Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Portland, Oregon
5:15 P.M. PDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. As President Biden highlights his work to lower prescription drug costs, today in California and tomorrow in Oregon, Republicans are scrambling to cover up their efforts to sell middle-class families out to Big Pharma and drive up healthcare premiums.
Just today, Politico reported that Elise Stefanik, the Chair of the House Republican Conference, is trying to take credit for American Rescue Plan funding that supports local hospitals in her district.
According to Congresswoman Stefanik, the funds that President Biden and congressional Democrats delivered and that she voted against will help -- quote -- "help address the physician shortage and ensure these hospitals can continue to meet the community's healthcare needs." End quote.
As the President will continue to call out tomorrow in his Oregon remarks, Republicans in Congress have a plan to put Medicare on the chopping block and repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which would increase prescription drug costs for seniors.
It should come as no surprise that Congresswoman Stefanik and House Republicans are trying to mislead the American people and cover up their terrible record -- records as these issues -- on these issues. Pardon me.
Next week -- our week ahead -- next week, the President will participate in events at the White House and the -- and the DMV area early in the week and travel to -- travel on Thursday to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he will participate in a reception for Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
You can expect the President will continue to highlight how he and congressional Democrats are focused on delivering for the American people by lowering costs across the board, continuing to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and middle out, and protecting the rights of women in the wake of the Dobbs decision.
He will discuss progress made on creating manufacturing jobs across the country, and he will draw a sharp contrast with congressional Republicans who have proposed putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, are pursuing an extreme national abortion ban, and -- and are on a mission to wipe out the progress we have made to lower prescription drug and healthcare costs to that -- to that big -- so that Big Pharma can go back to gouging American consumers.
And, with that, we can start this off, but -- and we will have more, of course, on the week ahead in the next day or two.
Go ahead, Colleen.
Q: Okay. So, we saw a bunch of protesters outside of the event in Irvine protesting about Iran. I wondered if the U.S. should be negotiating with Iran on anything, given what's happening humanitarian-wise.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we -- we remain -- look, a couple of things I want to say. We remain -- we remain determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. So, diplomacy is the best way to do that, obviously.
But if Iran continues to take positions that it knows neither -- that -- you know, let me take a step back.
So we understand that diplomacy is the way to -- to get to the JCPOA. But right now, our concern is, and our focus is going to be, on the people of Iran. And you heard the President speak about this very clearly today, about how he's with the women of Iran and how he's with the civilians there as they are doing everything that they can to fight for their basic rights. And so, you're going to continue to hear the President speak to that.
Our National Security Advisor today met with an Iranian activist to make sure that we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people in this time. And so, you'll -- you'll continue to hear that.
And again, you know, the President has said this and I'll reiterate what he said, which is: We remain gravely concerned about the intensity -- intensifying violent crackdown and [on] peaceful protesters in Iran who are demanding their equal rights and basic human dignity.
The Iranian government has now killed more than 200 people in its crackdown, according to credible reports by human rights organization.
Again, we condemn the Iranian authorities that have arrested and fired on peaceful protesters; the targeted arrest of journalists, human rights activists, teachers, and cultural figures; and the -- and the continued disruption of the Internet inside Iran.
So, for decades, as you all know -- I know you guys have covered this -- Iran's regime has denied fundamental freedoms to its people and suppressed the aspirations of successive generations through intimidation, coercion, and violence.
The United States stands with, again, Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their bravery.
And you heard that directly, again, from the President. You heard that also from his National Security Advisor.
Q: One other one. Has the President or has the administration given any thought yet to Elon Musk's request to foot the bill for his satellite operations that are helping the Internet in Ukraine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the -- and you're talking about Starlink systems?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on that, I would refer you to the Department of Defense.
So, look, we -- look, we understand the importance of these capabilities to ensure stable communications for Ukraine's forces in particular.
The Pentagon is working with allies and partners to look at all options on how -- how best to support those needs identified by Ukraine specifically. But again, that's up to the Department of Defense.
Q: Karine, does the White House have any reaction to Prime Minister Truss -- UK Prime Minister Truss's decision today about her finance minister and their economic policy, and the continued market fallout from her policies?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know -- and I've said this before. I've been asked about her policies -- Liz Truss's policies specifically.
And, you know, we've been very clear -- like, we won't comment on the UK government's -- their dem- -- their own domestic policies or internal decision-making. So, not something that we're going to comment on.
As you know, UK is a strong ally, and we work closely together on supporting Ukraine and global economic issues, and we're going to continue to do that.
But anything specifically that's related to their domestic policies or domestic decisions, we're just not going to comment on that.
Q: Are you worried about the spillover effect, though, of their economic problems on the world economy and the U.S. economy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I mean, I've talked about this before as well. Look, we -- we monitor -- we monitor those things, right? We monitor the different -- the markets -- the global markets, as well as data -- economic data, as we talk about them and as they come out.
But, you know, the President said this yesterday, and we've been very clear. He said this in the statement. He said it at the top of his remarks yesterday, after -- after the CPA dat- -- CPI data came out. And we believe that we are -- we are in a -- in a strong position to deal with these global challenges. And a lot of that is because of the policies that this President has put forth as it relates to his economic policy more specifically.
You know, I just talked about the American Rescue Plan and what that was able to do -- we've talked about that many times -- and get -- get the get the economy turned back on. And because we have seen these economic gains, because we are in a stronger position than most countries, we believe we can take on these global challenges without losing any of those gains.
We always -- we know that there's always more work to do. That's why the President -- you hear him talk about the Inflation Reduction Act. You hear him talk about how he's going to do everything he can to lower premiums as it relates to Medicare. You heard him say that today; you'll hear him say that tomorrow.
And so we are -- we are steadfast and focused on what we can do to -- to continue to help the American people.
Q: The President mentioned concerns about Pakistan last night at the fundraiser. I'm wondering where that comes from, what his specific concerns are, whether he's addressed those with the leader of Pakistan.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I don't have any -- any calls or anything like that to read out.
Look, the President views a secure and prosperous Paskitan -- Pakistan as a crit- -- as critil- -- as critical to U.S. interests. So that is something that he's -- his view has -- has been on Pakistan.
More specifically, he has said -- he's had that -- he's made those comments before, so that is nothing new, that -- what you heard from him last night. But, you know, again, he believes in a secure and prosperous Pakistan, and so he believes that's important to our own interests here in the U.S.
Q: Just quickly on the Iran comments today: Was that spontaneous because he saw a protester?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I mean, I think he said it at the top, right? He said he was moved by the protests that he saw from -- from, you know, Iranian Americans who were -- who were there.
And they speaking very loudly and being very brave about what they're seeing in Iran. And he -- it struck him, and he wanted to comment about that at the top. And so, that was his decision. He's the President.
And he -- and I think he also wanted to reiterate his -- you know, his support for the brave Iranians, the women in the country and the civilians who are fighting for -- we got to remember they're fighting for their basic rights -- and also to condemn what the -- what the -- what the government, what the regime is doing against their people.
And so he's going to continue to do that. And today was an opportunity to -- to speak up, to speak out.
Q: Karine, I'm wondering if the President watched any of the recaps of yesterday's January 6th hearing, if he has any thoughts about the committee and its work. I know he made brief comments last night at the fundraiser, but I'm wondering if he watched yesterday's hearing or anything more on that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, and I've been asked this question before, he has followed the coverage of this. And -- and, you know, as he said before and I'll just reiterate: The committee -- he believes the committee is doing important work to get to the bottom of what happened on that day so we can prevent anything like it from happening again.
And so, he believes that work is important and should continue to move forward. But like so many Americans, most -- most people would probably say who are watching -- and they probably feel this -- which is it is a somber reminder, when you think about January 6th, that our democracy remains very much at risk and that we all need to do our part to protect it.
And so, look, you know, he watches it closely. We've -- we've spoken to the January 6th Committee and the importance of their work to get to the bottom of this. And, you know, I'll leave it there.
Q: And then, the images -- there was new footage yesterday of House Leaders Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and others hiding during the January 6th attack.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not -- I'm just not going to comment on that specific -- specific question on if he viewed it or not.
Q: Karine, the President just wrapped up two days in California. Didn't cross paths with Governor Newsom at all, even though he was maybe expected to be a greeter at the airport when he arrived. That was what was on our initial list, and then we didn't see the governor on the tarmac. Is there a reason they didn't connect in person while the President was here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I don't have anything to say about Governor Newsom's schedule. I would refer you to his -- you know, to his office.
Look, you know, they have -- have had a friendly relationship for some time. As you know, the President was here for the -- during the recall. And they -- and I want to be careful here, because that was an election, but --
And, you know, they -- you saw them together there, and the President was very helpful to him. And I know the governor appreciated the -- the President coming out.
As far as his schedule, I can't speak to the governor's schedule, so I would refer you to -- refer you to Governor Newsom's office on that one.
Q: As far as you know, they didn't speak by phone either while he was here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any calls to preview or read out to you, specifically. But, you know, they speak regularly, like the President does with -- with many elected officials across the country. I just don't have anything to read out at this time.
Q: Sorry, go ahead.
Q: Yes, earlier this week, the President said that he would have an announcement on gas prices next week. Is there anything that we can expect related to SPR?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, so don't have anything new to share. The President spoke -- as you said, he spoke to it yesterday. I can't remember; all the days come together. So once we have something to announce or preview, we certainly will do that.
But I think one of the things that we would love to -- we continue to highlight and be very clear about is -- look, because of the work that this administration has done, we've seen gas prices go down by more than a dollar, especially the work that -- you saw gas prices go down every day during the summer. And the President is going to continue to make sure that we, you know, continue to deliver on lowering costs for Americans. And -- and so we'll have more to share when -- when we can.
Q: So I have a couple midterm-related questions. So the President has spoken to John Fetterman a couple times; he's campaigning with him next week. The President himself had a brain aneurysm, obviously many years ago. Does he believe, after talking to John Fetterman, that he may -- that he's impaired at all? And did he have any advice for him about stroke recovery?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you say the one -- the -- can you say that -- the one in the middle? You asked a question in the middle that I missed.
Q: Sure. After speaking with John Fetterman, does the President believe that he has any impairments from the stroke? And then, did he have any advice to him about stroke recovery?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, first, can't speak to the midterms or the elections. I want to be very clear. I got to respect the Hatch Act. We -- this administration does respect that.
I will say this: The President has been with John Fetterman many times, as you have seen for yourselves. I think some of you may have been on -- on the road with us. It is someone that he truly respects, and they have a relationship.
I'm not going to, you know, speak to any private conversations that they may have had. I can't even speak to that. I -- I don't have anything to share specifically on that particular topic.
But, look, the President looks forward to seeing John Fetterman next week. They're going to be out there talking about how Democrats are delivering for the American people.
And -- and I'll -- you know, I'll leave it there. But don't have anything specific to add to that -- to that question.
Q: And one more question. Does the President still believe the two remaining members of the L.A. City Council who haven't resigned should resign?
And then also, he appeared alongside Congressman Bass for the official event and then the OTR as well. Was Rick Caruso invited to attend the event yesterday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me first say, to your first question, we've been very clear that the President believes that the three councilmembers should resign. I have said this many times, and that's what the President believes. As you all know, we saw one of the city councilmembers resign about, I don't know, 36 hours ago.
And the President has been very, very clear that type of rhetoric or language -- or vile language does not belong in our political discourse, and he condemns that. And he's going to continue to speak against that type of -- you know, that type -- those types of comments that we heard -- very ugly comments.
And it doesn't matter if there's a "D" or an "R" behind a person's name; we need to all call that out. It's not a partisan issue. And that is something that you're going to see -- continue to see from Democrats. And you've heard me say this, you know -- you know, we asked Republicans if they're going to do the same when it comes to MAGA Republicans, the extreme Republicans, who talk -- who make racist comments and antisemitic comments and -- and get applause.
And so we're going to -- we're going to call folks out, you know, who make vile -- vile comments as we saw this past week.
And again, he believes that they -- all three should resign.
Q: Sorry, was Rick Caruso invited too?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm --
Q: I'm just curious.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't -- I really don't have anything to -- more to share.
Obviously, the congresswoman was with the President. You saw Hilda Solis with the President at -- at the event. I don't have any more to share on that.
Q: Is it fair to assume that the President is endorsing Representative Bass in the mayor's race? I mean, he appeared with her twice. He lavished praise on her. He said, "Karen, you're the best." I mean, is it -- is there a message that he wants voters to take away, which is that he supports her in (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, we're going to be super careful here. I'm not going to talk about endorsement or support or anything like that.
Clearly, the President came out -- came out to -- came out to California to talk about an issue that's very important to -- to Los Angeles constituents. If you think about the Purple Line -- right? -- he talked about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is something that the congressman supported, something that other -- there were other congressional leaders there who supported and fought very hard for. And it is an important -- an important issue for the people of L.A.
And one of the things that the President has talked about is we want to make sure that when we talk about infrastructure, it's not -- you know, it's not a ploy. It's a real thing. It's not "Infrastructure Week." It's not a -- it's a real thing that we have delivered on.
And so the President has said he was going to travel across the country, he was going to talk about the successes that we have had and make sure that the American people understood exactly what Democrats in Congress have delivered. And that's what you're seeing. That's what you saw in L.A.
I'm not going to get into voters. Not going to get into the midterms. We're not going to get into any election. But I'll leave it there.
Q: Just one more question, because she had me thinking about it. But what does the President make of, sort of, people questioning whether John Fetterman can serve, you know, with -- with an accommodation? It sort of sparked conversations about disability rights and disability discrimination.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm not going to speak to John Fetterman's health. That is something for he and his campaign to speak to. That is not my job to analyze or give comments on. That is something for -- again, for him and his campaign to speak to directly.
Q: The President said that he's going to have a lot more travel coming up. You previewed Pennsylvania, but, like, what else you got?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We got -- oh, my gosh, we just spent four days on the road. Right?
Q: I know. But while we were --
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Aren't you -- aren't you tired already? Aren't you ready -- we're going to -- we're going to Portland, Oregon. Last week, we were four days on the road, right? We went to Florida. We went to -- gosh, I forgot -- New Jersey, New York. We went to also Puerto Rico.
And so the travel is going to continue. We will share them. We promise. We will preview them. We will share them as -- as early as we possibly can.
As you know, this is something the President loves to do, is to go out there and talk directly with the American people and be out there with his Democratic colleagues to talk about the work that we have done the last 19 months.
So nothing that -- that's nothing that we don't want to do. But we'll have more to share as soon we know.
Q: Is he getting incoming requests?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're always getting incoming requests. Of course. Of course. We have a lot of good things to talk about. Of course. You know? Our -- yeah.
We got some good policies. Inflation Reduction Act. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. CHIPS -- CHIPS Act. We got some good things to talk about. And it's not just the President. It's the Vice President. It's the Cabinet Secretaries.
So you're going to see -- and you have seen -- they have been crisscrossing the country, talking about what we're doing to deliver for the American people. So that is going to continue.
All right, guys.
Q: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. All right. I'll see you guys for dinner, I guess.
5:36 P.M. PDT
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/358392