Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

May 23, 2023

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:37 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to get the day right. Happy Tuesday. And for those of you who are jetlagged, I feel your pain.

Okay, let's get going.

The President and Speaker McCarthy had a productive meeting yesterday about the need to prevent a default and avoid a catastrophi- -- I'm sorry -- catastrophe -- pardon me -- for our economy.

They both reiterated that default is off the table and only way forward is good faith -- good faith -- is in good faith and toward a bipartisan budget agreement.

While areas of disagreement remain, the President, the Speaker, and their teams will continue to discuss the path forward.

Over the past week, the President's negotiating team has proposed options to reduce the deficit that both parties can support while also making clear that there are fundamental priorities that must be protected in this process.

Everyone understands that the consequences of a first-ever default would be severe for the American people and the American economy. It would wipe out as many as 8 million jobs, trigger a recession, devastate retirement accounts, increase costs, damage our international reputation.

All of this would undermine the historic economic progress we've made under this President these past two years: 12.7 million jobs, 3.4 percent unemployment rate, a "Made in America" manufacturing boom, $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction, which is a record.

America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills. We have never defaulted in our history, and we will never.

Lastly, President Biden has made tackling the mental health crisis, particularly among our youth, a top priority. Sadly, there is undeniable evidence that social media was negatively affected youth mental health -- has negatively affected youth mental health. Research shows that anxiety, depression, sadness, and suicidal thoughts are on the rise.

Today, during National Mental Health Awareness Month, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing the development of a new interagency task force on kids' online health and safety and a series of additional actions from several agencies to safeguard children's privacy, mental health, and safety online.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also released a new advisory on social media and youth mental health that calls on policymakers, technology companies, researchers, parents, and young people to work together to make social media safer for kids.

These new administration-wide actions will help advance President Biden's national strategy to tackle the mental health crisis and protect the health and wellbeing of our nation's young people.

As we continue to mark Mental Health Awareness Month, the Biden-Harris administration remains committed to ending this crisis and ensuring everyone can access the care they need to live full and happy lives.

With that, Chris, you want to take -- kick us off, please?

Q: Yeah, a few questions on the budget negotiations.


Q: Republicans have said the White House has shown a lack of urgency around negotiations. We're nine days from the end of the month, and under House rules it could take four days to get a deal on the floor for a vote. The Speaker wants a deal to be cut this week. What is the White House's deadline for reaching a deal to get it up for a vote in time?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as I -- as I stated, the conversations -- as the Speaker has stated, as we have stated -- have been productive, which is important; clearly that we're moving forward, as I think, just moments ago, the team -- the teams who are -- the team from the White House who were on the Hill for the budget negotiation, that just ended. They met for hours. And so they're going to be returning and, clearly, give the President an update.

But, look, this is a -- this is -- this is -- this is urgent, but this is not political. This is about doing the work of and the business of the American people. This is something that we have said over and over again for the past five months that this is -- this is for Congress to act. This is their constitutional duty.

So, we've been very clear, and we've been -- we've shown urgency from here. And, look, we think Republicans saying that -- that the White House is not showing any urgency is a ridiculous question -- is a ridiculous statement for them to be making.

And so, we've been saying this for months. Congress must ask -- Congress needs to act, and we'll continue to lay the line on that.

Q: So, oftentimes, when these meetings happen, the White House or other party call them "productive." That's the word that's often used. But can you say that we're actually closer to a deal now than we were last week?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So what I can say is reiterate what the President and the Speaker said. The Speaker said this yesterday: that they -- these talks, these conversations -- the conversation yesterday was productive.

And I think that's important when you're hearing that. And these types of negotiations, as we know, are very difficult -- right? -- negotiations. This is nothing new. They are incredibly tough.

And so, when you hear it from both sides saying that they're productive, I think that's an important statement. I'm just not going to get into any further details.

Q: And last question is: The Treasury is looking for ways to delay certain payments. Is the administration trying to push back the X-date? Is there a potential that a deal won't be reached and you're going to need to, kind of, juggle the -- these payments to make -- make this happen?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, anything -- anything relating to the X-date or that -- that is concerning how to move forward here as it relates to that, I would refer you to the Treasury Department on their communications with that agency. That is something that they would certainly lay out.

As the Treasury said yesterday, it's important to have accurate information about inflows and outflows to the government so they can continue to produce an accurate forecast for Congress of when cash and extraordinary measure expire.

So, this sort of com- -- communication is actually consistent with prior debt limit impasses. So that is something, for sure, that the Treasury Department will have more to share on.

Go ahead, Mary.

Q: Thank you. We keep hearing these optimistic statements. You've noted, you know, that the meeting was productive, but we aren't seeing any actual progress. In fact, the Speaker just said we are nowhere near a deal. So why the optimism?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, if everyone is working in good faith and recognizes that no one is going to get -- either side is going to get exactly what they want, we'll get it done. That's the way we see this.

Coming out of the meeting yesterday -- we've said this, the President said this, we -- both the President and the Speaker reiterated that default is off the table. So now we have to do this in good faith. We have to move forward.

I believe the team has been meeting for a couple of hours this morning. As I just said, they just -- they just ended their conversation from this morning. They met until late into the evening last night. So that is important. That is good. We're seeing movement.

I'm just not going to get into specifics on where we are. We believe that this should get done as soon as possible. And, again, they've been productive. We've heard that from the Speaker. We've heard that from the President. The meetings continue to occur and happen with -- on the staff level, and we're happy to see that.

Q: I think we're just trying to understand what does productive mean though. I mean, do you agree with the Speaker that you're nowhere near a deal right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm going to let the Speaker speak for himself.

What I can say is -- and what the President -- and reiterate what the President has said. I have not gotten a download, obviously, from -- from this morning's meeting. The President is going to get, certainly, an update from his team -- his negotiation team once they get back and there's a moment to do so on the President's schedule.

From -- from what I know, from what I can tell you at this moment, the meeting that the President had with the Speaker yesterday was indeed productive, and we're going to continue to let the staffers, the negotiation -- the negotiation teams continue to have this conversation and -- and meet.

Q: And just one more. What do you say to Americans who see that we are nine days out and they are genuinely, you know, concerned and worried about how this will impact them? How worried should Americans be right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, this is something that the President has been saying for months, for five months now -- how it is important for Congress to act, how it is important for -- for them to do their constitutional duty, is to deal with the debt limit. We've been very clear, because we've laid out -- I just laid out at the top what this could trigger if we don't indeed meet that X-date that the Treasury Department has laid out for -- not just for us, for all Americans.

And so, look, if you're thinking about millions of Americans losing jobs: Yeah, that's concerning. A potential triggering of a recession: Yes, that's concerning.

If you think about how this would take back all the progress that we've made in the last two years with this President -- when you think about 12.7 million jobs; when you think about unemployment at 3.4 percent, which is the lowest that we've seen in his- -- in history; all of the gains that we have made to get the economy back on our -- on its feet: Yeah, we can see that go away.

So that's why the President has been meeting with the leaders in Congress, and specifically yesterday with the Speaker, and having that conversation to continue to show the urgency that we have. But it's been for five months. Five months that we've been saying this.

Go ahead, Steve.

Q: Does the President plan to talk to Speaker McCarthy today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any calls to read out to you for the -- for the President to speak to the -- to Speaker McCarthy. I can tell you for sure that he will be getting a download from his negotiation team once -- once there's a moment on his calendar to do so.

Q: And then, Representative Patrick McHenry said last night that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. Is that your understanding as well?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So what I'll say is this -- and this is what I've been saying for the past couple of days; I said this when we were kind of on the other side of the world doing a press briefing for all of you and in Japan. And we have said: Negotiation -- I said negotiations are very hard, they're very difficult. Both sides have to understand that they're not going to get everything that they want. And what we're trying to get to is a budget that is reasonable, that that is bipartisan, that Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate will be able to vote on and agree on.

So this is -- this is the process that -- that's why we're moving in this way, to make sure that it's bipartisan but also reasonable.

And so that's what -- that's what you all can look forward to.

Q: Has there been any more discussion about the 14th Amendment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, the President has been very clear about this. He's spoken to this. It is just not -- it is not going to deal with the problem that we are currently having at this moment, at this time.

What we need to focus on is Congress acting, is Congress doing their constitutional duty and dealing with the debt limit.

Go ahead, Jeremy.

Q: Thanks, Karine. So we're nine days away from the U.S. potentially defaulting. And as was previously noted, it's going to take several days for legislation to actually get passed through the Congress. So at what point -- how many days do we have left until we are in full crisis mode?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the Treasury Department has laid that out. They put out an X-date. That's something that I would refer to them, as far as what does that look like and the specific and any information.

What I can tell you is what we're going to continue to do here every day: Our team -- our negotiating team is going to, on a daily basis, multipi- -- multiple times a day have that meeting and conversation and discussion with -- with the negotiators on the Hill to get to a budget -- a budget deal, a bipartisan -- a bipartisan deal that is reasonable so that the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers, can vote on and deal with. So that's our promise. That's what we're going to deal with.

As far as what's going to happen and the specifics, that's something that the Treasury should deal with and speak to.

Q: Yeah, no, I understand that. And obviously, the date could potentially move slightly based on the Treasury's estimates. But for the markets that are watching, for Americans who are waiting for their Social Security checks, for their veterans' benefits, who are waiting to see what's going to happen, can you provide them a sense of how much cushion you have? How many days before that X-date do you actually need a deal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is, again, for the Sta- -- the Treasury Department to speak to.

Q: Well, no, that's for them to determine the date. But for how many days do you need to --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But that is the --

Q: -- get legislation done?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, any -- any contingency, anything that's related to that, that is for the Treasury Department to speak to. What I can speak to is this budget negotiation. And what we have been doing, what we have been calling on Congress to do for the past five months is to act.

And so, we're going to continue to have those conversations. We believe they've been productive. We believe there is a space and an opportunity here to have a bipartisan, reasonable -- reasonable budget agreement that, again, the House and the Senate can vote on and that we can get the business of the American people done.

Q: And then, on the -- on the specifics here, the Speaker and his team have said that the federal government needs to spend less money next year than it is spending this year, meaning that they need cuts, not just a freeze in the way the White House has suggested. Is that a red line for the White House, or are you guys willing to entertain a budget for next year and the coming years that is less than Fiscal Year 2023?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, Jeremy, I'm not going to negotiate from here. I'm going to let the negotiation team speak to that.

The President was very clear on Sunday. We put forward a proposal that cuts spending by more than $1 trillion. That is on top of -- on top of the budget that the President put out on March 9th that showed more -- up to three thri- -- $3 trillion -- nearly $3 trillion more in budget -- budget -- dealing with the budget cut -- to cut the deficit, to be more specific. And that was in his budget. So, he called for another trillion dollars on top of that.

And so, look, that's where we are. I'm not going to go into the details or the specifics from here. But you heard directly from the President on Sunday, and that's what he laid out.

Q: And then, just quickly, I just wanted to ask you for an update on the situation that happened last night at Lafayette Park. A U-Haul crashed into the bollards of the north end of the park just before 10:00 p.m. Can you tell us how quickly the President was informed of the situation? Was he moved to a secure location? Were any protective measures taken?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I can tell you this -- and I want to be really careful here: This is something that the Secret Service -- I would refer you to for any information that they can share, specific information. That's where they would share that.

I can share with you that the President was indeed briefed. He was briefed this morning on what's known by Secret Service and the Park Police thus far. He's relieved that no one was injured last night and grateful to the agents and the law enforcement officer who responded so quickly.

Again, I would refer you to the Secret Service.

Q: But he wasn't informed last night?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can tell you -- right -- he was briefed this morning. That's when he got the briefing from both Secret Service and the Park Police on what they know thus far.

Clearly, the President was here yesterday working at the White House, so, of course, he was here last night. But I can tell you that he was briefed by both the relevant -- revelant [sic] agencies, if you will -- law enforcement agencies who had to deal with the situation. And he's very thankful for -- to them for their quick response on this particular issue.

Q: Just to be clear on timing, is any date before June 1st, in your eyes, good enough to get this thing done?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we have to get this done. That's what I can tell you.

Q: I guess the question is: If it -- does --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- you're asking --

Q: -- is, like, Friday the goal, Saturday the goal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're asking me for a date. I'm going to -- I'm going to --

Q: Fine. Just wanted to be clear.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to get into dates.

What I can say: There's an urgency. We want to see this done as soon as possible as it relates to the debt limit. The teams are going to meet on a regular basis multiple times a day to deal with the budget negotiations. And this could be -- you know, this could be done today actually.

Q: Well, I guess the reason I ask is because there have been ramic- -- ramifications before. We've witnessed --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely.

Q: -- this back in 2011. It went down to the wire, and they still beat the X-date, they still got the debt limit raised at the last minute, but then days leter [sic] -- later, the credit rating was downgraded. How confident are you that, given the dysfunction we've witnessed here -- it going down to the wire -- our credit rating would not be downgraded?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, this is why the President has, Peter -- this is why the President, for the last five months, has stated how important and how critical it is to get this done, how critical it is for Congress to do their constitutional duty.

This is why you've heard an echo from here over and over, and a repetitive one, of how we see -- how we think and believe this should have moved forward.

Q: And yet, it didn't happen. So how confident are you that it wouldn't be downgraded?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We are -- look, we -- from -- as -- from what we see and what has been happening in these budget negotiations, in these conversations, we see these conversations going -- moving in a productive way. That is important. And we'll get there. It has to be a bipartisan -- right? -- it has to be a bipartisan, reasonable budget negotiation.

Q: Let me ask you: Yesterday, we heard from Speaker McCarthy --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Agreement.

Q: -- multiple times. He spoke multiple times in the mornings. He spoke multiple times after the meeting took place. We heard from the President very briefly during the meeting.

For Americans that feel like they're not hearing from the President regularly, not hearing from the Vice President regularly, not hearing from Cabinet officials right now, where is the messaging from the White House on this, beyond at this podium?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you've heard from the President multiple times over the weekend. You've heard from the President multiple times during the last five months. He's been very clear. You've heard from me; you've heard from others. We've had our economic team out there talking about this on your network, on other networks.

And so, we've been very clear for the past five months -- I wouldn't just look at the last couple of days -- the past five months, consistently. Consistently, you've heard from this President.

Q: So, the White House -- does the White House feel like it's winning the messaging war on this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, what we've been very clear -- I know folks have asked me, you know, about -- about this in the past. And what we saw in 2011 is that -- and polling showed this -- that the GOP was blamed for that. That's how the Americans -- the Americans saw -- saw the outcome of the debt limit there and what was happening with the negotiations back then. That's what the polling showed.

So, what we're going to do is we're going to continue to either speak -- speak from here almost every day. We speak from here about -- about what's going on. You've heard from the President. You've heard from the economic team. You've heard from Democrats, the leadership in -- in the House, in the Senate talk -- speak to this about the urgency, about Congress actually needing to act and doing their constitutional duty.

Q: Last one. Is the Pre- -- you said that if both sides are working in good faith, this will get done. Does the President believe that Kevin McCarthy is working in good faith?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What the President believes is that the conversations have been productive. And that is important.

And just to reiterate this: Negotiations are hard. They're not easy. This is democracy in action, as we have seen, as we have looked at what's been going on these past couple of days and weeks.

And what both sides need to understand is neither side is going to get exactly what they want. But what we need to have is a bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement. And that's what we're working towards.

Q: To be clear, you didn't say the President thinks Kevin McCarthy is acting in good faith.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- look, I -- what I -- what I said is that -- it -- we're -- if everyone keeps working in good faith. So, yes, we believe that -- that that is what is happening. There is a good-faith effort here. We just have to continue to do that. We have to keep doing that. And then we can get into -- we can get into a bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement.

Q: Thank you, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me go to the back. Go ahead.

Q: Yeah. Right -- me or behind me?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, go ahead.

Q: Okay, thank you. Are the negotiators going to meet again today? The House negotiating team came out and seemed pretty down on the state of things and weren't even sure there would be a meeting. Do you have any sense from the White House side?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I -- since it just ended right before I came out, I don't have an update on a meeting for today.

As you know, they met I think almost till midnight, around 11 o'clock last night. And then they met again almost 12 hours later. This is the budget negotiation team, just to be very specific here. They went up to the Hill, and they had a meeting for hours that lasted, clearly, more than two hours.

I just don't have any update if this is going to -- if they're going to go back to the Hill later today. I can tell you this: that the President is certainly going to get a download from -- from the budget negotiation team today.

Q: Did -- did the President and Speaker McCarthy have an agreement to talk on the phone or in person on a daily basis? I think Speaker McCarthy implied that that would happen. And so, do they have an agreement? And is it going to happen?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can -- I can say this: I don't have any meetings or calls to announce, but obviously the staff is going to continue to have this conversation. They just fi- -- they just wrapped up a -- a conversation moments ago, and the President will speak to the Speaker when it's necessary. I just don't have anything to share at this time.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. I know the President is busy with the debt negotiations, but what are the directions or messages has he given to his team for preparing for the state visit next month?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, the President and the First Lady are looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi for the official state visit, which is, as we announced -- is going to happen on June 22nd. And I'll say more broadly, as we have already shared when we announced the visit, this will be an opportunity to reaffirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India and the warm bonds of the -- of family and friendship that link Americans and, clearly, Indians -- Indians together.

And so, that's very important to the President. The visit will also strengthen our two countries' shared commitment to a free open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific and shared resolve to our -- to evaluate our strategic technology partnership, including in defense, clean energy, and space.

Don't have anything else to preview. Clearly, as we get closer -- June twenty- -- 22nd is -- is very far away on our calendar. And so, once we get closer to the 22nd, surely we'll hold background calls and have more information and more details to share.

Q: And secondly, in Japan, when President met the Prime Minister, he told the Prime Minister that he had been receiving a lot of -- flooded with a lot of requests to be invited for the state dinner during those dates.

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

Q: I guess the President told the Prime Minister in Hiroshima when they met that he's being flooded with a lot of requests for invitations to attend the state dinner.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Who's he? Which -- what --

Q: The President.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President? Can you just say that one more time?

Q: It has been reported in the media that the President told the Prime Minister that he had been flooded with a lot of invitations -- requests to be invited for the state dinner.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: For -- for the Japanese President to be -- the Prime -- sorry, the Japanese Prime Minister be in- --

Q: No, the Indian Prime Minister.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh. Oh, you're talking about India. Okay. I'm -- okay, I'm not quite --

Q: Can I repeat it again?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, one more time. (Laughs.) I didn't know if you were talking about the -- the Japanese Prime -- the --

Q: When the President met the Indian Prime Minister --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. The Indian Prime Minister. Got it.

Q: -- he -- he told the Prime Minister that he's quite popular in the U.S. because he had been receiving a lot of requests --


Q: -- from Indian Americans to be invited for the state dinner.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Got it. Okay. That's good.

Q: Can you give us a sense of what kind of requests you're receiving?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's a good thing. (Laughs.) I -- I mean, I don't have a list of requests. I mean, it sounds like it was coming from the -- from -- from Prime Minister --

Q: From the Indian Prime Minister. Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. I -- I mean, you would have to ask --

Q: So, is it being held in the dining room or the South Lawn?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have more. I don't have more to share. I really don't.

I think that's a good thing. That shows the excitement of -- of the Prime Minister being here on June 22nd. We -- I just talked about -- la- -- laid out how the -- the important relationship that -- that we have with India and how we want to continue to grow that partnership, grow that relationship.

I think that's a good thing, to get those requests. I think that's important and shows how -- why it is critical to continue growing that partnership that we have with India.

Q: Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Sorry, it took a little bit to get to -- to get to that.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you so much. So, the -- the President just came back from the G7. And there is no other G7 country that goes through such debt-ceiling drama on a regular basis. So how concerned is he that, even if he's able to strike a deal, this would undermine the dollar's reputation -- this would undermine the United States', you know, standing on the international business scene?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, at the top of the briefing, I laid out what would potentially occur if we didn't lift the debt limit, if we didn't make the X-date. And it would undermine our global -- kind of how we -- how we're seen globally.

And -- and so, yeah. That is that is important to note as we're moving forward and going through -- going through the next couple of days and trying to -- trying to get the debt limit --

Q: But isn't it already the case --


Q: -- that even if, you know, a deal is found that it already calls into question the U.S. (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I'm not -- I'm not -- certainly not going to get into hypotheticals from here. What I can say is what experts have said, what the economists have said, and how it is important to get this done and how detrimental it could be if we don't deal with the debt limit in a -- in a time that ex- -- that's expedient. Right?

And that's why we have said we could lose 8 million jobs, potentially. We can see a trigger -- could trigger the -- a recession. All of those things are real -- and our standing globally -- right? -- one of the -- one of the important parts of the President going to the G7 is strengthening our -- the global economy. Right? That is incredibly important. Those -- those G7 leaders are largest economies across the globe.

And so, of course, it is important how we're viewed, how we're seen. We're going to try and work very hard to get this done.

And -- but, at the end of the day, we've been holding the line very strongly, which is: Congress needs to act. This is something, when it comes to the debt limit, that they need to get done. And so, we're going to continue -- continue to hold that line very clearly.

Go ahead, Joey.

Q: Yeah. Thanks, Karine. I want to follow up on Steve's question from earlier. It sounds like the White House is now ruling out invoking the 14th Amendment as an option to get around the debt ceiling. Is that accurate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say: It is not -- it is not -- it is not going to fix the current problem that we have right now, which --

Right now, what we -- what is going to deal with getting the debt limit done is for Congress -- for Congress to act. And that's what we've been very clear on.

Q: So, if it won't fix the current problem, that means that's not a possibility that the President will pursue.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean -- I -- look, I -- look, I -- I'm not going to go beyond what the President has said. He has -- he's made it very clear: It's not going to solve our problems.

That is -- that is just where we are. Congress needs to do its job. They need to do a job that has been happening since 1960, which is lifting the debt limit more than 78 times.

Q: Thanks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Karen.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. Just a couple of questions. Has the President spoken recently with any of the families of the vic- -- victims there? And how will he mark tomorrow, if at all? And what's his message to the families and the nation at this anniversary?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things there. I don't have any calls to read out. We don't have any calls to read out to you on any recent conversation that the President has had with the family.

As you know, the Sunday after Sat- -- after the horrific shooting, the President and the First Lady went to Uvalde. I think some of you may have -- have gone with us, traveled with us to Uvalde and listened to the families and hear -- hear -- you know, hear their stories about their loved one who was -- who were killed. And it was -- it was a heavy, heavy moment. It was a -- certainly something devastating to have to -- for any parent to have experienced.

And so -- and, you know, when it comes to tomorrow, you can certainly expect that the President, the First Lady, and -- and the Vice President are going to mark that tragic day. And we'll have certainly more to share later today or early tomorrow on what that looks like.

Look, the families of these 19 children and 2 teachers, the 17 others who were injured, the entire community that is still mourning -- they are in the President's prayers. And so, you know, the President also was able to -- he wrote an op-ed in USA Today where he marked the twin shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde and talked about how he believed those -- those attacks became a catalyst for the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

And while he's very -- he's very appreciative of what Congress was able to do, there's so much more to be done. We need to do -- we need to see Congress do something more, do more, put forward some commonsense gun reform. That's what these families deserve. That's what they should be able to see.

And, again, you know, it was a tragic, tragic day. You know, guns is certainly an epidemic in this country. It's the number one killer of our kids in America. And the President is going to continue to ask Congress to take more action.

Go ahead.

Q: On the debt ceiling, Mitch McConnell has said that everyone needs to relax, that this is not an unusual process. Does the President agree with that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, what's unusual is -- is for our economy -- the American economy to be held hostage and to be connected in this way to the budget process.

And we do not default. We do not -- we are not a deadbeat nation. We've been very clear about that. You know, we should not be headed towards a direction where we would default for the first time.

But I will also say: Both the President and Speaker McCarthy said that default is off the table. So that is -- that is productive. That is a step forward and a very important thing to note. And so, we're going to continue to ask Congress to act and to get this done and to lift the debt -- debt limit.

Q: And does the White House see any potential in negotiating a short-term raise?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is something that both the Speaker and we have said is -- the Speaker has been very clear that is not on the table. And so, we're going to continue to -- to get this done in a way that should be done -- right? -- which is Congress to act and to deal with the debt limit.

Q: Thanks, Karine. To follow up on the 14th Amendment again, the last time the President spoke about this in Hiroshima, he actually said that he was looking at the 14th Amendment, and he thought that he did have the authority. But the question was essentially whether it would get tangled up in court, in appeals. And he said that's what is unresolved.

So, has the White House determined that there is not enough time to invoke the 14th Amendment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the 14th Amendment, as I've been saying, doesn't solve our -- our problems. Congress must act. The President actually has said that multiple times. And, understandably, the President gets it, right? He knows that any action needs to be strongly supported by the law. And I think that's what you heard from the President.

And, look, I'm certainly not going to get into legal opinions from here. That is not something that I'm going to do from here. But again, it doesn't -- it -- at the end of the day, it doesn't solve the problem that we have now.

Q: But the last time we heard from the President, it was still on the table. Is it on or off the table?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President also said on Sunday that it's up to lawmakers. This is up to lawmakers. And so, Congress, again, must do what it's done since 1960, 78 times, which is deal with the debt limit and make sure that we are not a deadbeat nation. That is something that he said as well.

But understandably, the President wants -- wants any action to be strongly supported by the law, and that's what you heard from the President. But he's also said -- reiterated many times: It doesn't solve our problems, and Congress needs to act.

Q: You said today that negotiations are hard and they take time. Did the President wait too long to engage with the Republicans on the negotiations that he's in the middle of right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President has been engaging or trying to engage with Republicans for months now. For months. He put out his budget on March 9th. You all -- you -- you've heard us talk about this. You've heard us lay it out. You've seen the budget, what the President laid out on March 9th. You know, and Republicans passed their -- their budget plan at the end of April. And then, days later, that -- that's when negotiation -- budget negotiations started.

And so, we've been clear for the past five months how important it is for Congress to act, for Congress to do their constitutional duty. That is something that we have been clear on. That is something that the President, specifically, has been clear on.

And -- and so, I'll just leave it there. The -- you know, I'll let the record show what we've been doing for the past several months.

Go ahead, Steve.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Last fall, the President was asked about a recommendation by the Treasury Secretary that Congress repeal the debt ceiling. At the time, he dismissed the idea. He said it would be irresponsible to do so.

Given where we are, given the risks, given all the horrible things that potentially could happen, does the President still believe that there ought to be a law that caps the nation's statutory borrowing (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, honestly, I'm just not going to get into that right now. Right now, what is the most -- the urgency that -- the urgent nature that we see in front of us is getting this debt limit done. It's -- which is making sure Congress does its -- does its constitutional duty and do something that's been done 78 times since 1960. That is what's urgent. That's what the American people deserve. And that's what should be happening.

Q: One of the things he said yesterday in the Oval Office is: If there is a deal, the challenge that both leaders will face is selling it to their respective constituencies and their parties. Has there -- can you describe the outreach that's currently underway between the White House and congressional Democrats?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm not going to get into private conversations. But clearly our team here, the Office of Leg Affairs, and other -- other offices in the -- in the administration, and along with the congressional leaders have been in touch with -- with members and with certain teams, clearly, in Congress. That -- those conversations will continue. That outreach must continued. I'm just not going to read out those private conversation.

But that's what I said. I said, "Negotiations are hard." Right? They are -- it is -- democracy in action is what we're seeing currently right now.

And just as long as both sides understand that neither is going to get exactly what they want, we can get to a bipartisan reasonable budget agreement. That's what we're working towards. That's what you're seeing from the White House negotiation team. That's what you're seeing from the President, just as long -- this keeps continuing to move in a good-faith effort.

Go ahead.

Q: To the back, Karine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, I'll come to the back after.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. The tone in the last few days has been very respectful between the White House and McCarthy's team. You just said a few moments ago that McCarthy's team is working in good faith. But this morning, you had House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries slamming MAGA Republicans for dangerous default gamesmanship. You had Pete Aguilar saying McCarthy is beholden to the most extreme members of his party.

So is House Democratic leadership undermining the work of the administration right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Not at all. We are -- we are in line -- aligned with them, with the -- with the leadership on both the House and the Senate. And -- and that continues. And we have been aligned with them for the past several months.

Q: Does Jeffries speak for the party here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I believe he's the leader of the -- of the Democratic caucus on the House. So I would presume that is a yes.

Q: So, it just seems like there's a -- a bit of a divide between the rhetoric that he's using and the rhetoric we're hearing out of the White House.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think multiple things could happen at the same time, because, clearly, Leader Jeffries is a -- is a partner in this, has been a partner as long -- as well as Leader Schumer. That will continue. And I'll just leave it there.

I'm going to go to the back.

Q: The House -- the discharge petition -- one more. Is that at all a signal that House Democrats doubt the President's ability to lead the country to a solution here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, that's an extreme analysis or -- or a -- a final kind of analysis there. I -- I would say, if you look at what the President has done the last two years and the leadership that he has shown in passing historic pieces of legislation -- bringing the Democrats together in passing -- in the Inflation Reduction Act; when he bought the Democrats together to pass his first legislation, which is the American Rescue Plan that helped get the economy back on its feet -- that is a President that has led. That is a President that is going to continue to lead.

You look at the economy. The economy has been able to create 12.7 million jobs. It's able to see an unemployment rate at one of the lowest that we have seen in modern time. And that's going to continue if we are -- continue to do the work of the American people, get this bu- -- budget negotiation done. And here -- that's at stake. The work that this President has done -- that is what's at stake right now.

Q: And just --


Q: -- the discharge petition would be like an end run around what the President is doing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not. Look, I would -- I would refer you to Congress on their processes and what they're trying to do in Congress. But to say -- to say or suggest the President's leadership is in question, I think, is completely false. I disagree with that -- with that premise and certainly with that question. Because if you look at the last two years, if you look at what Democrats have been able to get done with the leadership of this President, that is the complete opposite of what you just laid out.

Go ahead, April.

Q: Karine, two topics. On the debt ceiling, you were strategic last week in saying it was a conversation -- there were a series of conversations versus negotiations. That has now turned. When did that wording change and why? And what is the sticking point within these -- or what are the sticking points, if you will -- of these negotiations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you say that one more time? What's changed? You were saying, "What's changed?"

Q: Last week, you were very strategic in saying they're not negotiations, they're conversations.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I've always said -- I've always said that budget -- it is -- we are negotiating on the budget. I've always been very clear about that. I said that default is not negotiable. That's what I've said. I said default is not negotiable but that, you know, the President has always seen this as dif- -- separate -- two separate conversations, two separate discussions.

And we are -- we are indeed been negotiating on the budget. That's what you've seen from -- from the outcome of these conversations. And that's what you continue to see.

Q: So how long, officially, have you begun the negotiations? When did the negotiations actually start?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, once the -- once the House -- right? -- was able to -- the Republicans in the House were able to pass their budget plan -- I believe it was April 26th -- the President invited -- five days later, the President sat down with the leaders, and they started having conversations.

And then, after that, you saw the budget teams announced -- a budget negotiation teams announced, and you've seen and you've all have reported what's been happening for the past several days.

Q: Okay. And second topic. The NAACP has made a move, a travel advisory for the state of Florida after several issues against the other, if you will, from Governor Ron DeSantis.

And they're saying that the hate that is coming out of this political season is dangerous. What do you say to what the NAACP has done? I mean, they're following behind other groups -- be it groups on race, on LGBTQ+ -- but they're making a bold statement. What do you say to this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm not going to -- to comment on travel advisories specifically, but I'll say this more broadly -- and where we have been, as an administration, as a White House, we've been outspoken about the impact of misguided policies advanced by Florida lawmakers.

Republicans in -- in Florida have attacked diversity. They've attacked inclusion efforts. They've limited the teaching of Black history. And they've launched attacks on the LGBT youth, immigrants, educators, and women's reproductive freedom. That's what you have seen from lawmakers in Florida.

So I will let NAACP, I'll let LULAC speak to their specific -- specifics of their travel advisories.

But this administration is going to, as we have for the past two years, continue to speak out against discriminatory policies pushed by state -- state leaders across the country. And we've seen them across the country, by -- by Republicans -- extreme Republicans putting forth these -- these policies, these legislation that hurt Americans, that take away their freedom.

And so, again, we're going to continue to be outspoken. That's what we believe it is our duty to do here. That's what the President believes. And we're going to continue to call this out.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. In a closed hearing today, a Russian court extended the pretrial detention of the Wall Street Journal's Evan Gershkovich until at least August 30th. What is the White House's response to that decision? And can you provide any updates on the administration's efforts to secure Evan's release?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we are deeply concerned that Russia has extended the pre-trial detention of Evan Gershkovich by an additional three months today. We have been very clear that the claims against him are -- are baseless. Russia should release Evan and Paul Whelan immediately. And we'll continue to be very clear on that point.

Q: And just, on another topic: China has said it'll ban big companies from buying Micron's chips. Why does the White House believe the PRC decided to take this step? And does the White House view it as the kind of economic coercion that G7 leaders condemned -- or denounced in Japan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the recent announcement by the PRC regarding Micron we believe are not based -- not based in fact. And so, the Department of Commerce is engaged directly with the PRC to detail our views on this.

We are -- we're certainly troubled by the action and the recent raids and targeting of American -- American firms, American companies. These actions are inconsistent with the PRC's assertions that it is opening its markets and committed to a transparent regulatory framework.

So, those conversations are certainly -- of our views are certainly being communicated to the PRC via the Department of Commerce.


Q: To the back.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. All right. To the back.

Q: Yeah, I'm right over here. I -- yeah. (Laughter.) I see you, you see me; let's not play around anymore. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let's not -- okay, Mr. "To wit," let's go. What do you got?

Q: All right, I promise not to use that phrase again. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Social media loved it, though.

Q: Do you mean to tell us that in the discussions between the President and the Speaker, and in the discussions between the two negotiating teams, they are only discussing federal discretionary spending and that they are not at all discussing the terms under which the debt ceiling would be raised?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you is what you've heard from the President and what you've heard from both sides, which has been: The negotiation has certainly been about the budget. You've heard them talk about the budget. You've heard them talk about how we're moving forward and that in this particular moment that we're in, they've been productive.

The President has held the line and has been very clear that the debt -- when it comes to the debt limit, it should be done without negotiations, without condition. That's something that the President has said in front of all of you. And he also said --

Q: But I want to know what's happening in the actual rooms.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just -- I just --

Q: They're not --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- told you.

Q: -- talking about the debt ceiling, about how long --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just told you --

Q: -- it would be raised, by how much?


Q: That's not a subject of discussion?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- well, first of all, I -- I am telling you what the President has said to all of you.

Q: I know what he said. I follow him --


Q: -- very closely --


Q: -- every day.

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

Q: I want to know what's happening in that room.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- the President has spoken to what he has said to the leaders in that room, to what he has said to Speaker McCarthy in the room. And he's been very clear. And so he has said, when it comes to the debt limit, it is not negotiable, it should be done without conditions. That's what he has said, that he has been very clear, when it --

Q: But is he living up to that in these talks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I will also remind you that yesterday the Speaker and the President said, when it comes to default, it is off the table. And I'll leave it there.

Okay. Let's keep going.

Q: Back row?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh gosh, I -- go ahead, Alex. I haven't seen you in a while.

Q: Hey. Hi, Karine. Democratic mayors in Chicago and New York are just straining to house, you know, humanely the migrants coming north from, you know, Texas primarily. And it seems, at least in New York, they've run out of solutions. They seem really desperate. It seems like Chicago is more or less in the -- more or less in the same boat.

You know, they've pleaded for more help from the federal government. And what do you -- what do you have to say to the mayors there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we -- we just announced very recently that over $200 million to support cities this month, and we'll soon be awarding an additional $360 million. So we take this very seriously. And we would, of course, like to be able to provide more than that. But this is something that Congress needs to -- to give it -- to give it to us first to actually deal with that.

But again, $200 million that we've just announced, another 360 -- $360 million that we're going to announce additionally to help these cities that you just laid out.

But in the meantime, I -- I would note that the number of unlawful border crossing has plummeted since our plan went into full effect just about almost two weeks ago, 10 days ago. And so that's because we put in plan -- we put a plan in place that -- that dealt with diplomacy, deterrence, and enforcement.

That's what we did. And that's what you're seeing when -- once our plan took in effect, you saw -- you actually saw numbers of unlawful border crossings plummet. And so, that is important because our -- the actions that we've put forward is actually working.

When it comes to the cities, we're doing everything that we can. Of course, we would want to do more, but we have to have Congress to act as well.

All right. Okay. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you so much. Is it me or is it the guy behind me?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: I'm going to take it.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The floor -- the floor is yours, Anita, if you want it.

Q: I'm going to follow up on Sabrina's China question. When the Commerce Secretary meets with her Chinese counterpart in Washington, what are the administration's objectives for this meeting? Should we see this as a sign of a warming up of relations between Washington and Beijing?

And, you know, are they going to discuss this proposed executive order that the President is mulling over about preventing American companies (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm not -- I'm certainly not going to get ahead of -- of that conversation, of that meeting. I think it's going to be a very important conversation; clearly, a meeting that the Commerce Department is going to have.

What I'll say, as it relates to the next steps and other meetings and other travel by Cabinet Secretaries, we've been very clear: When -- when it is appropriate, we will -- we'll certainly revisit Secretary Blinken going to China, and we've talked about Commerce Secretary going to China and also Secretary of Treasury going to China as well.

But when it -- when the time is right, when we feel like the -- it is appropriate, certainly those conversations will continue, and we will reengage on a potential travel. But certainly not going to get int- -- ahead of what's going to be on the agenda or what's going to come out of those meetings.

Q: I have a quick Africa question. An inquiry in Pretoria finds that, indeed, a private South African company did supply weapons to Russia. So how does the White House feel about this? What could be the consequences? Are they -- is Pretoria going to be receiving an angry phone call or maybe a rap on the knuckles, changes to their AGOA status, anything like that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I'll say this, more broadly: I'm not going to speak to an individual company here, but, look, Russia is waging a brutal war, as you all have been reporting and you all see, against the people of Ukraine. And we are constantly working to cut off funding for Putin's war machine and to undercut Russia's ability to carry out this conflict.

And so, you know, as part of those efforts, we have strongly urged countries not to provide support for Russia's war. But certainly I'm not going to get into either any private diplomatic discussions or pl- -- private companies from here.

But we've been very clear on what we have seen Russia do to the -- to the people of Ukraine. But we've also seen Ukrainian people over the past -- and this is something that the President said over the weekend -- bravely fight for their freedom. And so we're going to continue to do everything that we can to give them the assistance that they need to fight for their freedom.

So I'll leave it there.

Go ahead.

Q: Yeah?


Q: Thank you so much. Speaker McCarthy said yesterday, in front of the White House, that the reason why we are in this problem is because every time Democrats want to make a deal, they want to make a deal about spending more money. So, do you agree with Speaker McCarthy that Democrats have a spending problem?


Q: To wit. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) No -- "to wit."

Look, I'll say this: The President's budget reduces the deficit, as you -- as you know, by nearly $3 trillion over 10 years. Right? This is a President that believes in dealing with the deficit in a real way. That's on top of the $1.7 trillion that the President has been able to reduce the deficit the last two years.

So, the President takes this very seriously. He -- you know, this is -- he's proposed reducing the deficit by eliminating tax breaks for carried interest loopholes, retirement for wealthy, real estate investors, and cryptocurrency.

He's also proposed rais- -- raising taxes for billionaires, stock buybacks, and big corporations. And let's not forget the Big -- Big -- the subsidies for Big Pharma and Big Oil. For Big Oil, it costs about $30 billion. For Big Pharma, it's about $200 billion. That's what it will save if we were able to -- if we're able to cut those wasteful spending on subsidies.

So, the President has laid this out. He's been very clear. Just look at his budget from March 9th. He's laid out how we can cut spending on behalf of the American people and -- and American families. And -- and that is on top of what he's been able to do the last two years -- $1.7 trillion.

Now, more recently, he also talked about doing an additional trillion dollars on top of the $3 trillion that he proposed in March 9th in his budget. So, he's taking this very seriously.

Q: Okay. Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, guys. I'll see you tomorrow.

Q: Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, everybody.

3:28 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

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives