Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cherry Point, North Carolina
4:59 P.M. EST
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, good afternoon -- or good evening, everybody. Welcome to our trip to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, where the President and the First Lady will be attending a Friendsgiving meal hosted by Robert Irvine Foundation as part of the First Lady's Joining Forces initiative.
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is home to nearly 9,500 active duty, Reserve, and Guard personnel, and just over 8,000 military family members.
MCAS Cherry Point plays a critical role in the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force -- and is home to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Marine Corps's Fleet Readiness Center East, which performs work on aircraft and aircraft components used by the Marine Corps, Navy, and other services.
On the base today, the President and the First Lady will thank service members and their families and serve -- and serve part of the Thanksgiving meal prepared by Chef Irvine.
After served -- after serving Thanksgiving meals, they will meet with members and families from MCAS Cherry Point, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Marine Corps Air Station New River.
Earlier this afternoon, President Biden had the opportunity to speak with Colorado Governor Jared Polis following the deadly shooting in Colorado Springs over the weekend. The President extended his condolences and offered a pr- -- offered to provide support in any way that would be helpful.
He committed to continuing to press Congress for an assault weapons ban because thoughts and prayers are just not enough.
We are shocked and saddened by the devastating loss of life and destruction following the earthquake in Indonesia's West Java province. We send our heartfelt condolences to all of those impacted by this disaster. The United States and Indonesia share a deep and enduring partnership.
And President Biden was there -- was just there, as you know, for a successful and productive G20. The United States is standing by to provide aid and support if requested. We maintain a longstanding strategic partnership with the Indonesia's Disaster Management Agency and, for more than 20 years, have supported Indonesia's disaster response capabilities, including $2.9 million this year to build capacity for first responders, local communities, and nongovernmental organizations to prepare for and respond to climate-induced and seismic disasters like this one today.
Also, we have a bit of good news for families hitting the road this week for Thanksgiving. Gas prices are now at their lowest since early March with the national average at three -- $3.66 per gallon. That's 11 cents cheaper than last week and $1.35 cheaper per gallon sine June. And it's saving American families with two cars about 140 bucks per month. That's important savings, and President Biden is committed to continuing to do everything he can to keep bringing those prices down further.
Lastly, we've got some good news. We've been -- some more good news -- we've been making a strong push for Americans to get their COVID and flu shots so they can have a safe and healthy holiday season. More than 35 million Americans have gotten their updated COVID shot, and the daily vac- -- vaccine vaccination numbers continue to increase. And we are aggressively working to ensure more and more get their shots.
To help with this push, Doctor -- Drs. Fauci and Jha will be joining me in the briefing room tomorrow to discuss our progress on vaccine -- vaccinations and new actions to increase those numbers. So, we're excited to have them both in the briefing room tomorrow.
Colleen, you want to kick us off?
Q: Sure. On the Colorado shooting, I know the President has been talking a lot about an assault weapons ban. That doesn't necessarily seem like something that's going to happen quickly in the new Congress. I just wondered what else the President can be doing or what the administration can be doing with regard to gun control, particularly as these shootings continue.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me just remind everybody that just a couple of months ago, the President was able to sign into law a gun reform legislation, which hadn't been done in 30 years, and we were able to -- to do that in a bipartisan way. And -- but the President understand -- understands that it doesn't stop there -- that we need to do more, especially with weapon -- assault ban weapons. So, he's going to continue to do the work.
But again, remember, people didn't think what we were able to do a couple of months ago would happen.
So, look, again, the President and the First Lady are truly saddened and send their condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.
And so, we'll continue to be helpful to the state of Colorado as we can be with the -- with what they're dealing with -- with their grief. And we're going to continue to work with Congress to try and -- to make sure that we continue the work that we started in making sure that we keep communities safe. And we're going to continue to do that work.
Q: Karine, another one -- oh, sorry -- on the rail strike. I wanted to know if the President would be as involved as he was in the la- -- you know, knocking down the last rail strike. Can -- if you can give us an update on where it stands and what's happening with it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I think you guys got a -- got these -- got a statement from us earlier today. But just to reiterate: As the President has said from the beginning, a shutdown is unacceptable because of -- of the harm it would inflict on jobs, families, farms, businesses, and communities across the country.
A majority of unions have voted to ratify the tentative agreement, and the best option is still for parties to resolve this themselves. And that's what we're going to continue to call for. We think that they should move forward in good faith and get this resolved.
The President continues to be briefed and to -- to be briefed on this and to really keep a close eye on what's occurring.
Obviously, the most important thing to the President is American families -- making sure, again, that we have an economy that works for all. I don't have anything more to share on that.
Q: Is there a contingency plan if there's another strike in December?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the President remains focused on protecting, like I said, American families, farms, businesses by avoiding a rail shutdown. We continue to urge both sides to finish their work in good faith and avoid even the threat of a shutdown, as we've been saying.
But like we do for all issues, our team is preparing and planning for all possible outcomes, even as we continue to work to avert a shutdown. But our priority is making sure that we even avert the shutdown.
Q: Is your team going to be involved in the talks at all? Or is the President intervening at all, or does he plan to?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as I said, he's being briefed. You know, he remains focused, again, on protecting American families.
As you know, Secretary Walsh has been very, very much engaged on this. And our focus is going to make sure that -- that we continue to protect American families, like I just mentioned. And we're going to continue to call on -- on all sides to -- to move forward in good faith and come to the -- to the table and make sure that we avoid a rail shutdown.
Q: Karine, one question on oil. There's a report today that Saudi Arabia might be increasing production. They've disputed that. But it sent oil prices -- in particular, WTI futures -- down to the level at which the White House said might trigger purchases to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. So, was the White House monitoring those prices today? And were any decisions made about whether to initiate those purchases?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know -- you've heard me say this, and you've heard this say this many times before -- when it comes to OPEC+, we're not a party to OPEC+. And we, you know, refer you to any potential decisions that they might make.
And as I just said at the top of -- at the top of this gaggle, the President is going to continue to make sure that we do the work to lower -- lower costs for American families.
Don't have anything to preview in moving for- -- moving forward on what a decision might be or might not be. Don't have anything else to share on that as it relates to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Q: A separate topic. Do you have an update on the White House's view or watching of the crypto markets and the fallout from the FTX bankruptcy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I -- I talked about this earlier. I know I've been asked. Nothing -- nothing new. The administration has consistently, as we have done for the -- for the past nin- -- 20 months, if you will, maintained that without proper oversight, cryptocurrencies risk harming everyday Americans.
In March, President Biden released an executive order on ensuring responsible development of digital assets. And this fall, pursuant to the executive order, we released a framework that outlined priority steps to mitigate the risk of cryptocurrencies and proposed measures to protect consumers, investors, and businesses.
We have consistently urged Congress to take action to address regular- -- regulatory gaps processed by digital assets and support legislative efforts to enact crypto legislation to better protect American consumers. Don't have more to share beyond that.
Q: One more sort of --
Q: On student loan --
Q: Sorry, one more on the -- in the Internet sphere. The President's views on or the White House's reaction to Elon Musk's decision to reinstate Presi- -- former President Trump to Twitter?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We just don't -- we're just not going to comment on Twitter -- Twitter's business practices from here.
Q: Even -- I mean, I understand that. But this is bringing back somebody on to Twitter who used Twitter in a way that impacted January 6th, which this White House has been pretty vocal about.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I completely understand. If I -- if I heard -- I've heard reports correctly, the former President has also said that he's not going to return back to Twitter. I'm just not going to respond beyond that.
Q: And on student loan repayment: On the freeze, do you have any update on the timing and when a decision will be made, when it will lift it or not?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we -- as I said on Friday, we're examining all options. Our priority is making sure that we give the American families, American people a little breathing room, which is why President put forth the student debt plan -- his student debt plan forgiveness.
And as you know, we've had about 20 -- I don't know, 23 -- more than 20 million people sign up on the website to access the plan that the President put forward. So, that shows that people are interested, and people -- it's going to help a lot of people.
Again, you know, I said this on Friday and I've said this many times: It's really unfortunate that Republicans and special interest groups continue to get in the way on giving American -- American -- middle-class Americans a little bit of a breathing room.
This is going to help people -- a majority of people -- 90 percent of people who would get this relief will be making less than $75,000. That's what we're talking about. That's what the President wants to focus on: making sure, again, that we give families that really need it, peo- -- American people that really needed it -- that breathing room to be able to put money down on a house, to be able to start their family.
And -- and it's unfortunate that that's what Republicans want to do.
Look, we took it to the highest court of the land, as you know -- the Supreme Court -- because we wanted to get a clarif- -- to get a clarification on this quickly. And so, we're confident in that process.
Q: Are you putting contingency plans in place or anything, given how the Court has a tendency to lean these days?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All I can say, Colleen, as I said at the top when I was answering the question, is all options are on the table. And as soon as we have something to share, we certainly will do that.
Q: Karine, now that the midterms are passed, is the administration and the White House -- are you preparing for any staffing turnover at the Cabinet level or senior advisor level? Are you preparing for folks to depart now that we're past the midterms?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I have no personnel announcements to preview at all today or at this moment. But -- but just a couple of things. The President is incredibly confident in his team here and is proud of the historic work that has been done these first two years.
Just to name a few:
As you all know, the most significant economic recovery package since Roosevelt -- that's the American Rescue Plan, as you've heard us talk about.
The largest infrastructure plan since Eisenhower -- the bipartisan law.
The most sweeping gun reform bill since Clinton in 30 years, that we signed most -- the President signed most recently.
The landmark China competitive legislation that's already bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas.
The CHIPS and Science Act, which was also done in a bipartisan way. It's going to change the way businesses, manufacturers do business here. They're going to come back to the U.S. and create good-paying jobs.
The largest climate change bill in history. That's Inflation Reduction Act. That's going to make a difference and really attack the climate crisis that we have.
We have made no secret of actively leading a diverse and wide effort to look for new talent from businesses, academia, labor, and other sectors. And that's just smart, prudent planning for the future.
But I don't have any personnel announcements to make at this time.
Q: Karine, it's been almost a year and a half since Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti was nominated to be Ambassador to India. I know there's a lot that is -- you're trying to fit into the lame duck session of Congress. But is the White House going to push the Senate to finally get a vote on Mayor Garcetti's nomination? I mean, you would think that India is an important enough relationship that there should be an ambassador in place at some point.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely. India is a very important relationship that we have. You -- you saw the President greet and meet very briefly with Prime Minister Modi just last week when he was in -- in Bali. So clearly, it's an important relationship that -- that we truly respect.
As for Mayor Garcetti, we are committed to getting him through the process. We're continuing to -- to talk to the Senate on making that happen. That is a priority of ours. And I just don't have anything further to share on any strategy or anything else moving forward on that.
Q: Is the President going to discuss whether he's running for President again in 2024 when he's with his family over Thanksgiving?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm not going to get into private conversation that the President -- the President is going to have over the holiday with his family. I'm just going to -- and I want to be careful -- right? -- because it's a -- we're talking about an election, and I'm covered by the Hatch Act.
But what I will say is just reiterate what the President said, basically what you just said -- that he intends to run in 2024, that he plans to run in 2024.
And like he said, just reiterating what you just said to me, is that he's going to have a conversation with his family. But not going to get into what -- you know, when that's going to happen or what that is going to look like, especially since it's a private conversation that he'll have.
Q: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Great, thanks everybody.
5:15 P.M. EST
Joseph R. Biden, Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358880