Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Columbus, Ohio, September 9, 2022

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Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Columbus, Ohio, September 9, 2022

Aboard Air Force One En Route Columbus, Ohio 10:17 A.M. EDT MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hi.  Okay.  Just one thing at the top. Q &

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Columbus, Ohio

10:17 A.M. EDT
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hi.  Okay.  Just one thing at the top.
 
Q    The Queen? 
 
(Laughter.)  Sorry.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  As you all know, we are on our way to Licking County, Ohio, for the groundbreaking of Intel’s new semiconductor manufacturing facility.
 
Thanks to the passage of the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, companies across the country, including right here in Ohio — where we’re headed — are investing in American manufacturing and creating tens of thousands of new jobs. 
 
As the President has said many times, he is committed to being a President for all Americans — for Americans in red states, blue states, and every state in between. 
 
As this week — as the first in a series of Communities in Action events, we hosted nearly 50 local elected officials and community leaders from Ohio at the White House to explain how the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS Act are delivering for the people in — of Ohio.  The White House will continue hosting state and local leaders from across the country to demonstrate how our administration is delivering results for the American people.
 
And with that, Aamer, you want to kick us off?
 
Q    Yeah.  That would be great.  So, yesterday, Congressman Ryan had made a comment, I believe in a Youngstown television interview, when asked if the President should seek a second term, and that his hunch is that we needed new leadership and that it was a time for a generational move.  And he also described himself as an “independent,” not as a Democrat.  I — just generally, do you have any response to that?  And is there any concern that he’s almost running as if he’s not on the same team as President Biden?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, when it comes to that — the last part of your question, I’ll just let Congressman Tim Ryan speak to that and explain that further.
 
What I can say is we’re — as you know, we’re headed to Ohio to celebrate this groundbreaking of Intel’s new $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility. 
 
As you know, Congressman Tim Ryan is going to be attending, along with several other elected officials from across the aisle will be joining us as well, because this is something that a critical, important — that is critically important to our economy and to our national security.  And that’s really going to be our focus.
 
Anything else, I would just point you back to the congressman.
 
Q    Any plans for — any updates on the Queen’s funeral and if the President will be attending?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, one of the things that we want to be mindful of — as you all know, there’s a process, there’s a protocol here — official protocol through which leaders are invited.  So we’re not going to get ahead of that protocol.  And when we have an update, we’ll certainly share that.
 
Q    But the President did say that he would probably go.  So that’s his intention, is it not?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I’ll — I’ll just say: We just want to be mindful of the protocol.  I’ll let the President’s statement stand for itself.
 
I do want to say one thing.  You know, her — just more broadly, her loss will be felt by people around the world, as we have seen already.  Like the President said yesterday, the Queen was a stead — “steadying presence” and admired around the world.  As Queen, she met 13 Presidents — or 14 Presidents.  Most around the world have not known a United Kingdom without her.  Our nations and people have a strong bond.  And — and I think I speak for the country when we say our thoughts are with the people of the United Kingdom.
 
Q    Karine, two questions.  One, on Ukraine: The Ukrainians appear to be making rapid advances east of Kharkiv.  What is the U.S. government’s assessment of what’s going on there?  Is — are the Russians retreating?  Are their forces collapsing there?  What is — what are people thinking?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So we have always — we have always said, you know, we leave, you know, the military assessment — the military movement of what Ukraine is doing to Ukraine.  That is — that is, they know the best way to be fighting for their independence, to be fighting for their freedom.
 
What we are going to continue to do — and the President has been clear, our allies and partners have been clear — is we’re going to provide the assistance that’s needed to give them, you know, a strong — a strong hand on the battlefield and also at the negotiating table when that presents itself.
 
But we’re not going to get into specifics of, kind of, their military movements or how they’re — how they’re fighting for — fighting for their own — for their sovereign country.
 
Q    Secretary Blinken was on the ground in Ukraine yesterday.  Did he give the President his assessment or any assessment of what he saw there, what his sense of it on the ground is?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything to read out to you as any calls or conversation that the President had with Secretary Blinken. 
 
Q    Karine —
 
Q    Karine —
 
Q    I’m sorry.  So, related to Ukraine, has that changed the assessment on what the administration is going to ask Congress for as it relates to continued military assistance, how large that package needs to be, and how quickly a package like that would need to be approved by Congress?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me just give you a little bit about what we’re asking for:
 
So, four-point — $4.5 billion to provide critical defense capabilities and equipment for Ukraine, including replenishments of DOD stocks.  Nearly two thirds of previous emergency appropriations from Congress for this purpose have already been committed.  And we expect another $3.5 billion to be committed before the end of the fiscal year. 
 
We are relatedly asking for an additional $3.6 billion in President — Presidential Drawdown Authority, $2.7 billion in funding to continue military intelligence and other defense support. 
 
Most of the funding for these purposes from previous appropriations will be used by the end of the year, of this fiscal year: $4.5 billion to continue to provide direct budget support to the Government of Ukraine through the next quarter, $2 billion to help address the impacts Putin’s war has had on domestic energy supply and reduce energy costs in the future.
 
So that’s kind of what the breakdown is — is there.
 
And so, we’ve been very clear that what we’re going to be doing is we’re going to be working the phones and holding briefings to express urgency of our requests as it relates to the CR.  Senior administration officials, including OMB Director Shalonda Young, have held numerous calls with lawmakers to explain the need and highlight the emergency nature of this request. 
 
We’re also holding multiple bipartisan and bicameral briefings with the Hill to walk through our requests and answer questions.
 
So, expect us to continue to press lawmakers, as we have been, to make sure that we deliver on these bipartisan issues.
 
Q    Karine, North Korea has codified its stances on nuclear power.  They say they’re — that position is irreversible and that they’re considering first-strike capability.  Is that a reflection of your administration’s failure to get them to the table to start talking about their nuclear program?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I mean, we were aware of these reports.  And we’ve been very clear, since the beginning of this President’s administration, that our policy — and our policy remains unchanged.  The United States remains focused on continuing to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to address the threats posed by DPRK and to advance our shared objective of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  That has not changed.
 
And we have made clear: We have no hostile intent toward the DPRK.  And as we have said — and North Korean officials, including Kim Jong Un, have publicly noted — we continue to seek diplomacy and are prepared to meet without preconditions.  The DPRK continues to not respond.  And we’ve been very clear and upfront about that.
 
But again, we remain fully committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea, using the full range of defense capabilities.
 
Q    You released a 60-page economic framework this morning talking about your comprehensive strategies.  The word “trade” does not appear in there and neither does tariffs.  Two years into this administration nearly, and there’s no real strategy or direction from this President on trade or tariffs — not just China, but more broadly.  Why is that?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’m not going to get into any decisions or thinking process of the administration.  You know, I would refer you to Ambass- — Administrator — Ambassador Kai [sic] — Tai, who is clearly focusing on these issues.  But I don’t have anything specific more to share on that.
 
Q    Karine, could the President talk about marijuana legalization before the midterms?  Is that a thing that’s on his agenda?  Because it’s — it’s coming up from a lot of his allies.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So — yeah, and I know this question has come up a couple of times.
 
Q    Yes.  It’s come up.  Yeah.  Yeah.  No, I realize.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ve talked about it — 
 
Q    Yeah.  Yeah. 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — in the briefing room —
 
Q    Yeah.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — a couple — I think a couple of weeks back. 
 
Q    Yeah, but just like, you know —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.
 
Q    — generally speaking, what’s — what is his position? 
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So —
 
Q    And could it be something he talks about before midterms?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I mean, look, the President has — believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a disproportionate number who — of whom are Black and brown. 
 
That’s why in April, during the second month — Second Chance Month, President Biden announced 75 sentence commutations and three pardons, which are more grants of clemency at this point in a presidency than any of his five recent — most recent predecessors. 
 
As I’ve said before, as you know — because we just said that — the President supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts.  And at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records. 
 
I don’t have anything else to share in up — in the upcoming weeks.
 
Q    Karine, you mentioned working the phones just a little bit ago.  What is the President going to do on the same-sex marriage legislation?  Is he working the bill?  Is he calling Republicans to get some of those that are kind of on the fence off the fence?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, Alex, as you know, when it comes to the — you know, the same-sex marriage bill or same-sex marriage just more broadly and where the President stands, he’s been very clear — he was very clear as a vice president, certainly throughout his career.  That is something that he supports and has — and has been a proud advocate of that issue. 
 
Look, as it — as it relates to this particular legislation that’s in Congress, we put forward a SAP — a statement that supports this legislation that is before — that’s coming before the Senate, as you just laid out.
 
Look, our office — you know, our White House officials are going to continue to do what they do on every legislation that’s important to the President, and that’s talk to staff — staff on the Hill and congressional members. 
 
And the President has been — it is — I know you’re asking me what he’s going to do, but it’s very clear where the President stands on this issue.  And he has been, again, a leading advocate, a leading voice, and I don’t think anyone is confused by that.
 
Q    Okay.  But precisely, is he going to pick up the phone and start calling?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, as you know, we do not share out conversations that the President has or specific conversations on specific issues.  We have been very clear about that these past — especially these past several months.
 
So what we are going to do is we’re going to continue to have the conversations that we always do when it’s — when it is an issue or a piece of legislation that is important to the administration — but not just the administration, to the American people.
 
Q    The President the other day sort of indicated — he was asked, I think, by Sebastian, maybe, about meeting with President Xi in — at the G20.  Tell us about the conversations — any planning conversations to make that conversation happen.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m not going to get — get ahead of the President.  I’m not going to get ahead of any potential announcement that may be coming forth around the G20.
 
Q    Is that something — is that something the administration wants to see happen, though?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I’m not — as you know, the President has talked to President Xi multiple times.  And they’ve had frank, you know, leader-to-leader conversation.  We have read out all of those conversation that they have had.  I just don’t have anything further to share.
 
Q    How about if he runs into Putin at the G20?  Would — would — you know, would —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:   All these hypotheticals, Sebastian. (Laughs.)
 
Q    Well, it’s not that hypothetical, right?  I mean, really.  You know —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, we have a long way to go before we get — get to — get to that.  So —
 
Go ahead.  Last question.
 
Q    Okay.  So European leaders are obviously —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Inaudible.)  (Laughter.)
 
Q    European leaders are obviously focused on trying to address a potential energy crisis there.  What’s the level of concern inside the White House?  And are you worried about a potential spillover impact in the U.S.?
 
And then, separately, does the President plan to visit Jackson, Mississippi?
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, on your — on your last question, I don’t have anything to read out or — we don’t have anything to share on any visit to Jackson, Mississippi.  We’ve been very clear on the assistance and — that we have provided — the surge of assistance that the President called for after we got the declaration from the governor last week for need for federal assistance. 
 
As you all know, the FEMA Administrator was there recently. She’s been working very closely with local officials.  Our EPA Administrator was there very recently.  So we have EPA on the ground.  We have FEMA on the ground.  We have the Army Corps on the ground.  They are doing everything to make sure that bottled water is being handed out.  Millions of bottled water — more than 5 million — has been already given out.  And we are expediting the equipment that is needed to really get that facility moving in a way that they can — they can actually provide clean water to the community.
 
So that is something that — we are making that a priority.  Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, American Rescue Plan — there’s funding there for the state — for the state of Mississippi, including Jackson more specifically. 
 
And so we’re going to continue to work with officials, making sure that the people of Mississippi get that relief that they so- — they sorely need.
 
Look, as it comes to, you know, the — the threat — the exports and the — and the energy that we — that is happening in Europe, look, we’ve been very clear here: Putin’s weaponizing of energy is only strengthening our unity and resolve in the face of Putin’s aggression.  That’s how we see it.
 
The President and our partners in Europe predicted this playbook.  The President and EU President von der Leyen set up a joint task force back in March.  And we have been working for months to increase alternative sources of natural gas to Europe and help reduce Europe’s demand for Russian energy through increased efficiency and clean energy deployment.
 
But we know that we — there’s more work that needs to be done.  And so, we’re going to continue to work closely with our — with our allies in looking for ways to increase gas stockpiles in Europe and to help bolster other sources of energy where possible.
 
Q    On Tuesday —
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Last question.
 
Q    Yeah, last one to me.  Last one to the ladies — the ladies.  Yeah.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The ladies’ question.  Okay.  (Laughs.)
 
Q    On Tuesday, the President is hosting a bunch of lawmakers and, you know, allies at the White House to celebrate the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.  We’re expecting the latest inflation numbers to come out the same day.
 
I’m wondering if you could give us a sense of what your economic aides are expecting from that number.
 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I don’t have anything to predict.  What I can say — as you know, Nancy; as many of you know — this has been an economic priority for this President as it relates to lowering inflation, lowering costs, more specifically for the American people.
 
That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act is so important as you look at what it’s going to do on the healthcare side — bringing down Medicare costs for our seniors; really dealing with climate change in a real way, the most robust investment ever in our history.
 
And we always know there’s more work to do.  But as we’ve seen from other reports — CPI report last month, showing that — in July, the easing of inflation, which is a good sign.
 
But look, we’re going to continue to do the work.  Regardless of what those numbers are or what — what we’re going to see on that day, we are going to continue to do the work that we have been doing — for example, lowering gas prices, as we have seen for the last 86, 87 days, getting that to — lowering that by more than a dollar — more than a dollar at — per gallon at gas pumps across the country.
 
And so, that is going to be the President’s priority. That’s — we’re going to Ohio to talk about the CHIPS Act, which is going to create jobs — manufacturing jobs; protect our — protect our national security; strengthen — will strengthen our national security, strengthen our supply chain.
 
All of these things are part of the President’s economic plan to really not leave anybody behind, to build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.  And that’s going to be the focus for us continuing.
 
All right.  Thanks, everybody.  I’ll see you on the ground.
 
10:35 A.M. EDT