Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

May 25, 2023

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:13 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, everybody.

Q: Hi!

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon. Two things for you at the top. I want to provide you with a brief update on where things stand with ongoing budget negotiations.

The President's negotiation -- negotiating team has had productive discussions with the Speaker's team. And those discussions continue.

You've heard all the congressional leaders make it clear that default is not an option. The President has said that, the Speaker has said that, and we want the American people to understand that as well.

Preventing default is not a matter of debate. It's basically respons- -- the responsibility of Congress.

What is up for debate, though, is the budget. And that's what these discussions are about: two very different fiscal visions for our country and our economy.

The President's plan invests in America and grows the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. And it does that while reducing the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over 10 years by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share and by slashing wasteful spending on special interests.

House Republicans proposed and passed a very, very different plan. They want to slash programs millions of hardworking Americans count on, while also protecting tax breaks skewed to the wealthy and corporations that will add $3.5 trillion to the debt.

That's where these negotiations began.

So, look, the President and his negotiating team are going to continue to fight for the President's vision and for his priorities, and they're going to do that in good faith.

At the end of the day, everyone understands that the only way to move forward here is with a bipartisan, reasonable agreement on the budget that can win support from both sides -- from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and in the Senate.

So, there's no alternative to this. This is the path that we need to take. And that's what we're focused on to make sure that we're getting things done for the American people.

So, before I go into questions, I just want to say a couple of words about George Floyd.

Today, three years after the murder of George Floyd, President Biden paid tribute to George Floyd, his family, and advocates who have fought tirelessly for reform and accountability measures.

This morning, the President also vetoed a congressional Republican-led disa- -- disapproval resolution that would have nullified crucial police reforms many enacted in the District of Columbia on an emergency basis in 2020 after George Floyd's murder, such as banning chokeholds, setting important restrictions on use of force and deadly force, improving access to body-worn camera recordings, and requiring officer training on de-escalation and use of force.

The President has repeatedly said we have an obligation to make sure that all people, all Americans are safe, and that public safety depends on public trust. It is a core policy of this administration to provide law enforcement the re- -- the resources they need for effective accountability community policing.

And that's why, last year, the President signed an Executive Order on Advancing Effective Accountability -- Accountable Polic- -- Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety, which requires federal law enforcement agencies to do the following: ban chokeholds, restrict no-knock warrants, mandate the use of body-worn cameras, implement stronger use-of-force policies, provide de-escalation training, submit use-of-force data to the FBI's Use-of-Force Data Collection, submit officer misconduct records into a new national database, and restrict the transfer of military equipment to local enforcement agencies.

The administration has made significant progress implementing these goals, as detailed in a White House factsheet issued just this morning. But we know that achieving comprehensive and lasting change at the state and local levels requires Congress to act.

So, today, once again, President Biden is urging Congress to pass meaningful reform legislation, including the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It is -- it is up to Congress to send this to his desk. And once they do, he will sign this law.

Okay. With that, Josh, good to see you, my friend.

Q: Good to see you, Karine.


Q: How are you doing on the jetlag?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) A little better. A little better. How are you doing?

Q: Uhh, I could be doing better.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Jetlag is real, folks.

Q: So, two questions.


Q: Two subjects. First, given the status of the debt limit talks that you just outlined, should Congress and President Biden both be in D.C. this weekend?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, and I got this question -- I can only speak for the President. I can't speak for the Speaker and how he pro- -- he chooses to move forward with Congress.

What I can say is that the President could -- could deal with this issue anywhere he is. And so, I'll just leave it as that.

Q: Secondly, the Supreme Court said in a ruling today that wetlands can only be regulated under the Clean Water Act if they have a, quote, "continuous surface connection" to a larger, regulated body of water. Does the White House agree with this view?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. I know that this decision was clearly made, as you just laid out, today.

So, look, the way that we see it: It aims to -- the Court's decision today aims to take our country backwards. It will jeopardize the sources of clean drinking water for farmers, businesses, and millions of Americans.

Look, the Clean Water Act is the reason why America's lakes today are swimmable, why we can fish in our streams and rivers, and why safe drinking water comes out of our -- of our taps.

So, it was passed, as we all know, by a bi- -- bipartisan majority in Congress back in 1972 and has since been used by Republican and Democratic administrations alike to protect our nation's land and water.

So, our legal team -- as you can imagine, as you all know -- is carefully reviewing the decision. And we'll have more to say on this soon.

But know this: that President Biden will use every legal authority available to him to ensure Americans in every state have clean water and -- and so -- clean water -- not just clean but also, certainly, safe to drink. So, that is going to be our priority.

Go ahead.

Q: I have a couple questions on the debt ceiling. We're now just seven days out from the Treasury's X-date. What is the White House message to Americans who rely on payments from the government to pay their own bills?

Should people be worried that they might not see a deposit next week with things like Social Security or their military paychecks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So our message has -- continues to be and will -- it has been very clear that we are standing -- this is a President that's standing up against what Republicans themselves are saying is a hostage-taking and threatening a default that would cause a recession; cost about 8 -- cost up to 8 million jobs; and increase costs for all Americans.

That's what the President is fighting for. That's what we want to make sure Americans know. This is what we've been trying to do these past couple of weeks.

And we're fighting against Republicans' extreme, devastating proposal that would slash, as you've heard me say, law enforcement, education, food assistance. All of these things are critical to American families who are just trying to make ends meet.

So what the people should know -- what the American people should know: that we are not taking any hostages here. Default is not an option. We want to reduce the deficit, which is why the President put -- put -- made sure to make that a priority in his March 9th budget that he released for fiscal year 2024, which is decreasing the debt -- the deficit by an extra $3 trillion, on top of what he has been able to do -- $1.7 trillion in the first two years -- again, a historic number.

And we are negotiating with Republicans in good faith. And we -- as I mentioned yesterday and as the President mentioned on Sunday, we offered an additional cut to the spending of $1 trillion on top of the $3 trillion that we mentioned in our budget -- the President's budget -- on March 9th and on top of what we've been able to do the first two years.

So, that's our focus. We're fighting for the American people, and that's what we're going to continue to do.

Q: When Americans hear "default is not an option," can they also hear a guarantee from the White House that the government will be able to deliver their deposits next week?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're going to do everything that we can to make sure that default is indeed not an option. And hear -- it's not just from us; we heard from all four leaders in this past -- in this week -- from Speaker McCarthy as well, as well as the President -- say that default is not an option. So that's what we're moving towards.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Has the President spoken with Speaker McCarthy since their meeting on Tuesday?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have a call to preview for you at this time.

Q: Okay. Well, why haven't they talked?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President is giving negotiators the space and the time to negotiate. We see their conversation as being productive. I can let you know -- and some of you may already know this -- they met virtually. The negotiators on both sides met virtually at 11:30 this morning. And we see this as a productive conversation, and it's moving forward in -- hopefully in the path where we would see a bipartisan, reasonable budget negotiation.

Q: As these negotiations have progressed, there have been some concerns from progressive lawmakers about what the White House might be willing to give. Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman told my colleague, Manu Raju, that "we don't negotiate with terrorists globally. Why are we going to negotiate with the economic terrorists here that are the Republican Party?" And he said he's "very concerned" that the President will give in to Republican demands for spending cuts.

So what kind of assurances can you provide Congressman Bowman, perhaps Democrats across the country, who are concerned that this White House is going to allow spending cuts, not just a freeze?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here's the thing: The President is fighting to protect clean energy manufacturing. He's fighting to protect healthcare. He's fighting to protect student debt relief and to lower costs for prescription drugs and save the government money. That is what the President is fighting for. That's what you saw in his March 9th budget. And that's what he's going to continue to do. He's fighting against a proposal that take away healthcare and increasingly put people in poverty -- American people in poverty.

And so, you saw this. The President said this on Sunday. He's not going to agree on a deal that -- that protects a $30 billion tax break for Big Oil, which ma- -- which -- which made $200 billion last year, while putting healthcare for 21 million people -- 21 million Americans as- -- at risk by going after Medicaid.

He's not going to agree to a deal that protects $200 billion in subsidies for Big Pharma -- you heard us say that -- and cuts over 100,000 schoolteachers and assistants and 30,000 law enforcement officers. We've been very clear about that.

And so, we have laid out what the President is fighting for. And he's going to continue to do that.

Q: But what I'm not hearing here, though, is that you're -- you're -- you're not ruling out cutting spending beyond this current fiscal year's levels.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I've -- what I've said, and I've been very clear: We're just not going to read out and not -- I'm not going to negotiate from here. I'm not going to read out conversations that we have from here.

What I can say is -- lay out what the President said on Sunday. He's been very clear what he's fighting for. Healthcare, right? Clean energy manufacturing. He's helped -- he's fighting for -- to make sure that student debt relief exists.

All of those things are really key to what the President is fighting for.

He is not for taking away people's healthcare; we're talking about 21 million people. He's not for that. And -- and pushing people into poverty? No. He's not for that either.

So I'm not going to get into specifics of the negotiation, but that's what the President has been very clear on.

Q: And lastly, is the President confident that he can deliver the necessary Democratic votes on any deal that he agrees to with Speaker McCarthy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, a little bit about that. Look, I'm not going to get to speak to exact number, right? That's not something I'm going to do from here. But the President and the Speaker have said the only way forward is to have a bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement that's going to need both Democrats and Republicans in the House and in the Senate.

And if you look at votes -- votes during the Trump administration -- 70 to -- 200 House Democrats voted to prevent default each time it came up during Donald Trump's tenure as President.

And of course, the Senate requires 60 votes, as we all know, which will -- which will be nece- -- which will, of course, mean that you need a bipartisan vote in the Senate.

So we know this vote will require, again, Democrats and Republican votes, so -- which means that when you negotiate, when these negotiations happen, both sides have to understand that neither side is going to get everything that they want. And so, that's what we're working towards. That's what you've been seeing from the negotiation team.

Go ahead, Joey. And then I'll come back down.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Secre- -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen yesterday said she would be soon providing a more precise X-date for default. Have you -- has the White House gotten any indication from Treasury of what that date could be?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, we have not. That's something for -- that's something for the Treasury Department.

Q: Well, so, are you -- is the White House operating under the assumption that a deal needs to be approved by June 1st? Or --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I -- what I can really say about that is I can, you know, guess -- forward -- you know, send you to, refer you to Secretary Yellen, who has said that it would be as early as June 1st. And -- and today said -- and then recently said it would almost certainly be June 1st. I could just only forward -- refer you to what she has said previously -- most recently, I think, earlier this week.

She has been pretty much communicating with all of you what the X-date is to the American people. And that's all I can really share with you.

Q: But -- so the deal needs to be approved by June 1st, do you think?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we -- she has said the likely -- the likely X-date is June 1st. And so, we are trying to make sure that we get -- we get the budget negotiation done as soon as possible so that we can make sure that de- -- we avoid default. Again, but default is not negotiable. It is -- should be done without conditions. But, of course, we are working towards this budget negotiation.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Rep. Kevin Hern, who leads the largest Republican caucus, told Reuters earlier today that he believed a deal to raise the debt ceiling was likely by Friday afternoon. Can you comment on --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have a timeline for you. We want this to be done as soon as possible. That's why the negotiators have been working around the clock -- 24 hours, practically -- to get this done.

I just mentioned they met at 11:30 virtually. And, of course, this is a priority, and we certainly see the urgency of getting this done as soon as possible.

But as it relates to the debt limit, this -- this can be done, as Shalanda Young said at this podium, the OMB director -- she said you can write this up in five minutes and get this done. You can write the piece of legislation in minutes and get that done and make sure that the Congress does its constitutional duty. It's not a hard thing to do.

Q: Can you at least give us a sense of whether negotiators are getting close? I know they met this morning.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I've said they've been pr- -- it's been productive. So, clearly, that means there continues to be a path forward. I not going to get ahead of this. I'm not going to get ahead of the -- the negotiation process.

But as I've said many times: They are productive. They continue to talk. Negotiation -- you need to have a conversation. And that's continuing. And I think that's an important -- important step forward that we're seeing.

Q: And we have reporting showing that both sides are edging close to a deal with parties just $70 billion apart on discretionary spending.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not --

Q: Do you have a --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to get into details from here.

Q: Okay. And I have a quick one on Russia. Russia has moved ahead on Thursday with a plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. This is the first such deployment since -- since 1991. Do you -- does the White House have a comment on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we've seen the report of Russia-Belarus arrangement, and we'll continue to monitor, certainly, the implications here.

We have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture -- you've heard us say that before -- nor any indications Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons for Belarus.

Speaking to that particular issue, this is yet another example of making irresponsible and provocative choices. So we remain committed to collective defense of the NATO Alliance. And I'll just leave it there.

Go ahead, Weijia.

Q: Thank you, Karine. When you say that default is not an option, is that equal to saying -- to guaranteeing that there will be a deal? Or is there a viable plan B?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what I can say is: There is no -- there really -- this is the only option that we have, is for Congress to do its job, for Congress to deal with the debt limit. That's the only option in front of us. That is the best option for the American people. That's the best way to make sure that our economy is not -- doesn't get turned on its head, that we don't get a situation where we lees- -- we potentially lose up to 8 million jobs or devastate retirement accounts.

That is not an option. So, we're go- -- we're being consistent here. We've been saying that they need to do their job. It is their constitutional duty. It's been done 78 times since 1960. That's what we're saying.

As it relates to the budget negotiation, those are continuing. We are -- want to make sure that gets done as soon as possible, as well.

It is important for the American people to see what we value and what we see in a bipartisan way that we're going to present to the American people, clearly also to Congress so that it can get both Democrat and Republican votes.

Q: So if there is not a deal, there is no plan B?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is the only option right now is for the -- for Congress to do their jobs without conditions. That is the way that we need to move forward as it relates to the debt limit.

Q: And one more on something the President said during his news conference. He suggested that MAGA Republicans may use default for political gain. Does he include Kevin McCarthy in that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we are working in good faith with Kevin McCarthy right now and with his team. And the hope is that we continue -- that continues -- right? -- the good faith -- the good-faith conversations to deal with the budget, to deal with the budget negotiations. So, that is something that I would say.

As it relates -- you heard me talk about specifically about some -- what some House Republicans were saying yesterday. And what we wanted to make sure is that we laid out the facts, and that was coming from the House Freedom Caucus. And they were -- you heard them argue against preventing default and against negotiating for a bipartisan budget agreement in violation -- that is actually in violation of what the Speaker has said he wanted and what the Speaker has said he's committed to.

So, we're going to flag that for all of you. We're going to flag that for the American people.

But the Speaker was very clear last week. He said -- actually, this week -- he said that when it comes to default, it's off the table.

Q: Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. First of all, a housekeeping question. It's been few days since we've heard from the President directly on the state of negotiations. I'm wondering if we might hear from him either in the Rose Garden here shortly or later today to offer an update on the --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would say: Stay tuned, my friend.

Q: "Stay tuned." All right.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Stay tuned.

Q: I'll consider that.

To follow up on Weijia's last question, the former President is in the area. He was spotted on --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Which one?

Q: Former President Trump.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. There's a few formers out there --

Q: Yes, there are.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- so you have be clear.

Q: He was spotted across the river at the LIV Golf Tournament that's coming up this weekend here in the area. And a reporter from the New York Times covering the tournament spoke with him, and the former President showed, in fact, that he had recently spoken with Speaker McCarthy, said that they had a "little, quick talk," and he predicted that the debt talks were going to be -- getting a deal would be harder than people were expecting.

I wonder if the White House has a reaction to the fact that the current Speaker is speaking to the former President at the time his team is talking to the current President.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the Speaker is allowed to speak to whoever he chooses and wants to speak to. So I'm not going to, certainly, dive into that or step in -- step on that.

What I can speak to is what the Speaker has said very publicly himself just this week: that default is off the table.

We are continuing to have productive conversations. Negotiations continue.

Again, I just mentioned how the -- the two teams met this morning virtually at 11:30. That is a good sign. That is a good sign that those talks are certainly continuing.

And, look, we have said we think there's a path forward. There's a path forward to a bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement. And -- and as long as both sides understand that no one is going to get everything that it wants, then we can get there. We can get there.

This is about the American people. This is about American families, making sure that we are meeting their needs. And that -- that should be the focus.

Q: So, that's not an indication of bad faith if the Speaker is either receiving --

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

Q: -- or placing a call --

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

Q: -- to the former President?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I can't -- I don't know what the Speaker said to the former President. I cannot speak to that. You would have to speak -- ask the Speaker directly.

What I can speak to is what we heard from -- direct from the Speaker directly and what his team -- what his team is doing. It is co- -- we're continuing to have these good-faith conversations. That's what's important. The negotiations continue. And so I think that's what's important here.

I -- I cannot speak to a conversation -- a hearsay conversation that is occurring -- that occurred. I just can't speak to that.

Q: Then on another topic. As I was following Twitter last night, during the announcement of Ron DeSantis --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: How'd it go?

Q: -- and his candidacy, it appeared that there were some members of the President's team who were doing the same and maybe enjoying a little bit of the glitches that appeared to be happening.

I wonder if you have any reaction --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Was there a glitch?

Q: -- to that but, also, to the fact that Elon Musk is offering this platform to a, you know, potential leading Republican candidate for the office. Would the President consider doing the same on that same platform?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm not going to speak to Twitter and their operation as a private company. Just not going to do that from here.

As you know, we follow the law here. This is an administration that cares about the law and about not -- certainly not using taxpayer money to campaign from here. That is something that we've been pretty consistent. And we've also -- you know, I just got questions from your colleagues about the President's policies and his agenda and how he sees moving forward, especially on the economy.

And so, honestly, we just haven't had the time to take in any rapid unscheduled disassemblies, if you will. And so, I'll just leave it at that.

I think -- I'll just add, really, you know, the President's -- the President's focus is on middle-class Americans, is on working Americans, making sure that we deliver an economy that works for them, that doesn't leave them behind, that builds an economy from the bottom up, middle out. That's our focus.

Q: I know there is a gather right now.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right now?

Q: Yeah.

MS. DALTON: Yeah, it's going to be in a minute.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, it's early.

Q: But if it's possible to keep going after the gather?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Okay, well --

MS. DALTON: Well, the President is going to start speaking in 10 minutes, so --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Wow. Okay.

Go ahead, Nadia.

Q: Thank you, Karine. Do you worry that the spending cuts might affect Ukraine assistance in the long run?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you've heard us say many times before, the President has been clear that it will -- he's going to continue to work with our allies and partners to support Ukraine as long as it takes. That is a commitment that we have to the Ukrainian people. You've heard that from the President, you've heard that from my NSC colleagues, and you certainly have heard that from me.

So we have been gratified and pleased to see the bipartisanship -- the bipartisan support for Ukraine -- Ukraine from members of both parties, in both the House and the Senate. And so -- and we expect that to continue, and I'll leave it there for -- for the -- as it relates to the aid.

Q: I have a quick question on Russia.


Q: The Wagner Group said after the -- cleared Bakhmut that -- basically inviting the Russian army to take over. And they say if they don't, then we are bigger than the Russian army. I know that the White House declared them a terrorist and a criminal group, but is there anything more that you can do to curtail their influence?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm going to leave it to -- to others analyze Mr. Prigozhin's colorf- -- colorful statements that he made yesterday. So I'll leave it to others. Certainly not going to step into that.

But I'll just say this -- that when it comes to the United States and our commitment to holding those responsible for pe- -- perpetrating Russia's war against Ukraine to account, that's what we're going to do. We've been very clear about that as well. That includes the Wagner Group, against which we have taken specific actions, including through sac- -- sanctions, and by designating them as a trans- -- transnational criminal organization, a result of their destabilizing action and criminal activity and human rights abuses in Ukraine and around the world.

These designations and other actions have frozen the Wagner Group's assets in the U.S. and prohibited Americans from providing -- providing food and -- and funds, I'm sorry, gu- -- goods and services to the group. So we'll continue to take action and to hold them into account. And that has been our commitment for the past several months.

MS. DALTON: We need to have them gather. The President -- it's that time.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Okay.

MS. DALTON: You can take a few more.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. What time do they need to gather?

MS. DALTON: Right now, but --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right now?

MS. DALTON: -- you can stick around and answer more questions (inaudible).

Q: Just six more.

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

Why don't -- doesn't the pool gather and I'll take -- I'll take a couple more -- a couple more.

Go ahead, Garrett.

Q: Thanks, Karine.

Q: Everybody needs -- it's open press, so everybody needs to gather.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Well, we'll -- we'll do the best that we can.

Go ahead, Garrett.

Q: Thanks, Karine. On General Brown's appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, obviously, if he's confirmed, he will become only the second African American to serve in this role. And he would also make history with Secretary Austin as the -- for the first time in history, the first top two Pentagon positions being occupied by African Americans. What significance does this hold for this White House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, let me just first say -- and the President is going to speak to this in -- in just a few moments, so, certainly, I'm sure you'll -- you'll take his re- -- his -- his response to this important appointment.

But I want to recognize Chairman Milley's lifetime of service to our country. The President is immensely grateful to Chairman Milley, who has been a close and trusted adviser to President Biden over the past two and a half years, and for who -- for -- for who -- for how he has worked with Secretary Austin to help our military address significant challenges, respond to new threats, and end America's longest war, and strengthen alliances and partnerships around the world.

And General Brown -- the President knows that he will benefit from a leader with a wealth of military experience shaped in both peace- -- peacetime and war, just like he has from Chairman Milley, as well as someone who understands the strategic challenges that lies ahead, that we face -- that U.S. faces around the world, but who also will ably represent the men and women of our armed forces as well as their -- as their families.

And so, look, he's immensely talented. He's -- it has been amazing to -- to watch this process. He's clearly going to make history. He's already made history as our nation's first Black service chief. And he has been an important voice helping make our armed forces more inclusive, including through the video he recorded three years ago, just after the murder of George Floyd that went viral and struck a chord with Americans across the street -- across -- I'm sorry -- across the country.

So, clearly, this is important. We are -- the President is proud to -- to nominate him. I'm going to let the President speak more about the importance of his historical choice.

Q: Can we follow up on -- on the George Floyd anniversary? Has the White House been in touch with the Floyd family and maybe updating them on these -- on the implementation of the EO?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. It's a good question. We just don't have any calls to preview. As you know, the President has spoken and met with the family multiple times. And they were -- they were here recently at the White House just last year.

Go ahead, Ed.

Q: Thanks, Karine. So Fitch, a credit rating agency, has already put the U.S. in a "credit negative watch." That's one domino that needs to fall before a downgrade. The President is going to Camp David this weekend and going to Delaware. Can you describe the sense of urgency that the President feels to get a deal done?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There's all -- there's all -- there's always been urgency. We have called this out over and over again -- how urgent it is to get this done. It is just one more piece of evidence, if you will.

So, we've been laying out, again, for months and months, how catastrophic this could be if Con- -- if the Congress didn't do its job and deal with the debt limit, as it's constitutional for them to be doing. That includes impacts to the credit rating of the United States -- a reflection of our full faith and credit. And also, this underscores the need for swift bipartisan action by Congress to prevent default.

This is -- has to be done in a bipartisan way. This has been done 78 times since 1960. We have been calling out the urgency of getting the debt limit done -- for Congress to get the debt limit done for weeks now, for months.

And so, this is just another piece of evidence that default should not be an option. It is not an option. All the leaders who have met -- the congressional leaders who have met with the President have said default is off the table.

Q: So, even if a deal is done today, the process could still take us into the middle of June to get it to the President's desk and to sign it. So, is there a message then to companies, people about that, that could be past the X-date?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as I've said, what the -- our message to the Pres- -- from the President to the American people is that we are fighting. We are fighting to make sure that we protect American families. We are fighting to make sure that -- that, you know, we're continuing to build a economy from the bottom up, middle out.

This is what we are fighting for. This is what the President is fighting for.

We're going to continue to tell and continue to say what we've been saying for months, which is: Congress needs to get this done. It needs to be done in a bipartisan way. It's been done, again, 78 times since 1960.

So, this is an important, important -- clearly constitutional duty that Congress needs to act on.

Q: And (inaudible) can guarantee that any deal will be fast-tracked?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We've already said how urgent this is. We've been very clear about how urgent it is to deal with the debt limit.

Again, this is another piece of evidence that we are seeing that lays that out -- that lays out that default is not an option.

Q: Thanks, Karine. I know that the President is going to chat.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Thank you. Thanks, guys.

1:43 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

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