James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:20 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everyone. 

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  One thing at the top.  Oh, guys —

Q    Is there an echo?

Q    The voice of God.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Referring to the briefing room audio system.)  Does it sound like the voice of God?  I don’t know.  I don’t think people would say that.

Okay.  We’ll try this again.  Good afternoon, everybody.

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Today we learned that last year, 19 states achieved their lowest average unemployment rate on record, 23 states sent [set] new record-low unemployment rate last year, and 32 states had an unemployment rate below 4 percent for the entire year.

We created a total of 2.7 million jobs last year for a historic 13 — 14- — 14.3 million jobs created under President Biden, all while wages are rising and inflation is falling.

And we’ve continued lowering costs for families — from healthcare and prescription drugs to utility bills.

This is the heart of President Biden’s strategy to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up.  Now we’re seeing consumer sentiment rise as more Americans feel the results of President Biden’s economic plan. 

And with that — I said I was going to be real short; I am — Admiral John Kirby is here to give an update on the Middle East.

MR. KIRBY:  Thanks, Karine.  I will also be short.

I think, as you — all of you saw, yesterday, the militaries of the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, all conducted an additional round of strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen.

These self-defense strikes targeted missile systems and launchers, unmanned aerial and surface vessels, storage facilities, fighter aircraft, helicopters, and attack boats — all with the goal of further degrading Houthi — the Houthis’ ability to conduct further attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Initial reports from the Pentagon indicate that all the targets were hit and that they will help further degrade Houthi offensive capabilities.  That said, the Pentagon is still conducting a battle damage assessment, so I’d refer you to them for any additional detail.

I just want to remind that the United States is acting in — in part — I’m sorry — is acting as part of a coalition of countries committed to the defense of our ships and our sailors, to upholding the freedom of navigation in a major international waterway, and, of course, to holding the Houthis accountable.

And as the President has made clear, we will not hesitate to take further action as appropriate.

With that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Go ahead, Zeke. 

Q    Thanks, John.  On the strikes yesterday, can you walk us through a little bit of the — when the President approved those strikes?  Was that — was there a new convening of his national security team for that — for that operation?  Or was that sort of the — greenlit a couple of weeks ago when the fir- — when these strikes started?

MR. KIRBY:  No, these — this — these additional strikes yesterday required additional conversations and discussions across the national security team, and the President made the decision to authorize the — this particular round of strikes very recently.

Q    And would — that national security team, would that include Secretary Austin?  When was the last time the President spoke with the Secretary?

MR. KIRBY:  It would — those discussions did include Secretary Austin.  I — I don’t have the exact time on the calendar of when the — those discussions happened, but he was involved and engaged in all those discussions.  Yeah.

Q    And then on a different topic.  There’s a report that the Israelis have presented a new cease- — a ceasefire — a temporary ceasefire for a hostage deal for — a two-month pause to release all the hostages and the bodies of — of their — of civilians and soldiers.  Can you confirm that?  Is the U.S. engaged in it?  Is Brett — as Brett is in the region right now, is he trying to actively, sort of, dru- — drum up support for that framework of an — of a deal?

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, I’m not able to confirm those specific reports that you’re al- — that you’re talking about in the press.  Brett is in the region.  He was in Cairo today, as a matter of fact, and he’ll have other stops along the way. 

Certainly one of the things he’s in the region talking about is the potential for another hostage deal, which would require a humanitarian pause of some length to get that done.  And that’s definitely on the agenda. 

He’ll also be talking about a range of other issues, including humanitarian assistance, including getting assessment of Israeli Defense Force operations and the protection of civilian life.  I mean, there’s a lot on his agenda. 

But I can’t confirm these reports that those are the parameters of a deal that’s being discussed. 

The last thing I’ll leave you with is that the — as I’ve said before, the discussions are sober and serious.  Again, I don’t want to get ahead of where we are or give you — I can’t give you odds on — on if and when we’ll be able to get there.  But the conversations are very sober and serious about trying to get another hostage deal in place.

Q    Could you characterize — sorry, just — the — where the — the holdup is — and this seems to be a — a far more, you know, significant offer on the part of the Israelis.  I mean, we’ve seen from them —

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    — through their public messaging.  Is — is Hamas the real holdup here?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I don’t know that, you know, it’s time now to be talking about holdups.  I mean, these are — these are ongoing discussions.  I wouldn’t even class- — classify them as “negotiations” quite at this point but “ongoing discussions with counterparts” about what’s in the — what’s in the realm of the possible here to get these hostages out and how long would that last, the pause itself, and what would that mean for humanitarian aid.  There’s a lot of components here. 

And so, I wouldn’t describe it as us running up against some kind of obstacle here or a — or a stop or a hard spot.  We’re — we’re just having these active conversations, and hopefully they will bear fruit.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Kelly O.

Q    Do you think that a pause of a really extended nature, whether it’s two months or it’s weeks — very different than what we saw in the earlier release of hostages — would that not only serve to — to be a pathway for hostages to come out but also to change the overall nature of the fight and transition to a different character of or intensity of the conflict?

MR. KIRBY:  You know, Kelly, it — it’s possible, but I — I really think we’ve got to be careful about getting ahead of where we are in the — in the process.  The focus would rightly be on getting the hostages out — more than 100 that we know Hamas or their affiliates are still holding — and, of course, increasing the humanitarian assistance. 

Could — you know, again, it would depend on how long, right?  And so, I think it’s possible that it could have some larger implications for the conflict itself, but it’s just too soon to know right now.

Q    And do you think that the substantial loss of life among the IDF — the 24 — is that a component of changing how Israel may view where we are in the war now — to have a — you know, a catastrophic incident like that?

MR. KIRBY:  Only the Israelis could answer that question.  It was a terr- — terrible day for the IDF yesterday.  That’s an enormous amount of troops lost in one day.  And certainly, our condolences go out to all the families and their teammates as well. 

But as for what impact yesterday’s actions might have on this, I — I think that’s something we would refer to them to speak to. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Jeff.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  John, you’ve said multiple times that the U.S. doesn’t support a general ceasefire right now.  But would the White House support a 30-day, a 60-day, or a 90-day ceasefire, if that’s something that Israel was open to for a hostage deal?

MR. KIRBY:  Sure, absolutely.  If that would require — if that would give us the opportunity to get hostages out and get more aid in, we would absolutely support a humanitarian pause of — of a longer length than the week that we were able to accomplish.  Absolutely, we would.

Q    And do you think that’s realistic, that a 90-day pause, for example, might be agreed?

MR. KIRBY:  Again, I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the discussions, Jeff.  So, I can’t confirm the reports out there about what the length might be.  But we are in serious discussions about trying to get another pause in place.

Q    And just lastly, on Brett’s trip.  Can you give us a sense of who else he plans to meet with and what his message is during this visit?

MR. KIRBY:  He’s working on a range of issues, so his messages are really in line with our policy, which is making sure Israel knows that it has the support that it — that it needs, making sure we’re getting humanitarian assistance increased to the degree we can, getting the hostages out, and obviously working — helping to work towards an arrangement where a pause can be in place to allow all those things to occur.

He’ll also, no question, have other discussions about other regional issues, including continuing to explore the idea of — of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  I don’t have a readout of all his discussions that he’s had.  He’s only just gotten in the region, I think, yesterday.  So, we’ll see if we can get you a little bit more granularity on — on where he’s going next and who he’s going to be talking to.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  There were Russian strikes on residential neighborhoods in Kyiv and Kharkiv.  What does this say about Russia’s strategy right now?

MR. KIRBY:  It’s very much, I think, of a piece of what the Russians have been trying to do since the winter months have set in, which is to make — to — to further victimize the Ukrainian population, to try to break their will and their — and their back.  And the attacks on civilian infrastructure, residential homes and — and areas is, again, not something that Putin has shied away from in the past.

We don’t see a lot of movement on the battlefront from east to south.  There’s — there’s — neither side is really making a lot of progress, and we’re not seeing any major push by the Russians to some sort of ground offensive.  And I’m not ruling out that they might not try to pursue that when the ground gets a little harder.

But that — but what they are doing are trying to overwhelm Ukrainian air defense systems.  And those air defense systems have been pretty effective at knocking a lot of this stuff out of the sky.  Things get through, obviously.  They don’t get — they don’t hit every- — everything. 

But that’s why it’s so critical that we get this supplemental funding, because, as I said earlier, the Ukrainians are making some tough decisions on the battlefield about what they’re going to shoot and what they’re going to save for another day.  And — and the — and the Russians know that.

So, part of this is trying to break the back of the Ukrainian people but also trying to — to force the Ukrainians to continue to use munitions in defense of themselves.

Q    Is the U.S. seeing evidence that Russia is increasingly targeting Ukrainian arms production sites?  And, if so, what does that mean?

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, actually, I’m glad you asked that question.  They have, in fact — we have seen them start to go after more of Ukraine’s defense industrial base.  Again, all of a piece of wearing down the Ukrainians’ ability to defend themselves over time, which, again, it just makes — it just underscores how important it is that we get this supplemental funding for — for Ukraine.

Secretary Austin, I think, as you know, hosted yet another contact group today.  We’ve got 50-some-odd nations involved in here trying to contribute stuff to Ukraine, and they’re all looking to us for leadership.  They all want to know where we’re going be here, you know, in a couple months.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nancy.

Q    Thanks, John.  Is — are the U.S. strikes on the Houthis aimed simply at degrading their capabilities or also at interrupting the rate of resupply of materiel from Iran?  And — and what has the U.S. observed about those resupply efforts?  Are they slowing down?  Are they speeding up?

MR. KIRBY:  Two different efforts here.  We already have in place and have been doing interdiction to try to stop the flow of munitions from Iran to Houthi-controlled Yemen.  And, matter of fact, that’s how we lost — tragically lost those two Navy SEALs.  They were involved in an interdiction mission of that sort.

The strikes that were taken are something separate and distinct.  And it really is designed about — to disrupt and des- — and degrade Houthi offensive capabilities, to — to make it harder for them to — to continue these attacks.

Q    But are you seeing any efforts by the Iranians to — to pick up the pace of supplying the Houthis as they come under attack by the U.S.?

MR. KIRBY:  I would just say we’re watching this very, very closely.  I mean, it’s not — Iranian support of the Houthis is nothing new.  They have — they have not only supplied things to — to them but to Hamas and Hezbollah and other groups in — in the region.  And I would just say we’re monitoring that flow as closely as we can. 
I think that’s as far as I’m going to be able to go today.

Q    And then can you give us an update on the effort to prevent a war with Hezbollah and Amos Hochstein’s efforts in the region?

MR. KIRBY:  We are involved diplomatically, not just with the — the Israelis but with officials in Lebanon to — to see what we can do to keep that — the conflict from widening and escalating there along that northern border with I- — Israel.

We still don’t believe that it’s in the interest of the Israeli people, certainly not in the interest of regional security, for another front to be opened up. 

We have not seen — and I think this is important, and I’ll let Amos speak to his discussions; he has been a significant interlocutor in — in having these discussions — but we have not seen Hezbollah jump in with both feet and come to the aid of Hamas.  There have been — I’m not going to, obviously, dismiss it.  There has been rocket fire exchanged on both sides.  We want to see those tensions de-escalate.  But we have not seen Nasrallah give the orders that, you know, they’re going to go all in to help Hamas.

As a matter of fact, I mean, take a look at it — and I know we’re all talking about the Houthis, and I get all that.  But — but there ain’t a whole lot of people that are jumping in with two feet to help Hamas in this war that they started on the 7th of October.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Justin.

Q    Thanks.  John, I have one on the Middle East.  But first I wanted to follow up.  Zeke asked about Secretary Austin.  He had his first public appearance today from a very secure printer closet — (laughs) — over at the Pentagon.  I’m wondering if you have a sense of when he — when we might see him in person, if that’s been a conversation between the White House and the Pentagon about, kind of, getting him out and —

MR. KIRBY:  Getting him out?

Q    Yeah.  (Laughter.)

MR. KIRBY:  I think, as I understand it, and you should check with my Defense Department colleagues, but I think he hosted that contact group from home, from — over Zoom.  And we — he’s done these virtually before.  Getting 50 nations all together in the same place sometimes can be difficult.  So, this one was another virtual one, and I understand that he took it from home.

I — I don’t have anything on — I certainly wouldn’t be in a position to speak to his schedule and when you might see him out more publicly.  But I know that they’re working through — at the Defense Department — working through what his schedule will look like once he’s able to get back to work in the Pentagon and then, you know, how they build out his calendar.  But that’s really for them to speak to. 

Q    And then, on the Middle East, you mentioned yesterday that we were engaging the Saudis and regional partners still on that normalization effort.  But I wanted to ask about the G20.  There was the announcement about the India to Europe, sort of, rail and waterway trade pipeline —

MR. KIRBY:  The economic corridor. 

Q    Yeah. 

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    Has — has the conflict in Israel, sort of, put that either on the backburner or effectively killed that effort?  Or is that something that’s still an active part of talks?

MR. KIRBY:  The short answer is no.  But, look, this — that — that is a major rail corridor that, actually, we’re calling an economic corridor.  Because while it’s principally around a rail system, there would be all kinds of logistics and sustainment hubs along the way and offer all kinds of opportunities for infrastructure improvement and employment opportunities. 

And it’s — that’s — you know, that’s a years-long process.  It’s going to take a long time to get there.  The President knows that. 

And so, our — our work and our efforts to start laying the groundwork, literally, if you’ll excuse the pun, but laying the tracks for that are ongoing.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  In the back.

Q    Merci, Karine.  John, I just want to go back on the strikes on the — on the Houthis.  You listed a number of countries — allies involved in this — UK, Canada.  How is this coordinated?

And, by the way, has the mission — does the mission have a name?  Is it — is it just, like, “We’re Striking the Houthis Operation”?  And how does the coordination happen?  Is the President involved?  Has he talked to Prime Minister Trudeau, for instance? 

MR. KIRBY:  So, couple of — there’s a lot off — there.  Not every nation is involved in the actual dropping of munitions.  In this case, it was the United States and the United Kingdom.  Other nations, as I indicated in my opening statement, they contribute other capabilities.  I’ll let them speak to what — what they’re doing to support these strikes on — on Houthi capabilities ashore. 

There is an awful lot of coordination done at various levels.  I mean, the President spoke yesterday with Prime Minister Sunak.  And, obviously, this was on the — on the plate to talk about it, given that that conversation took place in advance — a few hours in advance of the strikes that we actually took. 

And we always read out his calls with foreign counterparts.  So, I’ll — you know, it’s not like he would have a conversation with another prime minister and you wouldn’t know about it.  But he is involved at his level, of course, but so is Secretary of Defense; so is Secretary of State; so is Jake Sullivan, our National Security Advisor.  And then staff levels at the NSC up and down the chain of command are involved, clearly, with our — our counterparts. 

Q    So, this mission is just “We’re striking the Houthis.”

MR. KIRBY:  You’re asking for the name?

Q    Well, is it an operation organized and well-thought?

MR. KIRBY:  I would — I’d refer you to the Pentagon if they’ve — if they’ve given it an operational name or not.  That’s really for them to — to speak to. 

We’re not so much worried about what bumper sticker you slap on it.  We’re interested in making sure we’re going after Houthi capabilities and trying to degrade their ability to continue to conduct these attacks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Anita.

Q    Thank you so much, John.  I’m right here. 

MR. KIRBY:  Oh, sorry.

Q    Just a quick question about whether the administration includes environmental impact assessments in calculating how to support allies like Israel and Ukraine. 

Just for reference, we interviewed some environmental experts who estimated that, in the last 60 days, U.S. supply flights to Israel contributed to 133,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.  That’s a lot.  Right? 

So, is that part of the calculation that you make?  And how do you balance your desire to protect the environment with your desire to protect your allies?

MR. KIRBY:  I know of no — and I’m happy to take this question.  I know of no mathematical analysis that we’re conducting at an agency level to — to judge the impact of using jet fuel, for instance, to — to fly support to Ukraine or — or get it into the region for Israel. 

Again, I’ll take that question.  But we’re focused, rightly so, on making sure that our two partners have what they need to defend themselves.  And that’s really where the President’s head is.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Arlette.

Q    Thank you.  One of my colleagues has reported that Israel has prono- — proposed that a — Hamas senior leadership could leave Gaza as part of a broader ceasefire agreement.  Is this something that the U.S. believes is a viable proposal?

MR. KIRBY:  We don’t want to see Hamas in charge of Gaza anymore.  They chose to violate the ceasefire that was in place, and we, certainly, agree with our Israeli counterparts that whatever the future of post-conflict Gaza looks like, it can’t include Hamas leaders. 

Now, how that’s actualized, I think, I’d refer to the Israeli Defense Forces to — to speak to.  And I’m not — I understand where the question is going.  I’m just not going to get ahead of discussions that we’re having in the region about post-conflict Gaza and what that — what that can look like and what a hostage deal — what the parameters of that would look like. 

The last thing I’ll say on this is we have been very consistent that whatever governance looks like in Gaza after this is over, it’s got to be representative of the aspirations of the Palestinian people who are not represented by Hamas and who do not — the majority — don’t support what Hamas has put them through in — in visiting this kind of violence inside the Strip. 

So, whatever — whatever it looks like, it’s got to be representative of their aspirations.  And we believe that a good place to start to get to that outcome is a revitalized Palestinian Authority. 

Q    And Senate Republican Whip John Thune told reporters today that he thinks that the Ukraine aid the President proposed may need to be scaled back a bit, specifically when it comes to non-lethal assistance.  Is this something that the White House would be open to, scaling back —

MR. KIRBY:  I won’t —

Q    — any portions of it?

MR. KIRBY:  I won’t negotiate in public here.  The President’s supplemental request that we put forward way back in October was thoughtful, it was carefully done and crafted, it was done in consultation with our Ukrainian partners about what they believe they were going to need in the early months of this year.  And it came up to, I think, more than $60 million, or something like that. 

So — I’m sorry.  Sixty billion.

And we believe that that was an adequate request.  And that’s the request that we want considered.


Q    Thank you, John.  Why are you guys making it easier for people to enter the country illegally?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t believe we are.  Why do you think we are?

Q    Well, you guys sued to cut razor wire that was put in place by Texas officials and —

MR. KIRBY:  So that the Border Patrol could actually do their jobs. 

But keep going. 

Q    Well, you won in court.  So, now what?  The Border Patrol union president is saying the Supreme Court’s decision is going to “undoubtedly encourage more illegal immigration.”  Do you guys know better than the Border Patrol union?

MR. KIRBY:  The Border Patrol needed access.  And that’s why we sued to get rid of that razor wire so that they could do their jobs. 

And you know what else will help them do their jobs, Peter?  More Border Patrol agents.  There’s an idea.  And if you go back to the supplemental request that we put in, there’s money in there for some 1,300 additional Border Patrol agents. 

We want to help them do their jobs.  We want to give them more resources.  And the answer we kept — keep getting back from House Republicans is no, no, no.

Q    Does razor wire work?

MR. KIRBY:  Does razor wire work for what?  Does it work for the Border Patrol to allow them to have the access they need to be able to better process people that are trying to get across the border?  I don’t think so.  And that’s why we asked for it to be removed.

Q    But what is the President’s plan?  This is happening just weeks after 300,000 people came into this country over the southern border illegally.  The razor wire, officials down there think, was keeping some of them out.  And you guys just sued and won to remove it.

MR. KIRBY:  On behalf of the Border Patrol, who needed — who needed to have better access to it. 

Look, let me go back to your other question.  And I — and I know I’m running short on time, so I won’t — I won’t filibuster here. 

But “what’s the plan?”  Please look at the stuff we’ve put forward: the immigration reform legislation that the President put forward on day one, the work we’re doing in the region.  Just last week, we had Mexican officials here to talk about how together we have and will continue to try to stem the flow of migrants. 

You mentioned the numbers.  No question there’s a lot of people trying to make that journey.  But it’s not just to the United States, it’s to other countries in the world — in the region.  We’re seeing historic movement.  Not since World War Two have we seen this many people on the move in this hemisphere.  And the Mexicans are really stepping up and trying to do the more — more on their southern border to keep that flow going north lower.  And we have seen, in recent weeks, some success at that.

The idea that we don’t have a plan or a strategy or we’re not taking this seriously, it’s just not borne out by the facts. 

And, you know, again, if the — if the folks on the House Republican side are serious about border security — and they claim they are — then they should act on the supplemental request.  And, you know, let’s negotiate this in good faith. 

The President has said he’s willing to make compromises.  He’s willing to negotiate in good faith.  So — so, let’s — let’s have that discussion. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Sabrina.

Q    Thank you.  Israel has said that it is going to build a buffer zone.  It appears to already be demolishing structures inside Gaza along its borders, despite the U.S. position that Gaza’s territory should not be reduced.  Does the administration object to this plan?  And if the Israelis are moving forward anyway, then what is the administration doing about it?

MR. KIRBY:  I’ll let the Israelis speak to this idea.  Nothing has changed about our view, Sabrina.  We do not want to see the territory of Gaza reduced in any way.  We won’t support that.

Q    And you — the administration has communicated that directly to the Israelis, that they shouldn’t create these buffer zones?

MR. KIRBY: I won’t talk about our diplomatic conversations. 

We have been very clear and consistent, both in private and publicly, that we do not want to see the territory of Gaza reduced in any way.

Q    To the back?

Q    Thank you.  John, could you please confirm — could you — could you please confirm if Russia has used more North Korean missiles in Ukraine —

MR. KIRBY:  They have.

Q    — after your —

MR. KIRBY:  They have, yes.

Q    — two weeks ago announced aid.

MR. KIRBY:  They have.

Q    What’s your response to President Putin’s visit, in the near future, to North Korea?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, what we’re — what’s concerning to us is this increasing relationship, this deepening relationship between North Korea and Russia.  Because, obviously, Mr. Putin stands to benefit from it, as he not only gets ballistic missiles and using them for use in Ukraine, but also artillery shells.  And he’s using them to a fare-thee-well, as well. 

So, we’re watching this very, very closely, as we are North Korea’s own pursuit of advanced military capabilities.  And what concerns us is not just Mr. Putin’s ability to benefit from this relationship, but Kim Jong Un’s ability to benefit from this relationship and what that means for peace and security in the region.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Danny.

Q    Thanks.  Staying on North Korea.  There’s been a number of reports recently about — that there have been signs that Kim Jong Un is preparing for some kind of attack or even preparing for war.  Have you seen any indication of a change in posture from North Korea?  Is there any concerns that you have about — about that?

MR. KIRBY:  I want to be careful here.  I don’t get into intelligence assessments.  But we’re watching this very, very closely.  And I would just tell you that we remain confident that the defensive posture that we’re maintaining on the Peninsula is appropriate to the risk.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Ed.

Q    On the Houthis.  Back to the Houthis.  So, Treasury issued a general license allowing the Houthis to profit from oil sales.  Why designate or redesignate them a special terrorist group if you’re going to allow them to make profits off of oil sales within the country?

MR. KIRBY:  It doesn’t.  You’re talking about General License Number 25 —

Q    Yeah.

MR. KIRBY:  — which is designed to allow for the import of some petroleum products, such as cooking oil, so that the Yemeni people aren’t suffering and they can — and they can eat.  It does not allow — and I’m happy to get you the exact language, Ed — but it does not allow for the transfer or the export for profit of Yemeni petroleum products.  They are not going to be allowed to profit off of this.

Q    There are five licenses in general — or in total.  One of them also allows them to get payments for goods going through the ports, as well as fees from people leaving airports.  Again, same question, allowing them  —

MR. KIRBY:  Again, you —

Q    — revenue to do their operations.

MR. KIRBY:  Again, I’m happy to refer you to Treasury for more detail.  My understanding of that license as well is it will not allow them to profit.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead. 

Q    A senior administration official told Politico that one aspect of your plan to stop the Houthis is to have China pressure them to stop.  Does the administration have any indication that China has sway with the Houthis and any interest in applying such pressure?

MR. KIRBY:  China has influence over Tehran; they have influence in Iran.  And they have the ability to have conversations with Iranian leaders that — that we can’t.  And so, what we’ve said repeatedly is: We would welcome a constructive role by China, using the influence and the access that we know they have, to try to help stem the flow of weapons and munitions to the Houthis.

MR. JEAN-PIERRE:  Let’s wrap it up. 

Go ahead.  Go ahead, Courtney.

Q    Thank you.  You mentioned earlier the meeting with Mexican officials that was last week to talk about migration.  Can you talk through what some of the next steps are after that meeting and whether U.S. officials are going to meet with them again in the coming weeks?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t have another meeting on the schedule right now to speak to or to announce.  I have every expectation that there will be additional conversations at various levels of the staff.  We’re focused on root causes of this migration and helping try to, with our Mexican counterparts, alleviate some of those root causes.  There’s lots of reasons why people are on the move, depending on where they’re coming from.

We’re also working closely, as I mentioned to Peter, with Mexican officials about what they might need to help as they deal with pressure at their southern border.  And they have taken some action.  They’ve put more soldiers down there.  They are doing more work at railheads and — you know, and bus routes to try to stem the flow. 

And so, we’re going to keep having those kinds of conversations with them.

Q    When you say “what they might need,” are you talking about support from the U.S. to stem the flow at their southern border?

MR. KIRBY:  Support from — from the U.S., support from in the region.  I mean, again, we’re trying to take a true regional approach on this.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, sir.  Go ahead, in the back.  Go ahead. 

Q    Me?

Q    Thank you.  So, as Turkish parliament is appearing to move on — on Sweden’s NATO accession, Hungary’s Prime Minister is suggesting that it’s still up for negotiations.  He invited the — his Swedish — Swedish counterpart for negotiation on NATO’s accession.  Do you see this as, you know, still up for negotiation?

And relatedly, the Polish Prime Minister suggested that Hungary is quietly wak- — working with Russia and betraying Europe.  Is that your assessment as well?

MR. KIRBY:  First of all, we understand that the Turkish parliament may be taking up this decision today.  Obviously, we’ll watch this very closely. 

As the President has said, Sweden is more than ready to become a NATO Ally, and we certainly look forward to their accession into the Alliance. 

But I’m not going to get ahead of the Turkish parliament.  Obviously, these are discussions and a vote that they have to hold.

I can’t speak for what the Hungarian government is doing or about to do.  They have indicated in the past that they certainly won’t be the holdup here, that they won’t be the last to accede.  They’re also, I’m sure, watching what’s going on in Turkey very closely as well.

But, look, it’s time for Sweden to become a NATO Ally.  They have a modern and advanced military, one that we’re very comfortable with.  And they’ll add real significant military capabilities to the Alliance.

MR. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Andrew, last question.

Q    Thank you.  John, two questions on two unrelated subjects.  The first: A federal court in California this week is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit from civil and human rights advocates that is seeking a court order to prevent the U.S. from providing any more aid to Israel.  Aside from what the Justice Department has argued in court papers, does the White House have any reaction to the lawsuit?

MR. KIRBY:  We won’t speak to an individual lawsuit.  That wouldn’t be prudent.  I will just tell you that nothing has changed about the President’s strong view that we’ve got to continue to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself.

Q    And then, the second question.  If the state government of Texas, specifically the governor, is using National Guard personnel to impede the law enforcement efforts of federal authorities, why is the President hesitant to simply federalize the Texas Guard and order them to cease and desist rather than going to the courts and having to wait for the court process to play itself out?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t have any pending decision by the — by the President as Commander-in-Chief to federalize the Texas National Guard.  I mean, obviously, as Commander-in-Chief, he has that option.  But I’m not going to get ahead of any decision space that the President might be in.

Q    Does the administration believe that it’s a proper function of the Guard, under — under state authority, to be used to frustrate federal authority?

MR. KIRBY:  They have — they have a chain of command under the governor, and we respect that chain of command.  We can disagree on the use of the National Guard and other — even state assets for the way that Governor Abbott is treating that border.  We certainly disagree from a policy perspective. 

But, legally, he is, by — you know, by authority, the state commander-in-chief of the National Guard.  It doesn’t mean we have to agree with every which way they’re used.  And I won’t get ahead of the President’s decision space, again, one way or the other.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, Admiral. 

MR. KIRBY:  Thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you so much.  Thanks, Admiral.

All right.  Zeke, want to reset us?

Q    Yes, thanks, Karine.  Has the President been briefed on that shooting in Joliet, Illinois, and the subsequent manhunt there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  So, thank you for that question.  So, we are tracking certainly the connect- — the connected fatal shootings that took place in Joliet, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.  Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this senseless act of violence.

Federal officials are supporting the local law enforcement investigation, and we will know more as they complete their work. 

As law enforcement has stated, the shooter appears to have died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.  This recently — this recent tragedy underscores the need for Congress to act and to take action to end this epidemic of gun violence that we’re seeing across the country. 

Our administration is taking aggressive steps to keep guns off our streets and out of the — out of those who mean to do harm by cracking down on gun trafficking, stolen firearms, and enhancing background checks to stop sales to those in crisis, and all thanks to key provisions of the President’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that we were able to do about almost two years ago now. 

But we need Congress to do more: universal background checks, red flag laws to provide further protections and tools to prevent such tragedies.  The longer they wait, the more communities like Joliet will continue to be torn apart by gun violence. 

So, we are certainly tracking this.  And so, we’re going to see what the — what the law enforce- — local law enforcement say about the more specifics of this horr- — horrific, horrific gun violence. 

Q    Thanks.  And on a different topic, it’s election day — primary election day in New Hampshire.  The President’s name is not on the ballot, but many of his supporters are trying to write his name in — onto that ballot there.  Without speaking to —


Q    — 2024 at all, how does the President plan to spend this evening?  Does he plan to watch those — those results?  How does he plan to monitor the outcome of the race?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I appreciate the question.  So, look, as you know, the President is going to be heading out in a couple of hours to head to Virginia.  He’s going to be doing a dual — obviously, a dual event with the Vice President.  Can’t go too much further into that, but, obviously, you all know he’s going to — they’re going to be speaking about reproductive healthcare, the importance of that. 

Yesterday would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.  And — and we have seen the devastating effects that that overturning of Roe have had across the country with women obviously not being able to — many of them not being able to make decisions on their own healthcare. 

So, you’ll hear from the Vice President, obviously.  You’ll hear from the President.  So, that’s what he’s going to be doing later on today. 

I have not spoken to him on how he’s going to be taking in the results tonight.  So, I don’t have anything — specifics to share on how that’s going to — how the President is going to be spending his evening, but certainly he is always — certainly always focused on the American people.  And that mu- — that much I can promise.

Q    And does he have any concerns that — that he might lose that write-in campaign?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  I think the President’s concern right now is making sure we continue to deliver for the American people.  That’s his focus.

Go ahead, Karen.

Q    I’m going to try a couple on the border negotiations.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, sure. 

Q    Now that it seems there’s a semblance of optimism on the Hill that this is inching closer —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’ve always been optimistic.

Q    No, on the Hill.  On the Hill.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, okay.  Okay, okay.

Q    — a semblance, though — (laughter) — that it’s inching closer to the finish line, has the President spoken to negotiators this week?  Will he meet with any of the Senate leaders on this to get it across the finish line?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, don’t have any — we don’t have anything to preview on any conversations that the President has had specifically with the negotiations.  And I’m assuming you’re speaking to — you’re speaking about the senators, both Republicans and Democrats.  Obviously, he gets regularly updated from his team, who have been in close — a part of these negotiations in close — obviously, in close contact with members in the Senate.  And they’ve been doing this for months now — for months.  So, he’s getting regular updates — every day, daily updates. 

And the President said last week — I think you — someone asked him if — how he felt about it.  And he thought it was basically — that a deal was — was coming — was soon to come. 

So, look, we’re — we continue to be optimistic.  This is an important, important negotiation to try to figure out how do we address a broken system, the immigration system, how do we deal with border security.  It is a bipartisan negotiation, which we really, truly appreciate, to get to that agreement.  And we are going to continue to be optimistic. 

If there are any conversations that the President is going to have that we feel — you know, that we will — we will — that is necessary to share, we certainly will do that.  But as you know, the President — you know, because he has relationships with many of those Senate members, tends to have regular commun- — communications with some of those senators on the Hill.

Q    And Arlette had asked Kirby — so, he touched on this somewhat, but I think more specifically for you because of the politics of this —


Q    — if the border policy changes come in at a higher number, the total cost of that compared to what the administration had asked for in the supplemental for border security, is there wiggle room in the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You mean in the appropriations process?

Q    — in the — yeah.  Is there wiggle room from the administration on the number that is put for the Ukraine funding?  If — would that come down from the administration’s side to keep this still in that ballpark range of $106 billion?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I want to be really mindful and really careful here.  I’m not going to say what we would accept or not accept. 

What I will say is that the national security supplemental that the President put forth back in the fall is incredibly important.  We want Congress to move forward with it.  We want Congress to act on the supplemental.  It is an emergency request.  That’s why presidents usually put forward supplementals.  And it’s about our national security not just abroad, but obviously here in the U.S.  And it includes Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan.  It also includes, obviously, the border security. 

So, there are different parts and pieces to this that are very important.  And — and it was a thoughtful process. 

I’m not going to get into the appropriations part of it.  I’m not going to get into anything else beyond — you know, beyond letting the negotiators, as it — as it — as it is focused — as they’re focused on border security — to allow them to do their negotiations. 

Again, these — the negotiations that they’re talking about is, obviously, policy and — and funding as well. 

What are we going to do to give the resources that are needed to deal with what’s going on at the border?  I’m just going to stick it to there — keep it to there.

Go ahead, Nancy. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  On the razor wire case.  Now that the Supreme Court has decided in favor of the administration, what is the plan?  How quickly does the administration intend to remove all the razor wire that has been set up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I don’t have the — the specifics on the — what the border security is going to do and how they’re going to do it.

Look, we are certainly glad that the Supreme Court made the decision to — to vacate the injunction that prevented border security to actually do their jobs, to do humanitarian work, to actually — to actually enforce laws.  And it got in the way. 

And what — and what was put forward that — what — what — what Texas was doing — the governor was doing was actually ineffective.  And that’s something that we have to remember: It was ineffective. 

And so, now it’s going to — it’s going to allow border security to do their jobs.  It’s going to allow border security to actually act if there is an issue or some — a dangerous situation happening and they need to act and save lives.  It’s going to allow them to do that and actually do their jobs and enact law. 

Look, at the bott- — at the — you know, the bottom line here is that we need changes in policy.  We need funding.  And that’s what the conversations are happening in the Senate.  And so, that’s incredibly important.  We do not need political stunts.  We do not need political stunts that we’re seeing — that was — that we’re seeing from the Texas governor. 

But, look, this is — this is — we’re glad that it happened.  And now Border — Border Patrol will be able to do their jobs.

Q    My c- — my colleague who is down at the border has new video of the Texas National Guard setting up razor wire right now, today, even in the wake of this decision.  How does the administration plan to deal with that without getting into some kind of direct conflict with the Texas National Guard?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So — so, what was — what was decided on was the ability for the Border Patrol agents to cut through the wire, right?  The — the — kind of, the initial reason as the wire is being put — putting la- — being laid out there, that still has to go to the fi- — the cir- — court, the Fifth — the Fifth Circuit.  Right?  They still have to go through that process.  Maybe it goes to the Supreme Court.  I’m going to be careful and not talk about that legal process.

But what we know that we are able to do, that the Border Patrol is able to do is cut through the border wire so they can actually do their jobs.  There’s a whole ‘nother process that has to go through the — the legal system.  So, we’re going to let DOJ and others continue that process.

But now, Border Patrol has a — has the ability — ability to do their jobs because now they can cut through the wire.

Go ahead, Arlette.

Q    You started the briefing talking about some of these positive economic indicators and how the mood of consumers is changing as you’re seeing some of these positive signs in the economy.  But so far, it really hasn’t changed in their perception of how President Biden has contributed to this and — and helped them.  Are there discussions about different ways that you can try to communicate this message, given the fact that, so far, it just hasn’t sunk in with the American psyche that Biden should be getting credit, in your belief?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, we’re going to just continue to have the conversation.  We’re going to continue to have the President talk — speak directly to the American people.  You saw him do that in many different ways in the past two weeks, where he’s been able to address Americans at their home — right? — where he’s been able to go to a business and talk to folks at — at a — at a business.

And so, look, we’re going to try — obviously, we’re always trying to find ways to communicate with folks on the ground.  And we understand, look, polls don’t vote; people vote.  That’s really important to remember as well.

And — but I think the data still matters.  The fact that consumer sentiment is high in a way that we hadn’t seen it in some time — right? — the numbers show that — and the fact that the economy is indeed stronger than it was.  Since the President walked into this administration, he’s been able to create more than 14 million jobs.  All of that matters. 

We’re going to do our job.  We’re going to continue to have those conversations with the American people.  And you’ll see that.  And you’ll see contin- — the President has been doing that for the last three years, and he’s not going to stop.  And we’re going to make sure that the American people hear directly from him as — you know, as often as we can.

Q    And is the President frustrated that Americans are feeling better about the economy, but they’re not feeling better about his role in it? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I think what the President is — is proud to see is that the data is showing that consumer confidence is up, is that we’re able to see gas prices under three bucks in more than — in 27 states.  That’s important.  That’s what the President is happy to see. 

The President is — is happy to see that we’ve created more than 14 million jobs.  That’s what we’re going to continue to work on, an economy that is — that — that makes sure that we build it from the bottom up, middle out.  And let’s not forget, we’re going to continue to lower costs for the American people.

And so, as long as we do that, as long as we do our job, the President does his job, then that’s what matters.

Go ahead.

Q    Hi.  Thank you so much.  So, you said at the beginning of the briefing that 19 states have experienced the lowest unemployment rate on record.  What do they have in common?  Are they geographically clustered in one area?  And to what do you attribute this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, that’s a good question.  I don’t — I don’t have specifically which 19 states.  Certainly, we can get that number.  It’s in the — obviously, it’s in the data.  So — it’s in the stun- — state unemployment data, so you can actually pull it fr- — directly from there.

I think we attribute that to the President’s plans and policies and what he’s been able to do for the past three years — right? — whether it’s legislation — historic piece of legislation — whether it’s the Bipartisan Infra- — Infrastructure — Infrastructure Act, or whether it is the CHIPS and Science Act.  I mean, there are multiple — we believe, multiple reasons, multiple policy changes that the President has been able to do to get the economy going.  And we see that in the data. 

And so, we — we believe that what the President has done is working.  Now, we have more work to do in lowering costs, and we’ll continue to do that.  But certainly, this is the President and this administration’s work at hand, along with some of the work that we’ve been able to do with Congress.

Q    To the back.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Jeff.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The President, you alluded to, is speaking about abortion at the event tonight in Virginia.  He has often said he would like Congress to codify Roe.  Are there talks between the White House and legislators in Congress about doing that?  I know they don’t have the votes for it, but is there an effort right now to prepare for that underway?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I can’t speak of an — of a — of conversations specifically on — that we’ve had with legislators.  We talk to legislators on a — an array of issues and — and, certainly, different agendas.  I know that legislators in Congress have tried to introduce pieces of legislation to codify — to do just that, to codify Roe. 

And so, look, here — here’s where we are: Majority of Americans want to make sure that their rights are protected, that their freedoms are protected.  That’s where majority of Americans are.  They want to make sure that women have the right, the ability to make decisions on their reproductive healthcare.  That is something that we know.

And Republicans do not stand with the majority of Americans.  You have about, I believe, three national bans that were — that were introduced by congressional Republicans.  And so, that is a problem. 

And so, we have to be very clear.  This is why the President, the Vice President, his entire administration is going to continue to speak loud and clear and stand on the side of the majority of Americans.  And so, until we have Republicans that are willing to — to stand with the majority of Americans on this and do something and make sure that our freedoms and rights — women’s freedoms and rights are protected, then we’re not going to be able to make this happen.

But doesn’t mean that the President is not going to continue to call f- — call on that.  And so, that’s what we want to see.  In order to truly deal with this issue, we have to see legislation in Congress.  And that is just the facts.

Q    And is that the message that he wants to get across tonight?  And apropos tonight, is there a reason that this rally or this event was scheduled on the same day as the New Hampshire primary —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)

Q    — where the Republican candidates —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would refer you to the —

Q    — will be in focus?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — scheduling of this political rally to the campaign.  So, I’m not going to speak to that.  And I’m not going to get ahead of what the President is going to say.  You’ll hear from him directly tonight.

But, look, you heard from the President yesterday during his task force — his for- — task force on this particular issue, reproductive healthcare.  Yesterday, he spoke to the importance of making sure that we stand with majority of Americans.  You saw the Vice President in Wisconsin speaking to the issue.  We were — we were very clear on where this administration stand.  We stand with majority of Americans on this. 

Q    Maybe the sixth row?  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  Go ahead. 

Q    I mean, you haven’t gone past the fifth row yet.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    I’m just saying.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  Thank you for keeping track, but I believe the gentleman is — there’s a gentleman that I called on that’s sitting in your row. 

Q    Well, that’s true.  That’s true.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you.  Oh, thanks.  Thanks, James.  I appreciate that.  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Does the White House support a possibility of limiting immigration parole that seems to be now at the center of Senate negotiations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to speak to the specifics of the negotiation process, what’s being discussed, the policy discussions, or even the funding component of the discussions.  Just not going to do that from here.  Can’t negotiate from the podium because we want to make sure that they have — negotiators have the freedom to have a good-faith conversation.  I’m just not going to inject myself from here.

Q    Another topic.  Venezuelan President Maduro is accusing the U.S. of plotting to kill him, specifically the CIA and the DEA.  Has the White House seen these accusations?  And how do you respond to them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I have not seen those accusations.  Obviously, that is — sounds a bit — a bit — well, it’s not even a bit.  It’s just not factual.  I’m just going to leave that there. 

Q    Sixth row (inaudible)?  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  I’m trying to call some people I haven’t called on.  Go ahead, in the back.  Go ahead, go ahead. 

Q    I know —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, go ahead.  This young — this young lady. 

Q    I’m trying to help you do that.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I know.  Thanks for the help.  But I got it.  Go ahead, go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  So —


Q    Sorry, me?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  Yes.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  We’re sort of seeing a lot of House Republicans push back on the Supreme Court ruling, sort of encouraging the Texas governor to ignore it.  People like —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Could you start from the beginning?  I missed the beginning of your question.

Q    That’s okay.  So, we’re seeing some House Republicans encourage Texas to ignore the Supreme Court ruling.  Representative Clay Higgins also sort of said it’s a “civil war.”  Is that rhetoric helpful to solve the situation at the border?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  None of it is helpful.  That rhetoric is not helpful.  The political stunts are not helpful.  They’re just not.  They’re not dealing with the issue that we’re seeing at the border. 

What we have asked and what we have said: Let’s work in a bipartisan way.  That’s why we are very grateful to what the senators are doing right now in negotiating in a bipartisan way, in good faith, to come up with a solution on a system that has been broken for decades — an immigration system that has been broken for decades. 

And so, you have Republicans coming together, Democrats coming together in the Senate to actually figure out how — what are the policy changes that we can — meaningful policy changes that could be put forth, what’s the funding — funding stream that is needed to deal with the border.  And that’s what we want to see, and that’s what we appreciate.

All of the political stunts that — some of them put — you know, put Border Patrol agents’ lives in danger.  It puts migrants’ lives in danger.  That’s not helpful.  That is not helpful at all. 

Go ahead, Courtney.

Q    Thank you.  Will President Biden renominate Todd Edelman for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia?  There was reporting that that’s not going to

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s nomination process.  So, just don’t have anything to preview. 

Q    It’s to renominate, though, not —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to get ahead of the process at this time.

Q    Okay. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, sir.

Q    So, knowing that there’s bipartisan negotiations happening in the Senate right now when it comes to the supplemental — obviously, House Republicans are not involved, but we do know Speaker Johnson was obviously here at the White House meeting with President Biden.  Are — is the White House or President Biden or any administration officials speaking directly with House Republicans about this, knowing that they’re basically saying that it’s dead on arrival, whatever comes out of the Senate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, look, the President spoke to this last week a little bit too.  He said — you know, he — he called out — he said to House Republicans: Do you really want to actually fix this problem?  Do you really actually want to do the work that’s needed to deal with the issue that we’re seeing at the border?  Do you really want to fix this immigration system?  I’m adding on to what the President said, but that’s a question for House Republicans. 

I think we have proven — Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the Senate have proven that we actually want to work on this issue, on this broken system. 

And so, look, if they are real about this, if they want to fix this problem, then they would get involved.  They would get involved.  But they haven’t, right?  You heard me say, back at the end of last year, they left in the middle of December while negotiations were happening with Republicans in the Senate and the Democrats in the Senate. 

So, you know, this is a real problem.  This is an issue that Americans care about, and they want to see it done in a bipartisan way.  That’s what we’re trying to do.  That’s what we’re trying —

I don’t know why House Republicans continue to get in the way.

Q    But outside of the meeting last week, have they been in constant contact at all with House Republicans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, don’t have any specific communication or conversations to read out.  Obviously, it came out — it came up in the — in the meeting that the President had last week with leadership.  And that — it was obviously about Ukraine and the importance of America supporting Ukraine in their fight for freedom.  But obviously, as well, border security came up.  And there was an agreement.  There was an agreement with folks in the room that we needed to deal with both issues.  Both issues were really important. 

And so, that’s what I will leave you with.  But House Republicans could speak for themselves.  And we are saying to them: Why are they getting in the way?  Why don’t they come to the table and actually have these negotiations with us as well?

Way in the back, go ahead.

Q    Great.  Thank you.  Immigration is now the top issue for Americans — over the economy, over inflation.  That’s according to a new Harvard poll.  So, is immigration the President’s top priority?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  There are many issues that are top priorities for this President, right?  This is a president that has to deal with multiple issues all at once. 

Obviously, immigration is clearly important.  I just went into — into a back-and-forth with your colleague here about what’s been going on — right? — what he’s been doing; what Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have been doing; how these negotiations are so important to get to a bipartisan agreement to deal with immigration, this broken system, and the border security. 

So, obviously, it’s a priority for this President.  And he is managing multiple things that are important — that are important and key to the American public.

Q    I just want to follow up on that.  Also on the border.  Speaker Johnson — he put out a statement talking about this issue.  He’s saying that the VP wants Congress to, quote, “grant mass amnesty and spend taxpayer dollars to process — not stop — more illegals,” and “her ‘solution’ is to…incentivize the lawlessness and the chaos.”  Can the White House
respond to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I will say to the House Speaker: If you truly care about the border and dealing with the border in a way that — that actually helps the American people and if he really cares about a broken immigration system that’s been broken for decades, then come have a conversation — a true, good-faith conversation.  Be part of the solution.  Be part of the negotiations.  Actually do something that’s going to make a change for the better.

And right now, that’s not what we’re seeing.  He’s getting in the way.  And, you know, that’s not what this President is about. 

He wants to see this done in a bipartisan way, a bipartisan agreement that is effective and that actually has meaningful policy changes and also funding streams that make sense — that make sense.

All right.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Thanks, everybody.  We’ll see you tomorrow.

1:16 P.M. EST

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