Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby

December 13, 2023

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:11 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Today, President Biden met with the families of Americans who were taken hostage by Hamas during the terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7th.

The President has been personally engaged on this issue and has held many calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Amir of Qatar, with the aim of securing the release of the Americans and all hostages held by Hamas.

Thanks to President Biden's leadership, the United States has helped secure the release of over 100 hostages, including four Americans.

Two American citizens, Natalie and Judith Raanan, were released on October 20th after extensive diploma- -- diplomacy by the administration.

After further diplomatic efforts, four-year-old Abigail Mor Edan, whose parents were killed by Hamas and whose mother was American, was released on November 26th.

Under the same deal, American citizen Liat Beinin, a high school teacher and a tour guide for Israel's Holocaust Museum, was released on November 29th.

But as the President has said himself, we will not stop until we bring all Americans being held hostage home.

As you all -- as you all heard the President say yesterday, the American people will not walk away from Ukraine in its battle for freedom against tyranny.

Yet Speaker Johnson has said the House will leave tomorrow without fixing the border, without funding Israel, without funding urgent needs in Ukraine.

That would embolden would-be aggressors around the world.

The world is watching what congressional Republicans do. Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran -- they're all watching.

House Republicans should not go home for the holidays when there is vital work to do for the security of the United States and the world.

Now, across the country, we've seen unprecedented attacks on women's freedom to make their own health decisions.

States have imposed dangerous abortion bans that deny women access to care and threaten to criminalize doctors.

As the President said, this should never happen in America. Period.

Today, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Fifth Circuit's decision on mifepristone, which threatens to undermine the FDA's scientific, independent judgment and would reimpose restrictions on access to medication abortion.

President Biden and Vice President Harris will continue fighting to defend women's ability to access reproductive care.

Today, Vice President Harris convened 100 state legislators to announce our Safer States Initiative to reduce gun violence and save lives.

This is the largest-ever White House convening of state legislators to discuss key actions to end the epidemic of gun violence.

As a part of today's convening, the Justice Department introduced two model laws for safe gun storage and reporting of lost and stolen firearms.

Both of these measures are proven solutions that will save lives.

Protecting communities from the threat of gun violence requires action at the federal level, at the state level, and at local level. That's what today's meeting is all about, and that's what the Office of Gun Violence Prevention is working on every day.

Yesterday, we learned consumer inflation fell to 3.1 percent last month, down two thirds from its peak. And today, we learned producer inflation was flat last month and less than 1 percent over the last year.

Prices are down for eggs, milk, toys, and TVs. Ga- -- gas prices are down by $1.90 from the peak after Putin's war began. And wages are rising and hi- -- and higher than before the pandemic.

We have more work to do, of course. President Biden is fighting to lower costs by taking on Big Pharma, strengthening supply chains, and cracking down on price gouging by banning hidden junk fees.

While he's fighting to lower costs and grow our economy from the middle out, congressional Republicans are fighting for the wealthy and big corporations while trying to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They don't have a plan to lower costs. But as you have heard from this president multiple times over the past two years, he has a plan to lower costs.

With that, we have Admiral John Kirby here today to give us an update on the Middle East and any other updates on the foreign policy side.

Admiral.

MR. KIRBY: Thanks, Karine.

Good afternoon, everybody.

Q: Good afternoon.

MR. KIRBY: Hang on a second. Let me button my jacket.

Q: A little propriety, John.

MR. KIRBY: Yep. Yeah. Sorry.

Q: It's the holidays.

MR. KIRBY: (Laughs.) I haven't eaten that much.

Just on the -- to add to what Karine said about the visit at -- the families. I would only add that the President was very grateful for the time that they afforded him, and he was moved by their stories, by the love they feel, by the hope that they still harbor.

And he harbors that hope, too. But as Karine rightly noted, he acted on that.

The other thing that he made sure to do was to promise them that we're going to keep them informed every single step of the way. And we'll do that.

These are difficult days for these families. But as we all prepare for the holiday season that is already upon us, we would do well to remember that for them, there's going to be an empty chair at the table, there's going to be a still and a silence in the room, and there's going to be irrepressible ache and worry and fear.

The President understands that. The whole team here understands that. So, we should all keep them in our thoughts, all of us -- as we should so many others in Israel and in Gaza who have been deeply and irretrievably affected by the attacks of October 7th.

We can't forget how this all happened: a series of deadly and devilish attacks by terrorists that were intent on taking innocent life.

This is a war that Hamas has brought on itself. And while we all want it to stop because any war is horrific, Hamas has pledged to repeat October 7th again and again and again.

It has pledged to annihilate Is- -- Israel and to kill as many Jews as possible.

It's still holding over a hundred hostages, including young women that it refused to re- -- release in violation of a deal it negotiated in Doha.

We know what they have proven capable of doing to young women.

So, while we all want the war to end as soon as possible, to stop the human suffering, and to establish conditions for an enduring peace -- something that the President and the entire team continues to pursue -- a unilateral ceasefire with a terrorist group like Hamas is not the answer.

As the President has said, Hamas could release the hostages today, they could surrender all those responsible for the October 7th attacks and lay down their arms, and the war would stop immediately. If they really cared about the Palestinian people the way they claim to, they would do this.

That they haven't done it, I think, speaks volumes.

For our part, on the other hand, we are working every day to bring in as much humanitarian assistance as possible to the people of Gaza and to reduce civilian harm.

As we speak, our team is working with the U.N. and with the Israelis on corridors to facilitate the flow of aid and on brief, daily pauses to allow people to get access to the assistance.

I don't want to go into those details right now, but Jake Sullivan, who I know you know, is traveling in the region. He'll likely have more to say about this when he's in Israel tomorrow, as will David Satterfield and our whole team that are working these issues on the ground.

We have also worked to get the crossing at Kerem Shalom open for inspections, increasing the throughput of aid, and we have urged the Israelis to allow aid directly from Israel through Kerem Shalom -- through that crossing into Gaza.

The Prime Minister of Israel has said today that this is likely to move forward, and that will be another topic of Jake's meetings.

This would be the first direct entry to aid from Israel into Gaza since the 7th of October, so it's not insignificant.

Of course, Jake will also discuss the next phase of the military campaign and efforts to be more surgical and more precise and to reduce the harm to civilians.

That is an aim of ours, and the Israelis say it is an aim of theirs, but it's the results that count.

The President, yesterday, reflected the reality of global opinion, which also matters. Our support for Israel is not diminished, but we have had concerns and we have expressed those concerns about the prosecution of this military campaign, even while acknowledging that it's Hamas that started this and it's Hamas that is continuing it.

Jake's visit tomorrow follows the President's call with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday, where they spoke for over an hour and in some detail about the coming weeks and what we hope and expect to see.

And I'm not going to get ahead of the conversations that Jake will be having, but I would like to just say that these are extremely serious conversations and we hope they'll be constructive as well.

The pending -- I'm almost done. The pending opening of Kerem Shalom is one example of what's to come out of them, but there needs to be more.

Jake's visit will be followed by Secretary Austin's visit both to Israel and also to our forces in the region, including in the Red Sea.

And one last note. Today marks the one-year anniversary of President Biden's Africa Leaders Summit, which last year convened delegations from the African Union and 49 African countries to broaden and deepen our partnership and deliver meaningful outcomes for the people across the continent.

Over the last year, we've made significant progress on the summit commitments: welcoming the African Union to the G20; clo- -- closing more than 500 trade and investment deals, valued at more than $14 billion; and elevating our work on infrastructure, digital transformation initiative, and diaspora engagement.

And this is just the start. We look forward to continuing to build on these commitments and strengthen our relationships with African partners and other organizations going forward.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Zeke.

Q: Thanks, Admiral. The President, yesterday, as you alluded to those remarks, he said that Israel was engaged in "indiscriminate bombing" in Gaza. And that -- that that is what had cost -- cost Israel international global support.

Does the President believe, based on those comments, that Israel's conduct in this war thus far has been in accordance with international law?

MR. KIRBY: We have every expectation that -- that Israel will do exactly what they say they're doing, which is to continue to go after the terrorist leaders and to do so in a way that minimizes civilian harm. As I said in my opening statement and as the President said, that's their intent. And it's important that the results match that intent.

Q: And so, the President was saying yesterday that the results have not thus far matched that intent?

MR. KIRBY: He was expressing concerns that -- that -- that we continue to see civilian casualties in Gaza and, again, that we want to make sure that they're -- that, as they work to minimize, that they actually have those kinds of results, that they are able to minimize civilian casualties.

Q: And so, your colleague at the State Department today said that there was not a formal U.S. government determination that Israel was engaged in indiscriminate bombing. Is the President's comment yesterday -- was he speaking for the U.S. government there? He was obviously speaking to donors, but is that -- is it the U.S. government's position that Israel was engaged in indiscriminate bombing in Gaza?

MR. KIRBY: The President was expressing concerns -- again, as I said -- about the civilian casualties that we've seen. And, again, it's reflective of our constant efforts to urge the Israelis to be as precise and careful as possible.

And, again, we know they've stated their intent to reduce civilian casualties. And they have acted on that. I mean, the way they went into the -- the North in a much smaller force than they had said they were going to do or were planning to do; by publishing a map online so that people know where to go; by agreeing to additional, now daily, pauses in the fighting.

I mean, they are -- they are making efforts, and they are taking steps. But we want to see -- of course, we want to see more results in that regard. That's what he's referring to.

Q: And then just relatedly, the President, in that -- in that same fundraiser, said that Israel needs to make a "change" to its government. What exactly did he mean by that? Does he mean Netanyahu has to go?

MR. KIRBY: The President realizes that the -- that Israel is a powerful, vibrant democracy, and any change in the government is going to have to be determined by the Israeli people.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Q: Thanks. I appreciate it. If the President believes Israel is engaging in indiscriminate bombing, wouldn't there be an obligation from the U.S. to put new conditions on military aid?

MR. KIRBY: Every bit of security assistance we give any other country always comes with the expectation that the law of armed conflict is going to be respected and obeyed.

As I said earlier, we're not going to assess every single airstrike here from this particular podium. That wouldn't be appropriate.

The Israelis should speak to their operations, but we have every expectation -- as I said to my previous answer there -- that they will act in accordance with the law of armed conflict and do everything that they can to match their intent, which is to minimize civilian casualties.

Q: But if they're -- if they aren't, then isn't there an obligation for the U.S. to change the way that it's delivering military aid?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I -- that's a hypothetical that I'm not prepared to engage in right now.

Q: But it's not hypothetical if he's saying "indiscriminate bombing."

MR. KIRBY: That -- that's a hypothetical I'm not going to engage in. We have expressed our concerns -- the President has, publicly and privately -- with the Israelis about the need to reduce civilian casualties, and we're going to continue to do that.

I expect you'll -- you'll see Jake address this too when he's in the region.

Q: All right. On the hostages, is there a concern that hostages could be held in tunnels that are potentially being flooded?

MR. KIRBY: Well, some of the hostages have come out and said that they were held in -- in tunnels. So, it's not beyond the possibility that -- that Hamas could be holding at least some of them in tunnels as they move them around, which we have to expect that they'll -- they'll do.

But if you're asking about the flooding, specifically, I'm not going to speak for Israeli military operations. They should speak to that.

I would just say that we all need to be remember -- we all need to remember the particular extra difficulty that they have going after a group like Hamas, which isn't j- -- it's a terrorist group, but it also has, sort of, a military structure to it. And they deliberately tunnel under civilian infrastructure to allow for the movement of their fighters and to -- for storing equipment and things. That adds an extra burden on the -- on the Israelis.

And I would just say, again, without confirming these reports about flooding, that, as we've said before, we recognize their right and responsibility to go after Hamas, which is posing a particularly tactically difficult problem for them in -- in -- by using tunnels, but to do so in a way that reduces damage to civilian infrastructure above the ground and certainly reduces any chance of civilian casualties inside those tunnels, which would include hostages.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Nandita.

Q: Thanks. Thanks, Karine. Does President Biden want Bibi Netanyahu to get rid of hardliners in his government?

MR. KIRBY: It -- it's not for us to -- to dictate terms to a foreign sovereign government. Israel is a democracy. And the Israeli people get to decide what that government looks like. And they did. And we respect that. That's what democracy is all about. We're not dictating terms to the Israelis one way or the other.

Q: What did he mean yesterday when he said he wanted Netanyahu to change? Was he talking about getting more aid in? And was he talking about more surgical strikes? Was he talking about hardliners? What was he referring to?

MR. KIRBY: It's up to the Israeli people to determine who is going to represent them and their government.

The President has, of course, been very candid about some of the concerns that we had about, like, judicial reform in the country and where the Cabinet was going on certain issues. And he expressed those concerns as a real friend of Israel -- somebody who loves and respects Israel and has for his whole public life -- that we want to see Israel, whatever they decide to do, to move forward with the broadest consensus possible. And it's in that spirit that he's talking about it.

Q: And -- and just a quick one on -- on Jake's trip. Is he planning to visit elsewhere in the region? And what will his message be to the Israeli War Cabinet in terms of any kind of schedule for the Gaza conflict?

MR. KIRBY: I -- I don't have any other specific stops to speak to today. That said, it -- it is likely that he will make other stops in the region and won't just be -- just going to Israel. We'll have more to say about that when we can.

And his message -- again, I don't want to get ahead of him. I certainly wouldn't want to do that. He'll have a chance to -- to talk publicly while he's in the region. But -- but, clearly, he's going to talk to them about progress on the battlefield, how it's going. He's going to talk to them about reductions in civilian harm. He's going to talk to them about trying to get another pause in place so that we can get more hostages out.

He's going to talk to them about the need to get humanitarian assistance -- keep that flowing. It has been flowing, even when the pause stopped. And I think he'll explore opportunities to see if we can increase that -- again, possibly, hopefully, through Kerem Shalom.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Ed. And then, we'll jump around (inaudible).

Q: Thank you, Admiral. You're being asked these questions because the President has a tendency to say things about foreign policy and leave them hanging and we don't get to ask him to clarify himself. So, apologies if this gets pedantic for people listening. But did he misspeak yesterday when he said that Israel was carrying out indiscriminate attacks?

MR. KIRBY: You had the opportunity to hear him yesterday on foreign policy when he stood next to the President of Ukraine. So, I take issue --

Q: Right. But he wasn't asked about Israel -- about -- specifically about this.

MR. KIRBY: I take issue with the premise of that question. But the -- the President speaks for American foreign policy. The President speaks and has spoken, Ed, about our concerns over civilian casualties in Gaza and about urging our Israeli counterparts to be more careful and more deliberate.

Q: So, you just said he speaks for foreign policy.

MR. KIRBY: Of course, he does.

Q: And he said yesterday --

MR. KIRBY: Of course, he does.

Q: -- that there were indiscriminate attacks, which, to the rest of the world, is a war crime. So, why isn't the United States now saying that that's what Israel is carrying out?

MR. KIRBY: The President was speaking to his concerns about -- about making sure we're seeing the results that Israel has claimed is their intent, which is to reduce civilian casualties. That's what he was talking about.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. John, I'm sorry, it seems that, you know, this interaction between you and my colleagues -- it seems that, to me, the President is making some pretty clear signals to the Netanyahu government. But it seems like you're trying to walk it back. I mean --

MR. KIRBY: No.

Q: -- I don't know if that's correct or not. So, please walk me through it.

MR. KIRBY: No.

Q: Is the military strike, military campaign by Israel -- is it surgical or indiscriminate, according to the administration at this point?

MR. KIRBY: As I've said a whole bunch of times since I've been up here, we're not going to armchair quarterback this from this particular podium. Let me finish. We're not going to -- we're not going to characterize every airstrike. We're not going to speak for Israel- -- Israeli military operations.

The President was reflecting a concern that we have had for some time and will continue to have as this military operation proceeds about the need for reducing civilian harm and being as precise and careful and deliberate as possible.

Q: So, when -- when he's talking about -- particularly singling out the hardliners in Israeli government, what does he mean by that? What signal is he sending out?

MR. KIRBY: I think I've already answered that question. I mean, for many months now -- well before the attacks of October 7th -- the President talked about some of our concerns over some of the reforms that this new government was pursuing. And he did it out of respect and a true affection for the Israeli democracy and the Israeli people. And that's -- that's the context here.

But, obviously, it's up to the Israeli people to determine who their government is, of course.

Q: Sure. And just to -- just to recap: What I understand from the President's remarks on Tuesday is that he seems to be laying out some sort of clues as to what he sees the vision towards a two-state solution and what are the necessary stepping stones or the required elements.

And I think, you know, the -- a moderate Israeli coalition might be one of them. Another one seems to me, as I read it, a more empowered Palestinian Authority. Is my understanding correct? And, if so, what would the U.S. administration do to support that?

MR. KIRBY: The President doesn't have to lay out clues about the two-state solution. He believes in it, and he's been advocating it now for many, many years -- certainly, since becoming President of the United States. He still believes that there's a promise there, a vision there, a possibility of a two-state solution.

And to do that, to achieve it -- and, again, I'm not saying anything he hasn't said -- in order to get there, you've got to have leadership. You've got to have leadership on both sides. And both sides have got to be willing not only to lead but to compromise and to be willing to come to the table and move that forward.

Now, he's also said that -- with respect to Gaza, whatever governance in Gaza looks like, it can't look like what it did on the -- on the 6th of October with Hamas in charge. It's got to be representative of the aspirations of the Palestinian people. And that means it's going to require some leadership and some change in the Palestinian Authority.

Q: And one last one, I promise. When you say that the U.S. requires Israel and all other allies to obey requirements of the law of armed conflict when they're using U.S. weapons, how can you ensure that when the administration has bypassed congressional oversight on this, debate on this, and also internal State Department debate on this?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not sure I understand the premise of the question.

Q: Well, you just sent a whole bunch of weapons on -- on Saturday without waiting for Congress, correct?

MR. KIRBY: We have a normal process for pr- -- providing aid and assistance to foreign countries -- Ukraine and to Israel -- and that's all done within the -- the normal, standard consultative process.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, M.J.

Q: Thank you. John, hey. I guess "indiscriminate," just by definition, means "without discrimination." It means "not deliberate," "not careful." I'm just wondering, and I think my colleagues are trying to get at this: Why insist that the intent is there to minimize civilian casualties when the President himself said yesterday that Israel is bombing indiscriminately?

MR. KIRBY: Sometimes in war -- and, again, I'm not speaking for the Israelis. Sometimes in war, your best plans, your best execution of those plans doesn't always go the way you want it to go. It doesn't always go the way you expect it to go.

We know that from bitter experience in our own military. No matter how precise and targeted we tried to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were times when we caused civilian casualties as well.

That's one of the reasons, M.J., that we sent a couple of military advisors over there -- some senior generals who had experience in that kind of urban warfare -- to talk to the Israelis before they moved into Gaza, to help them learn from our own mistakes.

So, sometimes in war, the best plai- -- the best laid plans just doesn't -- they don't get executed exactly the way you want and, unfortunately, civilian casualties result.

Q: So, you're saying they are trying their best --

MR. KIRBY: I am saying, as I've --

Q: -- to minimize civilian casualties, but, in practice, that is not what you are seeing happen?

MR. KIRBY: I'm saying that there is a clear intent by the Israelis -- an intent that they have admitted to publicly -- that they are doing everything they can to reduce civilian casualties. I am saying and I have said earlier that we are seeing them act on that intent in positive ways. And I just went through a couple of details on that.

Airstrikes, for instance, have reduced since they've started to move in more towards the south. They have relied less and less on airstrikes and more and more on ground troops, which allows you to be more precise.

So, they have taken measures to act on that intent. But as I said in my opening statement, results really count. And we're still seeing some civilian casualties. So, we're still going to talk to them about doing everything they can to reduce that.

Q: So, you're saying both things are happening? In some ways, they are acting on their intent to be more careful, be more deliberate, but on the other hand, they are still bombing indiscriminately?

MR. KIRBY: We are -- they are -- we know they have the intent. We know they're acting on the intent. Civilian casualties continue to happen. And, again, we're going to keep urging them to reduce those.

Q: What's the tipping point for the President that prompted him to make these remarks and -- and warn about Israel losing their national support?

MR. KIRBY: This has been a message we have consistently conveyed to Israeli counterparts since the early, early days of this conflict -- mostly through private channels, but we have talked publicly about this.

You've heard the Vice President talk about it. You've heard Secretary Austin talk about it out at the Reagan Forum. You heard Secretary Blinken talk about it in his last -- now third trip to the region. This is not a new message.

Q: But we haven't heard the President talk about it. Was there something specific that prompted him to himself speak out about this?

MR. KIRBY: The President is concerned, as he said he's concerned, about the need to reduce civilian casualties. And certainly he's concerned. As a friend of Israel, he is concerned about Israel not losing international support and public opinion for what they're trying to do.

That -- that comes from -- that comes from a lot of respect and affection for Israel and wanting to make sure that -- that Israel has the -- what they need to go after Hamas and they have the support that they need to do that over time.

Q: Thank you. I have a question on another subject: the Ukraine aid negotiations.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q: If the situation is as dire and urgent as the President says, why hasn't he invited leadership, Senate leaders to Camp David and said, "We're going to stay here until we work something out"?

MR. KIRBY: We have been --

Q: It seems like there are a lot of things he could be doing that he hasn't done yet.

MR. KIRBY: Well, I -- I won't talk about what we're doing that you're -- that you're not seeing in the media. But our team is staying very, very closely engaged with members of Congress, both sides of the aisle, as they continue to pursue these negotiations. And we'll see where it goes.

Q: Is he willing to let Congress adjourn without calling leaders to Camp David or somewhere like that for negotiations where they don't leave the room until they get a deal?

MR. KIRBY: I won't get ahead of the President's decision-making on this.

We urge them to act immediately on the supplemental request. It's that important.

You just saw us announce yet another security assistance package for Ukraine here yesterday. There is not too many days left in the year.

Q: Yeah, that's why I'm asking.

MR. KIRBY: And there's not too many more opportunities to provide security assistance to Ukraine. So, it's urgent. And he continues to urge them to act with that same sense of alacrity on this -- on this supplemental request.

And as he has also said, we're willing to engage in good-faith negotiations and to make compromises, because that's required by both sides going forward.

Q: Well, wait. Do you -- does he believe there is more that he can do, other things that he can try to get a negotiated compromise on this issue?

MR. KIRBY: The President is working this very hard. The whole team is working this very hard.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Raquel.

Q: Thank you so much, Karine. So, John, going back to the two-state solution. We've seen the President defend this often. But as the main ally and supporter of Israel, we haven't seen him offering to mediate such talks that we know have been halted for almost a decade now. Is the President offering this in meetings with the two sides to mediate? And he's -- is he ready to mediate such talks?

MR. KIRBY: Mediate such talks on?

Q: On two-state solution.

MR. KIRBY: Well -- well, I would tell you, before October 7th, our team was working very hard on normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which was going to be -- we still think there's hope here -- to be a stepping stone to get closer to a two-state solution. So, we were very actively engaged in trying to set the parameters and set the conditions for a two-state solution going forward.

Now, obviously, the events of October 7th have somewhat derailed that -- that opportunity. Everybody is focused, rightly, on what's going on in -- in Gaza. But that doesn't mean we're giving up on that.

Q: And another question. Yesterday, the U.N. -- U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution demanding a ceasefire. What else would have to ne- -- happen in Gaza for this administration, for the U.S. to agree with a ceasefire? How long can the President afford going -- support Israel like that -- unconditionally like this?

MR. KIRBY: As we said, we don't think now is the time for a ceasefire. And in that resolution, there was no condemnation of what Hamas has -- has done. Not -- not any. And no expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself, so, of course, we weren't going to sign up to that.

We don't believe a ceasefire right now -- a general ceasefire -- is the right thing to do, because what it would do is validate what Hamas did on October 7th. This is basically like saying, "Hey, it's okay. It's okay that you went in there and slaughtered 1,200 people and took a couple hundred of them hostage." It would leave them in control of Gaza, which is unacceptable not only to the Israeli people, but to -- but to President Biden and this team.

We can't go back to October 6th right now. So, it's not -- not the time for a ceasefire. We all want to see the war end. And as I said in my opening statement, it could end today if Hamas would release all the hostages, lay down their arms, and surrender up those responsible for the October 7th attacks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Go ahead, Gabe.

Q: Admiral, you've said repeatedly from that lectern that it is not the aim of the U.S. government to tell Israel what to do. Wasn't the President's comments yesterday about the government needing to change -- isn't --

MR. KIRBY: No.

Q: -- his comments at odds with that?

MR. KIRBY: No, not at all, Gabe. All -- all he was doing was expressing, again, the -- what he has expressed to you guys before: concerns about some of the policies that -- that -- again, as a friend of Israel, he was concerned -- that the -- that the pre-War Cabinet had been exploring. But he fully respects that this is up to the Israeli people.

Q: And has the President lost some of his trust for Prime Minister Netanyahu over the past few weeks?

MR. KIRBY: They have a longstanding relationship. They're going to keep that relationship. They're going to keep talking.

I think you can expect that they -- he'll be talking to Prime Minister Netanyahu in the not-too-distant future about what we can do to continue to support Israel.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. We're running out of time. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. Thanks -- thanks, Admiral. After the President's comments yesterday talking about Israel losing support, the Israeli foreign minister said that Israel would continue its war "with or without international support." Do you have a response to that?

MR. KIRBY: I'll let them speak for themselves.

We're going to continue to support them. And as the President expressed yesterday, we obviously don't want to see them lose international support for what they're trying to do. They have every right to defend themselves.

Q: And then also, given his comments, does the President believe that a two-state solution is possible with Netanyahu in charge?

MR. KIRBY: The President still believes that a two-state solution is possible. It's a -- it's a vision. He understands that, right now, it can look a little elusive, given what's going on in Gaza.

But as I said earlier in -- in my other answer to this, it's going to require leadership -- solid, concerted, transparent leadership on both sides to make this happen.

Q: Just following up on that question. It doesn't appear right now that there is Israeli buy-in for a two-state solution. So, can you just walk through how you get from A to B?

MR. KIRBY: We had -- we had been working on A to B before October 7th by working towards normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which we saw as a real positive milestone in an effort to try to get closer to a two-state solution.

We've been working, before October 7th, with the Palestinian Authority to try to get them to explore and to advance certain reforms so that they can be seen as -- as more credible and more authentic as a leadership capability there. And so we're going to keep doing that.

Q: But if Israel's leader does not support that outcome, then how do you resolve this?

MR. KIRBY: I won't speak for Israeli leaders or their politics. I can just tell you that the President still believes a two-state solution is not only possible but necessary, and we're not going to give up on working at that.

And even with this Cabinet -- before October 7th, even with this Cabinet and with Prime Minister Netanyahu back in office, we were talking to them about moving forward on that. And the first big step we were trying to get to was normalization.

Q: And then on Zelenskyy, really quickly. Do you believe that his visit here moved the needle in any way in terms of freeing up aid? Can you just speak at all to --

MR. KIRBY: I mean, I think --

Q: -- anything you saw --

MR. KIRBY: -- you'd have to talk to members of Congress about whether -- how much they were persuaded or not. I think the President was very convincing yesterday in the press conference, standing right next to President Zelenskyy, about the need for continued support for Ukraine and what that means not only to Ukraine's national security but ours as well.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Nadia.

Q: Thank you. I want to go back to the President's comment on indiscriminate killing. Correct me if I'm wrong, John, but you seem to give the Israelis more of a benefit of the doubt that your -- than your own President. You said that Israel is acting upon your advice. Can you give me an example of exactly where they acted upon your advice? In terms of casualties, civilian casualties are mounting. The attack on the South is just equally as bad as the attack in the North. So, just give ---

MR. KIRBY: I'm happy to repeat it.

Q: -- give me some examples of (inaudible) --

MR. KIRBY: I -- I'm happy to repeat them. I gave them earlier. They have -- they -- they moved in -- into Northern Gaza on the ground in a way that was much smaller than they had previously planned to do. And we think that that was an outgrowth of some of the advice and counsel that we provided them about urban warfare.

They have reduced the number of airstrikes that they're -- that they're conducting right now as they pursue Hamas terrorists in the South.

They have published online maps of places where people can go or not to go. That's basically telegraphing your punches, and there's very few modern militaries in the world that would do that. I don't know that we would do that -- to put a map out there and say, "Hey, here's where you can go where it's safe, and here's where you shouldn't go because we might be striking there."

Those are all good examples.

And I -- and I would also add, as I said in my opening statement: Even when they were operating in the North, they added human- -- humanitarian corridors to allow people to leave. They are now talking about additional corridors in the South, as well as the possibility of more daily humanitarian pauses in the fighting so that people can get access to assistance.

Q: With all of this that you mention, the casualty number is the same. So how could it be translated as all these measures has reduced the number of civilian casualties?

MR. KIRBY: Because your question was, "Give me some examples." So, I gave you some examples.

I think you heard from the President, we're still concerned that there remains civilian casualties happening every day. We're still obviously concerned about that.

And as I've said so many times before, the right number is zero. We don't want to see anybody hurt. We don't want to see anybody, any -- any innocent life taken or wounded by this conflict.

Q: But one last question --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: In the back.

Q: Thank you so much.

Q: Just quickly, can I just ask --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.

Q: -- this question, because --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're going to -- we got to wrap it up.

Q: Just quickly. You said the phrase "from the river to the sea" has been so controversial in the U.S. Today, the -- the son of the Prime Minister, Netanyahu's son, put it on his social media: "from the river to the sea." How can you explain that? And he said this is the Israeli flag, "from the river to the sea." So, would you condemn what he's writing?

MR. KIRBY: You're asking me to speak for the Prime Minister's son. I'm not going to do that.

Q: No, I'm not asking -- I'm not asking you to do that.

MR. KIRBY: I'm not going to do that.

Q: I'm not asking you to do that. I'm asking you to comment on this phrase that should be condemned equally. You said that whoever is using it is called antisemitic. So, now it's the Prime Minister's son who is using it. Is this antisemitic?

MR. KIRBY: I haven't seen that happen. I'm not going to speak for the Prime Minister's son and his social media account. I think you can understand why I wouldn't do that.

But, look -- and Karine has talked about this -- the -- that phrase has a certain connotation, which is antisemitic. And if you look at that -- the connotation is antisemitic -- if you look at it -- and I've got it here; I won't read it to you, but I've got the 2017 Hamas manifesto -- the one that's so-called "softer" than the one they wrote in 1988 -- and it basically says --

Q: (Inaudible.)

MR. KIRBY: -- "river to the sea."

Q: I'm talking about what -- yes, I know (inaudible) --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We just -- we -- we're running out of time. Go ahead, in the back. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you very much. Thank you so much, Karine. I have a question on a different subject, John.

A significant political change took place in Poland as the new government of Donald Tusk was sworn in earlier today. What's the -- what's President's reaction to this? What changes, if any, are you expecting between Poland -- in Polish-U.S. relations, especially on Ukraine?

And, finally, is President Biden going to invite the new prime minister to the White House? And I'm -- I'm not asking about an announcement. I'm asking about intentions. (Laughter.)

MR. KIRBY: Which is another way of getting an announcement from the podium. (Laughter.)

Look, Poland is a key NATO Ally, as you know. We have a great relationship with Poland. And they have been an extraordinary supporter of Ukraine and of our efforts to help Ukraine.

In -- in Poland, we have every expectation that the -- that the closeness of that relationship and the strong alliance and bond between us and Poland will continue.

And, obviously, I don't have anything on the schedule to speak to today.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right.

MR. KIRBY: Thanks, everybody.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, John. All right. Thanks, John.

I do want to say to the question that was asked about what the President is doing on the budget and the supplemental -- and, look, the President was very clear yesterday when he said that he wants to work to find a bipartisan compromise, both in terms of policy and funding, in relation to the border. And we are encouraged by the cro-- -- congr- -- the progress being made during yesterday's meeting on Capitol Hill, obviously.

The President understands that our immigration system is broken. This is something that has -- not just this administration. We've seen it in Republican and Democratic administration as well. And on his -- that's why, on his first day, he put forward a comprehensive piece of legislation to deal with immigration reform.

And so, look, the President has asked Congress for resources to take more action at the border. His supplemental request would allow us to do a couple of things: hire 1,300 more border agents and 1,000 more law enforcement officers to go after fentanyl; install more drug detentions -- detention technology at the border; hire more immigration judges and asylum officers. So, we look forward to continuing those conversations.

And, as you know -- you've heard me say this multiple times. You've -- you've heard from our OMB Director. You've heard from Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor himself. And we've talked about how the Office of Leg Affairs have had conversations upon conversations for months now with Congress about this.

So -- and also, we've said that -- and the President said this himself: He's been in touch regularly with congressional leaders and -- and his staff, as I just mentioned, on negotiating on his behalf.

So, we are going to focus on that. We're -- we appreciate -- again, encouraged by the progress that's been made. But we're certainly not going to negotiate from the podium.

Go ahead, Zeke.

Q: Thanks, Karine. On those negotiations on Capitol Hill, some of the items up for discussion and the policy changes the President alluded to would severely curtail asylum in the United States -- in some cases, (inaudible) titling policies beyond where they were under his predecessor, whose immigration policies he was sharply critical of. And -- and, in some cases, even beyond that. Why is that acceptable for the President, who was so critical of his predecessor's immigration policies?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm going to be careful. I'm not going to negotiate from the podium. I'm not going to get into whatever policy discussions are being -- are happening right now.

We are going to -- we're going to be continuing our regular c- -- congress- -- conversation with congressional leaders, as we have been doing for months.

I'm just not going to get into parts of this right now.

We are encouraged by the -- the progress that has been made, but we want to see a bipartisan compromise. We want to see a bipartisan compromise on this. It's an important issue. We have said the b- -- border security is an important issue.

I'm just not going to go into piecemeals of what's been discussed --

Q: Is the President willing to sign a --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- left in, left out.

Q: -- piece of legislation that tightens asylum policies tighter than they were under his predecessor?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to get into hypotheticals from here. The conversations are happening and the negotiations are happening with members of our team here and obviously congressional leaders. We're encouraged by the progress that's been made. We understand that we need to see -- and the President understands we have to find a bipartisan compromise here.

Q: And then, just last one from me. The President spent a lot time in Congress, been around Washington a while. Does he believe that congressional subpoenas are something that individual citizens can ignore?

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

Q: Why not?

Q: Why?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Are you -- do you want to be more specific on your question?

Q: No, just generally. He is a former senator. He has issued subpoenas in his career. Does he believe that subpoenas --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just going to --

Q: -- have to be complied with?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just going to have you speak to the White House Counsel on this. I'm just not going to speak to that.

Go ahead.

Q: Two things. Just days after taking office and shortly after issuing that legislation that has gone nowhere in Congress regarding immigration at the border, the President issued an executive order saying he would, quote, "restore and strengthen our own asylum system, which has been badly damaged by policies enacted over the last four years that contravened our values and caused needless human suffering."

Our reporting, others' reporting indicates the White House -- through sources in the administration -- is open to an authority that would allow it to suspend asylum processing when there's a spike in border crossings. Wouldn't that be a major policy reversal and revert back to the previous four years?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to go into sourcing from here. I'm not going to get into specifics. There are negotiations happening. Not going to negotiate from the podium. I'm going to let the conversation happen.

We have to find a bipartisan compromise -- that's what the President said; that's what the President believes -- in order to deal with this issue.

And you started off your question asking -- or laying out, actually -- that the President did put forth -- and you laid that out in your question -- a comprehensive immigration reform plan. And he did that on day one. And it is going on three years --

Q: How many times since day one --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: On three years --

Q: -- has he spent pushing that bill --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: On three years --

Q: -- with Congress?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Here's the thing --

Q: Because he has met with them on foreign policy --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right.

Q: -- on fiscal cliffs --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And we have --

Q: -- on budget.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And we --

Q: And it's never been about immigration, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I hear you, Ed. And we have regular conversations with congressional leaders and congressional staff about an array of issues, including this.

I mean, this is -- you cannot send a bigger message to Congress and the American people when you say your first -- when you put out your first piece of legislation -- is on this issue, is on reforming immigration -- right? -- is on fixing --

Q: Isn't that message going to land flat when you spend very little public time, as president, talking about the issue, meeting with congressional leaders on the issue, specifically --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I disagree.

Q: -- or doing anything else other than having you --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I dis- --

Q: -- come out here and say --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I disagree.

Q: -- "We issued a bill on day one"?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I disagree. It's not just issue of bill. Right? Not too long ago, back in the spring, we put forth policies on trying to make sure that -- because -- because Congress didn't help -- on trying to put forth policies that try to make the immigration system humane -- right? -- humane and actually dealing with the issue that we're seeing at the border.

We have taken policy actions after policy actions without -- without the help from Congress.

Q: You certainly have.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Without -- right?

And so, that is -- that is being consistent here. And when you put forth the first piece of -- of legislation to be on this issue that has been broken for decades, I mean, that's what he did as president. That's taking it very, very seriously.

Q: Mitch McConnell alluded to something -- a conversation he had with the President last week. I'm not asking you for names, but can you at least confirm that the President has spoken with lawmakers directly on the ongoing talks to get the supplemental done?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President has been in regular touch with congressional leaders on this issue and, obviously, does --so has his staff.

Q: And amid everything else today, did he spend any time watching what his son had to say outside the Capitol?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple -- just a couple of things on that. And I want to be really clear. Look, as you know, Hunter Biden is a private citizen. And so, I certainly would refer you to his representatives.

Look, you know, the President was certainly familiar with what his son was going to say. And I think what you saw was from the heart from his son. And you've heard -- you've heard me say this; you've heard the President say this: When it comes to the President and the First Lady, they are proud of him continuing to rebuild his life. They are proud of their son.

But I do want to say a couple of things here that -- that I think I can touch on, is that the President is also focused on the important work of the American people. We just went back and forth about what's happening at the border and how he wants to make sure that we secure the border, and the work that he and his team has been doing on negotiating to make sure that there's -- there's a bipartisan compromise.

You saw him yesterday stand right next to President Zelenskyy. There could not have been a more powerful picture with the President of the United States standing next to President Zelenskyy, who he and the brave people in Ukraine are fighting -- fighting for their democracy. Right?

And this is something that the President has led on -- the world on in making sure that President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine have what they need to beat against tyranny, to fight back against Russia's aggression.

And, you know, you heard me at the beginning of this -- of this briefing talking about how he met with hostages who were held by Hamas and how emotional and impactful that meeting was. That was a two-hour -- two-hour meeting that he had with the fa- -- with -- with the family members. And it was important. It was important.

He just convened -- right? -- a meeting on infrastructure.

So, he's going to remain focused on making sure that we continue to deliver for the American people. That's what the President has done since day one. And that's -- well, I'll leave it there.

Go ahead.

Q: Is the President okay --

Q: Can you give some reporters who did not have a chance to question the Admiral --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep, I will. I will.

Q: Okay.

Q: Thank you, though. Is the President okay with his son defying a congressional subpoena?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to get into -- into specifics on that. I would have to re- -- would have to refer you to the President's -- not the President, but Hunter's personal -- personal representatives. He is a private citizen, so I'm just not going to get into it.

Q: Can you tell us when the last time the two of them spoke?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I'm also not going to get into private conversation that the President has with his family. We've been pretty consistent. That's nothing new. We're just not going to get into it from here.

Q: Republicans say that they have to take this vote formalizing an impeachment inquiry because the White House is stonewalling them. What's your response to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The White House is stonewalling the -- the House Republicans who are been -- who have been -- (laughs) -- who have been really pushing -- pushing this impeachment without any evidence that -- without -- doing this political stunt? I mean, that's what they've been doing over and over again.

And we have said it; other Republicans have said it. There's no evidence here. There's not.

You know, look, I just said at the top: They're going to go home tomorrow. Right? They're going to go home this week. And what they have -- what have they done?

We need critical aid to Ukraine. Have they gotten that done? We need to secure the -- the border. Have they gotten that done? We need to make sure we avert a government shutdown in January. Have they even had conversations to get that done?

And instead, they -- they focus on baseless political stunts -- baseless political stunts. That's what they continue to do. Instead of -- they're focusing on the President's family instead of focusing on the American family. You've heard me say that over and over and over again.

And since you say they're -- we're not -- we're not -- well, you're saying they're saying that we're not compromi- -- or -- or cooperating. They've gotten 100,000 pages of documents. They've interviewed witnesses for 40 hours. And those documents and those witnesses, things that they asked for, have actually refuted their false allegations over and over and over and over again.

Instead of doing the work of the American people, they're doing this. They're doing political stunts. And we've been very clear about that.

I'm just going to go to the back a little bit. I'll come back. I'll come back.

Go ahead, Rob. I haven't called you in a while. Go ahead.

Q: No, you haven't. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.

You just said the President was familiar with what his son was going to say today. Was the President involved in drafting it, discussing it? Did he offer advice? What did you mean by "familiar"?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything else to add. He was familiar. I don't have anything else to add.

Q: Okay. And you -- you were asked what the President -- what his stance was on people who defy congressional subpoenas. In 2021, he was asked that question specifically and said that he believed the Justice Department should prosecute them. Is that his -- still his position (inaudible) --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to add to what you have -- what you just quoted me from the President. I just don't have anything to add.

Anybody else? Go ahead, Gerren.

Q: Thanks, Karine. As John mentioned in his topper, today is the fir- -- the one-year anniversary since the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and the White House put out a wor- -- a factsheet listing some of the actions that have been taken, including high-level engagement, which included the Vice President. But it did not mention any announcement about the President's visit to Africa, which he told leaders he would do. Is that still a priority for this President, given that there's only one year left with this administration?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, it -- it is still very much a priority for this President. He strongly, strongly wants to go to Africa, has -- obviously has strong desire to go to Africa.

And let me just say, it's been unprecedented number of -- 17 of his Cabinet members and other principal has traveled to -- to the continent to talk about meaningful exchanges -- right? -- to talk about how we can work together.

And so, I don't have anything to announce at this time. But obviously, he takes that very seriously. He wants to -- he wants to -- to -- he does have a strong desire to go to Africa.

But let's not forget, a year ago, there were 49 -- 49 leaders from the continent here, and it was also an unprecedented summit. And so, we are way ahead in -- in what we said we were going to deliver on in -- in those conversation and the -- coming out of that summit.

And so, yes, will he go to Africa? He has a strong desire to do so. We just don't have anything to announce at this time.

Q: Another question. As the administration continues to work on those commitments to Africa, it also has been applying a lot of pressure to Uganda over its anti-homosexuality --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- bill, which includes visa bans, AGOA being restricted.

But as that's happening, there are other countries that are drafting similar bills. Do -- are -- is the White House concerned that this is going to undermine the momentum of the -- this pressure being applied to Uganda over this bill?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, the President is always concerned on any type of human rights violation, any type of legislation or -- or actions that's going to certainly go after underrepresentative [underrepresented], you know, communities. He's always going to be very clear about that, always going to have those very straightforward conversations.

I can't speak to other countries, right? I don't have the specifics on what exactly that they are speaking about or to -- changes that they want to make. But just like we've been pretty clear about what Uganda is doing and spoken very forcefully, we're going to continue to do that.

Again, the President has -- when it comes to human rights, the President is -- has always been very clear, has had those conversation with -- with leaders of -- of countries. And he doesn't -- he doesn't hold back. He doesn't hold back.

Go ahead, Zolan.

Q: Thank you. So, Senator Durbin today also said that he had been in contact with the White House and that the White House was vaguely considering a policy similar to Title 42. Is there -- if it's the difference between passing aid for Ukraine and not, is there any scenario where the President would support and the White House would support these proposals by Republicans that are also backed by Donald Trump and Stephen Miller?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I really can't get into hypotheticals from here. I can't negotiate from here.

They're having conversations right now. Don't want to get ahead of that. Want to let folks have those conversation.

We know and we understand, the President understands -- he has said this -- that we need to come -- in order to get this done, there has to be a bipartisan compromise. We have to find a bipartisan compromise.

I'm just not going to go into --

Q: So, his --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- his statement, though, even saying that he's open to compromise -- that came after Repub- -- some of these proposals were outlined. That came after Republicans said what they wanted here: ex- -- nationwide --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I hear you.

Q: -- expedited removal, authority for expulsion. So, even just him --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: -- saying that he's open to compromise, does that not mean he's open to compromise for --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What -- what I'm --

Q: -- policies put forward --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is a -- we have -- we have --

Q: -- by the previous administration?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This President has signed more bipartisan legislation that any modern-day president. He has, right? We have see -- you have seen him taking historic action on a few bipartisan issues, right?

Let's think about the budget deal, right? That was done in a bipartisan way.

So, it's not just this. We understand, in order to come up with a compromise and get things done on behalf of the American people, you have to find a bipartisan way to do that. And so, that's what I'm saying.

I want to be really mindful. There are negotiations literally happening -- literally happening. I'm not going to, from the podium, start saying what the President is going to accept, not to expect -- accept, or get into hypotheticals. That's not going to help the process that we're trying to deliver on for the American people. I'm --

Q: Moving for- --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- just not going to get ahead of that.

Q: Moving forward, do you expect him -- I know it hasn't happened yet, but do you expect him to call members to the White House, to call members to Delaware to discuss this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any -- I don't have anything to add to the calendar or the schedule about the President inviting anyone here.

What I can say is, and I've said this moments ago: The President has had conversations with congressional leaders and so has his staff, who have been negotiating on his behalf.

Karen, go ahead.

Oh, no? Oh? Oh. All right. (Laughter.)

Q: I mean, I could ask you. I had a question for Kirby. I'd be happy to ask it to you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, it's okay.

Jon.

Q: No, no, no, I'll do it.

Q: Thanks -- thanks a lot, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, go ahead, Jon.

Q: Nope, can I -- I mean, can I jump back in?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go --

Q: You called on me.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I was -- I was trying to call on people I hadn't called yet.

Q: Thank --

Q: Thank you. I appreciate it. The President --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, I'm trying to keep my word here.

Q: Thank you. The President announced the $200 million security assistance package yesterday for Ukraine from the presidential drawdown. How many more times does the administration anticipate that they can turn to that before the end of the year? How much money is left in that at this point?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's a -- it's a really good question. Look, we have roughly about a billion dollars left in the replenishment authority.

And so, just to give a little bit of -- of background on what that is. It is the process by which the DOD buys new weapons and equipment from American manufacturers to replace older equipment we are sending Ukraine -- a process that is supporting manufacturing jobs across our country, as DOD has jumpstarted and expanded production lines to support Ukraine.

So, $1 billion is left.

Approximately 96 percent of replenishment funding has already been used. And the Department of Defense is preparing to allocate the remaining 4 percent this month.

So, that's what we're looking at. And so, once we run out of the replenishment funds, we will not be able to backfill our own stocks, as I just laid out at the top, and replace what we send to Ukraine. And that is what is at stake here.

That is one of the reasons you heard from President Zelenskyy and he spoke very forcefully with -- during with the press conference with the President. That's why he went to Congress to have that conversation, the importance -- the importance of having our support so that they can continue to fight the tyranny that they're dealing with on -- on the ground.

Q: And would you say that the administration has been giving smaller amounts than you'd like and spacing it out --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We've talk --

Q: -- to make it last longer?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We've actually -- we've actually have said that.

Q: Yeah, like --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I believe the --

Q: Kirby, yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- National Security Advisor has said this. I believe the Admiral has said this -- that that is exactly what we have been doing because we -- the money is running out.

And so, there's a reason why there's a supplemental plan -- there's a reason -- a supplemental ask. There's a reason why we have these emergency asks -- right? -- these national security emergency ask, because it's an emergency. We need it. We need it because we have to continue to assist the brave people of Ukraine to fight against the -- you know, to fight for their democracy and against the tyranny that they're dealing with that President -- President Putin certainly has laid at their feet.

Okay.

Q: Karine, right here.

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

Q: Thank you so much.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I was going to call on you.

Q: You were?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q: Thank you. Thank you very much. Is it likely that any legislation that gets to the President desks [President's desk] that extends military funding for Ukraine --

Q: (Sneezes.)

Q: -- includes policy changes, as it --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Bless you.

Q: Thank you.

Q: -- relates to immigration, U.S. immigration policy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, negotiations are currently happening. Not going to get into hypotheticals from here.

Q: I'm not asking for specifics. I'm just saying --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know, but your --

Q: -- is it likely that any policy --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- "Is it likely," which is --

Q: -- changes are contained --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- which is --

Q: -- in the legislation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- which is a hypothetical.

I'm going to let the negotiations happen. I'm not going to get into specifics from here. I'm going to let the negotiators do -- do their -- their work. And once we have -- certainly, once there's something to share, we will share that.

Q: President Zelenskyy spent a full day here in Washington yesterday. He had that all-senators meeting. He met with the House Speaker. He met with the President. No minds appear to be changed as a result of all of the meetings that he had. So, what did he accomplish by coming here to Washington?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, negotiations are still happening, so we'll see.

I think -- look, this is -- look, you've -- President Zelenskyy has made multiple trips here before. This is someone who speaks passionately. He's the leader of a country that's at war against Russia, who is -- who invaded their country. He is -- I remember listening to him talk about what they're going through: the children, the people, the folks who have lost their lives -- who have lost everything. I mean, this is -- who else is it better to hear from directly than President Zelenskyy?

And I think it was an important visit for him to have -- to be here. I think it was incredibly important for him to talk to senators, for him to talk to House members, for him to stand -- like, right here in the White House, next to President Biden, to make -- to answer your questions and to speak very forcefully and passionately about what's going on.

Almost two years. Almost two years. Just think about the lives that they've lost. But yet, they've fought very bravely -- very bravely.

And so, I think it was good that President Zelenskyy -- the President was -- was happy to host him here and have a conversation with him. And I think it was important for him to be here.

Go ahead.

Q: Does the White House have a plan to address what is likely going to be a wave of legislation in the statehouses next year restricting LGBTQ rights and gender-affirming care? For example, there's already more than 20 of these kind of bills in Missouri.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we saw something very similar just last year -- right? -- in the last -- I would say in the last year -- but in the last state leg- -- legislative session, where more than 400 anti-LGBTQ bills -- many -- many were anti-trans bills that were introduced. And we were very forceful -- the President was, I was from here -- calling that out.

Of course we're concerned. Of course we're concerned when any community -- any community is under attack.

And -- and so, you know, what the President is going to continue to do from here: He's going to make sure that we -- we work to advance equality for the LGBTQ+ community and protect civil rights, which is something that he's done. He has signed executive -- executive orders to do that from the federal -- from the fed- -- federal agencies to make sure we protect LGBTQ families. And, you know, he's going to continue to -- to ask Congress to pass the Equality Act. There -- and Department of Justice certainly has -- has worked towards challenging these state laws.

And so, that is something that he's certainly going to -- his administration are going to continue to fight on behalf of this community.

So, are we concerned? Absolutely.

And I said 400. There is actually more than 600 state legislation -- state legislation that were -- that was filed in the last -- in the last session. So, yeah, that's concerning. And that's, sadly, a historic number, and something that we don't want to see.

Go ahead.

AIDE: Karine, you have time for one more.

Q: Thank you. Thanks, Karine. You said that President Biden was familiar with what his son was going to say on Capitol Hill. If I called my dad and said, "I am about to violate a congressional subpoena," he would probably say, "Son, you shouldn't do that." Was there any attempt by President Biden to talk Hunter out of it today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're going to call your dad "Steve"?

Q: I call him "Dad" usually. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I don't have anything else to add. The President was familiar with what Hunter was going to say today. And, you know -- look, he's proud of his son. He and the First Lady are proud of his son, how he's rebuilding his life back. He's going to focus on what is needed on the American people.

Hunter -- and I've said this many times -- is a private citizen. And so, certainly, I would have to refer you to -- to his representatives.

I'm just not going to get into private conversations, because what you're asking me is actually a private conversation. I'm just not going to get into it.

Q: Okay. The first briefing since Hunter was indicted again in Los Angeles. Why doesn't President Biden just pardon him?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President -- I've been very clear -- the President is not going to pardon his son.

Q: And one more about these -- this Ukraine money-for-border policy negotiations. In the last 24 hours, 10,000 illegal border crossings at the Southwest border. Would you admit that the border policy -- the Biden border policy so far has not worked?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I will say is that we have known for decades -- for decades that the immigration policy is -- the immigr- -- immigration system is broken. We've said that over and over again. That has been Republican administration and Democrat administration. That is not unheard of. That is what we have seen for the past couple of decades.

The Pre- -- wait. The President has put forth an immi- -- immigration -- a comprehensive immigration policy -- legislation on his first day to deal with this issue. Republicans refuse. They refuse to deal with this issue. It's been almost three years since he put forth that -- that legislation.

So, we're going to do what we can do from here. But we have said: This is something that needs to be dealt with in a bipartisan way -- in a bipartisan way.

Q: About a thousand of these illegal border crossers every day are getting away to parts unknown in the U.S. Does the President think that is a national security risk?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Here's what I will say: You -- one of the ways that we also have to look at this is what congressional Republicans have refused to do. They have -- they refused to support previous requests from the President.

What they've asked to do actually hurts the issue, hurts the problem that we're seeing at the border. They said "no" to border agents. They've said "no" to new technology to fight fentanyl. They said "no" to additional troops. And they voted on eliminating 2,000 Customs and Border Patrol agents. That is what Republicans have done.

The President is asking to do this in a bipartisan way, to find some compromise to deal with an issue that has existed -- existed for decades now.

I'm going to take one more question. Go ahead, Jared.

Q: Thank you. Has there been, on that issue, any discussion about separating out, at this point, Ukraine money from the rest of the security supplemental?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to get into negotiations from here. I'm going to let the negotiators have the conversations. I'm just not going to do that from here.

All right, thanks. We'll see you tomorrow, folks. Bye.

Q: Thank you, Karine.

Q: Thanks, Karine.

3:13 P.M. EST

Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/368575

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