James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:15 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  All right, everybody.  All right. 

Good afternoon, everyone.

Q    Good afternoon.

Q    Hi.


Q    Hello.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s raining outside.

Okay.  So, as you just saw today, the President directed his Trade Representative to increase tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 on $18 billion of imports from China.

This action will protect American workers and businesses from China’s unfair trade practices.  As you’ve heard the President often say, American workers and businesses can outcompete anyone as long as the competition is fair. 

Our U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, is here to share more on the President’s announcement and take some of your questions. 

And with that, I will turn it over to Ambassador Tai.  Welcome to the briefing room for the first time. 

AMBASSADOR TAI:  Thank you so much.

Well, good afternoon, everyone. 

President Biden has consistently been clear that he will take action to defend American workers and businesses from the unfair trade practices of the People’s Republic of China.

Today, he is once again keeping that promise. 

President Biden and bi- — and I both know that American workers and businesses can outcompete anyone as long as the competition is fair. 

But for too long, the PRC has been playing by a different set of rules with unfair and anticompetitive economic practices.  Those unfair practices include forced technology transfer, including cyber hacking and cyber theft; non-market policies, such as targeting industrial sectors for dominance, labor rights suppression, and weak environmental protection; and flooding markets worldwide with artificially cheap products that wipe out the competition. 

The President’s action today is a part of his vision to rebuild our supply chains and our ability to make things in America to lower costs, outcompete the PRC, and encourage the elimination of practices that undercut American workers and businesses.  We are doing that by investing in manufacturing and clean energy here at home and raising tariffs to protect these investments. 

I conducted a statutory review of the PRC’s forced technology transfer and other intellectual-property-related practices, which were the subject of the 2018 Section 301 investigation. 

In that review, I found that the PRC continues to deploy these unfair trade practices.  And I conveyed my findings to the President in a report, which is available on the USTR website.

It is clear that the previous administration’s trade deal with the PRC failed to increase American exports or boost manufacturing.  In fact, China’s exports in some critical sectors, like EVs and batteries, actually increased. 

In response, President Biden, today, signed a memorandum directing me to increase tariffs on critical manufacturing and mining sectors, including steel and aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries, solar cells, and certain critical minerals.  The increased tariffs are expected to cover approximately $18 billion of trade. 

The President also directed a process to request excluding certain production machinery from the tariffs to permit solar and clean manufacturers to purchase equipment while diversifying their suppliers. 

Next week, I expect to issue a public notice that conveys the specific tariff lines, tariff rates, and timing for the proposed increases, along with the details of the machinery exclusions process. 

This strong action by the President is strategic.  As he has said, we do not seek to constrain China’s economic development, but we will insist on fair competition and defend American workers from the PRC’s unfair practices. 

Today’s direction by the President defends American workers and businesses from the PRC’s artificially cheap products, whether EVs or steel or critical minerals or semiconductors. 

I also want to emphasize that we continue to consult with our partners and our allies who face similar threats from the PRC’s unfair trade practices and are also voicing their concern with those unfair practices and taking action.  Our partners are essential to addressing the broader threat to our working families and businesses. 

Today’s strong tariff announcement is an important part of President Biden’s worker-centered trade policy, which is about using trade to empower workers and making sure that they can compete fairly and thrive, and supports the historic investments we have already made here at home.

I can now take your questions.

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

Q    Thank you, Ambassador.  First, there seems to be some confidence that these tariffs won’t cause the competition to slide into conflict with China.  If you could just explain a little bit about why you are so confident. 

And then, secondly, BYD is looking to build EV factories in Mexico that could flood the U.S. market.  Why isn’t the administration preemptively announcing tariffs to hit these vehicles?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, you actually asked two questions.

Q    Yeah, I did.  Sorry.  (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR TAI:  Yes.  So, let me begin with the first, which is that we’ve been very, very clear about the strategic nature of this tariff review process and the focus on ensuring that the actions that are announced will be effective in leveling the playing field, giving our workers and our businesses the chance to continue to compete and to thrive against an onslaught of really, really challenging measures and a challenging economic system that is coming from Beijing.

We have been clear about this with the American public. 

We have also been equally clear about this with our counterparts in Beijing.  Every single one of us, from the President on down, over the course of the last three years, have made clear the challenges that we are facing, the nature of that challenge, and the need for us to act.  Because we know what happens if we don’t act and we don’t defend: We will see the same patterns repeated over and over again. 

So, what we are doing today should by no means be a surprise to our counterparts in Beijing.  We have made clear this is not about escalation.  This is about the consequences of decades of economic policy and the need for the United States to defend our rights. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, and there was the second question.

AMBASSADOR TAI:  And the second question was on the EVs and BYD in Mexico.  At USTR, that is exactly what we are built to worry about and to be concerned with.  That will require a separate pathway.  This is about imports from China.  What you’re talking about would be imports from Mexico.  Equally important — something that we were talking to our industry, our workers, and our partners about.  And I would just ask you to stay tuned.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nancy. 

Q    Thanks, Ambassador.  When Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese goods, it led to some increased prices for U.S. customers.  How can you be sure the same thing won’t happen again?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  First of all, I think that that link, in terms of tariffs to prices, has been largely debunked.  What I would say — what I would say is that what the President has instructed that we do is to focus on making our supply chains more resilient.  That means we need more options.  That means here in America, we need to have more manufacturing capacity.  Resilient supply chains means that we will be able to insulate the American economy from the kinds of price spikes and the inflationary dynamics that we have seen that have come primarily from the supply chain challenges we’ve experienced first from the pandemic, next from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

If you think back to March of 2020 and you think about how much a face mask cost, it’s a trick question.  The answer is you did not have enough money to buy a face mask because there just weren’t enough in the world to go around.  So, it is with that in mind that these actions are being taken.  It is, in fact, to address those types of challenges that no one wants to experience again.

Q    The U.S. government is subsidizing the EV industry here pretty significantly.  How is that different from what the Chinese government is doing?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, if you take a look at the Chinese economic model, what you see is a system of state support that is built to dominate and take over entire industries.  So, this is what I mean by, “We’ve seen the pattern” — steel and aluminum, solar panels, batteries, EVs. 

Today, China’s production capacity in steel is 55 percent of world capacity — that’s in one country; aluminum, 60 percent; EVs, 60 percent; solar, 80 percent; and in certain critical minerals, 85 to 95 percent.  So, those are subsidies with an aim to cornering the world market and achieving dominance and creating dependency. 

The types of support that we’re talking about here are defensive in nature.  They’re about creating the space to compete, the space to thrive, the space to survive the kind of onslaught that we are seeing across the board.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Steve.

Q    Did the President signal to President Xi in their most recent conversation that this might be happening soon?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, let me put it this way.  Again, from the President to Secretary Yellen, Secretary Blinken, in my own engagements with counterparts from Beijing, we have been very, very clear about the sobriety with which we approach the U.S.-China trade and economic relationship.  It needs to be fair.

I did offer my counterpart the courtesy of a notification.  This does not come as a surprise — should not come as a surprise to our counterparts in Beijing.

Q    The notification — was that today or yesterday or —

AMBASSADOR TAI:  That was the — a prenotification.

Q    Thank you.

Q    Thank you, Ambassador Tai.  I know that these new tariffs are seen as more targeted and strategic, but the administration has chosen to keep in place those Trump-era tariffs on some 300 billion dollars’ worth of goods, which Biden himself had said in 2019 that Americans are paying for.  So, why make that decision to keep it in place?  And aren’t you concerned that it’s going to keep prices elevated?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, first of all, let me say a couple things.  In terms of the price that Americans paid for in the previous era, some of that — well, maybe a lot of it was about the chaos and unpredictability that it created and the — the escalation that resulted.  All right? 

Secondly, I think what — I’m — I’m a trade lawyer by training, and, at USTR, we are deep into the technical issues.  The Section 301-based review that we undertook required us to look at a couple of questions.  One of them was the effect of the practices on our economy.  And there you have our response, which is a targeted strategic response that is meant to work together with the investments that we’re making.

The other aspect that we had to look at was the effect of the tariffs on changing China’s behavior with respect to the IPR abuses and the forced tech transfer.  There, the findings in my report, which you can find on the USTR website, right here — it’s a serious report — is that not only have we not seen the problematic practices subside in some areas, we have seen them get worse. 

And in that light, there is actually no reason for us and no justification to relieving the tariff burdens on the trade with Beijing. 

Q    And just quickly, what do you say to critics who say that by putting these high tariffs on Chinese EVs, you’re leaving American consumers with fewer options, more expensive cars, as China is very far ahead in creating very cheap EV cars?

AMBASSADOR TAI:   I think what you have to do is remember and revisit the story and the show that we have been a part of for the last several decades, which is as you allow China to dominate the supply and the production in these industries, your choice is actually made for you.  You have fewer choices, and it — it lays our entire economy — from consumers and workers, all the way up to our government — susceptible to the kinds of coercion that we’ve seen from a government who was willing to weaponize the dependencies that it has created when a partner does something that it does not like politically.


Q    On Mexico, you said, “Stay tuned.”  Are you saying that there could be some changes to the USMCA rules or to the — to the law that would allow the U.S. to apply tariffs on goods from China that originate in Mexico or other third countries?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  What I’m saying is the fact pattern that’s developing is one that is of serious concern to us and that, at USTR, we are looking at all of our tools to see how we can address the problem.

Q    Specifically from Mexico or from other third countries as well?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  I think just the general fact pattern.

Q    Is there anything else you can say to elaborate on the problem?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  Stay tuned.

Q    Okay.

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

Q    Yeah, thanks, Karine.  Thanks, Ambassador.

So, this is an election year.  Why did it take three years to impose these tariffs?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, this is where I put my lawyer hat back on.  Under the 301 statute, in the fourth year of the tariffs, if there is a stakeholder that is benefiting from the tariffs who asks us to keep them, we keep them.  That is what happened in 2022, because the tariffs first went on in 2018.

As a result of that, in the fall of 2022, we started a process.  We opened up a portal — that was open, I think, in the end of ‘22 to the very beginning of ‘23 — notice and comment.  We wanted to hear from all of our stakeholders, their views on the tariffs, the pros and the cons, please inform us.  That — that elicited, I think, about 1,600 comments.  So, that’s at the beginning of 2023.

And then we started a whole-of-government interagency review within the Biden administration.  That process has taken us to today and the unveiling of this finalized package, which the President approved.

Q    So, it’s — it took three years to — to figure out the Chinese were flooding the market and stealing technology?  I mean, it’s pretty evident that they’ve been doing that all along.

AMBASSADOR TAI:  No, it took — it took a year and a half for the course of the review.  You will see the amount of care that we put into our investigation and our findings.  Yes, there continue to be problems.  But then the question is: What do you do about the tariffs? 

For this administration, it is extremely important that we approach a relationship, like the one between the U.S. and China, and these issues around the industries and the jobs of the future with discipline.  That’s what takes so long, is the design and the architecture of the tariff defense system that you will see.

Q    One more quick thing on Mexico, if I could.  Are we looking at tariffs — I mean, quotas?  The Trump administration imposed quotas on steel and aluminum tariff — aluminums coming in from Canada and Mexico.  Could there be the same policy related to EVs once (inaudible) comes in?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  I think I’ll just rely on the answer I provided bef- — before, which is “stay tuned.”

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Anita. 

Just a couple more.

Q    Thank you, Ambassador.  It should also come as no surprise that former President Donald Trump is very critical of the moves that President Biden made today.  He’s just blowing up my inbox, calling this a “weak and futile attempt,” saying, basically, it’s too little too late.  What’s your response to that?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  I would just say that —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We want to be careful — (laughs) —

AMBASSADOR TAI:  — this action —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — not to respond to — to a candidate.  That’s not —

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So — thank you.  I appreciate that.

So, I am subject to the — the Hatch Act.  I guess what I would do is interpret your question to mean — or maybe I should ask you to rephrase your question.

Q    Sure.  I mean, how do you respond to criticism that these tariffs are not enough and have come too late?  And those — those are coming clearly from former President Donald Trump.  (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, again, subject to the Hatch Act.  Let me just say, in general, with respect to criticism that these tariffs might not be strong, let me put it this way: We have put a lot of heart and a lot of effort — intellectual effort, economic effort, and consultation effort — into this package.  They are designed to be strategic and not chaotic.  They are designed to be effective and not emotional.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Russell — Gabe.  

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Thank you, Ambassador.  Following up on my colleague Selina’s question.  You said that the President has been consistent on this issue, but back in 2019, when he was a candidate, he said that “any freshman econ student could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs,” referring to his opponent at the time.  And he also said that he would reverse what he called “senseless policies.”  Why did he change his mind?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  So, I’m going to reject the assertion that he changed his mind.  What he has been clear about is his commitment to America, America’s workers, and America’s manufacturing capabilities and resilience, a future for our economy that is built from the middle out and from the bottom up. 

These tariffs are — tariffs are tools, and this is something at USTR that we feel very strongly about, because they’re our tools.  They’re the tools of trade.  When used strategically and smartly, they can be powerful forces for economic strength and development, and that is what you are seeing in this package.

Q    But previously, he called them “senseless.”  They’re no longer senseless?

AMBASSADOR TAI:  I think you have to separate out the tool itself and perhaps how it’s being used and whether or not they are articulated for a particular purpose.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, (inaudible).  

Q    There will obviously be costs here.  Who are the big losers here?  I mean, is it American importers?  I mean, there was an International Trade Commission report last year that essentially said that.

AMBASSADOR TAI:  I would encourage you — I think the ITC report is maybe not as long as our report.  It is long.  I would encourage you to take another look at it, because a lot of what people think it says is not what it said. 

In terms of the methodology that the ITC used, it is very clear that there were positive impacts of the tariffs on the specific industries that were being covered by it. 

Let me just back up to the frame of your question.  I think that it just comes down to this, which is the President has committed to America’s workers and to America’s industries and these industries of the future a bright future.  And we are going to use all of the tools at our disposal — trade tools in combination with the investments that we have made and the commitment that the President has to standing up for America’s economic interests — to make that happen.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Thank you so much.

AMBASSADOR TAI:  Thank you very much.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you. 

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you. 

And it’s good to see Angela Perez in the house.  (Laughter.)

But thank you, Ambassador Tai.

Okay.  So, I just have one more thing at the top, and then we’ll — we’ll continue with questions. 

Today, the President and First Lady are honoring the memories of the 10 lives lost two years ago in Buffalo, New York, as a result of unacceptable racial hatred and senseless gun violence.  We also honor the bravery of those in law enforcement who responded quickly and who risk their lives every day to protect and serve their communities.

Today, White House Deputy Director of Office of Gun Violence Prevention Gregory Jackson will join families of the victims and survivors of the shooting for a ceremony of reflection in Buffalo, where he will deliver a letter from President Biden.

In his letter, the President shares his condolences and reiterates his commitment to combat gun violence and counter hate-fueled violence. 

The President will continue to use every tool at his disposal to end the epidemic of gun violence affecting Buffalo and communities nationwide.

With that, Aamer.

Q    Was it appropriate for Speaker Johnson to show up at the trial with the former President today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’m — I can’t speak to — don’t want to comment, obviously, as this is related to 2024 elections. 

And I can’t speak to the Speaker’s schedule.  That is something for him to decide on. 

And let’s not forget, this is also connected to an independent judicial process.  So, going to be really mindful.

And he makes his choices on what he does, you know, with — with his business.  That is his choice to be made. 

What I can speak to is, obviously, what the President is speaking to today as it relates to 301 tariffs, making sure that he’s protecting American workers, protecting American businesses, making sure that when we — that, you know, when we’re allowed to compete in a fair way, we can thrive.  And that’s what you heard from this President.

And what we’ve learned and we’ve seen from what the — the Speaker is, obviously, leading in — with congressional

Republicans is that they want to — they want to cut — they want to cut Medi- — Medicare.  They want to cut — you know, they want to cut Social Security.  They want to get th- — rid of things that the American people truly, truly care about.

And so, our focus is going to continue to build an economy from the bottom up, the middle out. 

And, you know, this is — this is something that we can speak to.  I think the contrast between what we do here and what Republicans — more broadly, Republicans in Congress — do is — I think couldn’t be more stark.

Q    Can I ask you if there’s any administration reaction to Georgia’s passage of the “foreign influence law” today?  And will there be any ramifications for the U.S.-Georgia relationship if it is, in fact, enacted?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I do have a — a statement from us on this:

We’re deeply troubled by Georgia’s Kremlin-style “foreign agents” legislation, which just passed, as you just sta- — stated, parliament.  And we expect the president to veto it.

While, it is unclear whether parliament will try to override a potential veto, we have been outspoken about our concerns with the legislation, which runs counter to democratic values and would move Georgia further away from the values of the European Union and, let’s not forget, also NATO.

The Georgian people have been making their views known about this legislation, protesting in the streets, as you all have been reporting.  This weekend, we saw some of the largest protests in Georgia’s history, with tens of thousands of peaceful protesters undeterred by — undeterred by intimidation tactics, telling their government to oppose this legislation because they want Euro-Atlantic future.

We will see the parliament — what the parliament does.  But if this legislation passes, it will compel us to fundamentally reassess our relationship with Georgia.

Go ahead.  Go ahead, Steve.

Q    Based on what you’re seeing around Rafah, does it appear that the Israelis are preparing to move in in a big way?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I don’t have anything new to share, other than what the — Jake Sullivan, our National Security Advisor — he was here, obviously, 24 hours ago — when he was asked about operations and our discussions, obviously, and what we’re seeing in Rafah.  We have been very clear about this — that we are going to continue to monitor, to keep a close eye. 

We — he also said that what — from what we understand, what we know, the — what we’re seeing in — in Rafah right now, according to what Israel has shared with us, it is limited, targeted operations.  That’s what we’ve been told. 

And we have been very clear.  We’ve been very clear about how we feel about our concerns, privately and publicly, about a potential major operation in Rafah.  We have been very clear about the more than 1 million people who are living — who are now seeking refuge, to be more exact, in Rafah, and we want to make sure that their lives are protected.  These are innocent civilian lives.  We want to make sure that they are protected.

And so, that is — basically nothing has changed to what Jake Sullivan, our National Security Advisor, stated right here at — at the lectern yesterday.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  And just to follow up on Aamer.  When you say “fundamentally reassess” relations with Georgia, what — what do you — what does that mean?  What do you — what could that entail?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I’m not going to get into specifics.  I’m not going to get into details here.  I think I laid out where we are, our concerns.  We are deeply concerned about this.  I think the people of Georgia have been very clear over the past couple of days: the largest protest over the weekend that we have seen, tens of thousands — that they have seen in — in that country. 

And so — but we want to make sure that we put out our disapproval, our disagreement.  And, of course, we’re going to reassess our relationship with Georgia.  I’m just not going to get into specifics, into details of what that might look like.


Q    Thanks, Karine.  Just going back to Rafah briefly.


Q    Qatar has said that they think Israel’s military — what Israel is doing there at the moment already is setting back the negotiations for a ceasefire and a hostage deal.  Do you share that assessment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look — and Jake said this yesterday: There are multiple phases, multiple elements to — to this hostage deal that would lead to a ceasefire, that would obviously get hostages home — some of them American hostages — that we are working get — to get that hostage deal — really focus — and we know how critical it is.  And also, to get that humanitarian aid — create a situation where we can get more humanitarian aid into — sort of, into Gaza more — obviously, Gaza, more broadly. 

And so, look, we’re going to continue that work.  We’re going to continue to have those conversations.  It is a dynamic situation. 

And as it relates to — to Rafah, I answered — I think Aam- — Aamer asked me the question about what we’re seeing.  We’re monitoring the situation.  We’ve been very clear, publicly and privately. 

Jake, when he was here, he talked about in the upcoming days having an in-person meeting with his counterpart in — in the Israeli government.  He’s looking forward to do that. 

We’ve been having continuous conversation with Israel about — about Rafah operations.  It’s been constructive.  And so, we — we expect those conversations to continue.

Go ahead.

Q    Hey.  I just wanted to — thank you.


Q    Just wanted to be a little more granular on Rafah.


Q    You said the Israeli government had told you they are limited, targeted operations.  Is the White House concerned that Israel is making a very incremental sort of incursion into Rafah to make it harder for you guys to say, you know, that the red line has been crossed or approached?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’m not going to get into a red line from here.  What I will say is: Obviously, the IDF can speak to their own operations.  What we’ve been told, these — and as you just stated in your question to me, these are targeted, limited operations.  And so far, it does not appear — it does not appear to be a major ground operation. 

And we have been worrying about that.  We’ve been very clear about that.  You heard that from Jake Sullivan yesterday, our National Security Advisor.  You’ve heard that many times from here from us.  We, of course, are monitoring the situation with our con- — our longstanding concerns over a potential — a potential major ground operation. 

And we’ve said there’s more than 1 million — 1 million Palestinians who are seeking refuge in Rafah.  And so, we’ve been very clear — taken — they’re taking shelter there.  That remains.  And so, we’re going to continue to have conversations, obviously, with the Israeli government. 

Jake Sullivan spoke to this.  In the upcoming days, he’s — he is expecting that to happen in person. 

But those conversations continue, and they have been constructive.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  A senior White House official recently met with some students and faculty at Morehouse College.  Can you talk a little bit about some of the concerns raised from those students and faculty members and how the White House responded?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, what I can say is — and you’re speaking about Steve Benjamin?

Q    Exactly. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Right?  Mayor Benjamin, who is also the Director of Off- — the Office of Public Engagement.  I can confirm that he did have a meeting at Morehouse.  I won’t get into the specifics, but he regularly does this.  He regularly goes on the road, hears directly from Americans, and he directly — in this — in this inst- — instance, it would be students and faculty, obviously.  And I just don’t have anything beyond that to share. 

The President is certainly looking forward to his commencement address this coming Sunday at Morehouse.  He’s looking forward to speaking not just to the students but obviously families and loved ones who were here — who will be there to hear — you know, to celebrate the students but also to hear from a — to hear a message from this President. 

I don’t have anything more to share, but I can certainly confirm that Steve Benjamin was at Morehouse recently. 

Q    And how many American medical workers does the White House estimate are currently trapped inside Gaza and unable to get out?  And is there a plan to help them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I certainly — look, what we have said over and over again, and we will continue to say this, that humanitarian aid workers, obviously, are brave to do the work that they’re doing not just in Gaza but around the world, whether it’s in Sudan, Haiti, many places — that they actually go out there and do that brave work to offer assistance — much needed — to folks on — on the ground.  And so, we appreciate that.  We want to see them protected.  We want to make sure that they have the ability to continue that work. 

I don’t have an estimate for you on — on the number of people, to your question, but it is imperative — it is important that we see humanitarian aid workers protected.  And those are conversations that we continue to have with the Israeli government.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks a lot, Karine.  In regards to the President’s plans to increase tariffs that he announced earlier today, is there an expectation that China will retaliate?  And if indeed that happens, what should American consumers plan for in terms of increased prices that they pay for on a variety of Chinese goods?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I think the Ambassador addressed this question a little bit. 

And what I will say is: There’s no need for a trade war.  There isn’t.  And we’ve been very clear — and the Ambassador said this at the — at the podium just moments ago, obviously — that we have been very clear about this.  We’ve been very vocal about — about where — what the President — how the President believes we should move forward.  He wants to do this in a smart and strategic way.  That’s what you see.  And it’s not just the tariffs.  It’s an investment. 

You hear talk — him talking about investing in America, making sure that manufacturers are coming back.  We have created almost — nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs.  So, there is an investment piece, not just a tariffs piece. 

And the President has been also very clear: This is about American workers.  This is about American companies.  This is about protecting them.  And we have been also very clear that China’s policies, trade policies have been unfair.  And we’ve had concerns. 

You heard the Ambassador talk about how you’ve seen Cabinet-level conversations about this over — over the year.  And we’ve been also very consistent about that.

Whether it’s Secretary Yellen, Secretary Blinken — they’ve been the most recent — recent secretaries to have traveled to Beijing to — and this came up — to have those conversations. 

And so, look, there’s no need — there’s no need for a trade war.  That is not what we’re — this is not what this is about.  This is about protecting, again, American workers.  This is about protecting American businesses, making it more fair so that we can compete.  And we believe that with — with a fair

scenario here that we can outcompete.

Q    I also wanted to ask you a question that you were not asked yesterday.  It’s in regards to the Vice President’s language that she used yesterday to young people.  I’m not going to repeat that language.  I don’t use that language publicly, and I don’t think you want me to repeat verbatim what she —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, it’s up to you if you want to repeat it or not.  I can’t speak for you.  (Laughs.)

Q    I’m not going to.  So, my —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Well, there you go. 

Q    — my question — my question to is: Is that appropriate?  Were you surprised she used that language?  Is — was this a one-off, or can we expect similar language from the Vice President going forward?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, for those of you who have,

you know, covered the Vice President, knows the Vice President, she’s passionate about what she fights for.  She is.  And I think it’s important to have someone who’s passionate about what they’re speaking about — about what they’re trying to lift up. 

And you’ve seen her be incredibly passionate about reproductive freedom and what’s happening right now in this country.  And when it comes to women’s right — a woman’s ability to choose, make really difficult decisions on their body — you’ve seen her talk about that with ending gun violence and encouraging young people to not let the — any obsabl- — obstacles get in the way. 

And so, this is — we’re talking about someone who has broken ce- — glass ceilings, right?  We’re talking about someone who can speak to, you know, about what it’s like to go through that process. 

And so, she’s incredibly passionate.  And I will leave it there.  And, you know — you know, I could not be more proud to — to have her as someone that I look up to as Vice President.  And I think many people here would say the same. 

Q    I read — I read her remarks.  I watched her remarks.  And I agree with the sentiment that she was conveying to those young people.  Could she have done that without dropping the F-bomb?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, she was passionate.  She’s passionate about what she believes.  And that’s what I think you heard from this Vice President, and I think it’s important.

Go ahead, Karen.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  There was a lawsuit filed by a group of major airlines against the Biden administration over a new rule requiring transparency on checked bag fees and res- — reservation change fees.  Is the administration concerned that this is going to delay this rule going into effect, which is supposed to happen on July 1st?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I can’t speak to the timeline from this.  I think that’s something the Department of Transportation can certainly speak to that more.  This is a significant win, as we see it — this rule for consumers.  I think that’s important — saving them half a billion — half a billion dollars every year and bringing transparency to what has become a fee-ridden purchasing process. 

So, it is significant.  It’s a win for the American people.  It’s a win for consumers.  Can’t speak to the timeline.  That’s something that the Department of — of Transportation can certainly lean into.

Q    But could a lawsuit like this be a setback for the broader agenda of the administration: tackling hidden junk fees?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I probably should have said at the first, going to be really mindful.  It’s a litigation.  Don’t want to speak to the litigation.  I’m speaking more broadly. 

And so, what I can say: It’s a win for consumers.  That’s — it’s an important rule.  It is — we’re talking about saving billions of dollars to — to the American consumer.  And so, it is an important move forward — step forward.  And anything else, I would certainly refer you to Department of Transportation. 

Go ahead.

Q    Yes.  At this point, when Gaza has been practically leveled, 80 percent of the hospitals are out of service, most of the people have been displaced, what do you think is the incentive Hamas has to keep negotiating a ceasefire?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, it is, we believe, incredibly important and critical to get to this ceasefire, to get to a hostage deal, to get hostages home.  And it’s not easy, right?  You heard — you heard Jake talk about this.  He actually quoted Senator George Mitchell — right? — and talked about how sometimes it takes a thousand failures before you can get to one win.  And I think that really speaks to the moment that we’re in. 

And — and I said this before as I was asked this question: There are a lot of dynamics here that when you’re talking about the different — the different phases — right? — when it comes to a hostage deal.  And so, look, it’s not going to stop us from continue to have these conversation.  It’s not going to stop us for understanding what is at stake here. 

We got to get these hostages home.  We got to get that humanitarian — continuing to get that humanitarian aid in.  And we got to get to a ceasefire.  We have to.

And, you know, Hamas, as we have stated, and you’ve heard us say over and over again, is a terrorist organization.  This could end today if they would let the women, the wounded, the elderly go.  It could end.  This could end. 

So, in the meantime, you — and you heard the — you heard Jake go through the 10 — you know, the 10 points of our — how we’re seeing and how we’re viewing what’s happening in the Middle East.  And so, that continues.  We’re going to — it’s not going to stop us from having this really important, critical conversation, negotiations around the hostage deal.  There’s so much at stake here, and it is important and critical to continue these talks. 

Q    Follow-up.


Q    Do you think that U.S. is safer today than it was seven months ago, considering the rage and the questioning from countries in the (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say that one more time.  If whose —

Q    If — if the U.S. is safer today than it was seven months ago, considering —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, I don’t have any — any changes of where we are today.  I can’t speak to that.  What I can say is the President is always going to put our national security first.  He’s always going — as it relates to the American people, as it relates to us.  That’s the lens that he moves with.  That’s how he sees things.  And I think that’s incredibly important.  And his commitment — his commitment continues to be so.

Go ahead.

Q    Taiwan is going to hold its inauguration next Monday.  Does the administration expect any changes in policy with the incoming President Lai?  And then, you know, are you seeing any signs that China may try to use this occasion to act aggressively or in a coercive way?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, I — I can’t speak for what China is going to do or not do.  I’m not, you know, obviously, in — in the head of President Xi.  But we’ve been — we’ve been very clear about where we stand with our One China policy.  Nothing has changed there. 

And, look, I would have to let — let the leader of — the leader speak for himself.  I just don’t have anything to add beyond that.  We will see.  We will see.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Why do you think Americans are so down on President Biden right now? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What do you mean?

Q    I know you don’t like to talk about polls like the five of six swing states that he is losing right now to somebody who is a criminal defendant.  But more broadly, it doesn’t seem like anything you guys are doing is making him more popular.  Why do you think that is?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, you — you mentioned a criminal defendant — your words, not mine.  So, I want to be super mindful about how I answer this question because, obviously, that criminal defendant is also a — in — in the race for 2024 election.  So, going to be super mindful there. 

I will speak more broadly to what the American people are going through.  Like, we understand.  We are sensitive enough and open-minded enough to understand that this is — that not just this country but globally people have had to deal with a pandemic and coming out of that pandemic.  We understand that even — you know, you think about gas prices and, because of Putin’s war, what that has occurred that led to a gas prices increasing.

And the President had a lot to deal with when he walked in — a lot — a lot of crises.  And this is a president that took that very, very seriously and took action.  The American Rescue Plan — no Republicans voted for that, but we ended up trying to work to get an economy that’s fairer for all and make sure that we don’t leave people behind in creating 15 million jobs, un- — an unemployment rate that’s under 4 percent. 

We understand that people are still feeling this.  We get that.  And we’re not — we’re not blind to that.  That’s why you hear the President pretty regularly announcing how he is going to lower costs for the American people — whether it’s Big Pharma, trying to lower healthcare costs, expanding ACA for those who truly need it, or it is making sure that we get rid of junk fees that cost Americans a lot of money every year. 

So, look, we know it’s going to take a little bit of time.  We get that.  And we are going to continue to — it’s not going to stop us from talking about it and then also not going to stop us from talking about the contrast that we see from GOP Republican congressional members who want to do the opposite of what the President is trying to get done: cutting Social Security, Medicare — Medicare, Medicaid.  That is what they’re talking about — slashing taxes for billionaires and corporations. 

That’s not what this President wants to do.  He wants to make sure that we’re building an economy from the bottom up, middle out. 

And, again, we get it.  We get that prices are too high for Americans.  And that w- — that’s what we’re going to continue to do: the work.

Q    I get that you understand that people are hurting right now.  Why is it that nothing you’re doing to address their concerns is working?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I’m saying is we’re going to continue to do the work. 

I can’t speak to the polls, right?  Those are for folks who are experts who can do a deep dive and look into that and speak to them. 

What I can speak to is: We understand what the American people is feeling.  We understand what they’re going through.  That’s why we’re going to continue to do the work.  301 tariff, that’s part of it — right? — making sure that we’re protecting American workers, making sure that we’re protecting American businesses. 

That’s the work that the President is going to focus on.  And we’re going to continue to move in that way.

Q    So, more broadly, then —


Q    — have you considered, in the White House, that some of President Biden’s recent policy positions could be a turn-off to the people that used to like him?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, here, I would — this is — I would disagree with you there, because a lot of the policies that the President is pushing forward are incredibly popular.  They are.  They are.

Student debt, even though you have Republicans who stopped the President on moving with his plan on student debt, that’s actually very popular with Americans.

Fighting Big Pharma, that’s popular with Americans.  Right?

Making sure that we lower costs on healthcare, that’s popular with Americans. 

So, what the President is actually doing is popular with what majority of Americans want to do — even in protecting reproductive rights, something that Republicans are not on the right side of history.  You think about what extreme — extreme elected officials want to do.  The President wants to protect and make sure that we actually are giving a wom- — a woman a right to make really difficult decisions on their healthcare.

So, that part I certainly disagree with you on.

Go ahead, Jared.

Q    Is the meeting with Israelis on — on Rafah also expected to include ongoing conversations about that shipment of 2,000-pound bombs?  Any kind of steps or conditions you want to see, the administration wants to see that — to move forward on a final determination?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I — those — don’t have anything for you on a timeline or that particular conversation.

The Rafah operations — we’ve been really clear about our concerns about that.  Any major military operations going into Rafah, we have been clear that we do not believe that is the way — the right way to move forward. 

And — and so, we’re going to continue to be clear.  We’re going to have a meeting about that specifically.  As you know, National Security Advisor stated that.  There’s been continuous conversations on this particular issue that we believe has been constructive.  And conversations continue. 

We’re going to monitor the situation.  I’m not going to go beyond what we’ve just stated about where — where — our focus on the Rafah operations and those conversations.

Go ahead.

Q    President Biden has frequently pledged that no one making under $400,000 would see their taxes go up.  Tariffs are effectively a tax on imports.  I’m wondering if you can commit that no American importer making less than $400,000 would see their cost go up.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, our commitment to Americans are very clear, which is that we are not going to tax — we do not want to see a tax increase ov- — on Americans making over $400,000.  That — that has been our point where we have been since the beginning of this administration.  That has not changed.

We have to remember what these tariffs are all about is actually making sure that we are protecting American workers, that we are protecting American businesses. 

We have to — we cannot forget, as well, that the last — the trade deal that the last administration, the Trump administration did not — actually, it was a bad deal.  It was a failed deal.  It didn’t increase our im- — American imports.  It didn’t increase manufacturing here.  And this is —

Q    But importers of solar cells are some of the products that are part of the announcement today.  You can guarantee that none of those importers —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I can say is Americans —

Q    — below a certain threshold will see any costs go up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I can say is Americans — Americans here — we have been very clear that we do not want to — there — we do not want to see taxes for them if they are making under $400,000.  That is something that we’ve been very clear about.  

But I also do not want to — not — we should not forget why we’re doing this today.  This is about protecting American workers.  This is about protecting American businesses. 

What we saw from the last administration failed.  It failed.  We did not see manufacturing go up.  We did not see im- — imports go up — exports go up.  And so, that is also incredibly important to note. 

And we want to do this — the President wants to do this in a smart and strategic way.  And that’s what you are seeing from this announcement today.

Q    Karine, there’s a report that’s just out right now that Jake Sullivan will be going to Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend to discuss the military operation in Rafah.  I know you mentioned that there would be a meeting in the coming days.  Can you confirm his travel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I can’t confirm that at this time.

Go ahead.

Q    Hi, Karine.  Picking up on your last answer that you don’t believe that this is a tax on Americans making under $400,000 a year.  Some Democrats, including Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, have come out and said that “tariffs are a direct, regressive tax on Americans and this tax increase will hit every family,” calling it “horrible news.”  How do you respond to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I mean, it’s very much to what I’ve been saying.  This is — this is truly about — what the President wanted to do — he wanted to make sure that this was done in a smart and strategic way.  That’s what this announcement is about.  It’s about making sure that we address the unfair policies that we have seen from China.  And this is what this does. 

American workers and businesses can out- — can outcompete anyone if we actually create a competition that is fair.  And that’s what you’re seeing from this President. 

We have been also very clear that we do not want to see a tax crease — increase for anyone making under $400,000.  That has also been our — our approach on this as we talk about the economy, as we talk about making sure that we’re building an economy from the bottom up, middle out.  We want this to make sure that we’re not leaving anyone behind. 

This is a smart and strategic approach from this President.  These tariffs are targeted at critical industries, where his — his Investing in America agenda is spurring a manufacturing boom.  He is coupling investment with actions to protect American workers and to protect businesses as well. 

That’s our approach here.  That’s how we’re going to move forward.

Q    And, Karine —


Q    — I know you said you couldn’t confirm Jake’s travel to Saudi Arabia this weekend.  But would you say, across the administration, is there an increased sense of urgency to make sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not go further into Rafah?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I think there’s been a sense of urgency from day one.  We’ve been very clear about this.  The last time the President spoke to the Prime Minister, one of the topics that came up that we read out to all of you was the Rafah operations. 

You’ve — you’ve heard us say over and over again about our concerns, and we’ve been clear about our concerns privately and, certainly, publicly about 1 — more than 1 million people.  More than 1 million Palestinian citizens are — are now seeking refuge in Rafah.  And so, we want to make sure that — that they are — their — you know, their lives are protected — understanding that dismantling Hamas’s operation is actually really important.  This is something that we believe in, that we want to see as well.  That’s why we’ve offered our own thoughts on how to move forward with that.

Conversations continue.  We’re going to be very clear about our concerns here.  And — and I’ll just leave it there.

All right, everybody. 

Thanks, everyone.  I’ll see you tomorrow?  Tomorrow.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Bye, everybody.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

   2:05 P.M. EDT

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