Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

March 06, 2024

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:13 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, everybody. Good afternoon.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have, I think, one thing for you at the top, and then we'll get started.

So, before we get started, I wanted to preview what to expect tomorrow night with -- when President Biden delivers his third State of the Union.

You will hear the President lay out the historic achievements he has delivered on -- on for the American people and his vision for the future.

Looking at what President Biden faced when he came into office and where we are now, it is clear he has gotten more done in the first three years than most presidents have accomplished in two terms.

He will talk about the success in implementing his agenda, from infrastructure to CHIPS to lowering drug prices and getting rid of junk fees, as you heard him speak to yesterday with his Competition Council.

He will talk about whose side he is on and his plan to improve the lives of all Americans. That includes lowering costs for Americans and giving people more breathing room, lowering healthcare premiums and taking on Big Pharma to lower the cost of prescription drugs, making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes, saving our democracy and protecting our democratic institutions, protecting women's reproductive health in the face of relentless attacks from Republican elected officials, making progress on his Unity Agenda, ending cancer as we know it, delivering on the sacred obligation to veterans, tackling the mental health crisis, and beating the opioid and overdose pandemic.

We will have more to share tomorrow but, fundamentally, the President will outline an agenda that is about continuing to build on the progress that we've made over the last three years.

The President has always been an optimistic person, as you all know. And even in the face of challenges that we have in front of us, he will share why he is hopeful about this country's future and why it is a mistake -- it is a mistake to bet against the American people.

With that, Seung Min.

Q: Sure. I have a couple on Haiti, if I may.


Q: So, earlier today, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the U.S. has asked the Prime Minister to, quote, "move forward on a political process that will lead to the establishment of a presidential transitional council that will lead to elections."

So, I just want to clarify: Does that mean a resignation? Did the U.S. government ask him to resign directly?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. We are not -- we are definitely not pushing Prime -- the Prime Minister to resign. That is not what we're doing.

But we have underscored that now is the time to finalize a political accord to help set Haiti on a path to a better future, and that is something that we've been working on for some time. We've been working that -- on that with the CARICOM -- so that is nothing new; we've had those conversations -- and also the Haitian partners on the path to restoring democratic order in Haiti through free and fair elections, inclusive governance, and power-sharing.

This will give the people the opp- -- an opportunity to democratically elect their prime minister.

Again, this has been a conversation that we've had with Haitian partners, CARICOM with some -- for some time now. So, that is not new, and we certainly are not pushing him to resign.

Q: Even -- even though you're not directly calling on him to resign, can you just discuss the timing of why you're encouraging of this transitional government now? And also -- because, obviously, the White House has long resisted specifically pushing for his resignation, even if you aren't doing it now.

So, can you just talk about the timing of this encouragement or what -- why you're doing everything the way you are right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, we're not pushing, as you just stated in your question, for the Prime Minister to resign. This has been a long-time conversation that we have had with our Haitian partners, with CARICOM on making sure that there was a path to restoring democratic order.

So, that has been consistent with what we've been trying to do for some time now. And we believe, you know, it is the Haitian people -- they need to have an opp- -- opportunity to democratically elect their prime minister.

And so, there needs to be a plan in place, obviously, to do that. And so, that's what we're encouraging. But we've been having these conversations for some time.

Q: And one domestic matter. Back in February of 2021, President Biden said Donald Trump should not be given the traditional intelligence briefings that were given to former presidents because, quote, "What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact that he might slip and say something?"

Does the President still feel that way now -- now that Donald Trump is on the way to becoming the party's -- the Republican Party's nominee and would be entitled to the briefings that a president -- a party candidate would get?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think the President's words stand today as he stated them however long ago. I don't think his mind has changed on that. I just don't have anything to add.

Q: Would he do anything to block him from getting these briefings later this year?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to add. But the President was very clear about how he felt about that, and I would say those -- those comments certainly do stand today.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Can you confirm that the White House invited the Ukraine's First Lady to the State of the Union but that she declined to attend?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the White House did invite Mrs. Zelenska to the State of the Union. She was unable to attend. I would refer you to Ukraine as to her reasoning why, but she did indeed -- she did indeed receive an invitation from us.

Q: And there was also an invite that went out to Navalny's wife. Can you talk a bit about how the President may address foreign policy issues? Of course, he's going to be speaking to Republicans, many of them who, you know, he wants to convince to back more funding to Ukraine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm going to be really mindful and not get ahead of the President on his State of the Union remarks. So, not going to lay that out and how he's going to address Republicans, as you mentioned, who will be in front of him.

But, you know, the President -- as it relates to, certainly, Ukraine, the President is going to continue to make his case that House Republicans need to move forward, the Speaker needs to put the national security supplemental on the -- on the floor. We know that it would get overwhelming support.

And also, it's also about our national security -- our own national security. And so, we can't let politics get in the way of our national security. So, the President is going to make that clear, and I'll just leave it to the President.

As he would say, stay tuned. Stay tuned for tomorrow.

Q: Just to be clear, he'd make that -- those points clear at the State of the Union?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He's going to continue to make that case clear. You asked me how he's going to do that or lay that out tomorrow in the State of the Union. I just don't want to get into -- get ahead of the President.

But our message continues -- right? -- as it relates to national security supplemental. Obviously, the Ukraine aid is included in that supplemental.

Q: And just --

Q: And was Mrs. Navalnaya also invited and couldn't attend? Can you clarify?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So -- so, I talked about this yesterday. Mrs. -- Mrs. Navalny [Navalnaya] was indeed invited personally by the President. She was not able to attend. I would refer you, obviously, to her to -- to explain why. But yes, she was invited.


Q: And just lastly, on the Russian missile strike. It hit -- it was only about 200 feet away from President Zelenskyy. That's according to one of our sources. And a source close to Zelenskyy tells us that they believe Zelenskyy was the intended target. Is the U.S. looking into that strike? Do they believe that Zelenskyy was, in fact, the intended target?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I can't speak to what they were targeting. That's not something that I can speak to.

But it appears that it landed near, as you just said, the convoy. And I think Russia's actions speak for themselves here, but I just can't -- I can't speak for their -- their exact target.

Go ahead.

Q: Karine, do you have any reaction to the sailors that were reportedly killed in a Houthi attack?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me say a couple of things about that. That happened earlier today. So, today, the Houthis have killed innocent civilians by continuing their reckless attacks against international commercial shipping, which impacts countries throughout the world.

The ship they attacked was a Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier. It was not a U.S. ship, contrary to what the Houthis claimed. These reckless attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis have not only disrupted global trade and commerce but also taken the lives of international sea- -- seafarers simply doing their jobs.

We offer our condolences, obviously, to the families of those who lost their lives and, again, condemn the Houthis for these attacks. And we will call on governments around the world to do the same and join us in bringing to a halt these appalling attacks.

Q: Thanks. And -- and then, one more on Haiti. We understand that the Prime Minister Henry is located in the United States right now in Puerto Rico. Could you talk a little bit about what his status is there and what the United States is -- is doing as far as his travel logistics right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I cannot speak to the -- the Prime Minister's travel. He would have to speak to it himself. I just cannot speak to that.

Q: Okay. And then, should we expect any policy -- like, detailed policy rollout associated with the State of the Union tomorrow?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to share at this time. The President -- I'm not going to get ahead of the President, certainly. As he would say: Stay tuned. Stay tuned.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. Did the President have any reaction to Dean Phillips suspending his presidential campaign?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any reaction. I would have to refer you to the campaign on that specifically.

Q: Can you tell us generally whether you know if the President thinks there's, you know, legitimacy behind some of the main reasons that Phillips decided to run for president: concerns about the President's age, concerns that he is a vulnerable general election candidate? Is that something you've ever spoke- -- spoken to him about?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm going to be really careful when talking about an upcoming election and -- obviously, in -- in November. So, I'm going to be really mindful.

Look, this is why I think the State of the Union is going to be really important. The President is going to lay out what he has done the last three years -- the successes that he's had -- historic successes that he's had. He's going to speak to how he sees the future -- the future for -- for this country on behalf of the American people, and I think that's going to be important.

And I would say this, as it relates to part of your question: The President has been very clear. He's been very honest about his age. He knows that. He makes jokes about it. Right? He makes jokes about his friend, Jim- -- Jimmy Madison. Right? He gets that.

But this is also a president that has gotten done more in the last three years than most presidents have in their two terms of presidency. And that is what we've seen from the data. And a lot of that is because of his experience. His experience matter. His experience as -- 36 years as a senator, 8 years as vice president, and now into his -- into his first term as president -- it has shown that he can get things done.

We see that with the economy. We see that -- what he's trying to do with lowering costs. We see what he's trying to do with lowering healthcare costs. And a lot of historic pieces of legislation, that was done -- that are now law, obviously -- that was done in a bipartisan way. And that's because of the President's experience. And I think that matters.

And I'm just going to let the President speak more to his future, his vision, what he sees for this country tomorrow night.

Q: And just a quick question on State of the Union. You know, there was obviously a universe where a ceasefire and hostages deal was reached before the State of the Union. It seems increasingly clear that that's not going to happen in the next 36 hours.

So, given that, can you give us a little bit of insight into how the President has been working to draft a speech that addresses and speaks to just the anger and frustration that a lot of people are feeling about the fact that he is not willing, so far, to call for a permanent ceasefire?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you've heard the President call for a cease- -- a ceasefire, a period of time -- a pause where there's a period of time where obviously the fighting stops. Right? And with that is a hostage deal where we can get these hostages back home to their family and their loved ones.

Let's not forget: The hostages include about six Americans. And so, that's incredibly important.

At the same time, let's not forget getting that all-important humanitarian aid into Gaza to the Palestinian people. And so, that is important. That is a first step that we need to get to. The President is going to continue to -- continue to work on this, as he has been for the past several weeks, for the past several months, along with his team.

So, we are steadfast, focused on that. That is not going to change just because there's a State of the Union tomorrow. And so, the President is going to be optimistic. He is.

As it relates to his speech, look, these speeches, all of them -- you know, they -- they take massive undertaking. Right? They take a lot of work and -- to actually meet the moment of where we are as a country and also lay out the future for this country.

So, not going to get into specifics as to how he's working through that. You'll hear it from him directly. But the President certainly is going to meet the moment where we are as a country, lay out his -- the progress that we've seen in the last three years, and not just that -- how do we build on the -- on that progress?

Q: Do you happen to know what about the speechwriting process this time around the President has found most challenging?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, this is his third State of the Union Address, as you know. This is going to be, as -- as you can imagine, a very important -- important, as he sees it, conversation that he'll have with the American people. Millions of people are going to be watching.

And so, it's not just about the people who are -- the elected officials who are in front of him. And so, you know, I would say this: I would say this is certainly a continuation of those conversations that he has with Ameri- -- with the American people when he goes out -- when he goes out and travels on the road, right? He hears directly from them. He hears what they are dealing with. He heals -- he deals with what their family is dealing with.

And so, it's built on that. It's built on those conversations, tho- -- that experience that he has and knowing and having his finger on the pulse of -- certainly, about what the American people have been going through these past three years.

Going to be -- again, going to be really mindful. I'm not going to dive into his thought process. I think, when he delivers his speech tomorrow night, you'll get a good sense of where the President is and how he sees where we are -- this country, the state of the Union, obviously -- hence the opportunity that he has tomorrow.

And so, I would just leave it at that.

Go ahead, Joe-Joe.

Q: Yeah, thanks. After Nikki Haley withdrew this morning from the Republican presidential primary, President Biden issued a statement and a direct appeal to her voters. Does President Biden plan to reach out to Nikki Haley at some point? And has he yet or hasn't he?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's for the campaign to speak to. I don't have anything on that for you.

Yeah. Go ahead, Michael.

Q: Yesterday, I believe, Jake Sullivan announced that the administration backs a bipartisan bill that would lead to the banning of TikTok. Does -- does that -- does -- does Jake's views represent the views of the rest of the White House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just a couple of things. And I -- I'll get to your comment about the banning. But I do want to say a couple things at the top.

The administration has worked with members of Congress from both parties to pursue a durable legislative solution that would address the threat posed by certain technology services operating in the United States that put at risk Americans' personal information and broader national security.

And so, what we see is this bill is important. We welcome the step on ongoing efforts to deal with that, to address that. And we appreciate the bipartisan work. I think that's important that this was done in a bipartisan way. And so, we look forward to working with Congress.

Obviously, we provided technical assistance, as we normally do, when pieces of legislations are -- like this are being put together.

But I would have to say, you know, we don't see this as banning these apps -- that's not what this is -- but by ensuring that their ownership isn't in the hands of those who may do us ar- -- harm. This is about our national security, obviously, and this is what we're focused on here.

Q: Great. And the President would sign the bill, though? I mean, the bill explicitly gives the administration the authority to ban the apps if those ownership questions aren't resolved. And the President would sign it, right?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we welcome the bill. We obviously are working with them. And we think --

Q: Jake's -- Jake's words were to quickly act -- urging Congress to quick -- "act quickly" --


Q: -- "to send it to the President's desk."

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And that's -- and that's what I was going to say. We welcome it. Obviously, we've been working with them on it. And we would want to see this bill get done so it can get to the President's desk.

Q: Okay. And then just final question. Is the President planning on talking to TikTok influencers on Friday after the State of the Union about his speech?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- that's a good question. I don't have anything for you on that -- on his schedule for tomorrow. Once we do, we certainly will share that.

Q: It would be the schedule for Friday, you mean?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: For Friday. Pardon me. For Friday.

As you know, he's going to be on the road on Friday.

Q: And if --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any --

Q: And if he does, you wouldn't see any contradiction between the fact that the President would be using a technology that --


Q: -- he's urging Congress to --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, here's the thing -- and I've been asked this question multiple times about TikTok and our -- our use of TikTok.

As it relates to the campaign, I know camp- -- the campaign has created a TikTok account. I would let them speak to that. That is their strategy. I would let them speak to that.

And we've said this before: We are going to try to meet the American people where they are. We are. I mean, we are trying to reach everyone. The President is Amer- -- is a -- is a President for all Americans. And so, that's what we're trying to do there.

Doesn't --

Q: Even if -- even if it's a dangerous platform?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But doesn't -- it doesn't mean that we're not going to try to figure out how to protect our national security. Right? That's what we're doing here. That's what you see in this bipartisan legislation that's being moved forward that you heard from Jake about, that you heard -- that you're hearing from me about.

Doesn't mean that we don't do the work to make sure that we protect Americans. And that's what we're going to do here.

Go ahead, Tyler.

Q: Thanks, Karine. My colleague reported that U.S. officials told members of Congress in a recent classified briefing that the U.S. has quietly approved and delivered more than a hundred separate foreign military sales to Israel since the Gaza war began on October 7th. I'm wondering if the administration has -- has any comment on just the -- the scale of the amount of -- or the White House has any comment on the scale of the amount that's been transferred --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to comment on that.

Q: -- and whether the -- the White House thinks that there should be more transparency here.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I'm just not -- I'm not going to comment on a reporting and what you heard. I'm just not going to comment on that.

Go ahead, Jordan.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Just one more point of clarification on the TikTok stance.


Q: Are you saying that President Biden would sign the bill in its current form? Because the NSC statement said that you want to work with members of Congress to put it on stronger legal footing. So, it sounds like he would not sign it in its current form.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We would need it to be worked on. Right? We -- as we have stated, we welcome the -- we welcome the steps that they've taken. Obviously, it still needs some work. Obviously, we're providing technical support.

And once it gets to a place where we think, to your point, it's on legal standing and it's in a place where it can get out of Congress, then the President would sign it. But it needs -- we need to continue to work on it, obviously.

Q: And then one more on the Houthi attack. Can you say if the U.S. is readjusting its military strategy against the Houthis in response to this deadly incident? Is the U.S. going to step up attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen in response?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the U.S. obviously is going to continue to take action. And we believe that -- and I'm not going to get into national security here. We believe that we have seen -- we have been able to degrade their capabilities in the actions that we've taken over the past several weeks, several months. And so, that's -- that's been very clear in our assessment.

But this is not just our problem. Obviously, this is an international one. So, we are working in a multi- -- multinational coalition to deal with what we're seeing currently by the Houthis.

And so, look, this is something that we're going to continue to do. We're going to continue to take action. And that's what you have seen this administration do over the past several weeks.

Go ahead.

Q: Continuing on the Houthis.


Q: Why is the U.S. Navy having so little effect on stopping these kinds of attacks from happening?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as I was answering the question to Jordan a second ago, I'm not going to get into specific intelligence here. But broadly speaking -- broadly, we know that the strikes have indeed impacted on degrading their capabilities. And that's important.

We have taken out significant amount of Houthi weapons, and our military is regularly destroying Houthi missiles and -- and -- when they're being loaded and prepared to launch but before they can actually be fired at commercial ships. So, that's what we've been able to do.

So, we will continue to act as needed to degrade the Houthis' capabilities. And this is a process. This is a process here.

Q: Does the U.S. still hold Iran responsible for these attacks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It hasn't changed. Our -- our stance on that has not changed.

Q: And what would happen if the Houthis hit a U.S. naval ship?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You've seen us -- you've seen us respond. When you saw three military members were killed not too long ago, you saw our response.

So, we are -- the President is also the Commander-in-Chief, as you know, and he -- he understands that responsibility.

Q: And just to button up one thing on Haiti --


Q: -- about the Prime Minister being in Puerto Rico. Just to clarify --


Q: -- he is there on his own volition, or is the United States providing aid and comfort?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, le- -- we are -- we are not providing any assistance to help the Prime Minister, certainly, return to Haiti. We're not going to speak to his travel. That is something for him to speak to.

Q: So, as far as you know, he's just enjoying the sights?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- (laughter) -- that's for him -- (laughs) -- that's one way to put it. That's for him to speak to.

Q: Got it.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right.

Go ahead, Gabe.

Q: Karine, is the President preparing for hecklers during the State of the Union?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you saw the President last year when -- when some Republican members behaved in a way that was, I would say, disrespectful, and he handled that. And that -- he did that on his own. And he held them to account as it related to important programs that matter to the American people -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. He called them out on it as they were, obviously, heckling at him.

And so, the President is ready for anything. He's ready for anything, as you saw him, literally, do that last -- last year and, you know, it was -- it was something to watch.

Q: But during --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You all reported on that.

Q: -- during speech preparations, is he, you know, prepping for that, drilling any different (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the Presi- -- I mean, the President knows how to -- how to handle this stuff. I mean, again, he did it, literally, last February of 2023, and nobody was expecting that. Nobody was expecting that. And he took them on and laid out and fought for the American people on programs that matter to them. And so --

Q: (Inaudible.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- he -- you know, he got this.

Q: Given that --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President has got this.

Q: Given that House Speaker Mike Johnson has invited and is hosting the parents of Evan Gershkovich, what is the White House's reaction that given his role in stalling the national security bill? Do you think -- what does the White House think about his invitation to Gershkovich's parents?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As it relates to the national security supplemental and the --

Q: Give -- given --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- Speaker refusing to put it on the floor so that it can get overwhelming support --

Q: Given that --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- as we know it's going to get, and it was -- it will work towards our national security, right? It'll protect the American people national security; that's how we feel.

The Speaker should actually put the bill on the floor that we know Republicans are going vote for it. Obviously, Democrats are going to vote for it. Overwhelming support.

If he cares about our national security and put politics aside, he should do that.

Q: I -- I ask because the White House has said before that the Speaker -- by stalling the national security bill, he's giving aid to Russia. And now he's invited --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, that's -- that still stands. I mean, you know, I was just asked by one of your colleagues about the convoy -- right? -- where -- where President Zelenskyy was and the attack that happened near his convoy. We know what Russia is up to. We've seen what has been happening on the battle- -- on the battlefield over the past several weeks because of Congress's inaction.

And so, we've been really clear. When the four -- the Big Four were here just last week, the CIA Director was in the room, and he laid out the dire consequences for Ukraine.

Look, we have to stand up for de- -- just like Ukrai- -- the brave Ukrainians are standing up for democracy, we have to do the same. It also speaks to our own national security. So, the Speaker needs to put that national security supplemental on the floor and let it get that overwhelming support -- bipartisan support that we know that it's going to get.

Q: And finally, just to button this up -- to sum things up on Haiti. Yesterday, Admiral Kirby said that it was a simplistic explanation that -- there was, you know, money being held up when it comes to this multinational security force, that Republicans were holding up some of this money. He said that there were other reasons for it.

But I'll ask the question more bluntly: Do you blame Republicans for holding up critical money for Haiti?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let's not forget, what we're providing to Haiti is emergency -- really important emergency needs, right? When we think about food, healthcare, clean water, and other forms of critical assistance through U.N. and NGO partners to help people in need across Haiti.

And so, what we are seeing and what everyone is actually realizing is that the deteriorating situation in Haiti has required organizations to adjust their posture and, at times, prevented aid from reaching people in need. And that is just because of what we're seeing, obviously, on the ground.

And so, we're going to -- humanitarian partners are going to continue to provide the assistance amidst the current security breakdown, obviously, the best way that they can.

But, as we know, there's a dire situation on the ground. It has made it very difficult to get that aid. And -- and we have said this before: The U.S. government has le- -- has been leading in providing aid to the Haitian people.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks. On the State of the Union tomorrow. How much of it can we expect to be forward-looking -- potentially presenting a vision for the -- a second term -- versus going over, kind of, the accomplishments of the first term?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don't have a formula to read out to you right now. What I can say is he is going to take a look back, as I st- -- I said at the top, look at the achievements and the successes that we have had the last three years, and also speak to how we're going to continue to build on those successes and fight for the CHIPS Act, fight for the Infructure [sic] -- In- -- sorry, Inflation Reduction Act, which is -- as we know, at least as it relates to the Inflation Reduction Act, Republicans have tried to claw back. And these are important pieces of legislation that we need to continue to implement and protect. So, you're going to hear him talk about that.

I've talked about other -- other things that the President wants to focus on: lowering costs, fighting for our democracy, fighting for reproductive rights. So, he's going to talk about that, talk about the future, talk about his vision for the American people.

He's an optimistic guy, as we know. But I don't have a formulation on percentages or how -- how that's going to be divvied up. But that's what you can expect to hear from the President.

Q: And is the administration still debating taking executive action on -- on immigration?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, we've been clear about this. The -- the bottom line is the best way to have -- move forward on dealing with immigration, dealing with the border challenges that we're seeing was for Republicans to have gotten out of the way, not let the former President tell them what to do, and actually move forward with a bipartisan proposal that came out of the Senate. That would have been the toughest, the fairest way to have -- move forward with dealing with our immigration.

As it relates to -- as it relates to an executive action, that -- we believe that's the best way to do that. No executive action would have been able to have the impact that a bipartisan proposal would have had. We're always going to look at and evaluate everything, but we just have not made a decision on that.

Q: Is there a timeline for when that decision would be made?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have a timeline for you. Again, the best way to move forward to deal with this broken immigration system that has been broken for decades, the best way to move forward with the challenges at the border is to get this bipartisan -- bipartisan proposal moved forward.

Go ahead, Nadia.

Q: Thank you, Karine. Since you don't have a comment on the Washington Post story, I hope you have an answer for my question. A group of House Democrats sent a letter to the President saying, basically, that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be in violation of U.S. law and international law when it comes to weapons sales to Israel. So, do you think that Israel has been abiding by the U.S. law despite the fact that 70 percent of the people being killed are women and children?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I've -- I've heard about the reporting of the letter. So, I don't want to -- I haven't seen the letter, so I can't speak -- speak specifically to it.

Q: I'm happy to forward it to you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no. Let me -- but I'll -- I'll give you an answer that I think will address your question.

So, look, as you all know, our support -- we have supported Israel as they defend themselves against Hamas, a terrorist organization. As you know, that has been the policy here.

We also continue to urge Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. And even as Hamas has embedded -- let's not forget -- they've embedded -- and I know you know this -- itself among civilian population. That is something that they have done.

As we have said, there have been far too many civilians who have been killed in this conflict. Far too many. And the President understands that, the Vice President understands that, this entire administration understands that.

And -- and there's not enough humanitarian aid getting in. We need to increase humanitarian aid. And you've heard that, again, from the President. You've heard that from the Vice President.

And so, that's why we're working so hard to get that hostage deal. As we know, that would lead to a ceasefire, where the fighting would stop; we can get those hostages home to their families; we can get that all-needed humanitarian aid to the -- the people of -- the people in Gaza, which need it -- obviously need that critical aid.

And we're continuing to do what we can -- right? -- the air -- the air drops that were successful. We announced that yesterday. There's more coming from the Department of Defense. You've -- the USAID is in the -- in the region providing humanitarian aid. We're working with our regional partners to get more humanitarian aid in.

And so, we have to up cre- -- up that, obviously -- the humanitarian aid. But this deal is so important. We have to get this deal so we can -- we can get more aid in -- but not just that, put a -- put a pause, put a ce- -- have a ceasefire in place so that we can actually move forward here.

Q: And I have a question for a colleague. Would the President meet with the Prime Minister of Sweden tomorrow? He's on his way here. Will he be a guest at the State of the Union? And will the President -- I know you don't want to --


Q: -- speak ahead of the speech, but will he talk about Ukraine and the success of the administration bringing Finland and Sweden into NATO?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, going to be really mindful. You know, not going to speak to the President's speech here in detail. And so, going to be really mindful.

I don't have anything to read out on a meeting there with the President. I believe this -- the Secretary of State is having a meeting with the Sweden Prime Minister. So, obviously, you can -- you can reach out to them. Just don't have anything else to share beyond that.

Go ahead, Danny.

Q: Thanks, Karine. On Haiti, given the dire situation there, is there any consideration of sending U.S. forces in any way to stabilize things there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. No. As you know, there is the -- the -- Kenya has agreed to send about 2,000 forces there. So, that was recently signed, and that's going to move forward. But there is no -- no plan to bring U.S. forces into Haiti.

Go ahead.

Q: Also on Haiti. Earlier you said that the administration is not pushing Henry to resign. Are you denying that yesterday the administration asked Henry to stand aside for traditional -- a transitional government and an interim prime minister?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is we're not pushing the Prime Minister to resign. We're just not. Now, have we been working with CARICOM, have we been working with our Haitian partners to put forth a -- you know, a plan to -- to figure out how do we move forward in restoring -- restoring democratic order in Haiti through free and fair elections? That is a conversation that we have had. But we are not pushing the Prime Minister out to resign.

Q: But has the administration asked him to stand aside?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We are not pushing -- I think I just answered that question. We are not pushing him to resign.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. (Laughter.) New topic.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I wonder what it is. (Laughter.)

Q: Has President Biden called to congratulate Jason Palmer? (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We congratulate Jason Palmer on his win last night.

Q: Okay. Now that the field is down to two, is President Biden going to commit to a debate with Donald Trump?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's something for the campaign to speak to.

Q: Well, we know when the debates are going to be. We know where --


Q: -- they're going to be. Is he going to go?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You should speak to the campaign.

Q: In 2020, once it got down to one on one, Joe Biden said, "I can hardly wait to debate him." How about now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to sound like a broken record. You should reach out to the campaign.

Q: Why is this a campaign thing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because it's an election. It's a debate for the 2024 presidential election.

Q: I'm not asking what argument he is going to make --


Q: -- at a debate. I'm just as- --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It's not a --

Q: Okay. Do you --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It's not an arg- -- we're not talking --

Q: Do you --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- about arguments here. We're talking about his attendance.

Q: You get a lot of --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You need to talk to the campaign.

Q: -- questions in here about these polls concerning the President's age and his acuity. Do you think that it is going to quiet concerns about the President's age and acuity if he decides not to debate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say about that is: I'm not talking about the debate. That's something for the campaign to speak to. I'm not going to speak about that.

To your -- to your question about age, I think I sort of answered that. I mean, you know, you're going to see the State of the Union tomorrow. You're going to hear the President lay out his plans. You're going to hear the President -- a president who has had a successful three years of progress -- still a lot more work to be done but a progress nonetheless -- and how he's going to build on that.

(A reporter sneezes.) Bless you. Did you cu- -- did you say something while he --

Q: No. (Laughter.) That was a sneeze. That was a sneeze.

Q: Is it that loud on (inaudible).

Q: It's called multitasking.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm like -- (laughter).

Q: Continue, please. Sorry.

Q: Super spreader.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Some fun here on Wednesday afternoon.

But he -- he wouldn't have been able to get -- all seriousness, you know, you saw the -- you saw the graphics behind me. You saw what the President has been able to do. 14.8 million jobs, unemployment under 4 percent, continuing to find ways to lower costs. We saw that when he made the announcement on junk fees.

You saw what he's been able to do for the American people internationally as well: protecting our national security, being a leader as we're trying to fight a dictator -- as Ukraine is fighting a dictator -- that is, Mr. Putin. And this is because of the President's leadership. It really is.

I mean, 36 years in the Senate, 8 years as Vice President, that counts for something. That counts for experience. That counts for having these relationships. That counts for knowing how to get things done. And the President wants to build on that. He does.

And not only that, when people were saying he couldn't get things done in a bipartisan way, he was able to do that. Infrastructure -- it was a punchline in the last administration. It was a joke. Now we actually have In- -- Infrastructure Decade.

You think about what we have been able to do for our veterans in the PACT Act -- really help our veterans. You think about the CHIPS and Science Act, which is bringing home manufacturers -- 800,000 jobs have been created.

This is what the President has been able to do. And guess what? That's because of his experience.

Q: And so, just for clarity, it's possible that there will be no Joe Biden-Donald Trump debates this fall?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Is that what you -- is that -- is that what you're excited about? Is that what you want to see?

Q: I would love to see Joe Biden --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because you keep asking me. You've asked me about three --

Q: -- and Donald Trump debate.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- four or five different times in different ways. And I have an- --

Q: How would he do?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And I have said --

Q: How would President Biden do in a debate? I'm not asking a question about a specific debate.


Q: I'm just asking, how would he do in a debate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Can I just say something?

Q: I know it's been four years since he's done one.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You literally saw just last year, back in January [February] 2023, at the last State of the Union, take on Republicans during giving a major speech. He took them on as they were heckling him. He took them on and said he was going to fight for programs -- essentially said he was fighting for programs that the American people needed -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. He stood there and fought for the American people.

I mean, that was pretty impressive. Some of you all reported on that.

Okay. I'm going to keep going. Go ahead, Phil, in the back.

Q: Thank you. Victoria Nuland, the third-high- -- third-highest-ranking U.S. diplomat, who's had a hand in the future of Ukraine for some time, announced that she plans to step down. How did the President react to news of that resignation? And does he believe, you know, that she was successful during her tenure there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I have not spoken to the President about this, so I can't give you an answer directly from the President. And so, I'm just going to leave that there.

Obviously, it's an important position. We -- we appreciate her service. It is not easy to serve, as you know, and we appreciate her service. I just don't want to get into any specifics on that. I don't have anything to share.

Q: Different question, then.


Q: What's the President's reaction to France codifying abortion rights into their constitution?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we appreciate countries taking a step forward to protect the right for wome- -- a woman -- women to make a very difficult decisions on their healthcare. We appreciate that. And I think that's a good thing to see.

And as it relates to here in this country, the President is going to talk about reproductive rights and fighting for that and what we're seeing across the country -- more than 300 bills that were introduced recently on finding ways to prevent women from making these really important decisions on their bodies.

And that should not be. And that's because Roe v. Wade was overturned, which is a law -- a law that was constitution for -- that was part of the Constitution for almost 50 years -- almost 50 years. And that was taken away.

We see Republicans putting forth three national -- national bans against abortion. That's -- you know, that's not -- that's not what the President is fighting for. He's fighting for the right for a woman to make a decision on their -- on her -- on her own body.

Q: And does he think that the French prohibition on abortion after 14 weeks is reasonable?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm not going to get into the specifics of that particular bill. What I could say: It's -- it's always important to see other -- other countries actually take steps to protecting -- protecting rights -- fundamental rights that women should have. But I'm not going to get into the specifics of the bill.

Q: Thank you, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Karen.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Can you give us an insight into the President's State of the Union prep sessions at Camp David? Who was he working with on the speech, and what does he do? I mean, is he writing lines, or is he editing what's given to him? What's that process like for him?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, as it relates to Camp David, obviously, the Camp -- the President was at Camp David over the weekend. He worked on his speech -- on the State of Union speech with his senior staff, which included Bruce Reed, Anita Dunn, Steve Ricchetti, and Vinay -- Vinay Reddy.

This is fairly standard. He was there last year for the February State of the Union. And I think, you know, even throughout today and tomorrow, he's going to continue to fine-tune the speech. This is something that he is personally involved in. This is something that comes straight from having conversations with the American people, as he's had over the past year leading to this -- certainly leading to the process.

And so, look, these are -- these -- they are massive undertakings -- right? -- massive undertakings in -- in having a -- having a State of the Union that speaks to where we are as a country and how we're moving forward. And so, that's what I'll say.

Q: And does he have any State of the Union traditions?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)

Q: Like, is there something he does tomorrow to prepare for a speech like that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I -- I don't have anything to share. He's going to be -- I can say that he's going to be working -- working on the speech throughout the day, fine-tuning the speech. He'll be doing that with his senior staff.

And just -- you know, it's a major address. It's an important speech. He's going to be delivering it to millions of Americans who are going to be tuning in -- and we appreciate that -- in front of, obviously, Congress and guests of -- of Congress, guests of the President.

And it's going to be an incredibly important moment. And the President takes that very, very seriously.

Go ahead, Gerren.

Q: Thanks, Karine. A federal judge in Texas ruled that the -- the Minority Business Development Agency's presumption that Black and brown communities are disadvantaged is unconstitutional and enjoined the agency from distributing its services based on race. Is the White House concerned that this ruling could undo some of the efforts that -- that you've been -- you've been making to bolster Black businesses?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm going to refer you to the DOJ for specific questions about this particular ruling. But what I can say, that the President is very proud of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that made the M- -- MBDA a permanent part of the federal government. He's very proud of that. It's important.

Small businesses, as you know, are the backbone of our economy. And -- and so, it's -- it's vital. It's vital for our entrepreneurs to have the opportunity to start a business. We've seen a -- 16 million applications that were started under this administration over the past three years, which is important.

There was a -- certainly a boost in what we saw with -- with minority businesses starting their small businesses, obviously, filing those application. And we think that's really important.

As it relates to specifics and the way forward or anything like that, as it relates to the ruling, I would have def- -- refer you to Department of Justice.

Q: Just one more question on State of the Union.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Sure.

Q: In 2020, when the President won, in his victory speech, he thanked Black voters for their outsized role in his historic win. He said that he would have their backs.

Obviously, polling and anecdotal reporting shows that a significant number of Black voters still feel that the President hasn't completely had their backs or have not felt the impacts of this administration's policies.

How much of this speech does the President see as an opportunity to lay out what he believes he has done to have the backs of Black Americans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we understand that it's -- it's complicated -- right? -- in the sense of what the American people have gone through the last three years. We came in, there was a pandemic and there was an economy that was in a tailspin. So, we get it. We get that Americans -- some Americans are trying to still figure out where we are and what's going on and what this administration has done.

This is why the State of the Union is going to be so critical, so important, because the President gets to lay that out. It gives the President an opportunity to speak to that. And so, that's important.

But to your -- to the beginning of your question about 2020 and the promise that the President has made, he did make a promise. And he has done everything that he can to keep that promise.

If you think about voting rights, the first couple of days of this administration, he put forward an executive action to do everything that he could on the federal level to deal with -- to deal with that issue. So, he did that.

He took executive action when Congress could not move on the George Floyd Justice in Pol- -- in Policing Act. You know that. You covered that. He took actions from -- where he could from here, from the federal government.

And so, look, there are other ways that he has taken action, obviously, to make sure that communities that have felt that they've been -- that felt left behind are not left behind. And you see that in every -- for example, every economic policy that he's moved forward with, whether it's the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, whether it's the Inflation Reduction Act that really deals with making sure that we're -- that Medicare has the ability to -- to fight Big Pharma -- right? -- so that many people in the community who've been paying hundreds of dollars for insulin -- for example, now seniors are capped by 35 bucks.

These things matter. These things add up. These things are important. And so, he takes that very seriously.

When he walked into the administration, unemployment for the Black community, for example, was over 9 percent. Now it's at 5 percent. That's because of the work that this administration has taken.

Think about the American Resc- -- Rescue Plan -- the -- the Child Tax Credit really cut child poverty in the community by half. That's because, obviously, the work that this President has done.

That piece of legislation, only Democrats voted for it. So, the President has taken action. We understand that it's complicated. It's -- it's going to take some time for everyone to see what we -- what this President has been able to do. The State of the Union is a perfect opportunity -- perfect opportunity to lay that out.

Go ahead, Janne. Go ahead.

Q: (Inaudible.)

Q: Thank you. Thank you very much. I have a question about China. The President Biden signed an order of action which prohibits enemies from stealing American personal or government information, and that there is a list of six countries, including China and North Korea.

My question is: How is it the investigation into the Confucius Institute, which is acting as China's intelligence agency, processing in the United States?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Got to -- so, say that one -- so, the President signed -- say that one more time.

Q: The President signed an order of action for the enemy -- steal the enemies -- U.S. informations, but that there's a list of six countries, including China and North Korea, Iran -- there's six countries.


Q: So, how is the investigation into the Confucius Institute, which is acting as China's intelligence agency, processing in the United States and all of the world? And Korea, also, too.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, that's something -- as it relates to any investigation, that's something that Department of Justice could go into. I'm not going to go into it from here.


Q: Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. No problem.

Go ahead. Go ahead, Andrew.

Q: Thank you. When the President speaks tomorrow night, you said he's going to talk about his efforts to -- to bolster democracy. Is he going to have a message for viewer- -- people viewing this in other countries and -- and U.S. allies?

Because I'm looking at some polling data from the UK. It says that 48 percent of British adults see the West response to Putin and Russia getting worse if the President loses reelection. Over half, 52 percent, say that if the President loses reelection, the West approach to climate change would worsen.

Is he going to try and reassure people around the world that democracy is strong and project strength that he can win the election?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, going to be careful because you're asking me this question as it relates to the election and upcoming elections.

Going to be super -- no, wait. Every time I say that, everyone gets a little -- a little upset that I say that. But I'm going to try and answer your question. But I just have to be super mindful here. I mean, that's just how it works here. I'm a federal employee. There's something called the Hatch Act. Got to be mindful. (Laughter.)

And so, look, I talked about how the President is going to mention the national security supplemental and how important it is as -- certainly because we've seen what's going on in Ukraine. Right?

And one of the things that we know and we believe -- and this is something that I had mentioned that the CI- -- CIA Director shared with the Big Four -- is that we see that Ukraine is losing ground on the ba- -- in the battlefield right now. And we believe it's because of Congress's inaction, right?

And so it does matter. It does matter if we take action or not. It does matter that -- if we get this national security supplemental done or not. It does. Other countries look at what we're doing.

The President has led the way in bringing NATO together, led the way in bringing other countries -- 50 m- -- 50 countries plus together on making sure that the brave people of Ukraine have what they need, the security assistance that they need to fight against Russia's aggression.

So, yeah, it does matter. It does matter how -- how we move forward. I'm not going to get specifics into the President's -- President's speech. I think that's important. I got to let the President speak to that.

You heard me at the top talk about the importance of democracy, talk about unifying the American people. The President thinks that's really important. Protecting our fundamental freedoms and our democracy itself is incredibly important.

So, look -- and let's not forget here what many Americans have been going through -- right? -- the attacks that they have seen, the threats that they have seen. So, there is an important -- important message that the President wants to send to the American people about that as well.

And so -- but to your broader point of your question: Does our actions and how we, for example, deal with Ukraine and make sure they have the assistance that they have, the inaction of Congress -- does that matter? Yes, it matters.

I mean, Putin continues to move forward. Right? And we have seen what the battle -- the battlefield has looked like for Ukraine. They have lost ground because Congress has had inaction.

So, it does matter. It does matter. I'm not going to get into specifics as to what the President is going to say.

Q: One -- one more on -- on Haiti.


Q: The Haitian Prime Minister is in Puerto Rico, obviously.


Q: Yesterday, the Vice President's Office said that she will be in Puerto Rico later this -- later this month. Any chance that she could be asked to meet with the Prime Minister and perhaps pass a message?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you would have to, certainly, speak to her office about her travel and where she's going to be.

We've been very clear -- we've been very clear dealing with our -- what our message has been, essentially -- right? -- dealing with -- for -- for some time now with CARICOM, our Haitian partners, how we see the path forward -- and that is restoring democratic order in Haiti through free and fair elections. That's been our message: inclusive governance and power-sharing. That's what we want to see.

And we want to give the people in Haiti -- we want to make sure that they have an opportunity to democratically elect their prime minister. That's what we want to see.

And I will leave it there. Thanks, everybody.

3:05 P.M. EST

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