Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cleveland, Ohio

10:09 A.M. EST
 
     MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, hi, everyone.  It’s great to be joined by EPA Administrator Michael Regan on our trip to Lorain, Ohio.
 
Building a better America requires us to confront legacy pollution and clean up the environment, ensuring our kids drink clean water and creating good-paying union jobs in the process.
 
As you know, today, President Biden will announce $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to accelerate cleanup and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites.
 
Thanks to these investments, we are tackling climate change, strengthening our nation’s resilience to extreme weather, and providing clean drinking water, all while creating good-paying union jobs.
 
And with that, I will turn it over to Administrator Regan who will give out — give a topper for you guys and then take maybe two or three questions, and then head back.
 
Administrator?
             
              ADMINISTRATOR REGAN:  Absolutely.  Listen, it’s an honor to join President Biden for this $1 billion investment in the restoration of Great Lakes.  This is good all around.  You know, the Great Lakes support drinking water for about 40 million residents.  And also, this billion dollars will support about 1.3 million jobs while also protecting ecosystems so we can have a balanced ecosystem.  So, we’re really excited about that.
 
This is a shot in the arm.  Of the 25 sites along the Great Lakes that are listed as areas of concern, we believe that this billion-dollar investment will allow for us to clean up 23 of those 25 by the year 2030, so — 22 of 25 by 2030. 
 
So we’re really excited about expediting some of these projects, expediting the cleanup, continuing to provide safe drinking water, but also looking at infrastructure investments and work that will create a more resilient Great Lakes from climate change, as well as from pollution like PFAS and some of the legacy pollutions that we’ve seen in the Great Lakes.  So, exciting day for the folks in Ohio as well.
 
Q    Administrator, I have a climate change question for you.  What timeline do you see the remaining U.S. coal plants getting shut down? 
 
And if the Supreme Court limits the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, how much of a blow will that be to the President’s climate agenda, and how will you decarbonize the power sector?
 
ADMINISTRATOR REGAN:  You know, we’re paying close attention to this Supreme Court case.  Obviously, that case is focused on the specific regulation of greenhouse gases and whether we can regulate outside the fence line.  But nevertheless, you know, EPA has bread-and-butter regulations that also focus on the power sector as well.  We focus on regional haze, regulating mercury, coal ash contamination. 
 
So we are aligning all of our regulations so that we can basically present a suite of regulations to the industry at one time so that they can understand all of the investments that they will need to protect public health and the environment.  And they’ll have to determine whether or not those investments warrant the longevity of these coal plants. 
 
And so, when you look at the bread-and-butter regulations that are true to the Clean Air Act, which we’re obligated to execute on, plus what the Supreme Court is going to do, we see a future of tremendous economic pressure on this industry.  And I think the industry will have to determine how they close and when they close.
 
Q    So, regardless of where the Supreme Court goes, you think that the economic pressure will be enough?
 
ADMINISTRATOR REGAN:  I think that there are a lot of public health regulations that span air quality, water quality, and land management that these utilities have to take into consideration to determine, again, what investments will they have to make today to comply with those laws and what the longevity of these various coal plants are across the country. 
 
It will vary from state to state, plant to plant, but at least we are in a position where we want to begin rolling out these regulations so that there’s no surprise.  We want certainty.  We want the industry to have certainty.  But we also want the environmental community and our folks that are looking at public health to understand that EPA is going to do its job. 
 
We’re going to do our job.  We’re going to follow our statutory authority, our regulatory authority.  And we hope many of the aspects that the President is advocating for in Build Back Better will help complement this glide path.
 
Q    Administrator, how much of today’s announcement is due to the fact that the President’s Build Back Better plan has stalled on Capitol Hill?  There isn’t much sign of progress up there.  How much of today’s announcement is due to that and the fact that that plan, which has a lot of climate and environmental provisions that a lot of supporters were hoping would pass, has stalled out right now and that fate is uncertain?
 
ADMINISTRATOR REGAN:  Which announcement are you referring to?
 
Q    Today.  The Great Lakes and promoting what the infrastructure bill does for the environment.
 
ADMINISTRATOR REGAN:  Oh, I think that this announcement is a wonderful opportunity to highlight why the President led this effort for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  I mean, this at heart is an infrastructure action.  It’s the infrastructure bill. 
 
And so, again, $1 billion investing in shoring up the drinking water for over 40 million people; all of the projects that go into ecosystem protection — dredging, pollution contamina- — pollution containment — this is an opportunity to highlight that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law really does focus on infrastructure, people, jobs, and the environment. 
 
None of this is — you know, you don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and economic prosperity.  And the President is demonstrating that they actually go hand-in-hand. 
 
Q    Thanks, Administrator. 
 
Can we ask you some Russia questions?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, no, absolutely.  Are you guys done?  Okay.  (Laughs.) 
 
ADMINISTRATOR REGAN:  Thank you.
 
Q    Thank you. 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right, give me one second, guys.  Yeah.
 
Q    Sorry, Karine, if you could just speak up; it was hard to hear your opening.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I’m sorry.
 
Q    It’s hard.  Yeah.  Thank you. 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m trying to be safe here, so I apologize. 
 
Okay, go ahead.  Go ahead, Zeke. 
 
Q    Thanks.  First, does the White House have any response to Moscow expelling the deputy chief of mission?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, so Russia’s actions against our deputy chief of mission, who was a key member of the embassy’s leadership team, was unprovoked.  Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments. 
 
The State Department has said they consider this as an escalatory step.  And I would refer you — I would refer you to them for further comment on this.
 
Q    On that subject, the President said that he believes there’s a “high” risk now of a — of a further Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Does the President plan to adjust his travel schedule or his meetings in the next couple of days to monitor the situation?  Was there any discussion of canceling this trip so that he could monitor the situation in Ukraine?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have any — any updates on any travel for this President.  As you know, the — a President deals with multiple things at one time.  And so, what — but as the President said, this is a “very high” risk — the question that he was asked on his way to Air Force One.
 
But as we have said, we are in the window where we believe an attack could come at any time and that it would be preceded by a fabricated pretext that the Russians use as an excuse to launch an invasion, which could take many forms. 
 
So, we believe it’s important that the world be watching for that pretext and that people treat any such claims with the appropriate skepticism, especially when they come from Russian state media sources and aren’t backed up by the independent media reporter — reporting.
 
Russia relies on confusion and obfuscation to cover its attacks.  We would all expect — expect it and be ready for it.  So that’s just from the (inaudible).
 
Q    Can I just pick up on the pretext, Karine?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.
 
Q    Would one of those pretexts be where Moscow might be planning to stage an incident in the rebel-held areas to justify an attack on Ukraine from the east?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just — let me just give you some examples.  So that false pretext could take a number of different forms: a provocation in Donbas; a claim about NATO activity by land, at sea, or in the air; an incursion into Russian territory.
 
And so we are — already have seen an increase in false claims by the Russians in the past few days, including reports of an unmarked grave of civilians — of civilians allegedly killed by the Ukrainian armed forces; statements Ukraine is committing genocide in eastern Ukraine; that the U.S. and the Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons; and what the West — that the West is funneling in guerrillas to kill locals.  Each of these allegation is categorically false. 
 
We’ve been very clear about this, and we should expect more false, again, reports from Russian state media over the coming days.  And we’ve seen this playbook before from Russia: their previous military incursions into Ukraine and in Georgia.
 
So, again, this is — this is something that we are anticipating and that the President has talked about to expect a potential pretext.
 
Q    And can the White —
 
Q    Is the President planning to do anything to change Putin’s mind?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me — I just want to — I also want to lay out some stuff that we’re doing today.  So you guys — I think you guys saw the reporting that Secretary Blinken will speak directly to the U.N. Council this morning on his way to Munich about the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, and signal our intense commitment to diplomacy, to offer and emphasize the path toward de-escalation, and to make it clear to the world that we are doing everything we can to prevent war.
 
So — but the evidence on the ground is that Russia is moving toward an imminent invasion.  This week, the Russian government said that it would withdraw troops from the broder [sic] — from the Ukraine border.  And they received a lot of attention for that claim but — here and around the world.  And — but we know that is absolutely false, which you’ve heard us say from — coming from our administration. 
 
In fact, we have now confirmed that, in the last several days, Russia has increased its troops presence along that Ukraine border by as many as 7,000 troops, with some arriving in the past 24 hours.  This is cause of serious concerns. 
 
So the Russians have also said in recent days that they are prepared to engage in diplomacy as we and our allies have repeatedly offered.  But every indication we now know is they mean only to engage in Potemkin diplomacy where they publicly offer to talk and make claims about de-escalation while privately mobilizing for war.
 
So we continue to receive indications that they could launch a false pretext, as I just mentioned, and so we just want to make sure that the world is aware and knows that this is a possibility, because it is indeed part of the Russian playbook.
 
Q    Ukraine says that pro- — Ukraine says that pro-Russian forces — excuse us.  Yeah.
 
(Gaggle interrupted.)
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.
 
Q    Ukraine says that pro-Russian forces have —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, the door is broken, guys.  Hold on one second.
 
Q    Ah.  Please hold. 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  A broken door.  Okay.
 
Q    All right.  Try —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Let’s try this again.
 
Q    Trying again.
    
Ukraine says that pro-Russian forces have shelled a kindergarten.  Can the White House confirm that that is the case?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say that one more time.
 
Q    That pro-Russian forces have shelled a kindergarten in Ukraine — i.e. attacked a kindergarten.  Is that intelligence that the White House can confirm?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I cannot confirm that from here.  That is something that the Department of Defense can — we should — I refer you to them.  I don’t have that intel or information, and so I don’t have anything here to share on that.
 
Q    Okay.  And in terms of the false-flag warnings that you said, do you have any sense of — I mean, the President said the invasion could happen at any time.  Do you have any sense of timing for these false-flag operations?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we have said that we are within the window of an invasion happening, which could be led by a pretext.  We don’t have an exact timing for you, but we had said it could happen before the — during the Olympics or after.  And so we are in that window, which is why you heard from the President directly, saying that it is a very high possibility.
 
Q    And just last on this topic for me.  What else is the White House doing or planning to do to prepare Americans for the possibility of a war in Ukraine?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, one of the reasons that the President spoke the other day is to speak directly to the American public and to the world about what to expect and what process and — what process we were taking in this crisis that Russia, remember, has created.
 
And so, he wanted to be direct.  He wanted to lay down what we’ve been doing for the last several months, the last several weeks for the American public, and talked about the impact of this potential — if Russia decides to invade, how this would impact the American public.  And so that’s one way that the President is communicating with the American public.
 
But we have been very, very clear, the President has been very clear for the last several months, the last several weeks, and being — and being transparent about how we’re moving forward with our European allies and partners in this moment, and what we’re trying to do to deter and how we’re trying to go to the direction of diplomacy.
 
And so that is — that is the direction that we’re still working on, hence why Secretary Blinken is up in New York today and will continue to have those conversations.
 
Q    Karine, are there any plans for the President to pick up the phone and call Vladimir Putin?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I think he answered that himself not too — moments ago.  I don’t have anything — I don’t have anything to read out.  I don’t have anything more to add to what the President said.
 
Q    And then, on a quick, separate issue: Does the President have confidence that the Senate will be able to avert a government shutdown?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  As you know, we work closely with the Senate and with Congress in general, and that’s — that’s our — that’s our path: is to avert a government shutdown. 
 
Q    That’s our what?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s our path: to avert a government shutdown.
 
Q    Has he received assurances from congressional (inaudible)?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything more to say except that that is something, clearly, that is a priority for us to make sure that there is not a government shutdown, and we are in constant communication with members on the Hill.
 
Q    Karine, has President Biden been able to review the written response from Russia?  And what’s his reaction to that so far?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  This is the — the written — the response?
 
Q    Yeah.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I can confirm we just received a response from the Russian Federation, and we will refer you to State.  I don’t have any more — I don’t have anything yet specific to share.
 
Q    Can you say — has he been able to see it this morning before coming on this trip?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I cannot confirm.  I think he did answer this question on his way here, but I don’t have anything more to share.  I would refer you to State on any specifics.
 
Q    Karine, Taiwan’s ambassador to the U.S. has said that they want to be part of this Indo-Pacific new economic framework that you guys are about to launch, but instead they have applied for the CPTPP instead.  Do you have any comment on this and on the broader fact that, you know, allies and partners in the region are, frankly, unhappy that the Indo-Pacific economic framework does not include opening up American markets, which is the thing that they most want in order to become closer to the U.S. rather than China?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, that work is well underway as we consult with the Indo-Pacific partners, Congress, and other stakeholders.  We’ll have more to share as the process is ongoing.  As I just started saying, it’s underway.
 
This framework would define our shared objectives around trade facilitation, standards for a digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency, decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure, worker standards, and other areas of share interest.
 
I don’t have more information to share at this time, but we are committed to strengthening trade and investment in the region in a manner that promotes good-paying American jobs, high standards, and supply chain resiliency, and offer the same benefits for our Indo-Pacific partners.
 
Q    And the other thing that you’ve been promising to launch early this year is the Build Back Better World plan, which was supposed to be early this year.  And it’s still another one of those things that you’ve been promising since June.  And so, what’s the holdup?  We know that Daleep Singh has made these listening tours to Latin America, to Africa.  Is it that you’re not finding enough pilot projects, or is it COVID? Or what’s the holdup?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, the President is very committed to his Build — the Build Back Better World plan.  So, at the United State- — as the United States and our partners further develop and implement the Build Back Better World initiative, we recognize that robust, meaningful partnership will be critical to ensure that Build Back Better World delivers infrastructure that meets the needs of middle- and lower-income countries. 
 
That’s what our team has been doing: traveling to South — South America, as you just mentioned, Africa, and the Middle East.  We will have more details to come in the coming months on how to continue to implement this initiative and the projects the U.S. government is investing with allies and partners.  And like I said, this is something that the President is committed.
 
Q    So you’re confirming that the launch is going to be delayed?  Just confirming that the launch of BW- —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’ll just — we’ll have more to share in the next several months.  And we’re — continue to work with — yeah.
 
Q    Karine, has the President interviewed any potential Supreme Court nominees?  And where is he right now in this process of evaluating potential picks?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, the President has had — he’s had a series of discussions with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.  You know, he continues to review materials as he considers deeply qualified candidates, as you’ve heard us say — immensely qualified candidate with strong experience, character, integrity, dedication to the Constitution and the rule of law. 
 
Potentially, you know, he could begin talking to — interviewing nominees as soon as this week, but I don’t have any specifics to share.  The thing that I can confirm is that — and as you’ve heard me say before and as you’ve heard Jen say before — is that we are going — he is going to have a selection by the end of this month.
 
Q    Sorry, I couldn’t hear.  You said “he could begin” —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So he could begin interviewing potential nominees as soon as this week, but I do not have any — anything to provide.
 
Q    Today is Thursday.
 
Q    (Inaudible.)
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good — good point.  Good point.
 
Q    Does that mean that he has not — does that mean that he has not done an interview yet?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I just don’t have anything to confirm for you right now.
 
Q    On Monday, you were able to tell us that he hadn’t interviewed anyone then.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Because you had asked over the weekend and what he was doing that weekend.  And I was able to — I —
 
Q    So, he’s just not been working for four days?  Like, what’s going on?  (Laughter.) 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I just don’t have anything to share or to confirm or not confirm on this.  This is something — again, he’s reviewing materials —
 
Q    Don’t the American people deserve to know what the President is doing?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I think — I think the President — they’ll know when he makes his selection and how he came to that process once he has selected that person. 
 
As you know, this is something that the President knows how this goes, as being the Chair of the Judiciary Committee for many years, having to — having oversaw — overseen many Supreme Court nomination hearings.  He knows how this process works — being the Vice President.  So this is nothing new to him. 
 
But he wants to make sure — again, this is a rigorous process.  He wants to make sure that this important life- — lifetime commitment is done in a way that’s, again, rigorous and has — and lands with the most qualified — he picks the most qualified person to have (inaudible).
 
Q    Karine, just —
 
Q    Is the President —
 
Q    Jenny — Jenny hasn’t had a chance yet.
 
Q    Yeah, sorry.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Jenny.
 
Q    On — back on the Russia issue and the sanctions package and the Congress that’s broken down, you could say, on the bipartisan measures.  Right now, it seems like they’re just headed towards a resolution to support Ukraine.  Is that — do you think that’s sufficient, or would you want to see a bipartisan sanctions package to show resolve?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, it’s important to show a united front to Russia.  We appreciate the bipartisanship support for actions we’ve taken and will take if Russia further invades Ukraine.  So that is important to show that force of bipartisanship. 
 
Look, we continue to believe that a bipartisan bill will send the strongest message to Putin and serve as a united show of force.  And so, that’s — you know, that’s — we think it’s important that they’re doing that.
 
Q    But it doesn’t seem like they’re headed that way.  I mean, the Republicans basically pulled out of negotiations, and now it just seems like a non-binding resolution.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, you know, we’ll leave that process to Congress.  What we’re saying is: We appreciate the bipartisan support that we have seen from Congress in the past several weeks for the actions and what we’re trying to do, clearly in partnership, in lockstep — partnership with European allies and partners.  And so, we think that’s important, showing that force.  But anything with Congress, I will leave it to them to talk about and see (inaudible).
 
Q    And then one more on another issue in Congress that is important to you and has sort of broken down: on the competition China bill.  That also seems to have stalled.  There’s not really any sign that they’re moving to conference or that, you know, either — both chambers are in at the same time.  So the timing and the substance seem to be a problem here.  Can you lay out a little bit how you’re trying to get this over the finish line?  Of course, this won’t be doable before the State of the Union.  How important is it for the President what you’re doing there?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, it’s important.  And, you know, we are in constant communication with Congress on a whole — whole list of issues.  And that, clearly, is one that’s critical and important.  And we’ll just continue to have those conversations with Congress.  It is important to us to make — to move forward with that.  And so, we’re going to continue to make sure that we’re talking to Congress.
 
Q    Do you have any sense of timing on when this would —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t.  I don’t have a sense of timing on that. 
 
Q    Just one follow-up on the deputy ambassador who was pushed out of Russia.
 
Q    (Inaudible.)
 
Q    Expelled.  Thank you.  Will there be any retaliation from the U.S. side for that?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything.  Literally, that just happened, so I don’t have anything to share on what happens next.
 
Q    Just to pick up on the State of the Union —
 
Q    Karine, just to put a fine point on Zeke’s question about today’s trip, you know, a senior State Department official said this morning that this —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  On whose trip?
 
Q    I said: Just to put a fine point on Zeke’s question about this trip today —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, yeah.  Yeah.
 
Q    — a senior State Department official this morning said that this is “perhaps the most perilous moment for peace and security since the end of the Cold War.”  So can — you know, is there concern that this trip could distract the President from thinking about Ukraine and Russia?  Is there a member of his national security team traveling today who’s going to keep him updated?  Like, how are you managing to juggle, you know, both of these things?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I go back to what I said before: Every President, whether it’s a Democrat President — a Democratic President or a Republican, has dealt with multiple crises at once.  And that’s what this President is doing. 
 
He was Vice President before.  He’s been in the Senate.  He knows how to deal with diff- — you know, multiple — again, multiple crises at the same time.  We have an NSC person that travels with him at all trips, and he will be kept updated.
 
This is not going to deter him from what he needs to do for the American public.  This is just part of the job. 
 
And so, the President has been very clear.  He has spoken about how we are moving with our — again, with our European allies and partners forward with dealing with the crisis that Russia has created on the Ukraine border.  And that has not changed. 
 
He — as you know, we’ve read out multiple conversations that he’s had with leaders.  He spoke to the Germany Chancellor yesterday to get an update from him.  He spoke to Putin just on Saturday.  So he’s continuing to have conversations.
 
Our — his NSC staff, and Secretary Blinken, the Department of Defense — Secretary Austin — are all talking to their counterparts practically every day.  And so, we’re going to — he’s going to keep — he’s going to be able to keep up to date on what’s happening.
 
Q    One more —
 
Q    Who has the President called today?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m sorry?
 
Q    Who — is the President calling anyone today?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a — I don’t have a call to read out today.  I don’t have a call to (inaudible).
 
Q    One more follow-up.  Does this — given what the President just said, that it seems like it’s headed towards a potential invasion in the coming days, does this make him change his weekend plans at all?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything new on his — on his weekend pro- — plans or change in plans.
 
Q    Just to pick up on the State of the Union, does the President expect to deliver his speech in a chamber where people don’t have to wear masks?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I — look, we’re going to follow the guidance — the CDC guidance.  And clearly, we’ll be in touch with —
 
Q    But where is he right now in terms of lifting up federal — you know, CDC guidance in terms of masks and other health protocols?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Just in general?
 
Q    Yeah. 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we follow — I mean, we’ve been pretty clear about this: We follow the CDC guidance.  That’s what we follow.
 
Q    Right.  And Jeff Zients is saying that they’re going to change it sometimes, maybe this week or next. 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Right, well, they’re looking at all of the guidance; that’s what Dr. Walensky said yesterday.
 
Q    Right.  No, what I mean is: The last time the President spoke, he said that, you know, he — he feels like it’s too early, too premature.  Is that changing at all?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, what he said was: We have to look at the science and we got to look at what — and listen to the experts.  And that’s what we’re doing by allowing CDC to go through their process. 
 
As to what comes next, I don’t have anything to do.  They’re an independent body.  They’re going to make that decision.  And Dr. Walensky spoke to that specifically yesterday, and I’ll leave that to what she said.
 
Q    And just one last thing from me.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.
 
Q    Is the President still expecting to host in person the U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Washington?
 
(The plane experiences turbulence.)
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, my gosh. 
 
Q    That’s also supposed to happen early this year.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  (Laughs.)  Give me one second as I try to hold on. 
 
Okay.  President Biden looks for — looks forward — looks forward to welcoming ASEAN leaders to Washington, D.C., for a U.S.-ASEAN special summit in the coming months. 
 
I don’t have more details to share at this time, but we’ll keep you all posted. 
 
We are committed to strengthening our partnership with ASEAN as well as its — as to its cert- — centrala- –centrality.  We’ve been working to deepen our cooperation in the region and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
 
Q    Karine, will he address the Ukraine situation at all at the top of his speech today in Ohio, or is just going to be Great Lakes?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, the focus here is the billion-dollar initiative that we — that you just heard from the EPA Administrator focusing on the Great Lakes and what we’re doing, how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering in that component of what — what we talk about, and making sure that the climate change — and we’re doing what we can to clean — to clean the Great Lakes.  So that’s going to be the focus. 
 
He’s going to talk about that.  We’re going to be there with the local representative who’s going to meet us on the ground.  As you know, the EP- — the EPA Administrator is there — is here joining us for this trip, and that’s going to be the focus of today.
 
Q    Karine, does he plan on meeting with the congressional delegation, the local — Tim Ryan who is running for Senate?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, today — we’ll — I don’t think any — I don’t — I don’t think we have anybody else besides the re- —
 
Q    Kaptur?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  I don’t think there’s anybody else that’s going to be on the ground.  I think the two senators had other — have other things.  Like, I think they had some votes that they needed to get to or deal with.  So, we don’t have anything — anything more to share on their involvement for today.
 
Q    And can you say — the Ohio governor is not here, correct?  Not going to meet him — meet with him today?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No. No.  Though I — we’ll have a list of who is going — who is going to be on the ground with us. 
 
Q    Was the Ohio governor invited?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  You know, we — we — you know, when we visit a state, we always reach out to the governor and to the local electeds in that state, include — including congressional members that represent that district.  And so, we’re in constant communication with folks when we come into the state.  I don’t have anything else on that.
 
Q    Thank you. 
 
Q    Thanks, Karine. 
 
Q    Do you have — do you have one more comment on Iran?  It’s going — moving into, like, the final phases.  Do you have anything to comment on the —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes, I do.
 
Q    — on the latest — on negotiations?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have the latest on negotiations, but I — you know, I do have what we have been — what we have said with talks before, which is that Iran — with Iran, you know, it reached an urgent point on mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA. 
 
We won’t negotiate in public, as we have said before, but we can say a deal that addresses the core concerns of all sides is in sight.  If it’s not reached in the coming weeks, however, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible for us to return to the JCPOA. 
 
Here’s the bottom line here: We’re confronting a very dangerous situation.  Under the JCPOA, Iran’s nuclear program was slightly constrained and monitored by international inspectors.  Since the previous administration ceased U.S. participation in the deal, Iran has rapidly accelerated its nuclear program and reduced cooperation with international inspectors in nonperformance of JCPO- — commitments. 
 
Q    Thanks, Karine. 

10:39 A.M. EST

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