Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:17 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.
Q: Good afternoon.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Over the past few days, we have seen the traumatizing impact of the gun violence epidemic in our country:
At Morgan State University in Baltimore, where a joyful Homecoming Week was interrupted by violence.
In Holyoke, there were sev- -- there were -- where several people were shot at in -- at, including a pregnant woman who tragically lost the child she was carrying hours later in the hospital.
And in Philadelphia, where three police officers were shot while doing their jobs last night.
Americans should be able to go to their schools, places of worship, jobs, and out in their community without the fear of gun violence.
Last week, the Department of Justice announced that they are awarding more than $4.4 billion in grants to support state, local, and Tribal community safety efforts that re- -- that reach every corner of the country.
This historic investment is community safety -- in community safety is a major stride toward preventing violence in our communities.
Among some examples of where this critical funding will be going: number one, first, community violence prevention efforts, including in new investments in states including North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio; efforts to support victims of gun violence in all 50 states; investments in crime reduction strategies and support for law enforcement; crucial resources to keep our kids safe in and out of school; and much more.
This is just the latest action from the Biden-Harris administration to keep communities safe, and it builds on the historic action President Biden has taken to reduce gun violence and gun crime, including signing into law Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, announcing dozens of executive actions, and last month launching the first ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
Now, tomorrow, our administration will kick off the third -- third Investing in Ameri- -- America Tour with the President, the First -- the Vice President, the First Lady, Cabinet members, and senior administration officials, making dozens of trips across the country to highlight how Bidenomics is growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out in communities across the country.
To mark National Manufacturing Day tomorrow, the First Lady will travel to Fishkill, New York, to attend the launch of a new mechatronics training lab funded by the American Rescue Plan.
And the White House will launch our advanced manufacturing sprint to build a diverse, skilled pipeline of workers, including for union jobs in advanced manufacturing.
This tour comes as extreme Republicans in Congress continue -- continue to -- to try to block the President's Investing in America Agenda and repeal critical pieces of in- -- of legislation that are bringing investments and opportunity to their own districts.
We'll be sharing out some more additional information this afternoon, so please stay tuned.
Q: Thanks. First topic, does the President support the ongoing strike by Kaiser healthcare workers?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As we've always said, the President is always in support of -- of union members, you know, striking -- number one -- but also doing collective bargaining.
We know that works. We've seen that work, whether it is the UPS -- UPS strike or the Westport -- the West Coast ports. And we know when -- when the two sides or all sides come together and in a good-faith approach, they can get to a place where union workers are getting their fair pay and fair benefits. So, certainly the President supports that.
Q: So -- but is the strike, for the President, worth it when there's already reports of babies not being able to get checkup appointments or non-emergency care being delayed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President believes that all workers -- all workers, including healthcare workers, and those who make their -- their work possible, deserve a fair sha- -- a fair pay and benefits. That's what he believes.
And look, it's -- it's not new or unusual for care workers from any sector to exercise their rights under the collective bargaining.
Again, when the two sides come together in good faith, we believe that it works out. There is a resolution. There is a win-win scenario here.
And even the chair at Treasury Department -- and I spoke to this earlier this week -- put out a report: When we see that type of collective bargaining that it not only helps union workers but it also helps the economy and it helps non-union workers.
Look, we hope that they get to a -- to -- they get to a place where they can all agree so we can move forward so that mothers can indeed make sure -- take care of their kids. Right? That is indeed important.
But he -- we've always been clear that he believes workers have the right to ask for fair pay and fair -- and fair benefits.
Q: And a couple on Ukraine. Does the White House have a reaction to the attack in eastern Ukraine today where about 50 people were killed? Ukrainian officials say it was a Russian rocket that caused the -- caused the accident -- or caused the -- caused the incident. And it's the deadliest attack in months.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we -- sadly, we're continuing to see Russia launch strikes like the one today in eastern Ukraine, which hit a grocery store -- reportedly, as far as we know at this moment, killed at least 9- -- 49 people.
So, we have to stop and think about this. Let's stop and think about what we're seeing: 49 innocent people who were killed by a Russian airstrike while they were shopping for food at a supermarket. That's what they were doing.
And so, can you imagine just walking to the grocery store with your kids, trying to figure out what is it that you're going to make for dinner, and you see an explosion happen where bodies are everywhere. And it's horrifying.
It is incredibly horrifying for the people of Ukraine, for the folks who are -- like yourselves, your colleagues -- who are reporting this on the ground. And it is -- for these families and these kids.
So this is what is happening in Ukraine every day. This is why we're doing everything that we can to help Ukraine, to help the brave people of Ukraine to fight for their freedom, for -- to fight for their democracy.
And so this is, again, what the President keeps talking about over and over again: We have to be continuing to support the people of Ukraine, because this is the horrifying nature that they live in every day.
Q: And one more on Ukraine, if I may, because I know we've talked a lot about the "deal," in quotes, with the -- with the White House and the Speaker. When the Speaker was asked about this on Tuesday night at his post-speakership press conference, he said that -- he said there was a concern in there, does it have transferability on money. "I believe that my staff believe it did. What I did say to the White House: If it does not -- if you think in some way it doesn't do what it -- do it the way it should, I will fix that. I did say that. I did say I'd do it." Is that the agreement that the White House had with the Speaker -- fixing some money transferability issues as it relates to Ukraine aid?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here's what I can say, and just to what the President alluded to -- we have another package of aid of Ukraine -- for Ukraine soon -- soon as -- soon as part of our normal cadence, which includes weapons and equipment for the fight that they're in.
And so, we're going to continue to do that. We're going to continue to make sure that we meet the battlefield needs that Ukraine has using existing authorities, using those resources provided by Congress, as we have said from -- from the podium this week. And certainly, that's what the President was alluding to.
I'm not going to go beyond what the President said. We ultimately, though -- we believe that Congress needs to act, right? Even as we talk about these authorities -- these are the resource authorities, funding authorities that we have, these PDAs -- and you've heard from my colleague at NSC that we can go a bit longer -- a bit longer, but it's not the long-term solution.
So, the -- I -- the -- the big piece of this right now is that we need Congress to keep their promise -- to keep the promise that they made to Ukraine's -- Ukrainians about continuing that bipartisan support. We see it in both the -- both chambers that there is a majority of support there. And so, that's what -- when we talk about the long-term how we move forward, that's what we want to continue to see.
Go ahead, Selina.
Q: The President just told me that a border wall does not work. If that's the case, why does his own Department of Homeland Security Secretary say in a public notice, quote, "There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers."
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Here's what I can say. I can speak to what the President was very clear in saying and also what you all have been reporting about -- about this -- this construction.
So, the facts are this: This -- this is not new. These funds were appropriated in fiscal year 2019 under Republican leadership, and DHS is required by law to use the funds for appropriate- -- appropriated purpose.
That's what we're seeing. This was announced back in June by the DHS.
And so, look, we -- we believe that there are better effective ways of moving forward to secure our border and security -- we -- our border security. And we have continuously asked for Congress to act to provide our CBP at the law enforcement -- law enforcement at the border -- to give them the resources they need to do their jobs.
And so, we're going to continue to call on Congress. We believe -- and the President has been very clear, even when you asked him, "Does a -- does a border wall work?" He said, "No." And he has been very consistent about that.
We believe that we need border technology that is modernized and land ports of -- at -- of land ports of entry. And that's what we want to see. And that's what I can speak to.
And we -- this is something that we were required by law, and we are complying. This is an administration that does believe in the rule of law.
Q: But why now? For instance, these funds have been available since Biden took office. Why at this moment?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And the President actually spoke to this. And this is one of the things that he was saying that he -- he's been asking Congress to reappropriate the funds. He has been for the past couple of years, and Congress refused. And we have to comply by law to get this done. And that's what you're seeing happening right now.
Q: Would there be a way to continue to slow-walk this and to delay it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We have to comply by law, and that's what we're doing at this time.
We asked Congress to reappropriate the funds. That's what we would prefer to see -- not waste the funding in the way that they're doing it right now -- that we are required to do. But they've refused, and so now we're moving forward.
Q: Thanks, Karine. What specific law will the administration be breaking if funds appropriated for the border wall are not used, especially because the funds are -- go unused all the time? I mean, why not let it go unused this time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I'm not going to speak to the law. I would have to refer you to Department of Justice. I'm not a lawyer.
But what I can tell you is that we are com- -- we are -- this is a law that we are complying with. We have -- we have asked Congress multiple times to reappropriate this. This is not the way that we believe is going to be effective here.
We believe in modernizing the system, not actually building a wall. The President said himself he does not think this is effective. And so we're complying by law.
And we believe that -- in the rule of law here, and we're moving forward in getting that and -- in following the law.
Q: Is -- is this the administration in some ways recognizing that using these funds at this moment will be useful in Texas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We are complying by the law that says that we need to do this. And that's what DHS is -- is asking for.
Q: And -- and how is this consistent with what President Biden pledged to do when he was elected, which is that he will not use any funds to use the border wall? What will you tell --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let's make -- well, let's make this really clear: The facts are that this is not new, right? This is something that came from the last administration under the Republican leadership in fiscal year 2019. And we are required to do this. We are required -- DHS is required to comply by the law. That's what we're doing here.
And look, the President -- he said this himself. He asked Con- -- he basically asked Congress to reappropriate the funds; they wouldn't do it. And so, now we are com- -- we have to comply by the law.
Now, this was something that was announced six months ago. DHS actually announced this six months ago. And so, this is not new. This is actually not new.
Q: But will this help with the situation in Texas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We believe that a border wall is not effective. You heard that from the President when your colleague, Selina, asked him directly. He said we don't believe it's effective.
We have asked Congress to actually fi- -- to actually help us, you know, use these funds in smarter, more effective ways. That's what we've asked for. They refuse, but we're going to continue to ask Con- -- for Congress -- especially Republicans who are holding this back -- to act.
Q: If the border wall is ineffective, why is the Homeland Security Secretary saying that it's necessary to prevent unlawful entries into the United States?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have not seen that full -- that full statement. I know --
Q: It's in the notice that went out this morning.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I hear you. I'm just saying I've not seeing that full -- his full statement on that.
What I can speak to is for the President. The President has been very clear that he doesn't believe it's -- it's effective. He answered that question of your colleague. That's what I can speak to. That's what we're going to talk about.
And we've actually said there are smarter ways and more effective ways in dealing with this. And there are. And so, we -- the President said himself: He asked Congress to reappropriate these funds for something that is more effective for ways to do this in a smarter way as it relates to border security measures. They refused. This was announced back -- back in June. And now we're moving forward.
Q: And he said in 2020 as a candidate -- so after this law was passed in 2019 -- that "There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration." How can you say that he's not breaking that promise?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, what I can say is that there is a law that the DHS is com- -- is complying with. We believe in the rule of law. And that's what we're moving forward to -- with.
This was decided, as you just said, in 2019. I believe there was a different president in 2019 -- right? -- that was a Republican president -- who actually pushed this forward. The Republican leadership pushed this forward. And so, now we're complying by the law.
Let's not forget: This was six months ago -- this was out there six months ago. I know you guys are asking me about this now, but this was actually not new. And this was done six months ago.
Q: Yeah. But to piggyback on that, Karine, I mean, there were a series of waivers put forth last night that expedited this process. And can you help us understand, essentially, is there a deadline in the law? Or why is it that this has to be used up right now? Because you all have been not thus far using these funds. So, to piggyback on Nandita's question, why not continue to slow on this if philosophically you --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because we've asked --
Q: -- you do not believe in it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because the answer there is we've asked Congress over and over again -- the President said this -- to reappra- -- -appropriate the funds. They said no. We have to comply by the law. That's what DHS is doing.
As you asked me about the environmental laws that we had to -- that we had to deal with, you know, we have to comply by the law, and -- which requires -- because we have to comply by the law, which requires the agencies to use these funds, so -- for their appropriated purpose.
Now, CBP will conduct environmental and cultural resource surveys of this project. And so, certainly, I would refer you to DHS and CBP on the specifics of that and also the law itself.
What I can tell you is that we are -- we have to comply by the law, and that's what we're doing. And that's what DHS is doing.
Again, this was out -- this was announced back in June. And this is what we're -- how we're moving forward.
And you heard directly from the President. His stance on the border wall has not changed. He does not believe it is effective. He has been very clear about that. Again, your colleague asked him directly, and his answer was no.
Go ahead, JJ.
Q: Has the government already contracted for this project?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any news about the -- about contracts for this project or how it's moving forward. I would have to refer you to DHS on that.
Q: And on the Ukraine speech. Are you expecting it to be next week -- early next week?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don't have anything new to share on the Ukraine speech specifically.
But, look, the President was very clear. He wants to give a major speech on this. And so, when we have more information, certainly we will share it.
Look -- and you've heard me say this multiple times. You heard the President say this. There is strong bipartisan support from both chambers for protecting our national security by backing Ukraine as that -- as -- as they continue to fight for their democratic -- for their democracy, for their sovereignty, and resist the brutal invasion of Russian aggression, obviously, which has committed war crimes and atrocities and killed countless civilians and kidnapped thousands of children.
We saw what happened -- what's happening today in Ukraine at the grocery store, where we know at least 49 people have died. And that's horrific. That is how they're living their life.
And also, I want to bring in the experts into this, too -- across the spectrum have stressed: If we abandon the people of Ukraine and Russia is successful, it would send a terrible message and embolden dictators and would be aggressors -- and would-be aggressors around the world who may want to invade other countries. So -- which could draw the United States and create much more -- much more of a problem and an issue around the world.
So, that's -- you know, that's why we have to continue, we believe, being behind and -- behind the people of Ukraine. When we have more to share on his speech, we certainly will do that.
But, yes, the President is going to make a major speech on Ukraine. And when we have those information, we'll certainly share it with you.
Go ahead, Peter.
Q: Karine, I just want to follow up very quickly. You said that it's not new, but, to be clear, that this was posted on the Federal Register overnight on October 4th. So, just to be clear about this: The President earlier today said that -- he was asked, "Does the border wall work?" He said, "No." But in the statement that was posted within the last 24 hours, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary says, "There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States…"
So, who's right: the statement from the DHS Secretary overnight or the President's comments today saying they don't work?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. Yes, it showed up on the register today. But the announcement -- this is not new. This is from six months ago.
Q: Well, it is new, because the waiving of the laws actually didn't happen until overnight.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But it was -- this is something that was out back -- that the DHS was -- put out back in -- in -- in -- six months ago.
Q: So, wait, wait. So, they waived the --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So -- and now -- they announced -- no --
Q: Did they waive the laws six months ago?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, what I'm saying is DHS announced this back in -- in June, that the agency would do so. They actually said that they would do that back -- in DHS --.
Q: But -- so, they moved forward with it today -- but the initial announcement was six months ago -- by waiving the law. So, that's what's new today. Understood.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes --
Q: So, this statement, when he says "presently" was filed --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- just want to make sure we're clear on that.
Q: -- so, when he said there is "presently," are you saying, when he says there is "presently," he was referring to six months ago or referring to the date of which it was filed -- 10/4?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you is DHS announced this back in June, that they were going to move forward with this. That's what I can share with you. That's what I -- I know is to be true and is to be fact.
Look, I can speak for the President. The President said -- he was asked directly -- he doesn't believe a border wall is effective.
Q: Does he have a disagreement with his Department of Homeland Security Secretary?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I -- what I can tell you is what the President -- I -- I'm going to tell you what the President said and what your colleague asked him. He said no, he doesn't believe that the border wall --
Q: I ask because he's speaking --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- is effective.
Q: -- in direct contradiction to what his own Homeland Security --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I hear you.
Q: -- Secretary says.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I hear you.
I'm speaking for the President. I'm saying that he has said that he does not believe a border wall is effective. That's what he was asked. He has said that for some time now, and it still remains to be the case.
He asked -- right? -- he asked Congress multiple times, his team has asked Congress to reappropriate the funds. They refuse to do that. We're going to comply by law.
Q: Will you ask the President on our behalf, then, in the absence of our ability to do that, whether he disagrees with the statement that there is "presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers"?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm happy to take that back.
Q: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm happy to take that back.
Q: Thanks. Karine, again on the wall, Mexico's President is saying that the -- the plans to move forward, quote, are "contrary" to what President Biden had been proposing. Has the President addressed this with Mexico? Have you guys -- has he talked to him?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, he just addressed it in the -- in -- in the Oval --
Q: But has he -- has he spoken to the Mexican leader?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I hear you. But that just -- that was just -- came out, right? -- I'm assuming -- that he just made that statement. Correct?
Q: He could have talked to him in advance.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You guys just saw him. He was meeting with -- he was meeting with his national security advisors -- right? -- with the new chairman.
So, first of all, you heard directly from the President. He said that he does not think a border wall is effective. So, you heard directly from the President on that, as -- as the President of Mexico is speaking to, right? So, you heard from -- directly from the President.
I don't have a -- I don't have a call to read out. The President has been busy meeting with his national security team.
Q: Does he plan to speak with him about this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't -- I don't have a call to reach out.
As you know, members of -- members of his team here at the White House have -- they went down to -- to Mexico. They did a delegation and went down there and had meetings. I don't have a call to read out from the President.
Go ahead, Nancy.
Q: Thanks, Karine. As someone who spends a fair amount of time in the Oval Office with the President, did you ever have a troubling encounter with Commander?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, not at all.
Q: So, he never nipped you?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No.
Q: Were you ever wary of being --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No.
Q: -- around him because --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. I've --
Q: -- of the biting incidents that you had heard about?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not. And I've seen Commander many times. I was never wary, and I've never been bit by Commander.
Q: Have any of your -- have any of the members of your staff ever been bitten?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say -- I don't have numbers of -- of -- of, you know, exact numbers of -- of any incidents with Commander.
I do want to lay out something that my colleague Elizabeth Alexander, over at the First Lady's Office, who is her communications director -- and just to -- just to be clear here -- and we want to, you know, make sure that folks understand, just in case you guys didn't see her statement here.
And it goes as follows: "The President and the First Lady care deeply about the safety of those who work at the White House and those who protect them every day. They remain grateful for the patience and support of the U.S. Sec- -- U.S. Secret Service and all involved, as they continue to work through solution[s]." "Commander is not presently at the White House -- on the White House campus and -- while next -- while -- while next steps are evaluated."
That was a statement that came out from the First Lady's office. And so, I will certainly leave it there.
But no, I -- as it relates to me, I was never wary of -- of Commander. I've seen him many, many times. And so, I -- I can only speak for myself, though. And I can't speak to any- -- anything else outside of that.
Q: I guess I'm surprised -- I've been bitten by a dog. If there was a dog that had bitten 11 or 12 other people, I'd be a little nervous around that dog. Why weren't you?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean -- (laughs) -- I'm not sure why this has to do anything with me. I was just not nervous at all. So, that is not a concern for me. That is not something that -- I can't speak to anything else outside of what you have heard from the First Lady's Office. And so, I'll just leave it there.
Q: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right.
Q: Can you make the dog available for questioning? (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Do you want me to bring the dog into the briefing room? That should be fun. That should be fun.
Q: I wouldn't mind. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q: Thanks, Karine. If you'll take another question on -- on the wall. You said, quoting the President, that he did not believe that a wall was effective. And you, in your own words, said that it would be a waste. I wonder if you could talk about why a wall is ineffective for a number of different reasons, whether it's stopping drugs, stopping illegal migration.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q: Obviously, the President has voted for, you know, the Secure Fence Act in 2006, specifically talking about how it would be effective in stopping drugs (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we believe -- so, first of all, he was asked, "Do you believe…" -- let me get the exact -- "Do you believe…" -- by your colleague Selina here -- "Do you believe the border wall works?" He said, "No." Right? He answered that directly.
So, we believe there are more effective ways of dealing with this -- dealing with the border security. And so, of course, we have repeatedly asked Congress to make sure that CBP have the resources they need to do their jobs. And we think there are other ways to do that, whether it's smarter, more effective border security measures -- and so -- you know, like tech- -- border -- border technology. We believe that works when you modernize that.
And also, land ports -- land ports of entry. We believe that's what works to deal with border security.
And so, we've been very clear. The President has very clear about this. He doesn't believe -- believe the border wall is effective, and that has not changed. That has not changed.
We are complying by the law. DHS is complying by the law that -- that -- that -- an appropriation that came from fiscal year 2019, under the last administration -- Republican leadership -- and that's what you're seeing now.
Q: I just want to follow up with --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q: -- a question about the -- the letter that Governor Pritzker sent earlier this week. He asked for one person in the White House who deals with the President to be a coordinator for border issues for irregular migration and how it's impacting some of these big cities.
What's the White House response to this idea that you need one person? Because it sounds like he thinks that there is more coordination that needs to be happening.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here's the thing: There are multiple folks here who deal with -- who are -- and have been in touch with governors across the country on this issue. You have the Inter- -- Intergovernmental Affairs Office, which is led by Tom Perez. And, you know -- and so, that is someone who has kind of led these conversations with these governors and talks to them pretty regularly about the issues that they're having on any -- all -- an array of issues, not just this.
And so -- and there are mu- -- multiple other people that have been in touch with governors across the -- across the country.
Look, let's not forget, we provided a billion dollars to those coun- -- to those -- to those, you know, counties, states, cities who are dealing with this issue, right? And -- and so, we have been -- we've been very, very engaged -- whether it's the governor in Illinois or the governor in New York -- on how to -- on how to move forward to really deal with the issues that they're dealing with on the ground in an effective way.
And so, that's what we're going to continue to -- continue to do.
You know, and -- you know, it is a -- it is an issue that's incredibly important to -- to this President. And that's how we're going to continue to move forward, have those engagements, have those conversations, and figure out what ways the federal government can help them on the ground.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Go ahead.
Q: Thanks, Karine. Two -- two questions. One is about Commander. Are there more dogs in -- of the First Family in the White House complex or not? Just wanting to find out if there's more dogs.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, it was just Commander that was here on campus, as I just mentioned. He's not --
Q: The other question, it has to do with --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- on the -- at the White House at the time.
Q: -- with the Darién Gap down in Central America. There's a lot of talks between -- apparently the government of Panama is making a complaint today against the government of Colombia for not -- for not stopping all the migration that is going through that area and apparently damaging all the natural environment there.
I was wondering if the U.S. is considering any action to help either Panama and Colombia to manage the migrant -- migration flows in that region.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don't have any new policy announcement to make at this time.
But as you know, the President has had -- and his team -- right? -- whether it's DHS or State Department -- diplomatic conversations with folks in the region. As you know, when it comes to migration, it is a regional issue not just at the border in -- in the south.
And so, we have consistently continued to have those conversations -- those diplomatic conversations. As you know, he brought more than 20 countries to the U.S. -- out west -- in the West Coast, as you all know -- to have those conversations on how we can work together. There was a declaration that was put forward on ways that we can move forward in dealing with the -- this migration issue that we see in the region.
I don't have anything new to read out, new policies to read out today.
Q: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q: Thanks, Karine. Just a couple on the border. First, on the timing. I understand that you've said this is in the works, that it's been out for six months. But specifically on this notice coming out last night, is it at all related to the funding request for Ukraine that the administration has been pushing for, given what some House Republicans are saying that they want border money right now -- they want more focus on border security. Is this some sort of, "We will put this out now so we can make more of an effort to get the Ukraine funding"?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I wouldn't connect the two. I think, again, the President has said multiple times when it comes -- when -- as answering "why now?" The President multiple times has asked Congress to reapprai- -- -appropriate these funds. They wouldn't do it. And so, we're moving forward.
This is -- this is nothing new. This was announced by DHS about six months ago back in June, and that continues to stay the case.
Look, as it relates to the border and what -- what Republicans are asking for: We believe one action should not -- one action should not be dependent on another action. It should not be. We've been very clear.
In August, the President told Congress we needed up to 4,000 more troops to support border operations; resources, equipment, and overtime to support the operations of 24,000 more Customs and Border Protection; 39,000 more detention beds; new technology to prevent cartels from moving fentanyl. And Republicans failed. They failed to act.
That -- and -- and, in fact, as I mentioned earlier this week, they were two -- two weeks ago, they forth a -- a CR that proposed cutting the DHS to [by] 8 percent, which would remove law enforcement at the border, which would make our border less secure.
And so, you know, those two things -- Ukraine funding and that should not be linked. We have seen bipartisan support in both chambers for Ukraine funding. And that's what we believe should be -- should --- we should be move -- moving forward and continuing that funding for Ukraine. And we've been asking. We've been asking the GOP -- House Republicans, in particular -- hey, to take action -- right? -- to take action in helping us -- become partners with us and dealing with what is happening currently at the border.
Q: And you've said many times that the President, many times, has asked Congress to cancel or shift these funds toward more effective uses at the border. How has he specifically done that? Has been -- has that been through formal budget or funding requests? When did that happen?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don't have the exact timeline of when those happened.
Q: Can we get that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm certainly going to ask our Office of Leg Affairs. Certainly, his team works on that. And so, I will ask the Office of Leg Affairs.
Q: And this appropriated funding from 2019 --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q: -- does that have an expiration date?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have an exp- -- I don't have the -- the -- the timeline or the date on if there's an expiration. I would refer you to DHS on that particular question.
But, again, we are complying by the law on this.
Go ahead, Jeremy.
Q: Could there be future border projects from the same amount -- allocation of funding that was appropriated in 2019? I mean, is -- is this the end of it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I don't know about any additional fu- -- additional funding from the fiscal 2019.
I can speak to this right now: As it relates to the structure that we are being compelled by law to have to deal with, anything specifically about the -- about border or what's next or how they're moving, I would certainly refer you to DHS.
Q: And real quick, back on Commander. Where exactly is Commander the dog right now? Is he --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not --
Q: -- in Wilmington or --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to go beyond saying that he's no longer on campus.
Q: Okay. Thanks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Phil, in the back.
Q: Thank you. You've reiterated that the President's position is consistent when it comes to the border wall. His DHS Secretary previously said in 2021 that he was against the border wall. As plenty of my colleagues have pointed out, he has recently said that there's, you know, an "acute need."
It seems that his Secretary has changed his mind. So, will the President or has the President inquired what caused that evolution?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Of? What caused the evolution of --
Q: Of Mayorkas's opinion when it comes to the wall.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you just heard from the President. I'm not going to get into --
Q: Well, is he -- is he curious perhaps what Mayorkas saw?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I -- I'm just saying that you just heard from the President. He was asked directly the question, and he said, "No."
I don't have anything else to add beyond that.
Q: And then, is there any comment on reports that a U.S. F-16 shot down a Turkish drone that was nearing American forces in Syria?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I -- we did see those reports as I was walking out here. I would have to certainly confer -- confer with the National Security Council. I just don't have anything to share on that.
But -- but in the meantime, I would refer you to Department of Defense.
Q: Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q: Thanks --
Q: Thanks you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q: Thanks. Thanks, Karine. Two questions on two different subjects. One, is the issue with the border wall funding the same issue that caused former President Trump to get impeached the first time when he wouldn't spend money that Congress told him to spend for Ukraine?
Is it the same -- if you were not to spend the money, would you be facing the same sort of threat that the former President did?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You would have to do your research and look into that.
Q: And then the second -- second question, unrelated topic: Three-judge panel down in Alabama has put out a new congressional map for Alabama that appears to create a new voting rights opportunity district. Is the White House aware of that? And do they have any comment on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President believes the right to vote and have that vote counted is sacred and fundamental. It is the right from which all of our other rights spring.
A few months ago, the Supreme Court's ruling confirmed the basic principle that voting practices should not discriminate on account of race. We're glad to see that process result in a federal court selecting a map that allows all -- all the people of Alabama to have their voices heard.
Go ahead, Cristina.
Q: Karine, I understand you're saying that DHS is complying with the law.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q: But to do so, the President is not keeping his promises or his commitments to the immigrant community, to environmentalists, because he's waiving environmental laws to build this wall. Is there any concern that he's not keeping his promises?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President is always working to keep his campaign promises. You've seen that in many other policies and issues that he's worked on.
He's complying by the law. He's following -- certainly, we believe in following the rule of law. And that's what he's doing here. It is as simple as that. Is --
Q: Is he concerned about this border issue? Because it -- it does look like he's backtracking on a promise.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He's been very clear. He -- he even took the step to ask Congress to reappropriate the funds. That's how much he did not want these -- the- -- this -- this -- these appropriated funding to be used, right?
And so, they wouldn't do it. He took that step; they wouldn't do it. Now, DHS is complying by the law. We're following the law here. It's as simple as that. We are following the law.
Q: On the -- you mentioned the Kaiser healthcare strike.
And the UAW strike is still going on. At what point does that become a problem for the President in terms of whether it's starting to have a negative effect on the economy overall? And will he speak out about that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, the -- the President went to Michigan very recently, just last week -- a week ago, actually -- to show his support and to stand in solidarity with union workers. And that is -- he did that because he believes that unions have the collective bargaining rights to ask for fair pay and fair benefits.
They should be able -- you hear the President talk about this often: the dignity -- dignity of work, having that dignity to be able to provide for their family. And he believes, as it relates to UAW, record profits should lead to a record -- a record contract. That is something that the President has been very consistent on.
And so, and -- and same for the Kaiser union workers. They have the right to strike. And they have the right to do collective bargaining, which we have seen in multiple instanc- -- instances in the past several months that when both sides come together in a good-faith effort that there's a win-win situation.
And so, the President is always going to be proud of being the most pro-union president ever. He has said that. That's a -- that's a label that has been given to him by unions. And that's because he's done everything he can to make sure that union workers are -- are certainly respected and to have that dignity, and he's going to continue to speak up for them. That is something he will never back away from.
Q: But at what point does that become a problem if --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- we're -- I'm --
Q: -- it creates a drag on the economy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to get into hypotheticals here. What I can tell you is that the President is the most pro-union president for a reason: because he believes -- he believes that union workers have the right to ask for fair pay and fair benefits. And it -- it is something that they have the fundamentally right to fight for and to ask for.
And so, again, he stood very proudly in doing a -- taking a historic action -- going to an active picket line -- to really speak on behalf of -- of union workers.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q: Thank you, Karine. There is a Senate delegation going to China next week. I wonder if the White House is going to give them any advice or guidance and if the President will talk to them before or after the trip.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we've been in touch with Senator -- Senator Schumer's -- Leader Schumer's office about the upcoming Senate delegation -- as you just mentioned, that trip -- and -- and we support, certainly, their engagement in the region.
So, we would have to refer you specifically to Leader Schumer. We certainly support their trip to the region.
Q: Thanks a lot. On --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're up here.
Q: I -- this is my --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're throwing me off.
Q: -- old seat. I -- this is from -- this is the LA Times seat, my old seat.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. All right. You miss the LA Times?
Q: I do.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. (Laughs.)
Q: My hometown paper.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Don't tell Time. (Laughter.)
Q: So, on Pr- -- on President Biden's first day in office, January 20th, he posted a proclamation in the Federal Register where he halted all funding that was being redirected to build a border wall, and he also ended the national emergency on the southern border. Also, in the first paragraph of that proclamation, he asked for a careful review of all the resources that had been appropriated to the southern border wall. What was the result of that careful review?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have an update on the review, but happy to actually talk to the -- talk to the team, and we can work with you on getting the result of that review.
Q: Wa- -- I mean, it's been two and a half years. Was part of it --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I totally understand.
Q: -- the decision in June to --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I t- -- I --
Q: -- to restart construction on that section of the border?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I totally understand. You're asking me for a review; I'm not going to make something up from here, so I have to figure out from the team what came out of that review. So, don't have an answer on that review that you're asking about from the first day of the President's -- President's administration.
But I will also add: That first day, the President put forth a comprehensive legis- -- immigration reform -- right? -- to reform the system, to fix a broken system that has been broken for decades.
You know, every president has had to deal with the immigration system -- a broken immigration sys- -- I don't want to say every president, but the last -- the last few, for sure, in the last 20 years.
And so, the President took that very seriously. He put forth a piece of legislation. It was his first piece of legislation, right? That's how seriously he took it.
And then, when Congress wouldn't act, he took action. He took action to make sure that we had CBP -- more -- additional CBP -- 24,000 CBP folks on the ground by the border -- that's something that he did -- make sure there was record funding.
And he recently, back in August -- as I just listed out moments ago -- asked for more from Congress, and Republicans refused to act.
Look, that is how seriously this President has taken it. Of course, there's always more work to be done.
Since May, we have returned -- we have returned -- or, sent away or sent back more than 300,000 migrants who came here undocumented. And so, that is -- shows that -- our commitment to the border and that shows a commitment in making sure that we tried to work in a system that is broken.
Q: Karine, you haven't called on me since May.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have to go -- go ahead, in the back. Go ahead.
Q: Thanks, Karine. The Supreme Court is beginning a new term. And this Court has been known in the last couple of years to upend precedent on issues that this White House very much cares about. Can you talk about how you all are viewing this Supreme Court term and what you're specifically doing to prepare, given there's so many cases with issues that I know you all are watching.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we're al- -- we're always going to watch what the Supreme Court does. We don't ever know until it actually -- they actually make their decisions. But certainly, we're going to take -- keep a close eye on what they're going to take up and how that's going to affect the American people. But I just don't have any specifics on what we're specifically taking a look at.
But, of course -- of course, we're always -- we're always curious and always going to be certainly focused on what the Supreme Court take up.
Q: And Acting Secretary Su and Gene Sperling were assigned to work on the UAW strike. Are they still in Washington? Are they -- have they gone to Michigan at this point to talk --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don't have any -- anything new about any engagement from the Secretary or -- or Gene Sperling on -- as it relates to UAW. Certainly, if we have anything to share, we will do that.
Q: In the back, Karine.
Q: Afghanistan, please.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, way in the -- way in the back.
Q: Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Way in the back, go ahead.
Q: Karine, thank you. Two questions on the border wall.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q: First, just to clarify: The White House says that it's doing this only because it has to -- no other reason, like a surge in border crossings or pressure from other Democratic leaders?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: DHS was required to use this funds for their appropriate purses to comply with the law. That's what they were -- they were required to do. And we're going to continue to call on Congress to take action, to work with us on dealing with border security to make sure that we find smart ways and more effective ways to deal with the border. And that's what we're doing.
And -- and that's what we're going to continue to -- to work on. We've done that as recently as this past August. We've asked for $4 billion in supplemental funding to deal with the -- with the border. And we need Congress here. We need Congress to -- to work with us on dealing with the issue that's happening at the border.
Q: But why is the administration waiving laws to expedite construction if the border wall is ineffective?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I answered that question a couple times already. I'll answer it one more time for you.
This is something that the DHS had to take a step forward in -- in complying with the law. That's it.
AIDE: Karine, you have time for one more.
Q: Karine, Karine.
Q: Karine, on a government shutdown --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q: Thank you --
Q: Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q: Thank you, Karine. As a candidate, President Biden didn't say, "There will not be another foot of wall constructed that -- except what was appropriated in 2019." He said, "There will not be another foot of wall constructed [in] my administration." So, something changed. What?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You want us to break the law? Is that what you want? You want us to not comply with the law?
Q: I'm not -- I'm -- I'm asking about --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But you want -- but you want us to not comply --
Q: He was declarative.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- with the law? You want us to not be an administration that follow the rule of law?
Q: You guys do this all the time. The student loans -- the student loan forgiveness program -- you went to court to fight for that. If this is such a problem -- building 20 miles of wall -- why not just go to court?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We went to Congress. The Congress appropriates the funding.
Q: Why not go to -- why not --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Congress --
Q: -- fight them more?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Congress appropriates the funding. We asked them to not use that funding for that particular purpose. They denied it. And now we're complying with the law.
Q: If you have to build a border wall but you don't think that it's going to work, then once it's done, are you just going to tear it down?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not getting into hypotheticals from here. I'm just telling you what I can tell you from here. The facts are that DHS is complying with the law. This is from fiscal year -- this was under fiscal year 2019, under Republican leadership. And DHS is required to do this.
The President asked multiple times of Congress to reappropriate. They did not. And we're now complying by the law.
2:01 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/367098