But we aren’t at a point right now where — you know, where we can address the specific muscle movements and what that’s going to look like.
But Russia has destroyed an awful lot of infrastructure and killed, you know, tens of thousands of — of lives in Ukraine. And they should be held accountable for that long term.
Q So, too soon to say whether you’re looking at seized assets for that measure?
MR. KIRBY: I would say too soon to say.
Q And can you speak very quickly to where this — the Ven- — the Venezuelan s- — swap — excuse me — leaves us on the question of sanctions relief? Is the administration considering further changes to sanctions that are in place right now?
MR. KIRBY: I don’t —
Q Does this open the door for that?
MR. KIRBY: I don’t have any sanctions announcements to make today.
Q Okay. Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Patsy.
Q Thank you, Karine. John, Israel’s defense minister said that as they transition to the next phase of the operation, some of the local civilians may be able to return to their homes in North Gaza. I wonder if you can give an explanation on how that might work when there are many people who don’t have homes to return to — just kind of give an idea of what kind of plans the U.S. has to support these Palestinian civilians.
MR. KIRBY: Well, we certainly welcome those comments. I think that’s an important sign, to allow people that were displaced from the north to the south as operations intensified in the north to be able to go back home or be able to make that crossing back to — to north of Gaza. So, that’s — that’s — those are welcome comments.
I think we’ll be in touch with our Israeli counterparts about exactly what that looks like to address your exact concerns. Some of them will go back and there are no homes to go back to. So, we want to make sure that they — for those that are going back, that there is — there are means and availability for them to seek and to have secure shelter.
But, again, we’ll have that conversation with our Israeli counterparts.
Q Just to follow up on Ed’s question. When you argue that the U.S.’s biggest achievement in foreign policy is shoring up alliances and networks of partners, how can you argue that and how can you argue U.S. leadership is stronger when the President is almost singularly isolated in the U.N. over the issue of Gaza?
MR. KIRBY: Well, I think I would take premise with the question that we’re somehow “singularly isolated.” First of all, we’re still working with U.N. partners on the language here. So, let’s not get ahead of where we are in the process.
And I think all you have to do is look at what — what we’ve been able to do around the world and see that American leadership still matters, that — that America’s views still matter. And President Biden has literally been driving that forward since he came into office — again, through a reliance and a understanding that we can’t do everything alone.
The whole idea behind his foreign policy approach is that we need friends and partners, that they have capabilities and they have — they have skillsets that we don’t have in — in every other way and that — that we work better as a team.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. And then we’ve got to wrap it up.
Q John, can you share just here today, since this may be one of the last briefings for a while, your assessment of where the status is of potential talks to secure another hostage deal and a pause in fighting? A lot of the families have expressed concern that this may get lost a little bit over the holidays and are worried that every day really matters here.
MR. KIRBY: It won’t get lost over the holidays. We’re working on it every single day, almost every hour of every day. Th- — there have been serious talks and negotiations over trying to get back into another pause and a hostage exchange.
I won’t go into the details of that, understandably so, but I can tell you that they are very serious and we are very serious about getting that back in place.
Q Thanks, Admiral. I wanted to ask you about the — the call between President Obrador and President Biden this morning.
We understand that the business owners in Northern Mexico are complaining about these bridges — the railroad bridges being closed and this is costing about $100 million of losses on an everyday basis.
Is the President of Mexico — Mexico concerned about all of these losses that are happening at the border? And are they talking about maybe this strategy to sort of slow down the flow? Because we understand that migrants are coming in big —
MR. KIRBY: Yeah.
Q — big numbers to that region.
MR. KIRBY: Yeah. I don’t want to speak for President Ló- — López Obrador. He should speak to his side of the conversation and what his concerns are.
But I think, broadly speaking, we — we — both presidents shared a similar concern about the — the increase in migratory flow here in recent weeks and months. There has been a dramatic increase.
And they did talk in broad terms about what can be done inside Mexico to slow that process down. And there are some things, like checkpoints on rail lines and on highways and that kind of thing. And — and the Mexican Armed Forces’ presence in the south also can be important to that as well.
But that was broadly speaking, and I think more to the point of why Secretary Blinken and Liz Sherwood-Randall and Secretary Mayorkas will be going down there is to see what can be done to sort of flesh those modalities out a little bit more.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And then we’re going to wrap it up.
Q Thanks, John. More on the AMLO call. You mentioned that part of the discussion will be about the root causes of migration. It’s something that other administrations have tried to tackle. It’s something that this administration has tried to tackle.
Earlier this year, there was a $4 billion announcement. Have those efforts in this administration made any noticeable difference when you talk about the spikes that we’ve been seeing?
MR. KIRBY: Noticeable difference —
Q In migration flows.
MR. KIRBY: Well, we’ve obviously, as I just said, in recent weeks and months now, seen a spike — a significant spike in the migratory flow and the presence at the border. And that’s one of the reasons why the — the two leaders thought it was important to talk today. And it’s another reason why we’re going to be sending down a team here in coming days — very soon — to — to speak with President López Obrador and his team about trying to see what we can do to better stem this.
I think, before the recent big surge, you — there was a general decline in some of the — the migrant flows. Again, not — not perfect. Not saying that it was down to a level that was comfortable for anybody. But there had been a decline.
And so, we want to see that — that same effort being — being applied, again, as a team going forward. And — and we’ll see where that goes. But we’re working on this really — really hard.
Q How successful would you say the administration’s efforts to stem root flow, to get to the root causes of migration have been?
MR. KIRBY: We believe that we’ve done a good job working with our partners in the region to try to get at some of the root causes, including political instability and crime. There is more that needs to be done.
And I think it’s important, again, as I said earlier, to keep this in perspective. You are seeing more people on the move, for a variety of reasons, across — in this hemisphere than since World War Two. I mean, it’s a historic level of migration. And there’s a lot of reasons for it. And we’re not the only country that’s facing this flow.
So, it’s — back to the question about alliances and partnerships, a way to get at this is to work with neighboring nations to try to get at these root causes. At the same time, working on our own infor- — immigration process here in the — in the — policies here in the country and getting at reform, as well as working on border security. And that’s why the President asked for $6 billion in the supplemental funding.
Q And very quickly on Gaza.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, we — we (inaudible).
Q Just really quickly on Gaza. Do — do you think that Israel is — how close do you think Israel is in its mission to destroying Hamas?
MR. KIRBY: That’s a question that you should put —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
MR. KIRBY: — to the IDF.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Arlette. And then we have (inaudible).
Q Paul Whelan says that he’s afraid for his safety after being assaulted by another inmate late last month. He also says that he’s being targeted by an official at the prison in retaliation for this official being admonished. Does the U.S. have any read on this situation? And are there any viable efforts —
MR. KIRBY: We’re very, very —
Q — or proposals underway to try to get him back?
MR. KIRBY: Very, very troubling reports that — that he would be under physical threat. I think we all — so, we’re very concerned as we — as we hear those accounts from — from Paul.
We’ll continue to work hard, through our embassy in Moscow, to make sure he gets consular access and that we can address these direct concerns with our — our Russian counterparts.
But that’s — it’s very troubling.
I would tell you, again, that while I don’t have a breakthrough to announce today, we — we did in recent days put forward a serious proposal. The Russians rebuffed it, regardless of what Mr. Putin says. And we’re working hard to see what we can do to get another proposal that — that might be more successful to get both him and Evan out.
Q And if I could, really fast on the U.N. Security Council vote. What has President Biden’s engagement been on this, in the negotiations? Has he been speaking regularly with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the issue?
MR. KIRBY: He has been in touch with the national security team, including our team at U.N. headquarters, about how they’re — how they’re doing this, how we’re approaching this.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Last question. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Admirable [Admiral]. Has President Biden seen photos and videos from the past week of the sea of people crossing into this country illegally? I understand he’s probably been briefed on it, but has he seen photos and videos of it actually happening?
MR. KIRBY: I can’t attest to what the — the content is of the material he gets every day, but he has been kept apprised and briefed, of course, by — by the domestic and national security teams on this. But what’s in that content, I mean, I’m not part of those discussions.
Q Some illegal border crossers are being given court dates in 2031. What are they supposed to do here for seven years?
MR. KIRBY: Again, that’s a better question put to DHS. I’m not in a position to — to talk about specific cases like that.
The President believes that we’ve got to do better at immigration. And he’s willing to talk and negotiate with members of Congress about immigration policy just as well as he is about border security. But I’m not in a position to talk about the specifics.
Q After someone has lived here for seven years and presumably gotten a work permit and worked here, if their asy- — asylum claim is denied, are they really going to be deported? Or is that just a problem for the next president?
MR. KIRBY: Again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about specific cases. He does believe we need — and he has worked to increase legal pathways to citizenship. But obviously, illegal pathways, you know, they — you need to be held to account if you’re trying to come into the country illegally.
Q But is the President thinking this far down the line? I mean, people are being given court dates seven years from now. So, is he creating a big problem for another president to have to figure out —
MR. KIRBY: The President —
Q — if these people are going to be deported after just working, living, maybe having families here for seven years?
MR. KIRBY: Again, I’m not going to get into hypothetical cases here. On day one of the administration, the President put to Congress a proposal for immigration reform. He has said, in recent days, he’s willing to have a serious discussion with members of Congress about immigration policy.
So, let’s see where that goes. But he’s taking the issue very, very seriously.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks.
MR. KIRBY: Thanks, everybody.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Admiral.
Q It’s not a hypothetical question. People are being given court dates in 2031.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Admiral.
MR. KIRBY: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Happy holidays.
Go ahead, Zeke.
Q Thank you.
Q Thanks, Karine. Traditionally, the president will hold a year-end press conference and talk about his record, make the case directly to the American people, defend some of the policy action he has taken. The President, since it’s December 21st, doesn’t seem to be doing that this year. Can you explain why he doesn’t want to defend his record to the American people and make his case for his record to the American people directly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think that anytime the President travels and is in front of the American people, he does that. He did that in Wisconsin when he talked about Bidenomics. He talked about small businesses and how that’s a pillar of Bidenomics and investing in America.
So, you heard him do that directly to the American people.
Look, he does every — we — we make an effort to do a press conference as often as possible, whether it’s here, at home, or abroad.
As you know, he held a — he held a two-plus-two with President Zelenskyy, which I think was an incredibly powerful, important moment for the American people to see what we have been doing to help the brave people of Ukraine fight against tyranny, fight against the aggression from Russia. And you saw him do that right alongside President Zelenskyy.
And so, you know, the President certainly was very engaged with members of — of the press corps yesterday who traveled with him. He engaged with them three times: took questions, made a statement — really important statement about Venezuela and the hostage situation.
And so, this is something that we really make an effort to do. And — and, you know — and we will continue to do that in 2024: do as many as — press conference as possible, abroad and at home.
Q I’m sorry, you — could you just ta- — you mentioned that you do as many as possible.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Is — what’s the President — he has nothing on his public schedule today. He obviously had a phone call this morning. I’m just wondering if you can ch- — you know, characterize, like, you know, why — you know, you can make time on the President’s calendar whenever you want.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, he made time yesterday to talk to the — to the press yesterday. He did. He talked to them. We made time to make sure that he gave a statement about what was happening in Venezuela — the hostage exchange, the swap that you all saw that was very successful. He made time to do that.
He — he stood in front of the — the press pool in front of m- — in front of him and made that statement and took some questions. You took — took a — he did two other gaggles yesterday. So, he certainly engages with the press. And he’ll continue to do that.
And yesterday, he spoke directly to the American people about Bidenomics, sell- — really showing what Bidenomics has done, what he’s done the last two years. And I think that’s important, as well, for the American people to hear directly from him.
And we will make the effort to do press conferences here, at home, and abroad as well, just like we did last week with President Zelenskyy.
Q And on a different topic.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q On the situation at the border. John Kirby a few minutes ago said that the U.S. probably could be doing more to — to deal with the situation there. What more should the White House be doing? And what more has the President been doing to address the situation we’ve seen over the last week or two, especially with this latest surge?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I think one of the things, I think, he — he meant by that is, when we did the emergency supplemental, the national security component of that, it had a border security request. Right? And that — because the President understood that we did need — need to do more. And that’s why he asked for very important emergency funds to do just that.
And what you’re seeing, certainly, from the Senate side at this time — I know they — they d- — have decided to go home — but those conversation to get border security, to get that bipartisan agreement continues. And we encourage Congress to get to that as soon as possible, certainly, when they get back.
So, obviously, we’re having those negotiation conversations to get more funding because we understand — the President understands that we need to do more. You know, and as it relates to what we’re seeing — the flow of migrants that we’re seeing at the border, DHS is maximizing its enfortme- — enforcement efforts. That is important.
And the thing that is also — you know, is important is the message that we have to send to — to smugglers. Right? We have to be — be very, very mindful, because they also put out misinformation. So, we try to be mindful there as well.
And what we’re seeing here at the border, the migration flow — increased migration flow, certainly, it — you know, it ebbs and flows. And we’re at a time of the year where we’re seeing more at the border.
And it’s not unusual. This is an immigration system that has been broken for decades. And the President has taken this very seriously to try to do more. That’s why we have the comprehensive immigration policy legislation that the President put forth on day one.
So, yes, there is more to be done. But we need the help of Congress to get that done.
Q You’re saying there’s nothing the President can do himself unilaterally to surge resources down there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we — I mean, look, we asked for more Border Patrol, right? And he was able to get 24,000 more Border Patrol folks — law enforcement folks at the border. That’s unprecedented. We asked for more. And you got Republicans in Congress who — especially in the House, who want to cut that. They actually want to do the opposite of what the President is trying to do.
And so, look, the President has done everything that he can — right? — on — on his own. There’s — there’s clearly diplomatic conversation happening with AMLO and other folks — other leaders in the region. We’re going to continue to have those conversation just to make sure that we — we deal with the flow.
But we also need funding. We also need funding to deal with border security, which is what we’re trying to do right now with these negotiations that are happening with the Senate — with senators right now.
Go ahead, Trevor.
Q Just to follow up on that. You said the President has done everything he can on his own on this issue. The letter from House Speaker Johnson suggested otherwise, that there are specific steps that — that can be taken. Do you see anything in — in what he suggested that you would be open to?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ve heard the letter. I have not read the letter. So, I can’t speak to the letter. They decided to go home, let’s not forget, before the Senate did and did not participate. Right? They wanted to push forward R- — H.R.2, which we — as we have said, doesn’t help the border, actually makes it worse: cuts — cuts cost, cuts law enforcement. It does not help at all.
And so, look, we are having those conversations with the — doing the Senate negotiations. And we want to make sure that we come to a bipartisan agreement. We understand that. We understand, to actually deal with this issue, we need a bipartisan agreement, which is why the President put forth a comprehensive immigration plan — legislation, to be even more clear, on the first day.
And so, I can’t speak to the letter. I have not seen it. I heard about it when I was coming out, but I cannot speak to what Speaker Johnson has — has laid out in the letter.
Q And just very specifically in terms of the conversations that Biden had with the Mexican leader today or in these conversations that are going to be happening in the coming days, is the Remain in Mexico policy something that is at all on the table in those discussions?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’m not going to go into the detail of diplomatic con- — conversations that the President is having. We’re going to do —
Q You won’t rule it out though?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not ruling anything out from here. I’m not going to negotiate from here. That’s not what I’m going to do or lay out what on — is on the agenda from here. The conversations continue. Obviously, it takes diplomatic — diplomatic conversation, like the President is having with the President of Mexico, to deal with the flow that we’re seeing coming — coming from — coming into the border.
So, we have to actually have those conversations. That’s what the President is doing. And he’s cont- — he’s been doing that the last two years. And that’s what you’re going to see. I’m just not going to get ahead of that.
Q And then one quick one. The Senate sent back Julie Su’s nomination. Are you okay with her continuing in an acting capacity in 2024? Or do you want to force a vote on this issue?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we believe — and we are going to be very clear — Julie Su will be renominated of — of Secretary of Labor in the new year. That is something that we are committed to. And as it relates to her acting authority, look, because she was confirmed — and you’ve heard me say this before — by the Senate as Deputy Secretar- — Deputy Labor Secretary, she is able to continue serving as Acting Labor Secretary.
So, we are — we are — we she — we see her performance as admirable, and we think she is doing a great job in that role. And so, we urge Senate to take action — swift action to confirm her for — to confirm her as Secretary. Certainly, she will be renom- — renominated. And we are certainly committed to that.
Q Thank you. Appreciate it. You talked about a supplemental — the supplemental request to Congress for more funding when it comes to the border. But we also —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — hear all the time from Republicans that it’s not just about funding.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q They want these policy changes. I understand you don’t want to negotiate from the podium, but can you tell the American people if there’s any immigration policy that this White House is willing to talk about and — and is working on with Republicans?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to be really careful. As negotiations happen, we don’t want to do this in the public, right? It does not help the process.
And so, we want to make sure that those negotiations are happening. Obviously, we’re a part of those negotiations with — with the — with the senators.
We think it’s going in the right direction. We want to make sure that we get to a bipartisan agreement. It’s incredibly important. The President understands — he understands that we have to fix this immigration system. It has been broken for decades now. And so, we have to do everything that we can to fix that system.
And so, we’re going to have those conversation. And you’re right, it’s not just about funding. It’s also about policy discussions that they’re having. And so, don’t want to get ahead of it.
And let’s not forget, this is a President that has had these types of negotiation or been part of these types of — his team certainly have been part of these types of negotiation — negotiations for some — in different — obviously, in different — in different subjects and legislation. So, that has happened for — for the last two — two, almost three years, and they’ve been successful. So, we’re going to continue to do that and stay steadfast on that.
Q Just following up on that. Is it fair, then, to say that the White House thinks there will likely need to be some change to the asylum system?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get into specifics from here, but we understand that there needs to be a bipartisan agreement, right? And so, when you have a bipartisan agreement — right? — both sides have to decide what — what they’ve — how — what they are willing to move forward with.
I — I just want to be super mindful and let the team that are doing the negotiations do that — do that themselves. And when they’re ready to share what’s — what’s — what they’ve decided on, we’ll certainly talk about that.
Q You started talking about accomplishments from this last year. You talked about the economy. But in our latest ABC News poll back in November, by a 10-point margin, Americans still said that they would trust Republicans on the economy more. So, what is your message to Americans who just think what you’ve done on the economy is not enough?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we understand what Americans have gone through. We do. They went through — and you’ve heard me say this many times before and my other colleagues — coming out of the pandemic was a tough time, a difficult time for so many Americans. And we understand it’s going to take some time for them to feel the accomplishments and what we’ve been able to do in the last three years.
That’s not something I say. That’s something that economists have said, right? It’s going to take some time.
What we can do is what the President did yesterday, right? He went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; talked to — spoke directly to the American people — the people who live in Wisconsin, people who live in Milwaukee to talk about what Bidenomics has done.
He actually lifted a very important pillar of Bidenomics, which is small business. And there’s been 14 million new a- — applications since this administration started on small business. That’s important. That is investing in America. Fourteen million jobs created under this President. We have unemployment under 4 percent. All of those things matter.
We see inflation is moderating. That’s important.
And so, look, we’re going to continue to talk about it. We understand that folks — Americans still feel things are unaffordable. That’s something that the President said recently. And we’re going to do everything that we can to lower costs.
That’s why we talk about junk fees, right? Whether — and that’s why we talked — we talk about healthcare and making sure that we’re lowering prescription drugs. As I said at the top, fighting Big Pharma.
All of these things are important, and we just have to be — continue to speak to it.
Q With the Congress being out now and not coming back until the first week or so after the start of the new year, they’re going to be confronting a perfect storm of funding battles on Capitol Hill: two deadlines, supplemental budget requests — on top of that, continuing resolutions that are expiring.
Is the White House concerned about whether it’s going to get anything accomplished — in terms of Ukraine funding, for example, and the whole border security issue — while all of these funding issues are coming up at the same time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m going to be really simple and to the point: These are important priorities for the American people. That’s what Congress needs to understand. They’re important priorities for the American people — everything that you just listed. And Congress needs to take action. They need to take action.
I will leave it to congressional leadership on the calendar and procedure and how they’re going to move forward. But these are important actions that American people need.
Q Does the President plan to invite Speaker Johnson for a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office in the new year?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to — to lay out on a potential meeting with the Speaker.
Q Is there a reason that hasn’t happened yet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have anything at this time. I don’t have a reasoning for it. I just don’t have anything to — to read out.
You — as you’ve known, they’ve spoken before. Our team here, the Office of Leg Affairs, obviously, and other senior leadership here at the — at the White House have been in touch with his — if not his team, himself. And so, that is continuing — certainly a continuing conversation.
We speak to many members of Congress, whether they’re Republican or Democrat. I just don’t have anything on the President’s schedule about a meeting.
Q And does the White House have a response to this significant violent rhetoric that targeted the Colorado Supreme Court justices and Democrats following that ruling that would kept — that would keep Donald Trump off the ballot there?
Some of that violent rhetoric has come directly in response to his own posts on social media. But there were concerns raised about that and that spreading —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Whose — whose —
Q — on social media.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — post?
Q On violent language and rhetoric in response to that, targeting specifically the Supreme Court justices in Colorado.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Well, we’ve been always very clear: Any — any intimidation, any violent rhetoric or violence, we’re certainly going to denounce that and say it’s inappropriate. And so, we’re going to be very, very clear: Any form of violence — any form of violence is inappropriate and obviously dangerous. And that is something that we’re going to speak out against.
Q Thanks. Does the President have any plans for the third anniversary of the January 6th attack on the Capitol?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, I think the President has done something, I think, the last two years of his administration on January 6th and spoken, certainly, to the importance of our democracy. I don’t have anything to lay out today as to the President’s plan for January 6th.
AIDE: You have time for a couple more.
Q Thanks. The White House put out a statement about the meeting on Tuesday with senior administration officials and the CEOs of the companies that make the RSV vaccine for infants. Last week, the manufacturers had said they could have an additional 230,000 doses available in January. With that meeting this week, was there any new commitment from these companies? Did they say they could produce even more vaccines in this winter season if that’s needed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’ve been very clear. We think families should have access to the RSV vaccine. It is important for families to have access to that. We’re going to continue to do everything that we can to make sure that we urge manufacturers — right? — to produce and release enough RSV vaccines that meet the demand that we’re seeing, especially at this time.
And so, that work, we’re going to continue. We’re going to have those conversations. And I — we were — you know, we were glad to see the manufacturers announce an additional 230,000 vaccines that families need. And so, we’re going to have — continue to have those conversation. We want to see more. We want the — the needs to be met at this time.
And so, all I can say is that we’re going to continue to have those conversation. We want to make sure that ev- — everyone who needs a shot gets a shot.
Q So, was that meeting this week just to follow up on what they announced last week?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we have continued conversation with manufacturers — continued because we know how important it is to meet the demands that we’re currently seeing, right? So, that is going to be conversations that are going to continue from not just from this week — moving forward to make sure that those needs are met. And we have the vaccines — the RSV vaccinations that families need. It is important. Families should have access. It is critical for families to have access to RSV shots.
Go ahead, Josh.
Q Karine, the — the Journal reported today that the U.S. is considering raising tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, as well as other kinds of similar products like batteries and solar panels. Can you give us an update on that and/or speak to the ongoing review of the China tariffs and when the President will make a final decision on them?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. The administration — this administration continues to conduct its statutory review of the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese products. This revi- — review, as you know, is led by USTR in partnership with the interagency partners and stakeholders.
We are taking a strategic, thoughtful, deliberative approach to a bilateral economic and trade relationship with China, and that certainly applies to our review of these tariffs.
I just don’t have any additional updates. But that has certainly been the path that we’ve taken on this.
Q Is that in, like, weeks, months?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just don’t have a timeline. But that’s the updates that I can share with you.
Q Okay. And can you speak to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahe- — oh.
Q — earlier this week, there was Conference Board data that — that showed rising consumer sentiment. You’ve alluded to this in one of your early —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — earlier statements. Does the White House believe that inflation will continue going down and that sentiment will continue improving? Or is it — do you believe it’s too soon to say, “We — we got into trouble, you know, a year or so ago with transitory this or that”? I just want to be clear on how you’re viewing this moment here.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know, inf- — inflation fell to the lowest level in three years. That’s important. Consumer confidence is at the highest level since — since July and the second-highest level in two years.
And so, we’re glad to see that Americans are feeling more confident about the economy. And as you know, I think a year ago or just six months ago, there was always this talk about recession, recession, recession, and that is certainly not where we’re head- — not where we’re heading.
And so, we’ve always said that, you know, we’re at a transition here to a more stable and steady growth, and that’s kind of where we’re seeing we’re going. And we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that inflation continues to moderate, and I think that’s a good path. That’s what the American people want to see, and — and, at the same time, lower costs for Americans, because we know that they — that’s — that’s important in our — as we talk about Bidenomics and the economy.
Q So, a quick point of clarification on the Ukraine aid. Is the United States considering pulling from its own stocks to send to Ukraine without replenishing them? Or is the aid package that we expect to come in the next week or so the final one until Congress gives the United States more authority?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we’ve been very clear. There’s one more — one more final — final aid that we can give to Ukraine. And — and —
Q If — if the United States doesn’t replenish its own stocks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what I can tell you is we’re doing — one of the reasons why we asked for additional aid is because — because we’re running out, right? We are running out of aid to support the brave people of Ukraine.
And we have — what we’ve been able to do — and you’ve heard this from the Admiral, you’ve heard this from the National Security Advisor — is we have kind of lessened — like, made tho- — that aid that we’ve announced the last couple of weeks or last couple of months smaller and smaller, because we don’t have any more. Like, this is it.
And so, that is where we are. That’s why we asked for emergency funding. That’s why we asked for that supplemental, because we need to make sure that Ukraine continues to fight for their democracy. And that’s really where we are. That is where we are today.
AIDE: One last one.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Last one. Okay.
Go ahead, (inaudible).
Q Thank you. Angola announced today that they’re leaving OPEC. I was curious if there was an administration response, especially as it relates to energy prices, and if it was an issue that came up when Angola’s president met with President Biden three weeks ago.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we’re — as you know, we’re not a member of OPEC+, so you would have to speak directly to the government of Angola.
Q Well, it sounds like Angola is not anymore either. That’s why I was asking.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I’m just saying we’re not members of — we’re not mem- — (laughter). Good que- — good point. But we’re not members of OPEC+. That is not something that I can speak to. You would have —
Q But — so it did come up in conversations?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can’t go beyond what the readout was from that — from that conversation.
But obviously, we are not members of OPEC+. So, you have to talk to them about that.
All right. Thanks, guys.
Q Thank you.
Q Karine, do you have a readout of the week ahead and what the President is up to for holidays?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, we’re going to have something later on for you today on that, but — as we normally do.
Q Do you want to say anything —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What?
Q — Christmassy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, you wanted me to say something Christmassy?
Q No, no —
Q No, on his plans around the —
Q His plans.
Q What is he doing —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh. We’ll — no, we’ll — we’ll have a week ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’ll have a — we’ll have a week ahead. We’ll — we will. We will share a week ahead.
I thought you wanted something from me. I would say, “Happy holidays.” (Laughter.) Hope to see —
Q Happy holidays.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Happy New Year. It’s always good to see you all. Enjoy, be safe, and enjoy your time with your family. See you next year.
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