Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

August 25, 2022

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:09 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon. Okay. Hi, everybody.

Okay. So, today, the President will sign an executive order to implement the semiconductor funding in the CHIPS and Science Act. This bipartisan law will lower the cost of good -- of goods, creating high-paying manufacturing jobs around the country, and ensure we make more critical technologies at home.

Specifically, this EO lays out the key priorities for implementation. It will also establish an interagency council to coordinate implementation of the law.

This council will be co-chaired by NS- -- NEC Director Brian Deese, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and the Acting Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy Alondra Nelson.

And today, the Department of Commerce launched CHIPS.gov -- it's live now; you should go check it out -- which is a one-stop shop for funding opportunities, timelines, application requirements, and so much more.

With that -- see, just one topper today -- go ahead, Aamer.

Q: Back on student loans, I wanted to ask you -- Congressman Tim Ryan and Senator Bennet were among Democrats that have made the point that the administration should have further targeted the student relief and proposed a way to pay for the plan. What does the administration say to -- particularly, like, to Congressman Ryan's point that waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to Americans?

And I was also hoping you can talk to us -- give us perhaps a little bit of color: To what extent were cop- -- consultations made with particularly Democrats who had some misgivings and wanted to see this more fixed towards lower-income Americans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let's -- just a couple of things, because you asked me a bunch of things there, Aamer. So, first of all, this was a campaign promise that the President made, as we all know, during the campaign back in 2020. And he had -- he had wanted to make sure that he gives that -- a little bit of breathing room -- to Americans who really need it.

And this was targeted. This was targeted for Americans who are making less than $125,000. It gives that $10,000 debt relief. And if there are -- and it has that Pell Grant provision in there, as we've talked about. You heard from Ambassador Susan Rice, and you guys have all read, I'm sure, the factsheets.

And when you look at the Pell Grant provision and you add that piece to it, that adds another -- that could go up to $20,000. Right? And so, that's incredibly targeted. That's really important.

Those borrowers who are on Pell Grant -- let's think about this. Right? Some of us in here probably have to -- had -- had gotten Pell Grant. I had to get a Pell Grant when I went to college. And those are families that are $60,000 households -- and that's nearly $60,000 per household. And it -- and if you look at it by half, that's a -- that's -- that's $30 -- part of that that tranche is $30 -- $30,000 people per household. And so that's incredibly targeted and will go very far and make -- and will be a big deal.

Look, we understand -- the President understands, and he said this yesterday, it's not going to please everybody. He understands that the policy is not. What he is trying to do is make sure that, again, we're giving families a little breathing room.

And just to give you a few quotes, because there has been a broad range of groups and advocates -- from teachers unions, to labor groups, to racial justice advocates -- who have applauded the President's announcements.

If you think about the United Auto Workers, "President Biden once again showed that his Administration stands with working families over special interests." That's what we're talking about.

American federal -- Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. This is AFSCME. "Today's historic action puts money back into working people's pockets and frees thousands of families from crippling debt." That's what we're talking about.

American Federation of Teachers -- AFT. You all know -- you know well them. "This administration's decisions have been a game-changer."

And lastly, Representative Clyburn, "This will help free borrowers, especially borrowers of color, from the crushing burden of student loan debt and help make higher education accessible…affordable to all."

And to your -- to your other part of your question about who we spoke to: We are constantly in conversations on all these types of big issues -- big announcement, like whether it's legislation, whether it's executive action that we take with Congress, with groups, and people who are really going to be affected by this. That is important to the President.

And the way that we see this: This has -- this is a smart, fiscally balanced way -- approach to deal with an issue that does indeed cripple families.

Q: And on just on one other topic. The President spoke with President Zelenskyy today. I don't think there's a readout --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Not yet.

Q: -- that I've seen.

But I just wanted -- there's also the situation with the nuclear power plant. Port facilities reportedly now have been cut off from the electrical grid. Was that discussed during today's call? And I guess, what is the administration going to do to try to safeguard the situation so that the situation doesn't --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So --

Q: -- turn into a disaster?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- we'll have a readout to all of you shortly.

Let me just give you a couple of -- a couple of lines here. So the President reiterated the United States support for Ukraine as they defend themselves from Russian aggression, including yesterday's announcements of nearly $3 billion in weapons and equipment.

He congratulated Ukraine as it marked a particularly significant Independence Day this week and shared his admiration for the people of Ukraine and its armed forces as they -- as they continue to inspire the world with their dedication of -- and freedom. Again, we will have more of -- a more detailed readout to all of you.

As it as it relates to ZNPP, look, a nuclear power plant -- and I believe I said this yesterday -- should never be an active warzone. And so, we have said Russia should agree to demilitarize the zone around the plant and agree to allow an International Atomic Energy Agency visit as soon as possible to check on the safety and security of the systems.

This is something that did come up in the conversation, but I don't want to get ahead of the readout. And I'll let -- I'll let NSC put that out momentarily.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks so much. A few more questions just on the student loan debt forgiveness. You guys yesterday confirmed that the form that millions of borrowers are going to need to essentially apply for this to show they're eligible is not yet ready.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: And we saw overnight that StudentAid.gov was having some serious delays. Did the administration roll this out before it was ready?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, not at all.

Look, we have said -- we have said for a very long time -- for some time now, you've heard from the President directly, that we would have a decision by August 31st.

This is something that you all have been asking about -- talking with us at this podium, or, you know, when we have conversations with you outside of the briefing room -- that this is something that he wanted to really take his time, figure out the ways to do this. Remember, we talked about having the legal authority, which that went through. We can go -- you guys can go to the Department of Justice. It lays out the legal review that was done on this.

And so, this is, again, incredibly important. We will continue to tell people to go to the website or you can go to White -- WH.gov. There's a banner there. People can just click, and you can actually give your email and get those updates. There will be some folks -- I think there's about 8 million people -- who have -- we have their information or the Department of Education has their information, and so it would be automatic. And some folks will have to actually go and figure out how this process works. And they can go to the -- to the website.

Q: But for everyone else, besides those 8 million, if they have to wait for these forms and they have to apply and they have to hear back, can you guarantee that everyone who qualifies will see their balance shrink before repayments start being due next year?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, that is some -- this is something that we want to make sure it happens right away. I don't have a timeline for you. That is something that the Department of Education is going to work on, you know -- you know, as a -- in a -- you know, in a way that's hopefully -- as they can, in a fast way.

But look, that is something, again, that Department of Education is going to focus on. It is important. We want this to happen for these individuals.

But, again, you know, we're -- as we know, the pause is going to be lifted at the end of December 31st -- right? -- at the end of December. So we want to make sure that it is done in in tangent. And so that's what the Department of Education is going to be focused on.

Q: And if I can just ask --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- a kind of more political question too, following up. You know, my colleague quoted Tim Ryan in Ohio. A lot of -- what a lot of the Democrats have in common -- those that have been pushing back and sort of distancing themselves from this announcement -- what they have in common is that they're pretty vulnerable politically or they're in tough political races. Are you guys worried that you might have put more vulnerable Democrats in a tough spot, that you could have risked some of these races in November?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, I can't get into politics from here, so I have to be very, very careful. I do want to call -- I do want to talk through some polling.

So if you look at the targeted student loan forgiveness that -- the announcement that you heard from the Department of Education and the President, it's popular amongst American people. Three recent polls show that the President's proposal -- the 10,000k forgiven -- is supported by majority of Americans.

A couple of polls.

The Morning Consult political poll in June: Among 2,006 registered voters found 51 percent support for giving $10,000.

NPR. A survey of 1,022 adults conducted last month found 55 percent of respondents back the cancellation of up to $10,000.

The Economist/YouGov survey of 1,500 adults in July found 51 percent of Americans are in favor of that threshold.

So there -- the majority of Americans approve of this targeted approach that you heard from this administration, and I think that matters.

I -- again, I'm not going to get into politics and to what is the next several weeks are going to look like as -- as, you know, the elections play out. But I can speak to the popularity of what we did, the importance of what we did, how this is going to help struggling families. And that has always been the plan of this President, especially as we look at the economy and making sure that we do not leave anybody behind.

Go ahead, Steve. And I'll -- I'll come around, folks. Go ahead, Steve.

Q: Do you have a better sense of how much the plan will cost?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, Secreta- -- oh, Secretary -- Ambassador -- I want to make sure I give her the right title -- Ambassador Rice spoke to this yesterday. I know this question was asked of her. And so, just a couple of things before I get to that piece.

So, you know, the President's record on fiscal responsibility is second to -- to none. And last year alone -- you've heard us talk about this, because this is incredibly important -- we achi- -- he achieved $350 billion in deficit reduction. And this year, it's projected by the end of the fiscal year to be at $1.7 trillion deficit reduction.

This is historic. What -- what we're talking about here is historic numbers because of the work that this President has done when it comes to the economy. And the previous administration added about -- added debt every year of his administration. And one of the things that we continue to do is make sure that we bring dowh that debt -- bring down the debt.

If you look at the Inflation Reduction Act, we have -- is projected to decrease the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades, even after taking this action. So, that is also important to note as well.

Look, but just to reiterate what my colleague said yesterday -- the Domestic Policy Advisor: It will also -- all of this, as -- when it comes to costs, will also depend on how many of the loans canceled were actually expected to be repaid; it will depend on how many borrowers actually take up this opportunity before we have a real sense.

But again, we have -- we have a deficit reduction that is historic. And we also know -- this last piece here -- is that independent experts, like Goldman Sachs, agree that the President's plan will not have -- will not have any meaningful impact on inflation. In fact, Goldman Sachs and others estimate that it will reduce inflation.

So that's just one more thing that I wanted to add because I know that's been a question that others have had.

Q: And are you expecting the President to bring this up in his speech tonight? What should we expect from that speech?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the speech -- I have a little bit of a preview for all of you; we knew you would want to ask. And as you know, got to be careful of what I say.

So, tonight, the President will lay out the choice before Americans. He'll highlight how he and congressional Democrats have delivered results for working families, creating nearly 10 million jobs and record-low unemployment; lowering healthcare costs and energy costs; passing a new gun safety law, which we hadn't seen in decades. And he'll say that they have taken on special interests and won. That's what Democrats have done. This is what you have seen these past several weeks in particular.

And he'll say what they are still fighting for is protecting a woman's right to choose -- not a national ban on abortion, which we have seen from the other side; the safety of kids in school -- not protecting the NRA, as we've seen from the Republicans; and the right to vote and have that vote counted, which is so incredibly important as we talk about our democracy.

The President will contrast that -- that with congressional Republicans and their extreme MAGA agenda taking away our rights, defending the super-rich and corporations, and putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping blocks. That is the plan that they have put forward.

And as you know, he always quotes his dad: "Don't compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative." The alternative to congressional Democrats and President Biden is MAGA Republicans.

So that is what you're going to hear from him this evening, and we'll see you there.

Go ahead.

Q: It seems inevitable at this point. Is the administration prepared for potential legal challenges to the legal basis for the student loan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So as you heard from the Ambassador yesterday -- she talked about this specifically, because she was asked. And we saw our legal authority through the HEROES Act. That is the legal authority that we were -- that we are using in order to move forward with this.

Just a couple of things here is that the Department of Education and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel have published -- and this is what I was just talking about before -- detailed opinions explaining the legal basis, that legal review for canceling student debt. That was one of the things that we took very seriously.

We had mentioned this the past -- past year almost. And again, the Secretary of Education has broad authority under the HEROES Act to take this action.

Q: But have -- is the -- I understand that you guys believe you have the legal basis for this; that's why you did it. But are you prepared for the legal challenges? Has that work started?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I -- I -- we're -- I can't get into like what -- what -- any -- any hypotheticals here. What -- what we know and what we have done is taken -- you know, taken a look of our legal authority and how we can make this happen. And we -- we went with the HEROES Act, and we feel pretty confident about that. But I just don't want to get into hypotheticals on that at this time.

Q: Okay. And then one more. So I think the President is going to bring it up tonight, but the President directed the HHS Secretary to take 30 days and come back with a review on a series of issues on the executive order, I think, in early July. Did that review come back?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know --

Q: And, kind of, where are you guys? Where do you stand on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think MJ asked me this question a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to have to go back to our team just to be sure.

Q: Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I haven't done that yet. And so, tomorrow, hopefully, I'll have an update or we can talk after this. But I know that you all asked this question before, so I haven't forgotten.

Go ahead, Michael.

Q: Thank you. If I could go back to something my Fox colleague asked yesterday, and that's about the -- who paid -- pays for this.

So I did a search last night for the phrase "fully paid for" coming from that podium and from -- in President Biden's speeches during the last year and a half. I found scores of them. I promise I won't read them all, but just a couple.

You quoted experts saying that the package referencing the IRA would, quote , "quickly and noticeably bring down healthcare costs for families" and "would be more than fully paid for."

Jen Psaki talked about, on February 2nd , "He's committed to a sustainable and responsible policy in ensuring that our long-term investments are fully paid for, like Build Back Better."

Brian Deese talked about packages that "would be fully paid for across time."

The President, in multiple speeches, talked about "this bill" -- this is in December, referring to the BBB --- "is fully -- is paid fully. Fully paid for. It won't increase the deficit."

Anyway, the question is --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- do you all -- do you all believe that this -- this student loan program is fully paid for? And if it's not, why does the President think it was important to have all of his other spending priorities fully paid for to be fiscally responsible but not this one?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we do -- we -- so this -- again, this is the question that my colleague here -- Ambassador -- got. So it -- we have to get a better sense -- right? -- of what we're talking about as far as cost.

Wait, let me just -- let me just say that out loud. She is the -- she is the Domestic Policy Advisor, and when she was asked that question -- so I just want to iterate what she said.

But we do believe it will be fully paid for because of the -- because of the work that this President has done with the economy, because of what you just said -- well, what I just said is what we have done to bring down the deficit -- the deficit reduction, that matters -- and the work that we'll continue to do.

Look, when you look at IRA, it is also that 3- -- that the $300 billion deficit is going to matter, right? When you think about that $1.7 trillion by the end of this fiscal year, it's going to matter as well. And also, here's the thing: When we talk about the pause being lifted, that's going to bring into -- bring $50 billion per year back into the Treasury. Right? That was actually not happening throughout -- almost for two years now.

So that's going to be coming back at the same time that, basically, people are getting these -- are getting these benefits from this plan.

Q: So, just to clarify, though: The previous -- whether it was the Build Back Better proposals or IRA or the infrastructure bills, those were, in the words the administration anyway, fully paid for internally.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: You're saying that this one, because of the benefits that -- of deficit reduction, you're okay raising or lessening that deficit reduction with this proposal because of the work that's been done in the past.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I --

Q: Because this one doesn't have any payfors, right? I mean, there are no --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, well --

Q: There are no mechanisms that -- internally to this that would raise money at the same time that it's spending money.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, here's -- here's what I would say. I mean, the question was asked to me earlier about how -- how there's some Democrats who are not happy with this. And so -- because they -- either they wanted more or they didn't want it at all, right?

And what the President did -- the step that he took -- was to do this in a fiscally responsible way. This is what we believe. This is why it took us this time to do the legal review, to look at the process. This is why we didn't do the 50- -- the $50,000; we did up to $20,000. This is why my colleagues here at the podium said, "Well, let's see who -- who actually takes advantage of this. Then we'll have a better sense of what this is actually going to cost."

When we think about the $50 billion that goes back into --into the Treasury, when you think about the lowering the deficit that we have -- which is historic, which is historic -- the $1.7 trillion, the $350 billion the first year of the President's --President's administration, that matters.

And it is, you know -- it is one of those things that -- you know, we always welcome this conversation, but what we have done is fiscally responsible. What the last administration did was not; it just was not. And what they did with cutting -- cutting taxes for the wealthy, they -- they -- 85 percent of folks -- folks making 80- -- it went to 85 percent of folks who were making more than $75,000 a year. We actually did -- we're actually doing the opposite.

And it should matter that this President is trying to give some breathing room for people who've been literally crippled by this -- by this pandemic, by what has happened the last couple of years.

And so, again, the way we see it is we've done it in a fiscal -- balanced, responsible way. We will see who takes advantage of this, but this is supposed to -- going to help 43 million people.

And just think about it. If people are saving a little bit of money -- right? -- they are going to go buy that house. They're going to start a family. This matters in so many ways.

Q: So that matters more than keeping the deficit lower by by increa- -- including something that would offset whatever the cost might become?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We don't -- yeah, I mean, look, we don't believe that it's going to increase the deficit.

Q: How could it not?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because -- because what we're saying is the $1.7 trillion -- right? -- is -- we've done the work -- right? -- to lower the deficit.

Also, $50 billion per year is going to go back --

Q: But that $50 billion was -- was already -- I mean, it's -- already was there.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, but we were getting --

Q: It was already coming in. I mean, there was a pause, but --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, but we were -- but we were -- we were getting zero. The Treasury was getting zero for the last two years.

Q: For the last two years, but -- right --

Q: But they still owed that money

Q: -- but they still owed that money.

Q: The money was still --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no -- I know. I understand that. I get -- I get what you're saying. But there's also -- the argument that I'm making as well is that we're putting money back into the Treasury, which matters as well. That -- that is going to happen.

Q: And I'm not trying to make a judgment on which is better or not. I'm just trying to understand, I think as some of my colleagues are --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Yeah.

Q: -- if what you guys are saying here is basically the President has made the determination that helping people with their debt is important enough and, in your words, "matters", enough to spend what could be, you know, estimates of $3-, $4-, $500 billion, you know, without -- you know, without explicitly saying where that money is coming from, and that that will, you know, obviously -- and that you're willing to use the -- the deficit savings that you have claimed to do that.

And I guess that's -- I just --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: That's what I'm trying to understand.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, and I'm trying to explain to you how it will offset -- how all of this would be offset once the pause is -- is lifted and, also, once this process with the student loan is also done.

So there is -- there is a -- there is a process here -- right? -- that is, we believe, going to offset that. Right?

Q: I thank my colleagues for --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. I know. All right. All right.

Well, I'm glad -- I'm glad that I've exhausted you, Michael. That is rare to exhaust you. (Laughter.)

Q: My phone didn't go off this time, so that's good.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know. Usually, you don't get exhausted.

All right. Go ahead, Peter.

Q: Can I ask you -- just following up. I have some follow-ups on -- one quick one on that we heard from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget today. You guys can't estimate what it'll cost; you want to see how many people take you up on it. But they estimate cancellation will eliminate about $550 billion in federal student loan debt.

They say, however, we project that the overall amount of outstanding federal student loan debt will return to $1.6 trillion -- its current level -- within five years.

So is the President committed to doing this again or is this just a one-time deal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, you're asking me about a hypothetical that I don't -- I don't --

Q: Well, I'm asking --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, yeah.

Q: Let's not be so specific if that's a hypothetical. They say this -- this nonpartisan organization says it's just going to go back up again. So is the President okay with this just being like a temporary relief thing, and then it's okay and we'll -- taxpayers will pay into it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I mean, it is -- it is a little bit of a hypothetical. You started off asking me the question that we don't know what the number is, which we don't. We have to see what the -- in order to fully -- for me to fully answer that question --

Q: Does the White House believe that it will not go up again -- that the federal student loan debt will not go up again and that the pr- -- and that the ideas that the Ambassador yesterday presented will stop the rising cost of college and the debt will not continue to rise?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, when we talk about the rising cost of college -- and I know this question -- and you're talking about tuition.

So, look, this -- we have taken steps on -- on college -- colleges raising tuition. This is something that the Department of Education, Secretary Cardona takes very seriously. He's been closely watching, and he's going to hold colleges accountable for raising costs without delivering additional value.

So -- so, a couple of things that -- those measures that we have taken, because I think this is important as -- as you're asking me this question for Americans to hear. We reinstated an enforcement office at the Department of Education. And we terminated a college accreditor that had previously allowed colleges and defr- -- that defrauded borrowers to get access to federal student loans. And we're rolling out new resources to help students make more informed decision on which schools will better deliver.

So these are steps that he is taking. We will monitor, we will crack down on anybody who is acting in this way that is defrauding students. That is something that you heard from Ambassador Rice herself.

And then we have taken other steps, right? We have taken other steps through the American Rescue Plan to provide $40 billion for colleges and universities to support students, particularly at community colleges and minor- -- minority institutions. And another thing that we've done is asked for Pell Grants to be doubled and a lot more.

So we are going to try to do our best to keep those costs lower as we talk about tuition. But -- but if we're going to do more and what -- we just have to see what that number looks like.

Q: Understood. I'll let others litigate that.

Let me move on to the topic I wanted to ask you about, which is the event that's taking place tonight. I know there's only so much you can say as it relates to politics, but just, as the White House controls his schedule, how often should we expect to see the President, going forward, on the campaign trail -- this being the, sort of, first formal pre-midterm event?

And separately, what do you say to those candidates who don't want to campaign with him, given his low approval ratings or low popularity, perhaps, in some states? Tim Ryan in Ohio said, we haven't asked President Biden to come we have no expectation or "no plans" to ask him to campaign. Michael Bennet in Colorado wouldn't even comment on it.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll say this. Look, Democrats, as we know, have a lot to talk about. They have delivered for the American people, especially as we've seen in the last -- the last couple of -- the last couple of weeks.

Again, the Inflation Reduction Act. You think about the burn -- burn pits; it's going to expand services for veterans -- for our veterans who have put their lives on the line for our nation, which is incredibly important. You think about the CHIPS Act we just talked about, what -- an executive order that the President signed to really make sure that gets implemented in a responsible way. And the -- also, the CHIPS.gov went live.

We have a list of things -- let's not forget the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law -- all historic pieces of legislation that we are going to go out there and make sure that the American people are aware of. We put out a memo, as you all know, a couple of weeks ago, talking about that particular specific thing.

I can't get into -- into politics from here, as you know very well, Peter.

Q: But it's not politics. You can tell us --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, no, you asked me --

Q: But you control his --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No --

Q: But you control his schedule. You can get into --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, but you asked me -- but you specifically asked me: How much is he going to get out there to campaign? I can't --

Q: Right. But the White House does control his schedule --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, wait, I'm about --

Q: Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm about to answer. I just want -- I'm just saying that with a preface that I need to be careful on what I say.

Q: Understood.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President loves to go out there and meet with the American people. We want -- he wants to be out there and travel as much as possible. He has something that he wants to say and deliver and let the American people know that we have done, right?

And so, yeah, will you see the President out there? Yes, you will see the President travel. That is something he wants to do. That is something we all want to get to see him do as well, get out there.

I cannot talk specific about what -- how that's -- about the campaign. I cannot do that from here.

Q: But to those -- to those candidates who don't want him to be with them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, we have something Democrats, especially the work that congressional Democrats have been --

Q: Is the President good with that? Does the President just accept that and says it's part of the deal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the -- look, the President appreciates working with a lot of these -- some of them members, some of them are elected officials in their own state. He has good relationships with them. He talks to some of them really regularly.

And you'll hear a lot more from the President tonight. I just want to be really careful, Peter. So as you know, we're trying to be respectful of the Hatch Act here.

But again, we believe that Democrats have a lot to sell. We have done a lot to deliver for the American people. And we are happy to contrast what we have done against our congressional Republicans. And that's what you're going to hear from the President.

Go ahead. Go ahead.

I'll come -- I'll come to the back.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Just really quick on student loans. Does the President expect or does he want the Education Department to hire additional staff to handle what could be millions of applications? They're already struggling to handle existing student loan programs that they have.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's a very good question. I have not talked to the President about that specifically. I do not know what -- what is going to be coming into the Department of Education. That is something that they will have to speak to you about their own staff and what that looks like.

Clearly, this is important for the President. He wants to make sure that we deliver these benefits to the 40- -- we're anticipating 43 million people who will get some relief here. And so that is going to be up to Secretary Cardona.

Clearly, we support the Department of Education in doing everything that they can to make sure we get this done.

Q: And does the -- does the administration expect a large number of people who aren't eligible -- oh, I'm sorry -- who are eligible for this program to not --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah --

Q: -- apply for it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, that's a hypothetical that I just don't know. I -- it --

Q: But it goes to the question of why you can't estimate a cost, right? Because you're saying --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We just -- I mean, I -- I mean, I am answering this in the most -- we just don't -- we are doing everything that we can. We have a specific website that you have heard many of my colleagues -- whether on TV, here -- talk about that website and encourage people to get on the website to get the information that they need. They can go to WhiteHouse.gov, as I just said moments ago, to get that -- to get the information that they need. So it's to see if they are actually eligible and what the process is going to be.

I know it's going to take some time. The Department of Education has to do their work to get that information out, which they will; they know this is a priority.

I mean, it is -- it is hard to say who's going to take us up on it and who's not. It is just hard to say.

What we can do -- what we can do is provide the information and let people know that this exists.

Q: But you could say, "This is how much it's going to cost if everyone who is eligible applies."

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, don't have a -- I -- we just don't have a number to share at this time.

I -- look, the Secretary -- the U.N. Ambas- -- the former U.N. Ambassador spoke to this yesterday. We just have to see -- it is a process that we just need to take -- to take a -- to take a look before we can answer that question. We just don't want to get ahead of ourselves.

Q: But I guess what I'm struggling with and I've seen my colleagues have asked about is if you --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, you asked the same question yesterday.

Q: No.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is nothing new. Right? We -- this is a som- --

Q: I was going to ask a different question. But you --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh! Oh, okay. But you picked up on what he was saying, so --

Q: But I was going to say: If you don't know how much it's going to cost, how can you guarantee that it's going to be paid for, even if you're defining "paid for" in a way that some of us have questions about?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think what -- what I can tell you is this -- is that we have done the work to make sure that this is done in a fiscal responsible way, in a balanced way.

If you look at how we were able to do the deficit reduction in the past two years, $350- -- well, almost two years -- $350 billion in the first year, $1.7 trillion reduction that we will see at the end of this fiscal year, that matters as well. That matters by bringing down that deficit. It matters on how we can get this done for the American people.

But let's not forget, the pause will be lifted, and that's going to matter as Treasury is going to get the revenues that they haven't been getting in some time.

Again, we will -- I -- you know, Susan Rice is the Domestic Policy Advisor. I'm just going to reiterate what she said and -- and we -- and we'll actually know more once people take us up on it and see it -- get a sense if they will.

But we know we -- we do have what we do know. Right? Which is what I just listed about the deficit reduction, which is important. This matters in this -- in this case.

Go ahead, Nancy.

Q: Thanks. Just on the Iran deal, I'm wondering if the U.S. is optimistic about the prospects for restarting that nuclear accord.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say that -- say that last part.

Q: Is the U.S. optimistic about restarting the nuclear accord -- the Iran deal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, yes, yes. I thought you said something else.

Q: Sorry.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. It was hard to hear that last part.

Q: Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we have taken a deliberate and principled approach to these negotiations from the beginning, from the start. If Iran is prepared to comply with -- with its commitments under the 2015 deal, then we're prepared to do the same. The administration, along with our allies, is preparing equally for scenarios with and without a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA.

The President will only conclude a deal that he determines is the -- is in the national security interest of the United States.

So, again, we have always said diplomacy is the way to get to a nuclear deal, back to JCPOA. And so, we're just going to continue to have those conversations.

Q: I just want to follow up on that. What did the administration say in its response to Iran and the European Union regarding the EU proposal to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, we received Iran's comments on the EU's proposed final text, and we're reviewing them now. We provided our response to the EU yesterday. The State -- Department of State confirmed this yesterday as well.

You know, we're not going to negotiate in public. You hear us say this all the time. We're just going to continue to have those open lines of communications.

Go ahead.

Q: Karine?

Q: Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm sorry, Jackie.

Q: I was hoping, could you reflect --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And then I'll go to the back.

Q: -- could you reflect a little bit on the Idaho -- the decision against the Idaho abortion law, particularly in light of the Texas ruling in the other direction? I mean, is -- is there -- is there something that can be learned from this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, I -- we put out a statement not too long ago about the particular -- the Iowa [Idaho] decision. I talked about the Texas -- the Texas decision yesterday, which is -- which is the district court affirming that medical providers can deny lifesaving and health-preserving care for women, even if they are suffering from hemorrhaging or life-threatening hypertension, which is what we saw about 24 hours and heard from -- from the Texas district court.

Look, you know, this is something -- as you all were asking me about what the President is going to lean into, this is something that he will talk about, which is how Republican legislators are working to roll back the freedoms Americans have, you know, really depended on for nearly half a century. And it's more and more clear that it is against the will of the majority of Americans.

And that's what you're seeing. Right? That's what you're seeing, even with the Idaho decision. That's what we saw with Kansas as well -- is like the majority -- the majority of Americans are speaking -- are making their voices clear. Right? This is not -- what we saw -- the decision that we saw on June 24th, the Dobbs decision, was not the majority rule, was not the voice.

Q: Was there anything that can be learned from the opposing -- opposing rulings -- I mean, contrary rulings?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I -- I mean, I think it's -- it's basically what I just stated -- right? -- which is, like, a majority of Americans have made -- have been very clear on this. You know, when it comes to that Dobbs decision that came from the Supreme Court on June 24th, it was not the majority -- it was not of the voice of the majority of Americans.

And -- and what we're going to see is women across the country are going to continue to make their voices heard to reclaim rights taken from them by the Supreme Court. President Biden and congressional Democrats are listening, and we're going to be committed to restoring the protections of Roe.

And so, that's what we're going to do. That is going to be our focus.

But again, this is majority -- the majority of folks here in this country disagree. They disagree, because this has been life-changing, when you think about the Dobbs decision that was done just a couple of months ago.

Q: On the Zelenskyy call, if I may: The President just tweeted out about remaining committed to Ukraine. I was just cur- -- I was curious if the -- if there was any conversation at all about faith in Zelenskyy himself, considering earlier reports of distrust. What -- did that come up? And did the President feel a need to give any assurance to Zelenskyy that he was behind him personally?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I -- again, I don't have the specific readout. As -- when I walked out, the readout hadn't come out yet. I gave you a couple of points of what -- of what was discou- -- discussed, but the full readout will be out soon.

Look, we have -- we've been asked this question before. We support Zelenskyy, the President and his -- you know, his fight for freedom. We are -- we are impressed -- have been for the past six months -- of what the Ukrainian people have been able to do to be able to fight off an unprovoked war by the Kremlin.

Again, we cannot forget this. This is -- you know, the Kremlin decided that they didn't want Ukraine to be a democracy, but it is a democracy. It is a sovereign country. And so we announced the $3 billion -- a tranche -- yesterday. That shows our support for Ukraine. That shows our long-term support for Ukraine, and we're going to continue to support them as long as they need our help.

Again, they are fighting for their democracy, and that matters. And we have been incredibly impressed by the -- by what -- by what they have been able to do. And -- and we're going to continue to hold the Kremlin accountable. That's -- that's going to be our focus.

Q: Any talk about a face-to-face?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No talk -- I don't have any visit or any announcement of a face-to-face. As you know, the First -- the First Lady was here recently, of Ukraine. And both the President and the First Lady, Dr. Biden, was -- was honored to have her here for her visit.

And so, as also you know, Secretary Blinken has visited Ukraine and met with his counterparts there. So we have had other -- clearly -- members of the administration go visit and talk to their counterparts in Ukraine.

I'm going to go -- I'm going to go to the back. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. On -- a quick one on the event tonight and also a question about the questions you can't answer about politics.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. (Laughs.)

Q: So, why a rally in Maryland? Is there anyone on the ballot in Maryland -- (laughter) -- Chris Van Hollen or anyone like that -- who the President needs to spend his time trying to shore up going into November?

And secondly, in the past administration -- and I'm not saying that this was actually a good strategy or even one that was technically compliant with the Hatch Act -- I'm not sure -- in the past administration, when there were questions that would come up that were questions that could be -- not be answered from the White House Briefing Room, the press secretary would literally leave the White House Briefing Room and go to some other building so that they weren't in a federal facility and they could get around the Hatch Act. So are you going to start having briefings other than here, or are those DNC questions?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So you want to meet in some back alley somewhere to have this convers- -- to talk politics? (Laughter.) Is that what's happening?

Q: (inaudible) the last administration.

Q: Maybe the Hay-Adams?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, yeah. James, that's a -- well -- look, I -- I don't know if I want to compare my -- how we behave with the last administration. That is not something that I would want to be doing at all when it comes to the Hatch Act and being -- and being responsible and doing the right thing.

But what I can do -- right? -- is, you know, I could -- you know, you're going to hear from the President himself tonight. He will lay out clearly what his thoughts are. I'm certainly not going to get ahead of him. I gave a pretty good laydown of what -- of what I was able to say from here, what he's going to talk about. It's going to be the contrast, it's going to be how Democrats have a different view of where they see the country going, which is making sure that we deliver for the middle class, making sure that we have an economy that goes from the bottom up and middle out.

That is incredibly important for the President. That's why you've seen the work that he's done -- the American Rescue Plan; the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is historic; the CHIPS Act, which I just talked about; the Inflation Reduction Act; and let's not forget the -- the gun reform, which is something we hadn't seen in decades. And a lot of that is because -- is because of the work that this President has done.

And I know one thing I just did is I just called out a few bipartisan pieces of legislation that were passed that we were able to do, and that is something that the President welcomes.

But at the same time, as we're talking about inflation, as we're talking about the special interests, that is something that we have not seen Republicans step up to the plate, and they voted against Medicare being able to negotiate and lowering costs. They voted against us, you know, standing up for voting rights -- right? -- or not -- not supporting voting rights. They -- they have a plan that wants to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping blocks.

So that is what we're going to focus on. That is what we're going to continue to talk about -- is what -- what we have done in this 19 months for -- for the American people.

So, I'm going to continue to go to the back. Go ahead, Gerren.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Sorry, another student debt question, but --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, sure.

Q: I've spoken to advocates who have expressed concern over what they worry could be a bureaucratic hurdle for minority communities. Based on the income verification application process, they base this worry on patterns we've seen in minority communities as it relates to them not engaging in government programs because of the paperwork. And they worry that this could hinder access and participation from minority communities. Is the administration concerned that communities that need this relief the most won't get it because of this bureaucratic hurdle?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, that's always a concern. Right? You bring up, Gerren, a very, very good point. And the Secretary has been very, very clear.

Secretary Cardona, the Secretary of the Department of Education, has said he's going to do everything that he possibly can to make this as simple as possible so that it doesn't become a bureaucratic headache. That is not something that the President wants. He wants to make sure that the 43 million people that this could potentially help actually get these benefits.

It's important, it's critical, especially as we're also going to lift -- lift the pause in just a couple of -- a couple of months. We understand what that's going to mean. You got to remember, we're coming out of a time, with this pandemic, as you know, that's really hurt people of color, low-income communities -- what has happened, what the pandemic has done -- right? -- with the economy.

That's why the President has done all the work that he's done to make sure we don't leave anybody behind. And this is part of that.

Again, the Secretary is committed, the President is committed to make sure that we are -- we do -- that the American people are able to access these benefits.

Go ahead, Jacqui. And then I'll -- I'll come back again. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. I want to ask about the legal basis for cancelling student debt. The HEROES Act hinges on student debt cancellation being tied to the pandemic and that being a national emergency. But the administration argued in court that the pandemic is over at the southern border to lift Title 42. It's so over that the government is going to stop buying vaccines in the fall and shift to the private sector.

So how is this a national emergency -- how is COVID a national emergency when it comes to student debt?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, it's a very good question, and I'm glad you asked it.

Look, we use the HEROES Act because there are going to be some -- be some people, when we lift the pause, that still are going to suffer; they're still going to have a little bit of a hard time. And so that's one of the reasons that we made this decision. Because as we're lifting up the pause, yes, you know, some folks may -- having not to pay for two years has been helpful to them and are -- were able to save and were able -- are probably going to be able to pay those monthly payments. But there's going to be some folks who are going to have a hard time.

Q: Because of the economy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because -- because they're just in a different bracket, right? It -- just because they it is -- they've -- they've probably had a hard time before.

We have to remember this is a system. So he announced the pause -- lifting up the pause. He announced the $10,000 and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients who, as I said, many of them have a household nearly making $60,000 and half of that -- half of the Pell Grant recipients are $30,000 household -- $30,000-a-year household.

And so the other piece of that is a reform -- right? --- reforming the system as well so we can help nurses, so we can help construction workers, so we can help firefighters and making sure that their payment are cut in half as well. Because those members -- some of -- these are some of our first respondents -- right? -- who also suffered so much from the past -- past two years.

So he wanted to make sure he gave them a little bit of relief, understanding that some folks -- some folks are just going to have a little bit of a harder time, even though we're coming out of a pandemic and the economy has been turned back on because of the work that this President has done.

Q: That was another thing I was going to mention. I mean, the President often says that this is -- we're not in a recession because we've got, you know, record job market, record-low unemployment, businesses investing in America at record rates. So why are those appropriate conditions to forgive student debt?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, thank you for laying out all the work that the President has done. That is 1,000 percent correct. But we've also said that we know that some people are still suffering. We've -- you've heard us say that, too.

Like, you know, it -- yes, the economy can be turned back on, and we've created -- to what you've just laid out -- nearly 10 million new jobs since the President took office. That matters. The economy is stronger than it's been in some time. But -- and we have said that, you've heard the President say that there's still some folks who need a little bit more help. And this is what the President is trying to do.

Both can be true. It's not one or the other.

Q: But the Washington Post editorial board says that -- and this --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And then I'm going to go to the back because we're running out of time.

Q: -- doesn't take -- doesn't help those people, though; that it takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up of workers who didn't go to college, to subsidize education debt of people with valuable degrees -- so, sort of rebutting what you had just said.

But, you know, beyond that, there are critics who are saying this is not about the pandemic, it's not about those conditions, that this is about getting people to vote ahead of the midterms -- that the real national emergency is Democrats in the midterm elections.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I mean, I disagree with everything that you just laid out. I was just asked a question by some Democrats in -- you know, who are saying that they're not happy with this -- right? -- who are criticizing this. And we have said we're not going to make everybody happy. And so, if we're not making everybody happy, you cannot say that, you know, that -- what you just laid out is certainly cannot be the case either.

Look, here's what -- here's what I will say, and this is just what we have laid out about this -- about this program: This is historical, what we're doing. It has never been done before. When you look at the system, the system is broken. And we're trying to reform it so that we can help people who really need it.

The way that this President has done this, he's done it in a targeted way so it helps. It doesn't give a penny to anybody making a hun- -- more than $12- -- let -- let me finish -- more than $125,000.

And if you look at the Pell Grant recipients -- Pell Grant recipients -- we're talking about people, again -- and I've said this multiple times in this briefing room today and we said it multiple times yesterday -- $60,000 households. We're talking about $60,000 households. And cut in half -- right? -- there are people who are -- we're talking about people -- Pell Grant recipients that are at $30,000 households.

I mean, that's the people that we are going to help -- again, nurses, construction workers -- when you think about the reform.

Q: I understand what you're saying --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I mean, we've just -- we've just -- wait -- we've just gone back. You've made your point; I've made my point. I'm going to move on, because we are -- we are actually running out of time.

Q: One question for Africa.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Way -- way in the back. Go ahead.

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

Go ahead. No, way in the back. Owen. Owen.

Q: Thank you. Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And then next to Owen.

Q: Thank you. Good afternoon, Karine. Thank you. I want to take your attention to Nicaragua, if you would, please. Daniel Ortega's regime just abducted a Catholic bishop, throwing priests and seminarians in prison. They're shutting down Catholic media outlets. I'm sure the White House is aware of this -- the latest persecution of Catholics there in Nicaragua. What's the White House response to these latest developments?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So there has been a dramatic deterioration of respect for democratic principles and human rights by the regime in Nicaragua, including the imprisonment of democratic leaders, members of the political opposition, students, and journalists.

The Biden-Harris administration finds this unacceptable and condemns these actions. The United States and members of the international community have already taken a number of actions to promote accountability for the regime's actions and will continue to do so.

I'm just going to move around because --

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

Go ahead. Go ahead. Next to Owen. Next to Owen.

Q: On student loans, you said that the administration is working to crack down on colleges for increasing costs as high as they have been. So specifically looking at how you guys are working with state and local governments to lessen the burden for future students for the next generation.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So -- so the actions the President announced yesterday benefits borrowers, including future borrowers, by cutting monthly payments in half. This is the reform that I was talking about just a moment ago.

And that's important -- right? -- when we talking about -- when we're talking about -- I had some examples here that I can use in a second -- but when we're talking about construction workers -- right? -- when we're talking about nurses.

We actually had this in our factsheets that was really important as well. Like -- so if you think about, you know, construction workers in particular who is making $38,000 a year -- and this is going to be for future folks as well -- a year with a construction management credential would pay only $31 a month compared to the $147 they would pay now. That's an annual savings of nearly $1,400.

This is because we are reforming the income-driven repayment. That's why we're able to do that -- go from 10 percent down to 5 percent. A single public school teacher making $44,000 a year would pay only $56 a month on their loans compared to the $197 they pay now. That would mean an annual savings of nearly $1,700.

A nurse making $77,000 a year who is married with two kids would pay only 61 percent [dollars] a month compared to the $295 they pay now. That's an annual savings of more than $2,800.

This is what we're talking about: reforming a system that's broken for people who are -- really, truly need it. This is why we said we did this in a -- in a targeted way. And a current or future borrower making roughly the equivalent of $15 minimum wage won't have to make any payments at all. So this is what we're talking about, and this is why this is so important, again, to give people a little bit more of a breathing room.

And I'm going to go to you, Joey. I don't want to miss you.

Q: Thanks.

Q: Are you working with state and local governments on this to (inaudible) --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, the Secretary of Education and his team certainly will be -- to do that -- and have been when we talk about cracking down. I think that was originally your question. And so, this is clearly something that the Department of Education is focused on.

Go ahead, Joey.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Will the -- will the administration -- will the administration eventually release a cost estimate on the student loan forgiveness plan? In other words --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- you don't have one yet.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Yeah.

Q: -- but moving down the road, will --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I mean, that -- that is something that the Department of Education is going to lead, because this is something that -- that -- this is an action that clearly was taken by the Department of Education.

I don't have any more to speak on to that. Just kind of relay back to what -- what the Ambassador said yesterday.

Q: And then, secondly, what was giving President Biden hesitance about doing this program earlier -- or the student loan forgiveness earlier this year? In other words --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- he dragged out this decision for a long time. Was he concerned about inflation? Was he -- you know, why didn't he make this call back in April?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, he wanted to do it in a fiscable [sic] -- fiscally balanced way. And there was that legal review. A lot -- I remember when you guys were asking us this question. We wanted to ensure the legal review was done. That is up on the -- the --

Q: And so it was just a matter of getting the legal authority? Or was there other --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think that's part of it. Right? That's part of it -- getting the legal authority. Another part of it is making sure that he listens to everybody -- his economic team -- right? -- he has conversations with congressional members. He has -- making sure that he hears from all the important voices as it comes to this issue.

And so, that is something that the President did. He made a campaign promise, and he wanted to stick to that campaign promise, which he did. And he actually exceeded that promise because of those conversations that he was able to have.

Q: Thanks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No problem. I'm going to take -- I'm going to take two more. I'm going to take two more. Matt and then I'll go back one more.

Go ahead.

Q: You've said a couple of times that this is a fiscally responsible way of doing this, but can you explain it a little bit about how you guys think it is fiscally responsible? Because you can't say how much it's going to cost, you can't say exactly how it's going to be paid for, and you can't say exactly who is paying for the cost. I get how you're arguing that it helps certain --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Yeah.

Q: -- populations, but how is it fiscally responsible?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, the way that -- the way that we are talking about it and what we're trying to say is we -- the actions that we have taken, and you see this, with the way that the deficit has been reduced, we have taken just the last 19 months -- and I see that look that you're giving me there, Matt. Well, but -- but --

Q: Well, I hear that argument that you have taken previous fiscally responsible actions --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right. Right. Won't --

Q: -- that believe you -- give you more wiggle room to be, you know, less respon- -- you know, like you're not being fiscally --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right. It gives us -- no, no, no, no, no, no. We're -- we -- I mean, we see this -- we do not see this as irresponsible. We see this as a fiscally responsible, balanced approach to doing this.

Now, remember, people have said, "Why don't you do $50,000?" We don't want to do that because we want to make sure that we do this in a fiscally responsible way.

Again, not pleasing everyone, but making sure that we keep that promise, but also do it in a smart, fiscally responsible way. Again, I'm going to use that word because that is what our process has been.

And I use the example of the de- -- of the $350 billion in deficit reduction and the $1.7 trillion reduction in deficit with everything that we've been able to do: the American Rescue Plan -- right? -- the Bipartisan Infrastructure legislation. And we are still, by the end of this fiscal year, will be at $1.7 trillion [reduction] in deficit. All of those things matter. And -- and that's the way that we look at it.

I'm going -- I'm going to take one more.

Q: But those are separate policies from this one. I mean --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, but I'm just saying that we have take -- this is the actions that we have taken to show that we are taking this very, very seriously.

I'm going to -- I'm going to go around. I -- Matt, we can go -- we -- we can -- we can --

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

-- we can go back and forth on it. We can go back and forth on it.

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

I was supposed to go to Chris in the back, and I skipped him. So I'm going to go back to Chris.

Q: Karine, I've been asking you for a question for a long time.

Q: Karine, my question is about the marriage bill that is in the Senate.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're not being respectful -- go ahead -- to your colleagues -- to your own colleagues.

Q: I've been -- I've been -- I've been asking for a long time, Karine.

Q: My question is about -- I have a question about the marriage bill that's in the Senate. I'm going to ask about that bill.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you see, I jump arou- --

Q: We have been -- we -- I have been here --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, go ahead.

Q: Marriage bill in the Senate --

Q: -- asking for a question for more than a week.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Respect your colleagues.

Q: I've been asking for a question for a week, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Respect your colleagues. Go ahead, Chris.

Q: It's been more than three weeks.

Q: The marriage bill in the Senate. My question is: Will the President reach out to Senator Schumer about scheduling a vote on that marriage bill when the lawmakers return from recess?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm sorry, Chris, you're going to have to start from the beginning because there was --

Q: Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- some disrespect happening.

Q: But, Karine, we have been doing this for a while. Asking for one question.

Q: Please! Quiet down.

Q: One of the outstanding pieces of the legislation for lawmakers upon a -- when they left upon Senate recess --

Q: One -- one single question for Africa.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're being disrespectful.

Go ahead.

Q: One little, single question for Africa.

Q: The marriage bill -- will Senator Schumer reach out for a vot- --

Q: That's it. That's what we asking.

Q: Will the President reach out to Senator Schumer for a vote on that legislation when lawmakers return from recess?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, "Is the President going to" -- just to make sure I heard this right. "Is the President going to reach out to Senator Schumer for a vote?"

Q: Yes.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, as you know, we are constantly in conversation with Congress, members of Congress. This is something that we put out a SAP, when it first passed the House, supporting the marriage equality bill. This is incredibly important to the President. You heard from him back in, I believe, 2012, when he was one of the first voices to talk about how important marriage equality was, being -- you know, being ahead of many others. He has been a advocate for the community; he will continue to be an advocate for the community.

So, because of that SAP, it showed our support saying this is something that we want to see pass.

I'm not going to get into private conversations that we have had. But, certainly, that -- that SAP that we put out shows how committed we are and how much we -- we want to see that happen.

Folks, I will -- I will see you tomorrow.

Q: There's an amendment for a religious accommodation to get the 60 votes that will be necessary to end the filibuster to get the process moving. Does the administration see value in such an amendment to the bill?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say that one more time.

Q: There's talk about an amendment to the bill --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.

Q: -- that would allow for religious -- some sort of religious accommodations in order to get to 60 votes to get the bill advanced. Does the administration see value in that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, we've -- we've always said we leave the mechanics of the Senate or Congress -- and in this case, the Senate -- to the Senate and the leadership. And -- and -- but we will continue to have those conversations.

This is an issue that is -- and you know this, Chris -- tremendously important to this President.

Guys, I'll see you tomorrow.

2:10 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/357410

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