Joe Biden

In-Town Pool Reports of March 16, 2021

March 16, 2021

Pool Reports by Paul McLeod, BuzzFeed

Sent: Reports:
March 16, 2021

In town pool report #1

Good morning from the White House, where the pool has been tested. Not much is expected today before 1:40pm when POTUS is scheduled to depart for Joint Base Andrews. Will update if anything comes up.

March 16, 2021

In town pool report #2 — Gathering soon on south lawn

After a quiet morning, pool is gathering at 1:30 to head to the south lawn to watch POTUS leave for Joint Base Andrews via Marine One.

March 16, 2021

In town pool report #3 - Biden gaggle

Before boarding Marine one, POTUS stopped briefly at the sticks. Asked if he has any plans to visit the southern border he said "not yet."

Asked if he knows which countries he will share excess vaccine with first, Biden said not yet but he had been in discussions with several countries.

March 16, 2021

In town pool report #4 - lift off

Marine One took off for Andrews at 1:50.

Traveling with the President on Marine One:

Annie Tomasini, Assistant to the President & Director of Oval Office Operations

Bruce Reed, Assistant to the President & Deputy Chief of Staff

Anita Dunn, Senior Advisor to the President

Jen Psaki, Assistant to the President & Press Secretary

Stephen Goepfert, Special Assistant to the President & Personal Aide to the President

March 16, 2021

In town pool report #5 — Full quotes from gaggle

Was difficult to make out what he said over the noise of the rotors but after going over the tape, here is the entirety of what Biden said before boarding Marine One.

On whether he has plans to visit the southern border:

"Not at the moment."

On whether he knows which countries the US will share surplus vaccine with first:

"We're talking to several countries already. We'll let you know that very shortly."

March 16, 2021

In town pool report #6 — AF1 Gaggle

Backing up Catherine, here is my transcript of Press Sec's gaggle on Air Force One. (Some redundant parts and cross-talk omitted.)

"Today our COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients held his weekly governor call. He announced an increased of vaccine allotments to jurisdictions to over 16 million, including allotments from all three authorized vaccines. When you add that to the doses going out federal channels, including directly to pharmacies and community health centers, we have over 22 million doses going out the door just this week."

Q: How do you respond to North Korea warning the US not to cause a stink

"We don't have a direct comment or response to the comments made from North Korea. I will say and note, since you gave me the opportunity, that obviously the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are currently on their way, they're traveling to South Korea where they'll be meeting with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts. Certainly the security of the region will be a topic of discussion. Obviously also our Secretary of State and our National Security Advisor are traveling to Anchorage to meet with their Chinese counterparts, where of course security in the region will be part of the discussion. So our focus right now is working with, partnering with our partners, allies, on a range of issues including security."

Q: Are you trying to lower things down with North Korea

"Our objective is always going to be focused on diplomacy and denuclearization of North Korea.

Q: What priorities are worthy enough to pursue reconciliation in the Senate? Why does Biden want to keep the Senate filibuster?

A: "Well first I would say the president's preference, as you alluded to, is not to make changes. He is also open to hearing ideas and those discussions will happen in Congress. This is of course a Senate rule, it's not a law that we would change or sign into law, it's a Senate rule. As it relates to infrastructure, the president has long been a proponent of investing in infrastructure, rebuilding are roads, railways and bridges. He was in the Senate for 36 years and believes this is a policy where there can be and should be bipartisan support. And as conversations continue he's certainly hopeful there's an opportunity for that."

Q: Are you working to extend the deadline for PPP loans?

A: "We certainly note that this is a program where there is an interest in an extension. I don't have anything to preview for you on that."

Q: How is GOP lawmakers that say they don't want to get vaccinated affecting your efforts to get shots in arms?

A: "We have certainly seen that. I would say our focus is to use every resource at our disposal to communicate directly with the American people. What we've seen in our data is that the most trusted sources of information are doctors, clergy, local civic leaders and we are working through our efforts at HHS and through programs in the administration to empower, support, and ensure that they can get information out to communities."

Q: So you're not talking to Republican leadership in Congress about this?

A: "Look I think we certainly would welcome support from and engagement from any Republican elected officials and leaders who want to advocate for the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. But I think it's important to note the biggest issues that we see from our COVID team with getting more vaccines in arms is supply, which we've done a lot of work to address."

Q: On calculation of POTUS's visits to swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

A: "I would say stay tuned. We'll be certainly going to some redder states, states he didn't win, or very blue states and states he didn't campaign in. So I wouldn't over-read into it that way."

Q: Can climate summit next month be held in person?

A: "Our expectation is that it will be remote."

Q: House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said he reached out to talk about the border. Getting back to him?

A: "We certainly welcome anyone who comes forward and has solutions and wants to be a part of working to address what we all know is a challenging situation at the border."

Q: Are you getting back to him?

"I can certainly check but I'm not sure who he's reached out to. But if he wants to come to the table and have a conversation about the immigration bill or what ideas he has, whether it's ideas for opening up more safe places for kids to be in shelters or alternative ideas he has, or ideas where he can work together with us, we're certainly open to hearing them."

Q: Why has Biden not yet raised refugee camp?

A: "We want to do it in an effective manner, so I don't have an update on a timeline but it's something we're continuing to work on."

Q: Is he worried letting more refugees in now signals to people in central America that the US is open to more immigration?

A: "I wouldn't make that direct connection there. I would say it's just something where we want to make sure our system is prepared to manage the process effectively and smoothly."

Q: What are you hoping to get out of China meeting in Alaska?

A: "One, it was important to us that the meeting happen on US soil, which of course it is going to happen on US soil in Alaska. We believe it's an opportunity to talk about the relationship as one that is through competition, not conflict. Certainly there will be issues raised. We expect parts of the conversation that could be difficult. There are issues the president has not held back on voicing concerns about, whether it's human rights, whether it's economic or technology issues. We certainly expect that many of those topics could be discussed during this meeting. But there are also areas where there could be opportunity to work together, whether it's climate, nuclear non-proliferation. So there are a range of topics to be discussed. I would just note I wouldn't see this as one in a series. This is a meeting that our national security advisor and our secretary of state are attending and I wouldn't build it out beyond there."

Q: Update on naming of national cyber director/punishing russia?

A: [White House is in 60-Day review on how national cyber director role should be approached.]

On Russia: "The review is continuing on solar winds of course, but also on the bounties on the heads of troops, of course 2020 election interference as well. We will see that review through and then of course the president reserves the right to decide to respond in a manner and time of his choosing, seen and unseen."

Q: When will Biden hold press conference?

A: "Soon. Maybe I'll have an update for you by the end of the day, we'll see. By the end of the month, by the end of the month, I will see if we have landed a full date yet."

Q: This week?

"This week? No, I don't think it will be."

Q about soundbites from ABC interview coming out. Psaki says she expects clip tonight and full interview to air tomorrow morning.

Q: Will POTUS go to Ohio next week?

A: "It's certainly one of the many wonderful states in this country that he could travel to… I don't have an update."

Q: Is there shakiness on making the child tax credit permanent?

A: "You should not see it as shakiness. The president wants to make the child tax credit permanent. He believes there's a lot of proposals out there, including from Senator Romney, to work to ensure there's longer-term assistance through the child tax credit. And he believes it's also one of the ways to address the number of women, working women, who have moved out of the workforce. But we just have to find a vehicle and we're having those discussions with Congress."

Q: Goals on meeting tomorrow with Taoiseach of Ireland?

A: "Let me get back to you on this."

"I know there will be some traditional exchanges of gifts and such things around St. Patrick's Day that will be a part of the meeting."

Q: On whether Biden is going to mass tomorrow. Psaki says she'll get back to them.

Joseph R. Biden, In-Town Pool Reports of March 16, 2021 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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