Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby

March 22, 2024

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:08 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I wanted to just start off at the -- at the top that we just heard -- obviously, all of us just heard the terrible news. Our thoughts are with the Duchess of Cambridge and her family members and friends during this incredibly difficult time. And certainly, we wish her a full recovery.

And I think it's important that we respect their privacy, especially at this time, so I'm not going to go further -- further than that.

I'll just -- I will do one more thing before that, though. I know folks are going to ask if the President has spoken to her or the family. I can just say right now that we don't have anything to share at this time. But obviously, we -- we wish the Duchess of Cambridge a full recovery and we are incredibly sad to hear of the news.

Q: Is the First Lady going to send her a note?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to share at this time. We -- this news just broke, obviously. So, we are taking this in -- this terrible news -- as all of you are. And so, just don't have anything to share.

We want to make sure that we certainly respect their privacy at this incredibly difficult time -- not just for her but her family. So, I'll just -- just leave it there.

Q: Did the palace give the White House any kind of a heads up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would just say we learned just like all of you. And we want to be incredibly respectful to their privacy.

So, I have a couple of things at the top. Obviously, we have a guest. The Admiral is here today to talk about a couple of things in the Middle East and more broadly.

So, tomorrow marks 15 years since the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land. President Biden believes that healthcare is a right not a privilege. And since taking office, he's been focused on historic actions to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs and expand access to coverage.

So, ahead of this historic milestone, I want to go over some key statistics which I think is incredibly important.

Under President Biden, more Americans have health insurance than under any president. A record-breaking 21 million Americans signed up for health coverage this year, with a majority of shoppers able to find coverage for less than $10 a month.

Americans are saving, on average, 800 bucks a year on premiums.

Four states have ex- -- expanded Medicaid since the President took office. And millions have benefited from ACA's critical protections, which have prevented people from being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or being charged with more for being a woman.

But President Biden is not rist- -- resting on these accomplishments. He has a bold agenda to continue to bring down Americans' healthcare costs. He's calling on Congress to -- to make expanded Affordable Care Act's tax credits permanent so Americans can continue to save on premiums.

After decades of failed attempts and without a single Republican vote in Congress, President Biden beat Big Pharma by passing the Inflation Reduction Act. Already, the law is lowering prescription drug prices.

Now President Biden wants to expand the amount of drugs that Medicare can negotiate lower prices for to at least 50 drugs per year. And he wants to expand the 35 bucks a month cap on insulin and the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on drug spending to everyone.

Despite all of this, Republican officials are still working to end the Affordable Care Act, repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, and gut Medicaid. In fact, congressional Republicans have attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act over 50 times, including during the last administration with the support of the President's predecessor.

President Biden has been clear he will never let that happen and he will never stop working to protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Speaking of healthcare, this week Republican Study Committee, which represent 100 percent of House Republican leadership and 80 percent of their conference, released its budget.

Now you've heard the President say this. His father has an expression that goes, "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value."

So, let's look at what House Republicans actually value. First, their budget endorses a national abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. It puts IVF treatment on the chopping block through House Republicans' support for the Life at Conception to Act.

The President believes we must restore the right to choose and protect other freedoms, not take them away.

The Republican Study Committee budget would make devastating cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act; increase --

Q: Your mic is dropping out.


Q: Your mic is dropping out.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It's dropping down? Can you guys hear me?

Q: Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I was on a roll. (Laughter.)

All right. But I want to make sure you hear me.

All right. So, the Republican Study Committee budget would make devastating cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act; increase housing and prescription drug costs for families; give more huge tax cuts to the wealthy and the biggest corporations. Put simply, their budget lays out a dark future for America.

This is about our visions for the future: whose side we are on. President Biden is on the side of the American people. He believes in giving the middle class a fair shot, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and securing Americans' rights and freedoms. He will never stop fighting for that future.

(Referring to the microphone audio.) Is there still an issue? I hear some rumbling. We're all good? Okay, great.

And then, next, before I turn it over, I wanted to turn to the latest from Capitol Hill. The House of Representatives just voted to pass the funding bill to keep the government open, invest in the American people, and strengthen our economy and national security. The Senate should pass -- pass it as quickly as possible.

To be clear, this bill is a com- -- compromise reached by congressional appropriators, so no side got everything it wanted.

But it expands access to child care, Head Start; invests in cancer research; funds addiction prevention programs; and advances American leadership abroad.

It also provides resources to secure the border that Republicans opposed. We fought hard for additional resources and were successful in preventing Republicans from severely underfunding DHS.

But it's not enough. Republicans have blocked our multiple requests in increased border funding and the bipartisan border security agreement.

Congress should pass that agreement to give border personnel the policies and funding needed to secure the border. The House must also pass the bipartisan national security supplemental to advance our national security interests.

And I do have one -- one last thing.

Turning to the President's schedule and upcoming visit, we recently announced that, on April 15th, the President will welcome Prime Minister Sudani of Iraq to the White House to coordinate on common priorities and reinforce the strong bilateral partnership between the United States and Iraq.

The leaders will reaffirm their commitment to Strategic Framework Agreement and deepen their shared vision for a secure, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq fully integrated into the Board of Regents.

President Biden and Prime Minister Sudani will consult on a range of issues during the visit, including our shared commitment to the lasting defeat of ISIS, an ev- -- an evolution of the military mission nearly 10 years after forming the successful Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

They will also discuss ongoing Iraqi financial reforms to promote economic development and progress towards Iraqis' energy independence and modernization.

And I do have something about the week ahead.

On Tuesday, March 26th, the President and the Vice President will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina. We will have more to share soon, but you'll hear the President and the Vice President highlight how they are fighting for all Americans and their vision for the future. So, we look forward to seeing you on the road.

With that, Admiral John Kirby is here to -- to give us an update, discuss Ukraine and the Middle East and the President's morning call with the President-elect of Indonesia. Thank you for your patience.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Karine. Th- -- I'm going to thank you in advance for your patience --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)

MR. KIRBY: -- because I do you have a few things I -- I'm going to try to get through here. Let me put my cheaters on.

First, before I go through what I had prepared to talk about, obviously, we've all seen the reports and the video coming out of Moscow -- this violent shooting at a -- looks like a shopping mall. Can't speak much to the details of it. I mean, this was all just breaking before I came on out here.

So, we're trying to get more information but really would refer to Russian authorities to -- to speak to it. The images are just horrible and just hard to watch. And our thoughts, obviously, are going to be with the -- the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack.

And I think, you know, you look at that video, if you have, and you got to recognize that there's some moms and dads and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters that haven't gotten the news yet. And this is going to be a tough day. So, our thoughts are with them.

You might have also seen -- hopefully you saw -- our State -- State Department, our embassy there, put out a notice to all Americans in Moscow to avoid any large gathering -- concerts, obviously, shopping malls, anything like that -- just for their own safety. They should -- they should stay put where they are and stay plugged into the State Department for any additional updates and information.

I'm afraid that's really all I have on that.

Now on Ukraine. Today, Russia launched a massive wave of missiles and Iranian-made drones against Ukraine cities and civilian infrastructure, which Ukraine reports is the largest series of airstrikes that Russia has launched against Ukraine's energy grid since the start of this war.

Ukrainian officials say that at least 10 different regions of their country were struck, leaving more than 1 million homes without electricity. Our hearts go out to all the families of those civilians who were killed, and we're praying for a quick recovery for those who were wounded by these attacks.

They demonstrate once again -- the attacks do -- how vital it is that we continue to provide Ukraine with air defense systems and capabilities, interceptor missiles -- the tools that they need to protect themselves and their infrastructure.

Mr. Putin is not waiting. He's not sitting on his hands. He's making lethal use of every single minute available to him while our own Congress refuses to act. He's not wavering, neither should we.

The House of Representatives must pass the national security supplemental as soon as possible so that we can provide Ukraine with this vital equipment. And as we've seen in just the last couple of days, every single day the House delays is another day that the Ukrainians have to pay for it with their own blood.

Now, also today, the United States put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council that supported ongoing diplomatic efforts aimed at securing an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as part of a hostage deal. Notably, the resolution condemned Hamas for the October 7th attacks, which we believe is long overdue -- blaming Hamas, condemning Hamas -- especially in light of the U.N.'s recent report confirming that Hamas engaged in conflict-related sexual violence.

This was a balanced, timely text, and it is in line with our longstanding calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza over a period of at least six weeks as part of a hostage deal. Nothing new there.

The vast majority of the council voted in favor of the resolution -- some 11 other nations. Unfortunately, Russia and China vetoed it. That was hardly a surprise. They'd rather shoot down something that we authored simply because we authored it, rather than consider the strength of what it called for with overwhelming council support.

And what did it call for? An immediate ceasefire, all hostages released, more aid getting in to the people of Gaza, and Hamas condemned for the slaughter of innocent Israelis.

It's difficult to look at that text and find what -- what's objectionable about it, except the fact that the United States is the one that authored it and put it forward.

Now if I can switch to Mexico and some sanctions. On efforts to counter illicit fentanyl, part of President Biden's Unity Agenda efforts to save lives by stemming the flow of illicit trafficking of drugs, the Treasury Department today sanctioned 15 Sinaloa Cartel members and six businesses operating in Mexico that are engaged in the trafficking of these deadly drugs.

Now, these people are involved in what's known as a black-market peso exchange. It's a scheme to launder illicit fentanyl proceeds for the Sinaloa Cartel. And the cartel, if you don't know, if you're not tracking, is one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, responsible for a significant portion of the illicit fentanyl and other deadly drugs trafficked into the United States.

Today's sanctions were possible thanks to ongoing U.S. law enforcement collaboration and strong partnership with the government of Mexico, with which we coordinated closely and for which we are grateful.

And, finally, President Biden spoke earlier today with President-elect Prabowo Subianto of In- -- of Indonesia to congratulate him on his election victory. President Biden pledged to expand cooperation with Indonesia under the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and to work together towards an Indo-Pacific that is free, open, prosperous, and secure.

And with that, I'll take some questions.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Thank you so much, Admiral.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you for your patience.

Q: Thanks. Appreciate it.

On Monday, Jake Sullivan stood here and said that a major military operation from the Israelis into Rafah would be a mistake. That was after a phone call with President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Of course, today, we saw Secretary of State Blinken say that -- warn again even more about a military operation in Rafah. And yet, we saw Netanyahu say that they are prepared to "do it alone." So, are we to understand that President Biden has just lost all of his sway here?

MR. KIRBY: I would also note that Prime Minister Netanyahu said he recognizes there's a debate about Rafah. I would also note that the Israeli government will be sending a delegation here in coming days to -- to talk to us from -- in an interagency perspective about some viable options and alternatives to a major ground operation.

The President and Prime Minister Netanyahu just spoke a few days ago, and they will speak again, no -- no question about it. We've not shied away from expressing our concerns to them, and they have not refused to listen. And there had been examples in the past -- I've gone through it from the podium -- where they have actually taken on board the advice and counsel we provided.

Q: So, you're convinced that you have some reason to believe that you can still convince them to change course?

MR. KIRBY: We are going to share with them our lessons, our perspectives. We're going to share with them some alternatives about how they can eliminate the threat of Hamas in Gaza, particularly in the Rafah area, without conducting a major ground offensive. As you heard Secretary Blinken say today, we still believe that a major ground offensive is a mistake.

Q: But while he was on the ground, Netanyahu still said again that they are prepared to do it alone. If you guys have a disagreement this big, is that grounds to consider withholding military aid?

MR. KIRBY: They're coming here, hopefully, next week, it looks like, to -- to have a discussion about viable options. Why don't we have that discussion, see where that takes us, before we leap to conclusions?

I would add a couple of things. Yes, we saw what the Prime Minister said. And he should speak to his comments, to his -- to the Israeli people. That's for him to talk to. But we haven't seen them go into Rafah, have we? They haven't conducted a major ground offensive yet.

So, we believe there's still grounds -- I'm sorry, still time until -- and space to -- to have these discussions and to share with them what we've learned.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. We don't -- got to (inaudible). Go ahead. (Inaudible.)

Q: What -- what will make this -- is --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, go ahead. No, I was just saying we don't have a lot of time.

Q: What would make this meeting next week a success, John, between the United States and Israel?

MR. KIRBY: We're not putting benchmarks on it, Steve. We're -- we're looking forward to the opportunity to have a delegation here from Israel to -- again, to share some of our thinking about viable alternatives. And we'll see where it goes from there.

Q: And if Netanyahu comes to speak to Congress, would the President take the opportunity to meet with him while he's here?

MR. KIRBY: I couldn't answer that question since we don't -- we don't have a visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to. I would just note that these two guys have known each other a long time, and they're speaking frequently.

Q: Israeli Defense Minister Golan is scheduled to go to the Pentagon on Tuesday. Has that broader meeting with the other officials -- has a date been set for it yet?

MR. KIRBY: We'll have more to share in the -- in coming days about what the schedule is going to look like. But we expect that the meeting will take place next week.

Q: And does the President feel that he --

MR. KIRBY: Let me just add: It would be a -- you know, that -- that delegation is a -- that -- that meeting about Rafah is a separate meeting than the Defense Minister's meeting with Secretary Austin, which was long-scheduled.

Q: And does the President feel that he does have tools in his toolbox, perhaps, to exercise harder leverage against Israel if they do move forward with going into Rafah?

MR. KIRBY: We're going to continue to approach this with Israel as we have in the past, which is to make sure that they have the tools they need to defend themselves against a still-viable threat, while at the same time using the strength of the relationship between the United States and Israel -- and, yes, the strength of the relationship between the Prime Minister and the President -- to continue to -- to urge them to minimize civilian casualties, to allow more humanitarian assistance to get in, and -- and it's getting -- you know, we haven't once talked about in this press conference today about the hostage deal -- to move forward on that hostage deal, which, again, we think those talks are making progress.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about how much progress? I mean, Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday said "gaps are narrowing." Do you think that it's close? Could it come next week?

MR. KIRBY: We do -- we do believe that we're getting closer. I couldn't give you a date certain on the calendar, but that -- the discussions are still happening, and that they are happening at the pace at which they are and with the participation that we're seeing on all sides, it's a good sign.

And, again, I don't want to get too sanguine here. Nothing's negotiated until it's all negotiated, but -- but we're -- but we do believe that the gaps are narrowing and we are getting closer.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Can you speak to the -- the phrase of the U.N. resolution that the U.S. proposed? It says that the Security Council would "determine the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire." Why not just call for a ceasefire directly? What -- why -- why phrase it like it has?

MR. KIRBY: It's -- I mean, I don't -- I don't want you to read too much into the vernacular here. What -- what we called for in this resolution is perfectly in keeping with what we've been saying now for weeks. We want to see an immediate ceasefire so that a hostage deal can take place. You've got to have a cessation of hostilities to get hostages out and to be able to get aid in.

And what we're looking for -- and it's in the resola- -- resolution -- is a firm period of about six weeks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Tam.

Q: Just a clarification. Do you have any details you can share about who will actually be in this meeting with the Israeli delegation when they come? Who on the U.S. side? Who on the Israeli side?

MR. KIRBY: We'll have more details -- we'll have more details in the coming days.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. On Venezuela, do you have a reaction to the arrest that happened this week of two people close to María Corina Machado?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q: And how do you -- how does this affect the calculation of the United States to reimpose sanctions in April? Is it still possible to have free elections in Venezuela?

MR. KIRBY: Well, we're deeply concerned by -- by these reports of these arrests.

What I would say on -- on sanctions relief is we're still willing to consider sanctions relief on the Maduro regime and on Venezuela if they meet their obligations that they made in the fall in Barbados. And reports of arrests like this certainly give us pause to think about how serious they are about meeting those commitments.

Q: Has there been any conversations with them recently?

MR. KIRBY: I -- I would refer you to the State Department. I'm not -- I'm not aware of any conversations from the National Security Council, but you should talk to the State Department.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Weijia.

Q: Thank you. Thanks, John. Can you talk about in a practical sense what it means that the U.S. thinks it's a mistake for Israel to go into Rafah with a ground offensive? Will you halt aid and weapons?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I think I just got the same question. I'm not going to get --

Q: Is there an answer?

MR. KIRBY: Well, you didn't -- there was an answer. Maybe you didn't find it satisfactory, but that's okay. (Laughter.)

What -- what we're talking about here is -- is making it

clear to the Israelis our deep concerns about any ground offensive into Rafah. There -- there's a million and half people there. And it's not a big -- it's not a big space. They've got to be accounted for. Their safety and security has got to be protected.

And we believe that a major ground offensive is a mistake. We believe that it will be, as I've said many times and you've heard from other officials, a disaster -- certainly for those million and a half refugees in Rafah.

And so, we want to present to the Israelis some viable alternatives and options about how they could go after the legitimate threat of Hamas there in Rafah without sacrificing the safety and security of those people.

Q: Is it a mistake, or is it a violation of the national security memo that would, in turn, result in the halt of aid and weapons? Would it be (inaudible) --

MR. KIRBY: I believe the State Department has already talked about that. The Israelis have submitted their -- their letter, in keeping with the national security memo. And Secretary of State has determined that the information they provided was credible and was reliable.

Q: And then just one more quick one, because you've said so many times from this podium, John -- you've said repeatedly the U.S. is not going to tell Israel how to conduct its military operation. So, if you're willing to do it now, why not before?

MR. KIRBY: We're not doing it now.

Q: You're not telling them not to do something (inaudible) --

MR. KIRBY: No, that's not what this meeting is about. We're not -- we're not going to lay out terms. It's a sovereign country. And the -- they have their own military, and they have their own operations to conduct. They have to make those decisions.

But as a friend of Israel and an ally, as before, today and next week, we want to make sure that they make those decisions fully informed with our lessons learned from urban warfare and this kind of fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, do they have to listen to our advice and counsel? No. But we have seen in the past where they have taken some of it on board. We hope they take this on board.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Hey, John, there's a report that the U.S. is urging Ukraine to stop attacks on Russia's energy infrastructure out of fear that it's going to drive up oil prices.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q: Can you confirm those conversations are happening?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not going to speak to the specifics in that press reporting. The only thing I would tell you is what I've said before: We do not encourage or enable the Ukrainian military to conduct strikes inside Russia.

Q: But are you concerned about this at all, that these attacks are happening against their energy infrastructure?

MR. KIRBY: We do not encourage or enable Ukraine to strike inside Russia.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, April.

Q: John, do you have any updates on the U.S. involvement when it comes to Haiti? And, also, what are the conversations, if any, about changing or fixing the immigration status when it comes to Haitians who cannot file for asylum in the country, as it's been overtaken by gangs, which is considered a coordinated militia, and they come here?

MR. KIRBY: On your second question, I'd refer you, April, to the State Department to speak to the particular policies on asylum seekers.

But can you repeat your first question because I'm not sure I totally understood it.

Q: Do you have an update on U.S. involvement when it comes to Haiti?

MR. KIRBY: An update on U.S. involvement? So, I think -- I would say, look, our lines of effort are really kind of three things right now. One is working with the Haitians on a Haitian-led political transition process and that -- that presidential council that is -- that transitional council is up and running. And, hopefully, we'll see some movement here in coming days about their selection of -- of individuals for governance in Haiti that can be credible and can meet the aspirations of the Haitian people.

Number two, we're working with Kenya on a Kenyan-led multinational security support mission, which would not include U.S. troops on the ground as part of that mission. But we are working with -- with Kenyans on what that can look like, what support they might need externally from the United States.

And then, thirdly, and this is -- clearly, we're -- we're doing what we can to help those Americans who want to leave Haiti get out safely. And there were some additional helicopter movements today, as a matter of fact.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. So, question: Did the U.S. have prior knowledge of this attack in Moscow, given that the U.S. Embassy had issued warning beforehand?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not aware of any advanced knowledge that we had of this --

Q: On --

MR. KIRBY: -- this terrible attack.

Q: On March 8th, the embassy warned of imminent attack in Moscow by extremists.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I think that -- I'll let the State Department speak to that, I think. But I don't think that was related to this specific attack.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just a couple of more. Go ahead.

Q: John, today, the Vice President said that she had seen the plans and that there was no credible way to allow for the relocation --

MR. KIRBY: I believe she said she saw --

Q: A map.

MR. KIRBY: She looked at a map.

Q: Map.

MR. KIRBY: She saw maps of Gaza.

Q: And said that there was no credible way to relocate those who were sheltering there. Was it ever feasible?

MR. KIRBY: As I've said from the podium myself, a million and a half people in a very confined space -- that that is a tall order for any military to find a place for that many people to go where they can be safe and secure, where they can have access to medical care, food, water. That's a tall order for any military.

And I think the Vice President is speaking plainly and candidly about the scope and the scale of that kind of a challenge.

Q: For weeks, though, the U.S. was saying the only way they would support a ground invasion in Rafah was if there was a credible plan to relocate those civilians.

MR. KIRBY: That's correct.

Q: So, the position now is that's not possible. Was it ever possible?

MR. KIRBY: We have not seen such a credible plan. And one of the things that we want to talk about with this Israeli desig- -- delegation next week is exactly that. I mean, we're getting focused on the ground offensive, but the other thing we want to talk to them about is the humanitarian situation there in Rafah.

Q: Should we expect the President to be a part of this meeting next week, or you would not expect that, with the Israeli delegation?

MR. KIRBY: We'll have more details about participation in coming days.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Danny. And then, Brian, you have the last one.

Q: Thanks.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Thanks, Admiral. On the attack in Moscow, I know you're still gathering information, but do you have any sense whether this could be linked at all to the conflict in Ukraine?

MR. KIRBY: There is no indication at this time that Ukraine or Ukrainians were involved in the shooting. But, again, this just broke. We're taking a look at it. But I would disabuse you at this early hour of any connection to Ukraine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Brian. Last question.

Q: A quick follow-up and then a ques- -- well, first question. (Laughter.) Sorry, John.

Is there -- can you explain the difference between the veto that was offered by China and Russia to a peace -- to peace in the Middle East -- a ceasefire -- and one that we offered in February? What's the difference?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, ours was -- ours was based on substance. Ours was based on the actual content in the resolution, which just called for an immediate ceasefire, no condemnation of Hamas, no connection to getting the hostages out, nothing in there about humanitarian assistance.

We support an immediate ceasefire but, as our resolution said, in connection with a hostage deal that gets those people home, gets more aid in, and actually, for the first time, in the -- at the Security Council, condemns Hamas for what they did on the 7th of October.

Our objections and our vetoes were based on substance and content. The objections in the vetoes today by Russia and China were simply based on politics. Because we authored it, it had to be bad.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks. Thanks.

Q: And then a follow-up on --

MR. KIRBY: Thank you.

Q: On -- wait. Real quick, the follow-up on Russia is: Is there any indication -- there has been speculation that it shows that the protest that was brought up with Aleksey's death, that there is some pattern of instability now in the Russian regime. Would you confirm that? Or do you think it's too early to say that?

MR. KIRBY: I -- I think it's difficult with the news today to make some broader point about instability in Moscow or in Russia. Clearly, you know, there are people in -- in Moscow and in Russia that object to the way Mr. Putin is governing the country.

But I don't think we're -- at this early hour, we can make a link between the -- the shopping mall attack and -- and political motivations. I think we just -- we just need to -- we need more time, and we need to learn more information. '

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Awesome. Thank you so much, Admiral.

MR. KIRBY: Have a great weekend, everybody.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Have a great weekend. Thanks, Admiral.

Q: Thanks, John.

Q: Thanks, John.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Chris, what you got?

Q: So, the spending vote is today.


Q: (Inaudible) will let us reach durable spending agreements with House Republicans. What's your response to the motion to vacate that was filed against Speaker Johnson and, you know, the future of those (inaudible) negotiations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we've always been very clear: We are not going to get in the middle of what's going on in the House leadership. That's not going to be our focus. The President has been very clear. He's going to continue to focus on the American people.

You saw him in Arizona, where he made a really important chips announcement on semiconductors. Going to create 30,000 jobs in -- in Arizona -- good-paying union jobs. The -- the, you know, $8.5 billion commitment that's going to actually with -- with Intel -- that's going to actually spur more investment into this country -- on manufacturing investment, doing more semiconductors right here in the U.S.

And so, that's what the President wants to focus on: creating jobs, actually investing in America. You saw him go through three states in two days to talk about how he sees his vision for this country. He has been, also, very clear.

Look, there are a couple of things that are on the floor of the House -- right? -- or one of them is -- should be on the floor of the House, which is the national security supplemental. We know it would get overwhelming support. We need to see them move forward on it. You just heard from my colleague from NSC how important that -- for Ukraine to have the funding that they need or have the assistance -- security assistance that they need to continue to defend themselves. We want to see that go through.

And there's the bipartisan agreement that came out of the Senate -- Republicans and Democrats coming together to try and deal with what's going on at the border.

We're just not going to speak to what's going on with the leadership. I guess, get -- grab -- you know, get your popcorn, sit tight, and watch what's happening.

Q: And what's the risk if the Senate does not immediately move on the spending legislation and potential for partial whenever shutdown of --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look -- look, there is still time to prevent a partial shutdown. You know, the House passed the funding bill, as you all know, and the Senate still has time to pass it today. And there is no reason for it to not move forward.

This is about -- this is not about this President. It's not about the White House. It's about the American people. We've always said that. This is about programs that American families need.

And so, we -- we sh- -- we should be able to avoid a partial f- -- shutdown. It is possible to do so. And so, we want to see the Senate move quickly on this.

Q: Thanks. Has the President seen that dramatic video of migrants surging past National Guardsmen in Texas in -- in El Paso?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I have not spoken to the President about that video. What I can say is this: You know, I really, truly believe that's a question for, you know, the Republican governor of Texas, right? This is -- this is something that he should address, that he should actually speak to.

The President has worked with Congress in the Senate, as I just spoke to, about getting an immigration bill done, making sure that -- making sure that we deal with the border challenges that we see -- that we're now seeing. And you have a -- a governor of Texas who's continued to politicize this.

I do want to say we are grateful for the Border Patrol's quick work to get the situation under control and apprehend the migrants. So, that's important.

But congressional Republicans need to move on this. What they're doing instead -- and this is the bipartisan agreement, obviously -- is listening to the former President, President Trump, tell them not to get involved in moving forward this bipartisan agreement because of his own personal politics, because it will help this President.

You all reported that. It's not coming from us. You all reported that.

And it is unfor- -- unfortunate that Congress Republicans are not getting on board with what majority of Americans care about. And you have a governor in -- in Texas, Governor Abbott, who is continuing to make this -- make this, sadly, a dangerous situation, a chaotic situation. Let's not forget who they pass by to -- to do -- to pass by the razor wires. They pass by the Texas National Guards that the Republican governor put -- put at the border.

Q: But are -- are you saying that Americans should just expect that there will continue to be a standoff between the National Guardsmen --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There shouldn't be --

Q: -- and the border agents?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But -- but he --

Q: What is the resolution there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There shouldn't -- the resolution is -- is pushing for -- with the bipartisan agreement that came out of the Senate with Republicans and Democrats. That's the solution.

Q: But with all due respect, it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It's not -- there's no --

Q: So, what's the solution --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There's -- there's no -- there's no "all due respect." You are asking me a question. I am telling you the solution.

The solution is for Congress to move forward and Republicans to get out of the way or get involved -- get involved.

Republicans in the Senate got involved with the Democrats, got involved with us as well for a couple of months to come up with this bipartisan agreement -- an agreement that was supported by the Border Patrol union, an agreement that was supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that was -- that if it is put into effect -- it does become law if they give them -- the President the opportunity to sign this bill, it would be the toughest and the fairest legislation or law that we have seen in some time to deal with the border.

I mean, honestly, this is a question for the -- for the governor of Texas. Seriously, that question is for -- he is the one who -- the razor wire, that's him. The National Guards, that's him.

The Border Patrol agents still did their job, even though it was -- it was -- you know, they got -- you know, they got in the way. Like, the governor's plans got in the way.

Q: It just -- it sounds like, right now, the White House and the President -- the administration is not considering anything else to stop future events like that. Right now, the blame is the Texas governor and Congress.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You have a governor who has politicized this issue. Fact. That is just fact. He has politicized this issue.

You have a former president who has said to Congress -- Republicans in Congress -- do not move forward with a bipartisan agreement that was agreed upon by -- by senators because it helps us -- it helps Joe Biden, when we're not thinking about helping Joe Biden. We're thinking about helping the American people.

The majority of the American people want us to do something on this issue. And Republicans are allowing the former President to get in the way.

So, we've done the work. We have. We have done the work. And we need more. Yes, we were able to secure more funding for DHS with this -- with this budget deal, but we need more resources. We do.

And so, there is an agreement -- there is an agreement that took two months to get to. I don't know. It's up to them. They have to answer that question.

Go ahead.

Q: On that same issue. Today, Governor Ron DeSantis said that he's also looking at implementing a law like Texas that would allow Florida to arrest migrants as soon as they cross the Florida border. Are you concerned that other governors will be looking into, kind of, stricter immigration laws like this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm concerned about the politics that's being played here instead of dealing with the issue, instead of the governor in Florida saying, "Hey, senators -- my senators in my state, we need to work on the issue at hand here. There is a bipartisan agreement that is in your chamber -- right? -- that is in the Senate that was agreed upon in a bipartisan way. Can you guys move forward with that instead of playing politics?"

That's what we want to see. We want to see an issue actually dealt with that majority of Americans care about.

There is a bipar- -- I cannot say this enough: There is a bipartisan agreement that came out of the Senate. Republicans were asked to reject it because of the former President, because of helping th- -- his own politics.

That's not how we should be moving forward as a country. That is just not. And that's not what the President believes.

Q: Thank you. So, on this border video. What does President Biden think should happen to adult men who are assaulting and overpowering U.S. National Guardsmen?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me just first say, we're grateful -- and I said this moments ago -- to Border Patrol agents for their -- to -- to quickly -- to quickly work and get the situation under control and apprehend the migrants.

So, l- -- I want to be really clear that everyone who was apprehended was apprehended by Border Patrol. They were able to do their job, even though it's made it more -- even though Republican governor -- in particular, Governor Abbott -- has made it difficult for them.

They need more resources. We need more personnel. I mean, we have to have the backs of our law enforcement on the ground are -- who are dealing with this every day. But Republicans are getting in the way. Republicans in Congress do not want to help. And you have a governor, Governor Abbott, who is politicizing it. That is what's happening.

Border Patrol agents did their job, even though, you know, the governor is getting in the way of them doing their jobs.

Q: But -- I get that you guys -- you talk so much about having a more humane immigration system. This video does not show helpless women and children begging for a safe place to come in. It shows adult men landing haymakers on U.S. troops in uniform. If that was happening anywhere else in the world, wouldn't President Biden send reinforcements?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, two things. Everyone was apprehended by the Border Patrol agents. That is important to note. They were apprehended.

Q: Were they deported?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wh- -- they were apprehended. I can't speak to indivil -- individual cases. That's not something I can do from here. But they were all apprehended. That's number one.

And it -- the reason why you're talking about the Texas National Guard, they were there because of the governor of Texas. The governor of Texas put the Texas National Guard there. We didn't put them there. He put them there.

What we need is actually real solutions. We need to see resources. The Border Patrol agents deserve resources. They deserve to be able to do their jobs. And we're not getting that

from Republicans. They're rejecting a bipartisan agreement that came out of the Senate.

Q: And last one. There is a Venezuelan migrant with half a million followers on TikTok who is telling border crossers they can live in empty houses in this country. Would President Biden support a law that would make that kind of squatting illegal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have not seen that TikTok video, so I can't comment on that.

Go ahead, Akayla. Oh, maybe not. (Laughs.)

Q: Oh, yes. Does the President have plans to speak to Hakeem Jeffries now that there has been a motion to vacate Speaker Mike Johnson about whether Democrats will support him if that vote happens?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's something for Democrats to -- to speak to. We're not going to get involved. We do not get involved. We've been pretty -- pretty consistent. Regardless if it's Republicans or Democrats, we've been pretty consistent in that.

We trust Hakeem Jeffries's leadership. He's the leader of the Democrats. That is for them to decide on. I'm not going to comment on that.

Q: But if Democrats were to force him to bring a vote to the national security supplemental bill, would Biden then support their support of the Speaker?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) Look, Democrats are going to make their decision. Democrats' leadership, Hakeem Jeffries is going to make their own decision on how to move forward. We're going to be consistent here on how important it is to move the national security supplemental.

We've been very clear. It passed 70-29 out of the Senate. Overwhelmingly -- we believe it would pass overwhelmingly in the House if it was put to the floor. And there's no -- there's no time to wait here. There's no time to wait.

We see what's going on in Ukraine. A lot of that is because of congressional inaction. We can't -- we can't continue to allow that to happen. Ukraine needs the funding, the security, obviously, to continue to defend themselves. And that's what we're going to continue to speak to.

Go ahead.

Q: Just a quick housekeep- -- housekeeping matter. Will the President head to Wilmington regardless of whether the shutdown is going to be averted or not?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you hear us say this all the time. This is still the case with this situ- -- this scenario that we're seeing, obviously, in Congress right now, is that the President is the President wherever he is, and he can do his business wherever he is.

I just don't have a change in his -- his schedule at this time.

Go ahead.

Q: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been closing in on 40,000 this week. It's down a little bit today. But does the President see that as an economic achievement, or does he view that -- in his view, is the stock market not necessarily representative of the economy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what we've said many times here -- you've heard that from our economists; you've heard that from me -- is the stock market is not the economy. We understand that. It is clear that President Biden's economic plan is working to grow the middle class, spur investments in manufacturing.

You just heard me talk about what we saw in Arizona, what the President was able to announce in Arizona: semiconductors from -- that came out of the CHIPS -- CHIPS and Science Act -- incredibly important bipartisan legislation; infrastructure and outperform other countries. That's what we're trying to do here.

So, record stock market highs under President Biden are good for retirement accounts, obviously, household wealth, which is why we would never root for a stock market crash or for Americans to lose their jobs. That's not what this President is all -- is about.

Q: Could you -- if there -- there could potentially be a lapse in funding if they can't get this passed in the Senate by tonight. Can you speak to what the op- -- or the planning has been like for White House operations here, like who would be deemed essential? Can people work over the weekend? That kind of thing.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, Congress can prevent this -- this partial shutdown. We believe there's still time to do that. So, I want to be very clear here. But like every other agency, we are reviewing and updating our contingency plan. This is something that we do regularly. And we'll have more to share, obviously, once -- once that is finalized.

But federal employees just across the government will -- will furlough, and that includes White House staff, just to give you a little bit of what that would look like.

But we believe there is still time. There is still time for Congress to prevent a partial shutdown. We -- you know, this -- this doesn't have to be. This doesn't have to be. And obviously, we're always -- like every agency, we look at all options.

Q: If I could ask one question related to the royals. When King Charles had been diagnosed with cancer, President Biden had said that he had hoped to speak with him. Did they ever connect?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I -- I have -- don't have a call to read out about what the President and the King -- and King Charles. I just don't have anything to share at this time.

Q: Do you expect the President will reach out to King Charles over the weekend about this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, look, as I said before, obviously, it is a tragic news. It is devastating news. And we certainly -- the Duchess -- wish the Duchess of Cambridge a -- a full recovery. We want to respect their privacy, especially at this time. They have young children. They have a family, so we want to respect their privacy.

I don't have anything to share on the President reaching out. We just are learning this news. Literally, as I walked out, this news came -- came to be. And so, it is incredibly devastating to hear, and we wish her, again, a full recovery.

Go ahead, Karen.

Q: Thanks. It was just over a week ago that the White House announced the new weapons package for Ukraine, and Jake Sullivan had said at the time it could move very quickly to get there. Do you have an update on whether that assistance has reached Ukraine and reached the battlefield yet?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, it was important to be able to -- to have that extra additional as- -- funding for -- to give the additional assistance. Ukraine obviously needs that. They are -- they have lo- -- lo- -- been losing ground in the battlefield. So, obviously, Jake came here and gave a lowdown -- a laydown of how important that is.

I don't have any specifics on where we are on getting that funding -- or not getting that funding -- getting the assistance to -- to the Ukrainians. I would refer you to the Department of Defense. But it was important. It's critical to do everything that we can to make sure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself.

But that is not enough. You also heard Jake Sullivan say that from here. That is not enough. We have to move forward and get the national security supplemental. They -- it has to get out of the House. We know it we got out of the Senate. It's important to do that.


MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know we've got to wrap up. Go ahead, Jon.

Q: Thanks, Karine. The House Republican majority will narrow even further next month. Mike Gallagher announced that he's stepping down from Congress on April the 19th. Does that present an opportunity for the White House to try to pass that national security supplemental, given the fact that the numbers, the dynamics may be changing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I mean, we don't even need the dynamics to change -- right? -- in the House to get this done. We really don't. If the Speaker were to put it on -- on the floor -- would have put it on the floor weeks ago, today, it would pass overwhelmingly. We know that to be true because we've heard from Republicans; you know where Democrats stand. We know that.

And so, we don't need the dynamics of the House to change. We just need the Speaker to do his job and put forth on the floor something that we know, a -- a -- this national security supplemental, a bill that we know would pass overwhelmingly. That's what he needs to do.

We need it. We need it for our own national security. It is important to get this done on behalf of the American people.

All right, everybody. Have a great weekend. We'll see you next week.

Q: Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, everyone.

Q: Thanks, Karine.

2:54 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives