Oval Office

2:33 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everybody.  Before we get started, I — I want to make it clear that we have some good news today, and that is that retail sa- — sales this last month have surged by 9.8 percent as American families received that $1,400 check because of the people in this room getting it done for me.  And auto sales are up 15 percent.  Things are moving.
And these checks are providing a heck of a lot of needed relief for families and, in turn, needed support for our economic recovery.  And today’s news comes on top of the recent news that we created 900,000 jobs in this — in the month of March. 
The first two months of our administration, we’ve created more jobs than the first two months of any administration in American history.  And again — I’m not being solicitous — it’s because of you all.  I really mean it.  The way you fought like the devil to get — you really did — to get that package passed.  I mean, it really did. 
And I want to thank the members for supporting the American Rescue Plan.  And we still have a long way to go.  We’re 8 million jobs down from what it was more than — before the pandemic began, but America is coming back. 
And with regard to — I want to express my gratitude to the group we have here today from the House representing this Caucus, which represents vital communities and very diverse communities within the Asian American, Hawaiian Na- — excuse me — and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders community. 
And what I think what most people don’t realize is just how diverse it is; how broad it is; how many different dialects, languages, and the like are spoken, which is part of what we have to deal with and solve.  And we — we need to stand with the AAPI community and the whole-of-government response with what we have to get done. 
When I came into office, the first — the first bill I signed related to racial equity throughout the government.  That’s still the plan.  That’s my objective. 
And Kamala and I are heartened by the Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan effort yesterday, Senator, for the passage of the Hate Crimes Act.  That’s a big deal.  I mean, it was really close.  Only — what? — 98 votes.  (Applause.)
SENATOR HIRONO:  Long way to go yet. 
THE PRESIDENT:  But I’ll tell you what —
SENATOR HIRONO:  But it was really nice.  (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it was now.  I thought it was going to pass, but, my Lord, you — I tell you.  I — and we took a vote here in the administration: You’re going to handle the jobs bill — (laughter) — because anybody who can get 98 votes for anything —
SENATOR HIRONO:  Why, sure.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  So, anyway, I’m looking forward to our discussion with the Caucus.  And I just want to thank you all for being here.  And thank you for coming in, press.
Q    Mr. President, do you see a path forward to a stable relationship with Russia? 
THE PRESIDENT:  Folks, I’m going to be speaking to Russia, and my conversation with President Putin shortly after this meeting is over — you’ll be notified of that, and I’ll be happy to talk to you then.  Okay?
2:36 P.M. EDT

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