April 16, 2024
Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby En Route Las Vegas, NV
Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby En Route Las Vegas, NV

Aboard Air Force OneEn Route Las Vegas, Nevada 1:50 P.M. EST MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Good afternoon, everybody. I have two things at the top, and then I’ll turn it over to the Admiral, who will give you — give us an update on what’s happening on the ground in the Middle East. (Coughs.) Sorry, […]

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Aboard Air Force One
En Route Las Vegas, Nevada

1:50 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Good afternoon, everybody. I have two things at the top, and then I’ll turn it over to the Admiral, who will give you — give us an update on what’s happening on the ground in the Middle East.

(Coughs.) Sorry, guys. Excuse me.

So, as you all know, we’re en route to Las Vegas, where President Biden will visit the Carpenters Union International Training Center to deliver remarks and announce $8.2 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for passenger rail projects across the country, including the first two high-speed rail projects in the United States.

By del- — delivering $66 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago, President Biden is delivering on his vision to invest in America and win the global competition for the 21st century.

While there, the President will also meet with the UNLV president, along with public safety and student body representatives, to personally share his condolences for those they have lost and reaffirm our support for local law enforcement, UNLV, and the broader community in the wake of this tragedy.

One last thing before I turn it over. Today, we got more good economic news, as you all have seen, with 199,000 jobs created last month for a total of 14.1 million created under President Biden. Unemployment fell to 3.7 percent and has been under 4 percent for 22 months in a row, the longest stretch in 54 years.

The last time unemployment was this low for this long — this is a fun fact — Diana Ross topped the charts and the Apollo program was visiting the moon.

We have more work to do. Prices are still too high. But we are making progress.

Annual inflation fell to its lowest level in more than 2.5 years last month, with monthly inflation of zero. And Americans are feeling the results.

Today, we learned Americans’ expectations for inflation have tak- — have fallen. And preliminary consumer sentiments rose 13 percent so far this month.

And that is Bidenomics in action.

Q What was the song, for Diana Ross?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, my gosh. (Laughter.) What?

Q I don’t know. You brought her up. (Laughter.) Just kidding.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll give you that answer later.

With that, we have Admiral John Kirby, who’s going to give us an update on the Middle East and take some of your questions.

Go ahead, Admiral.

MR. KIRBY: Thanks, Karine.

Actually, I don’t have any topper today. So, we can just get whatever is on your mind.

Q Okay. The U.N. is saying that Gaza is on the full — on the verge of a full-blown collapse. Does — do you — does the White House agree with that assessment? And what more can you guys do?

MR. KIRBY: We’ve seen the comments by the U.N. Secretary-General. Look, we certainly share international concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. And that’s why the President is literally leading a global effort to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

In fact, just today, another U.S. military aircraft, a C-17, landed in Egypt carrying 57,000 pounds of food, water, and medicine. And we’re working with the Israelis every single day to keep the level of fuel up going into Gaza.

So, we’re certainly mindful of the suffering of the people of Gaza, and we’re doing everything we can to not just get stuff in there but to lead an actual international effort to get stuff in there.

Q But do you agree with the assessment that it is on the verge of a full-blown collapse?

MR. KIRBY: I would just say we’re — we’re mindful of the extreme humanitarian suffering inside Gaza, and we’re doing everything we can to — to help alleviate that, including, I would add, continuing to work with our Israeli counterparts to be as cautious, deliberate, and careful as they can in their targeting.

Q A follow-up that, if I may. The U.N. Security Council will vote later today on a new resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Has the President changed his mind about that? Would he support such a resolution, or will he veto it?

MR. KIRBY: No.

Q On humanitarian aid. Israel has said yesterday that they will allow humanitarian aid to be screened through Kerem Shalom. Can you give us some background?

The U.S. said it was at their request. Can you give us some background on how that request was made, when it was made? And, also, when can we expect trucks to start being screened?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, all good questions. We’ve been talking to the Israelis now for quite some time here about Kerem Shalom and seeing if we can open up yet another avenue in, right?

And so, I couldn’t give you a date certain or when, you know, the War Cabinet agreed on that. That’s something for the Israelis to speak to. But we’re very grateful that they’re moving in this direction.

It was very much at our request. This was something that Secretary Blinken covered in his last trip to the region. Certainly something that the President has been raising with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

So, it’s good news. But we’re just at the beginning of this process. The first step is to set up an inspection regime, sort of akin to what’s going on down in Rafah, so that the Israelis can have a measure of satisfaction that what’s getting in there is actually what’s supposed to be getting in there.

I can’t give you a time on the calendar when the trucks will actually start to flow, but we’re obviously going to continue to watch this closely and hope that those extra trucks coming from — or into Kerem Shalom can — can start soon.

Q It has not opened yet for screening?

MR. KIRBY: Right now, they’re still working up the modalities of an inspection regime. But, again, we hope it will open up very, very soon.

It’ll — it’ll be a — it’ll be a good measure of relief, no — no question.

Q And on Rafah. Is there any update to how many trucks have been getting into Rafah Crossing?

MR. KIRBY: I don’t have a number today. I can tell you, over the last 24 hours, it was, you know, less than 100. And obviously, that’s — that’s not at the level that we want it to be at.

We had reached a couple of hundred trucks a day during the pause. That’s what we really want to get back restored. But every day, you know, there — for various reasons, it sort of goes up and goes down.

I can tell you that there are literally dozens and dozens of trucks that are in line waiting to get in through the inspection.

Q Is there a concern that the level of destruction in Gaza right now — the number of children who are getting killed, the number of their parents who are dying — is there a worry that Israel is creating new generations of — of kids who are going to grow up and — and be susceptible to joining groups like Hamas?

MR. KIRBY: I think Secretary Austin addressed that over the weekend when he talked about, you know, conversations we’re having with our Israelis about not — not turning tactical victories into strategic defeats.

And so, look — and the Israelis don’t need a lecture from the United States about the threat of terrorism and the ideology that feeds that — those terrorist activities and the — you know, the — the need to make sure this doesn’t become a generational problem.

Q Has this come up between the President and the Prime Minister Netanyahu?

MR. KIRBY: I won’t go beyond the readouts that we’ve provided you guys on his conversations.

Q Iranian-aligned militias continue to attack U.S. assets. A U.S. embassy was the latest target. Should we expect a stepped-up response from the U.S. on these attacks? Anything new to share about how the U.S. plans to respond?

MR. KIRBY: You should expect us to do what we have to do to protect ourselves, act in self-defense. We don’t telegraph our punches.

Q Have any officials been receptive to calls for strikes to be more precise? Have they made any adjustments, as far as you know, accordingly?

MR. KIRBY: I would just say that, again, we’ve been talking to the Israelis about deliberate and precise targeting for quite some time. And as we’ve been saying in the last few days, they have been receptive to — to our input.

And they have, in fact, taken some steps to — to try to be more careful. For instance, their — their movement into Gaza — North Gaza was smaller than originally planned. And some of that is based on some council and perspective that we shared.

We sent over some military officers who had experience in Mosul, Fallujah — urban warfare in that environment. And we believe that the Israelis took that — those lessons learned onboard.

Just in the last few days, you know, they’re dropping leaflets, they’re publishing a — a map of areas where people can go and not go. That is the definition, for a military, of telegraphing your punches, and not a lot of modern militaries would do that.

Now, Secretary Blinken has spoken very, very frankly to this, including just yesterday. We certainly all recognize more can be done to — to try to — to reduce civilian casualties. And we’re going to keep working with our Israeli counterparts to that end.

Q On the number of deaths, is that a reflection of a reliance on airstrikes as opposed to urban combat? Is — is there — are there more people dying because of airstrikes than because troops — Israeli troops on the ground moving through?

MR. KIRBY: I’d have to point you to the IDF to speak to their assessment of the efficacy of their operations and the — and the casualties. I — I don’t have that kind of data available to me.

Q (Inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY: Well, look, I mean, it depends — that’s a hard question to answer, because it really depends on what you’re targeting and what kind of munition you’re using to hit that target.

And I — you know, we’re not getting — we’re not involved in the targeting process for the Israelis. And I’m just not comfortable talking about that.

Q The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 17,000. President Biden and you have previously cast doubt on those numbers. Is there any reason — do you guys doubt those numbers — 17,000?

MR. KIRBY: Again, we’re not — we know many, many thousands have been killed; many, many thousands more have been wounded. The IDF has spoken to a casualty figure in just the last few days. I would refer you to them for more — you know, more specific data on that.

Q On Ukraine. Russia just fired cruise missiles at Ukraine. They hadn’t done so in — in quite — in quite some time. So, do you fear we will see more of that in — in the coming weeks? And is there a link with discussions dragging on here on funding for — for Ukraine?

MR. KIRBY: I think — I’ve talked about this when I was with Karine a couple of days ago. I mean, we fully expect that the Russians will try to weaponize winter, and they will try to launch additional missile strikes, particularly into Ukraine, hitting civilian infrastructure.

And I don’t know what everything they hit, but the idea of them launching cruise missiles into Ukraine is not a new thing. And we fully expected that, as winter comes on, they will continue to do that. And we talked about that just a few days ago.

I don’t — I would — I would not tie that action to anything that’s going on on Capitol Hill. This is a part of a Russian effort by Mr. Putin to literally weaponize the winter months and to try to — to brutalize the Ukrainian people at a time when they need, you know, heat, water, fuel.

Q Admiral, on U.S.-China. Since the agreement to restore military-to-military communications, do you believe those have been adequately restored? That the appropriate officials are talking (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY: With the caveat that I would refer you to the Defense Department more specifically, my understanding is that there’s — there’s no new minister of defense in China. So, I know Secretary Austin hasn’t had a restoration of military-to-military comms. And we’re very eager to get those going.

At the senior levels and down to the theater-commander level, it’s — it’s my understanding that they haven’t been restored. And part of that could be because they don’t have a minister of defense.

So, we certainly urge them to designate somebody soon. And we’re eager to get — we’re eager to get those comms going.

I mean, when you talk about all the tensions right now, you know, military-to-military communications are really important to reduce miscalculation and misunderstanding.

Q Any updates on the talks about securing funding for Ukraine and Israel?

MR. KIRBY: I don’t have any updates — you mean on Capitol Hill?

Q Yeah, anything — anything new to share about any progress?

MR. KIRBY: I don’t have any progress to speak to. I don’t know if —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No.

Mr. KIRBY: — you do. No.

Q Okay. Russian television is thanking Congress — Republicans in Congress for not passing more help to Ukraine. Do you want to —

MR. KIRBY: I haven’t seen — I don’t typically watch Russian television, so — so, I certainly haven’t seen if that’s what they’re doing.

But, look, Karine said this pretty well yesterday. I mean, this is a great gift to Vladimir Putin that we would walk away from Ukraine. He’s banking on that.

He’s been banking on that kind of a development since early on in this war, because he didn’t believe that the West could stay united. He didn’t believe NATO could stay united. He didn’t believe the United States had the staying power.

So, while I haven’t seen those television reports, it’s very much in keeping with what — how Karine characterized it yesterday. And if you care about our national security, let — let alone Ukraine’s — let’s — let’s set — let’s put that aside; although they are, first and foremost, the victims here.

If you care about our national security, you ought to see Mr. Putin for what he is, you ought to see Russia for what it is, and realize that helping Ukraine — and they’re not asking for boots on the ground — helping them win this war is very much in our national security interest and in the national security interest of all our allies in Europe.

If he gets Ukraine, he gets right up against the doorstep of NATO. And as I said the other day, if you think the cost of supporting Ukraine is high now, think about wh- — how high it’s going to be in national treasure and in American blood if we have to start acting on our Article Five commitments.

Q On Vladimir Putin. What’s your comment on the Russian president going for re-election?

MR. KIRBY: Well, that’s going to be one humdinger of a horse race, isn’t it? (Laughter.)

That’s all I’ve got to say on that.

Q Staying in Russia. Paul Whelan released a statement via his brother today.

MR. KIRBY: Who did?

Q Paul Whelan released a statement via his brother.

MR. KIRBY: (Inaudible.)

Q Yeah. And he said, “The game of diplomatic niceties and pleasant — and pleasant dialogue needs to end,” and you “need to take decisive action” to secure his release.

Is there any update for him? And is his release still, as you’ve said in the past, a priority?

MR. KIRBY: Let me start by saying to the Whelan family how much we understand your anxiety, your worry, and your desire to have Paul back. Believe me, President Biden shares that.

And there’s not a day that goes by — I know it may not look like it, it may not seem like it, and it may not feel like it, but there’s not a day that goes by that the President’s team isn’t trying to work to get Paul and Evan out of Russian jail. And we know Paul has been there now going on five years.

So, we understand the — the pain and the anguish that they’re going through.

And while I — we can’t detail the kinds of proposals that we’re making, I can assure you that we are — in fact, just recently made a very serious proposal to see if we could get Paul and Evan out, and the Russians balked at it.

So, now we’re at — back at the blackboard. And we’re going to keep seeing what we can do to try to get them out.

They — they hold Paul at a very high standard because they’ve trumped up these espionage charges against him. And they just treat him differently than they do other people that they — that they’re holding. And we recognize that, which is why coming up with a proposal that they’ll accept has become — has become fairly difficult.

But, again, I — we don’t want him to spend one more day in jail. And I can assure the Whelan family that we are working in earnest to — to get him released.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks. Thanks, Admiral.

MR. KIRBY: All right.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Appreciate it.

Oh, gosh. All right — oh! (Laughter.) Many things are happening all at once.

All right. Go ahead.

Q I’ve got — I’ve got two. First off, the major investment in electronic — in electric trains in California. There’s been an awful lot of money spent, a lot of voter referendums to put money into this. Is there any fear that the — the funds the President is announcing today is basically throwing good money after bad?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, what we’re seeing today — I mean, I just laid out at the top how important today is — right? — how important this — how important the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has been to — to our — clearly, our infrastructure and everything — everything that’s — obviously, all the other provisions in there to — to build an infrastructure that has been needing some real attention in the past couple of decades.

And this is something that was done in a bipartisan way.

The announcement today is huge. This is big. I mean, if you’re thinking about this has not been done since, like, Amtrak — right? — this is huge.

And so, there’s been bipartisan support in this. There’s a lot of attention and obviously support from — from the electeds in California. And, look, this is the beginning. This is the beginning of — of a rail that’s going to make a difference just across — across the country.

And so, I think — I think you all will see that. You’ll hear from the President directly on how critical and how much of a big day this is, not just for this region, the region that we’re going to, but across the country.

Q Do you have any comment on the — the IOC and the Belarusian and Russian athletes being allowed to compete under the Russian flag?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know this has come up — this has come up before. I just don’t have anything — I don’t have — I don’t have anything to add at this time.

Q I have two questions on the Hunter Biden case.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q Any reaction to the — to what we saw last night — new charges? And then I have a follow-up.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.

Look, I mean, the President has said this before, and he will continue to say, which is that he loves his son and supports him as he continues to rebuild his life.

I’m going to be really careful and not comment on this and refer you to Department of Justice or my colleagues at the White House Counsel.

But that’s what I’m going to — I’m not going to go beyond tell- — telling you all what the President has said over and over again. He’s proud of his son, and he is proud of him — proud of him building his life back up.

Q I know you won’t to speak to the — to the charges directly. But can you speak at least to the emotional toll the charges are having on the President?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to comment beyond what I just shared.

Q Are they speaking? Are they talking to each other?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I mean, I’m not going to — and this is — we’ve been pretty consistent on this. I’m not going to comment on private conversation that the President has with his family members.

Q One more on this. Only because you’ve said it before, I just want to re-up in — in light of these new charges. You’ve said before that the President would not pardon his son. Is that still the case?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Nothing has changed. That is still the case.

Q Also, on the supplemental, Congress has left town without a supplemental bill — without any progress on the supplemental bill. The administration has said that this needs to be done before year’s end. What is the President doing to engage on this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, the President spoke pretty — pretty clearly about this the other day and made the case about how Congress needs to — needs to support Ukraine and — so it can fight against Putin. You heard him say that just two days ago, and that is certainly the case.

Look, Senate Republicans needs to stop playing chicken with our national security. That’s what they need to stop doing. They need to — they need to — to compromise. They need to have a conversation and compromise so that we can get this done and make sure that we’re taking care of our national security.

We have been, obviously, in touch with nego- — with negotiators on the Hill. We’re providing technical support. That is something that I — we’ve said before, but — and the President has said that he’s willing to compromise. He is. He’s willing to compromise, but they can’t play chicken with our national security. They cannot do that.

Q Governor Josh Shapiro has called on the University of Pennsylvania’s board of trustees to meet about President Magill’s comments on Capitol Hill. I’m wondering if the — if President Biden plans to either speak with any of the presidents who testified? And, also, would he call for their resignations based on (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I’ve been asked this question in many different ways. But what I can tell you for certain is that this is a president that’s had moral clarity on this issue when it comes to speaking against antisemitism, saying antisemitism is unacceptable and it should not be part of who we are as a country.

Let’s not forget why the President decided to — to get in this election back in 2019. It is to make sure that we’re fighting against this vile antisemitism, this vile hatred that we’re seeing. And, you know, he was — he was certainly moved by what he saw in Charlottesville — right? — with the marching and what they shouted and what was being said.

And so, we have to fight against that. We have to speak against that.

And, honestly, we should not be having this conversation. We should not be having a conversation on what should be — if we should be denouncing hate or not. It should be an automatic. We should be denouncing hate. We should be denouncing antisemitism. It is an automatic, and this President has had moral clarity. I’m just not going to speak to anything beyond that.

Q Karine, just on gun violence. We’ve heard you say several times, especially recently, that you’re pushing Congress to pass things like the assault weapons ban. I’m just wondering if there are any priorities that you’re looking at, the White House is considering for an executive order.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the Pre- — this is a president that has taken more action on — on preventing gun violence probably than any other pres- — president recently. We’re talking about more than two dozen executive actions that he signed.

When he signed, also, the first kind of legislation on gun violence in 30 years — right? — the Safer Communities Act, that was — that was also — that was done in a bipartisan way and hasn’t been done, as I just stated, in 30 years.

That’s — the President is taking this incredibly seriously. And he also put to- — we started and created the first Office of — for Gun Prevention and Vi- — Gun Violence Prevention.

All of these action have been key and important. And obviously, we’re going to continue to work and make sure those provisions in that — in that law that was the first one we’ve seen in 30 years is — is moved quickly and those executive actions is moved quickly.

And the President, as you stated in your question, he wants Congress to act. We must ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, enact universal background checks and red flag laws, require safe storage of guns, and keep — keep out of the hands of criminals and dangerous individuals. Those are things that Congress — this is in the power of Congress to do.

Like, gun violence is an epidemic. It is an epidemic. It is the number one killer of our children. And that’s — should not be. No other country is dealing with gun violence the way that we are.

And so, this is for Congress. Republicans in Congress need to act. They need — we cannot have another what we’re — what we’re — what we saw just the other day at UNLV. We can’t. We cannot.

And so, we’re going to be steadfast on this. You’re going to hear from the President today. He’ll speak on what happened at UNLV. Obviously, at the top, I mentioned that he was going to meet with some of the — with the president and some other folks to offer his condolences.

And we just — we have to act. Congress needs — Congress — Republicans, in particular, need to — need to get on board here, and we need to continue to work to save lives.

Q A logistical question —

Q Meet with them —

Q Are we — is he meeting them at the same site where he’s making the announcement, or is that a separate stop that we’re going to go to?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know what, I don’t have a — actually, I think it’s the same site, but let me just make sure, for sure, so that I have — I get the logistics right for you.

Go ahead.

Q Nevada had, like, a horrible — Las Vegas had a horrible mass shooting not that long ago. And yet, I don’t think they’ve done a whole lot to change their gun laws in that city or in that state.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

Q So, what — what can the President do to encourage them to act if the — if Congress is not going to?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I mean, you’re talking — again, you’re talking about a president that has taken two dozen executive actions to deal with this epidemic. We have an office that is specifically dealing with gun violence — preventing gun violence. He signed the first law in 30 years to deal with gun violence.

So, the President has taken action, and he is going to continue to speak on this. And we are willing — we are offering assistance — whatever it is that states or local government need to deal with this, to deal with gun violence, whatever assistance, as we’re going to — as we’re doing in Vegas, right?

In Las Vegas, we’ve offered our — any assistance that is needed to help the family — to help them move forward. Because so much — so much trauma is left after a gun violence like this happens in a community.

And, look, we’re going to continue to speak to it. And, I mean, two dozen actions in office, historic — historic — I mean, these are all historic — historic actions that this President has taken.

You know — and, you know, we have to do everything that we — we can to protect lives and protect communities. And that’s what the President is going to continue to speak to.

Q On the Middle East, maybe. According to a new survey published today among adults under age 30, only 19 percent approve of the way the President is handling the Gaza crisis. So, are you concerned about those numbers? Is the President concerned that he’s losing his connection with the younger Americans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Which poll — which poll is this?

Q It was Pew Research. It’s a survey published today.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, look, you know, when it comes to polls — you know, we certainly don’t govern by polls. Right? You know, when it comes to young people, we’ve been very, very clear that we take — we take — I think we’ve shown action how seriously we take what young people are going through, right?

I mean, we have policies that have certainly been guided towards young people, right? Young people care about climate change. This is the president that has taken more actions on climate change than any other recent president — any recent president.

You think about education. This is a president that has taken really extensive actions on — on student loan, forgiving more than $123 billion of lov- — loan forgiveness because he understands what that means to young people and how much that could be crushing to them.

When you think about this issue of the Middle East, the President, you know, has taken — has taken this really seriously. If you think about — we’ve talked about this, right?

We’ve talked about what it — what — not forgetting what happened on October 7th — right? — not forgetting how 1,200 people were slaughtered by a terrorist organization, Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has said over and over and over again that they want an October 7th to replay — to repeat.

And so, the President has to support our friends in Israel who are fighting to defend themselves, fighting to make sure that that doesn’t happen again. And so, that’s what we — that’s how we see moving forward here.

Obviously — obviously, we want to make sure that the people in Gaza have humanitarian aid. Obviously, we want to make sure that IDF is more precise and accurate in how they are for- — moving forward with this war.

We’ve been very clear about that. You’ve heard that from Secretary Blinken. You’ve heard that from our National Security Advisor. You’ve heard that from us and how that is also important, because one life is too many; one innocent civilian life is too many.

And so, we’re going to be — have that moral clarity and be very, very clear with our — our friends in Israel about that. But they should have the right to defend themselves. And, obviously, we do not want to see innocent lives taken in — you know, taken in Gaza as well.

Q On his statement the other day that if — if Donald Trump were not running, maybe he wouldn’t have decided to run again. I’m wondering — I mean, I don’t know that there’s been a modern president maybe since Coolidge who has felt that way, that, “You know what, I just don’t need this job. Someone else can do it, and I’ve done what I need to do.” Every other president since then, I think, has wanted a second term. In the case of FDR, more.

What — what does that say about, I mean, this President? Is he kind of tired of the job, or is he — is it just a lot? I mean, maybe you can expand on that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we’re going to Vegas right now to make — to — so the President can speak to this big announcement that he’s making — right? — $8 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that’s going to deal with rail. It’s an important announcement. Right?

And so, obviously, the President is going to continue to be focused on the American people and delivering for the American people. And, look, this is also a president, I would argue, that has done — that has had historical accomplishments, right?

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Redu- — Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act, and those are just in the past year and a half that he’s been able to get that done — the first piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan, that helped to get — that helped to get this — our economy back on its feet, also only voted by — only voted by Democrats.

This is a president that wakes up in the morning thinking about how he’s going to continue to deliver for the American people.

On your question, I’m going to be really careful not to — not — not to speak about 2024. But the President actually was asked multiple times about, like — you know, followed up questions about this. He’s pretty much answered it. Right? Clearly, he’s running. Right? Clearly, he believes that it’s important for him to do so.

I’m going to be really careful and not speak beyond that. But, again, we are about to announce something that’s historic today — historic — that’s going to make a difference in people’s lives, not just in the region that we’re going to but across the country. And that’s the — that’s the President’s focus.

Q I do have another quick one about the — this weekend, specifically. The — what’s going on with the Osprey and the grounding of the Ospreys? Is that going to affect movement in any way during this trip —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So —

Q — for us or for anybody else?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So — so, I know my colleague at NSC talked about this yesterday. Look, out of abundance of caution, the military has grounded the Osprey fleet, as you know, of helicopters while they continue to investigate the recent crash off the coast of Japan.

We will always ensure the safety of crew members and all flying passengers, including all of you here today, and we will always have alternate helicopter support for upcoming travels. So, we’ll have, to your answer, alternate helicopter support.

So, we will continue to stay in close contact with the military to keep all personnel safe — personnel safe and would point all of you to the Department of Defense that have specific — if you have specific information on that.

So, obviously, we’ll have alternative — alternative ways of getting us all around on this trip. I just don’t have anything further or specific to share about that. Department of Defense would have more.

Q Can you say if we’re using that alternative transportation this week- — weekend, specifically?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, we will be using alternative transportation as of today.

Q The — the $8 billion that you mentioned, is that –that’s the same $8 billion that was mentioned at the Amtrak station visit — right? — or the Amtrak —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, the President — I — I’m not going to get ahead. The President certainly will — will have more details for you on that in his remarks.

Q On — on the supplemental again. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron was here at the White House yesterday. What’s the administration saying to our closest allies who might be concerned about whether funding will come or not?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we’ve been very clear. Right? This — it’s important for us to get this done. Right? What message does that send to our allies? What message does that send to the brave people of Ukraine? Right? What that — what message does that send to Putin, who wants to see us not continue to fund Ukraine? Right?

And so, this is important. So, we’ve said this. The time is running out. Right? They have to do this before the end of recess. They got — we have to continue to fund and provide security assistance to Ukraine. We’ve been very clear about that.

They have done something that many people said that they couldn’t. They have continued to fight for the past two years and fight against this aggression against Ukraine — against Russia — pardon me — against Mr. Putin, right? And — and fighting for their freedoms, fighting for democracy.

They are fighting against tyranny. That is something that, you know, Republicans in Congress, they need to — they have — I said this yesterday, and I’ll say this today: They — they — history will show — or judge them harshly where they stand if we don’t get this done — if we don’t get this done.

So, yes, it’s important on how our allies are viewing this and seeing this.

All right. Thanks, everybody.

Q Thank you, Karine.

2:22 P.M. EST

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2023/12/08/press-gaggle-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-and-nsc-coordinator-for-strategic-communications-john-kirby-en-route-las-vegas-nv/

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originally published at Politics - Social Gov