Washington, DC…Hi. Good afternoon, everybody. Before I turn it over to my NSC colleague here, I want to say one thing at the top. We have grave concerns with the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act — AHA — by the Parliament of Uganda yesterday and increasing violence targeting LGBTQI+ persons.
If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and invest [investment] in Uganda, and damage Uganda’s international reputation.
The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.
Human rights are universal. No one should be attacked, imprisoned, or killed simply because of who they are or whom they love.
And with that, my colleague, John Kirby, is here to offer a preview of the President’s upcoming trip to Canada — as you know, the President will be heading to Canada tomorrow — and answering any lingering questions about President Putin and President Xi’s meeting this week in Moscow.
MR. KIRBY: Thanks, Karine. I’m sure there’s no lingering questions about that.
So, as Karine said, I just wanted to give you all a little bit of a preview here of the President’s trip up to — to Ottawa. He does leave tomorrow afternoon. It’s quite a packed schedule for a short trip.
Once they — once they arrive, they’ll be greeted by the Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon. Later tomorrow evening, the President and First Lady will join Prime Minister Trudeau and Mrs. Trudeau for an intimate gathering at their residence.
Then, on Friday, the President will participate in a bilateral meeting, of course with Prime Minister Trudeau and his team, during which he will absolutely reaffirm the United States’ enduring commitment to this U.S.-Canada partnership.
The President will then follow in the tradition of previous presidents who visited Canada and addressed Canada’s Parliament. In his remarks, the President will underscore how the U.S.-Canada partnership benefits not only our two countries but the entire world, and that by working together, we can address some of the biggest challenges we face.
President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau will then participate in a press conference.
Later, tomorrow — or Friday evening, the President and First Lady will attend a gala dinner at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.
Now, in addition to joining the President for those events, the First Lady will continue to build on her friendship with Mrs. Sophie Trudeau and participate in a spousal program that’s focused on our shared cultural connections and, of course, empowering young people.
This is a meaningful visit. Canada is one of the United States’ closest allies and friends and has been now for more than 150 years.
This will be the first true in-person bilateral meeting between the two leaders in Canada since 2009.
In the first year of this administration, we focused on rebuilding that bilateral relationship. In the second year, we focused on following through on our commitments, including prioritizing orderly and safe migration through regular pathways and enhancing collaboration to address the synthetic opioid crisis.
And now, heading into the third, this visit is about taking stock of what we’ve done, where we are, and what we need to prioritize for — for the future.
We’re going to talk about our two democracies stepping up to meet the challenges of our time. That includes taking concrete steps to increase defense spending, driving a global race to the top on clean energy, and building prosperous and inclusive economies.
That’s continuing to take bold action — that’s also continuing to take bold action to combat climate change — climate change; promote inclusive economic growth and good jobs; strengthen our democracies; supporting efforts for stability in Haiti; and continuing, of course, to support Ukraine.
President Biden will also promote our shared domestic and foreign policy goals, including by highlighting the mutual benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement for promoting prosperity and clean energy.
And, of course, the first call President Biden made to a foreign leader as President of the United States was to Prime Minister Trudeau, highlighting the strategic importance of this incredible relationship.
Since then, the two leaders have spoken multiple times and also met in person a number of times. And we’re looking forward to continuing to work with Canada to strengthen economic ties; to promote inclusive growth; to address, as I said, climate change; enhance North America’s competitiveness; and strengthen our defense through both NATO and through NORAD.
With that, we’ll take some questions.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Hey, John. So I wanted to ask you about the Russian Foreign Minister’s comments today about Britain’s plans to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium ammunition. And Lavrov had said that’s a step towards significant escalation. Does the Biden administration have any concern about the Brits sharing such ammo?
MR. KIRBY: Well, certainly we would let the — the UK speak for itself in terms of what sovereign decisions they’re going to make about providing ammunition.
But, I mean, make no mistake: I mean, this is yet another straw man through which the Russians are driving a stake. This kind of ammunition is fairly commonplace, been in use for — for decades.
I think what’s really going on here is Russia just doesn’t want Ukraine to continue to take out its tanks and — and render them inoperative.
And if that’s really the concern — if the Russians are very concerned about their tanks staying fully operational, they can just take them across the border back into Russia and take them out of Ukraine; they don’t belong there in the first place. That’s — that would be my recommendation if they’re concerned about threats to their tanks.
Q And now that the meeting is behind us, is there any change in the U.S. assessment on China’s weighing of sending weaponry to Moscow?
MR. KIRBY: No change. No change.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Kristen.
Q Thank you so much. On the topic of Ukraine: What will President Biden’s message be to the Prime Minister about sustaining support for Ukraine? And are there any concerns, given the debate that we are seeing here in Congress, that support will start to wane on the world stage?
MR. KIRBY: You know, I don’t think the President believes Prime Minister Trudeau needs to have a message delivered on supporting Ukraine. I mean, the Canadians have been right there with us since the very beginning. They’re part of this Ukraine Contact Group. They have given millions of dollars in security assistance, as well as humanitarian and even financial assistance, Kristen.
So, they have stepped up in a big way. We’re grateful for that support. Prime Minister Trudeau doesn’t need any — any — any messages from us on that.
And as for the public support, again, we are very grateful for the bicameral and the bipartisan support that we’re getting on Capitol Hill. And you can see that continue. Even with the House of Representatives now in Republican hands, the House leadership has been consistent in wanting to continue to support Ukraine. We’re grateful for that. And we fully expect that that will continue.
Q If I could follow up with you on the news yesterday that the U.S. is accelerating the timeline for sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Can you talk about that decision? And also, are there any renewed discussions about potentially sending Ukraine the F-16 fighter jets that they’ve been asking for for months?
MR. KIRBY: No change to our — no change to our — our — our policy on fighter jets at this time. Nothing to speak to.
I think the Pentagon laid out in more detail yesterday the decision-making on the Abrams tanks. We have said from the very beginning — heck, we’ve been saying this since the war began — that we know there’s a sense of urgency we all share. Time is no one’s friend here in this war.
And that’s why, really, throughout this long process, we have, at unprecedented speed, been able to provide capabilities to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And that includes with small systems like Stingers and artillery ammunition to big systems.
Now, the bigger systems, they take a little bit more time, and you got to make sure there’s a supply chain in place, you got to make sure that the Ukrainian troops are trained. So it does take a little bit more time.
As they worked through the Abrams decision, which was through a different mechanism than drawdown authority, the Pentagon was able to find a workaround to get a version of the Abrams tanks there a little bit sooner.
Q Very quickly, on TikTok: How closely will the President, how closely will this administration be watching the CEO testify tomorrow on TikTok? And what are the concerns heading into tomorrow?
MR. KIRBY: Well, we note that — we note that he’s going to Capitol Hill. Certainly, we’ll be monitoring the — the testimony.
But as you know, there’s a CFIUS review going on. We’re not going to get ahead of that.
And as you also know, we’ve made very clear our national security concerns about that particular application. That’s why it’s been banned on government devices.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. Thank you, John. I have two questions. First one, you know, besides the joint statement on Ukraine yesterday, China and Russia also signed a separate eight-points joint statement on economic cooperation before 2030.
In that statement, China promised to work with Russia on the financial market (inaudible) and payment and supply chain — all the areas we see Russia is being sanctioned. What is the U.S.’s take on this development?
MR. KIRBY: We don’t support any effort to — to decrease the sense of isolation that Putin has already experienced from the international community. We don’t support any effort to bolster his economy or make it any more healthy. We don’t support any effort by anybody to make it easier for him, financially or otherwise, to continue to slaughter Ukrainians.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sebastian.
Q Second question — I’m sorry, I have two questions.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q So, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida took a trip to Ukraine and Poland. And, as the only Indo-Pacific country in the G7, in the joint statement of him and President Zelenskyy, a free and open Indo-Pacific, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait were all mentioned. Zelenskyy will also attend G7.
So, analysts have been talking about, you know, what Russia had been doing to Ukraine, compare that to what China could do to Taiwan. Is this a way to bring attention from the European allies to the Indo-Pacific and Taiwan issues?
MR. KIRBY: We are grateful for Prime Minister Kishida’s visit. I think it shows the degree to which Japan really has stepped up, not just in the region but elsewhere around the world. They have helped our efforts to support Ukraine and, of course, we’re — we’re grateful for that. And it does show how — how much more engaged Japan is globally and really taking a leadership position.
It’s — it’s noteworthy that — that the Prime Minister of Japan goes to Kyiv in the middle of a war — a city which, oh, by the way, got attacked just last night; very much on the frontlines of this war — and that President Xi has yet to have a conversation with President Zelenskyy, which we urge him to do.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Sebastian.
Q Thank you. Hello, Admiral. Over here.
MR. KIRBY: Oh, yeah. Sorry.
Q Yes, hi. Two questions. First one, following up on Karine’s statement about Uganda and what Secretary of State has already said. Is there anything like sanctions or some other concrete measure being considered by the U.S. side if this law should take effect?
MR. KIRBY: Yeah, well, first of all, big “if” there, right? This is the parliament passing it. It still has some process to go here. We’re — we’re certainly watching this real closely. And we would have to take a look at whether or not there might be repercussions that we would have to take, perhaps in an economic way, should this law actually get passed — enacted.
And that would be really unfortunate, because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance and largely through PEPFAR. And you can see a world in which, you know, a law like this, should it be enacted, would not only, as Karine rightly said, just be devastating to a whole community of people inside of Uganda, but if it were to have any kind of an effect on our economic assistance, that would only make that worse.
So, we’ll have to take a look. No decisions. We’re watching this very, very closely. And hopefully, it won’t pass and we won’t have to do anything.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jeremy.
Q Sorry, I had a second one. Back on the depleted uranium issue. Has the U.S. sent any depleted uranium ammunition to the Ukrainians? Would it do so?
And just — and secondly, what do you make of the Russian and Belarusian, kind of, veiled threats about using some sort of — you know, going nuclear themselves? I mean, that’s — that’s kind of what they’re saying. They’re saying, “If you use a little bit nuclear, we could go nuclear.” They’ve been saying that. Lukashenko said that today.
MR. KIRBY: You mean in reference to the depleted uranium?
Q In reference to — yeah. Has the U.S. sent any of this stuff itself?
MR. KIRBY: So, look, we don’t typically talk about the specifics of ammunition that we’re providing, but we’re not providing depleted uranium.
But I think it’s important to remember what this is and that this is — that there have been health studies done on depleted uranium munitions. It is not a radioactive threat. It is not anywhere close to going into the nuclear realm. That’s why I said — described it earlier as a stake through a straw man.
This is a commonplace type of munition that is used particularly for its armor-piercing capabilities.
So, again, if Russia is deeply concerned about the welfare of their tanks and their tank soldiers, the safest thing for them to do is to move them across the border and get them out of Ukraine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jeremy.
Q Thanks. John, two topics for you. First of all, on President Zelenskyy’s visit to eastern Ukraine near the front, in — near Bakhmut: What does the fact that he was able to travel there say about the strength of the Ukrainian positions there?
And then, secondly, a lot has been made about the relative significance of Bakhmut. What does his visit say about the importance of that city for the Ukrainian forces?
MR. KIRBY: So, interesting split screen, wasn’t it, Jeremy? You have the President of Ukraine going to — literally to a town that’s been under assault now for weeks, where thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have fought and many have died, as well as tens of thousands, we estimate, Russian convicts.
I mean, it’s — it’s — it’s where the most vicious fighting it going on. And he goes there.
The other day, Mr. Putin decides to go to Mariupol, which is about as far away inside Ukraine from any fighting as you can get, to inspect the reconstruction after the damage his army did to Mariupol.
President Zelenskyy has made very clear that he wants his forces to keep fighting over and for Bakhmut, and they haven’t given it up. The Russians have made some incremental gains in the last few days, but only incremental. I mean, we’re talking block-by-block kind of stuff. And the Ukrainians are still fighting very bravely to try to prevent Bakhmut from falling.
I’ll let President Zelenskyy describe his strategy and what he wants to prioritize and how he wants his troops to fight and where. But a noteworthy — yet another example of his incredible leadership under fire as a commander-in-chief in war, going right to where it is — that is where the heaviest fighting is right now in the whole country, let alone the Donbas region.
Q And then, on Israel, the State Department yesterday summoned the Israeli ambassador over the repeal of this 2005 law regarding the northern West Bank. The U.S. has been critical of these judicial reform efforts. Yesterday you criticized comments made by Israel’s finance minister. I’m wondering: What is the current state of U.S.-Israel relations? And how concerned is the United States that this current Israeli government is moving in a more authoritarian direction and also potentially putting up more impediments towards a potential two-state solution?
MR. KIRBY: Israel remains a strong ally and a deep, deep friend in the region, I’d say even around the world.
And the President, in his discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu the other day over the weekend, made clear that our support for Israel’s security will remain ironclad. Nothing is going to change about that. And he has, through his entire public life, been one of Israel’s strongest supporters and friends, and that will not change.
Now, he has also said — and he’s communicated it publicly and, of course, he’s communicated privately — our concerns over these proposals, these proposed judicial reforms. And he has said and he said it again over the weekend that we — that we urge Israeli leaders to seek a compromise as soon as possible, and then that’s — that’s where we are.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: In the back. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Hi, John. Getting back to the Canadian visit, is one of the issues being discussed the Safe Third Party Agreement? A loophole and it is what’s causing many migrants to land from — go from the United States into Canada. Is there any discussion about modernizing it or scrapping it?
MR. KIRBY: I don’t want to get too far ahead of the agenda. I think, you know, we’ll have more to say once we get up to Ottawa. And, of course, the President will have a chance to talk to you all when the meeting is over.
But as I said in my opening statement: Without question, they’ll be talking about issues of migration, which affects us both. There are more people on the move in this hemisphere than there have been since World War Two, and that affects both our countries.
Q And secondly, in the preview, you talked about climate change and so forth, but there was no talk about energy. Is there a push or a discussion to import oil or energy exports into the U.S. from Canada?
MR. KIRBY: Again, I’m not going to get too far ahead of specifics. I think energy security clearly will be on the agenda as well as clean energy jobs, jobs that will be brought to the hemisphere from the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as, you know, the Canadians have an emissions control plan that they’ve put into place that will also help, again, drive clean energy innovation here in the hemisphere, certainly between our two countries. And that’s pretty exciting stuff. We’re looking forward to that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Steve.
Q Just wondering if I could follow up on that, John. The specific concern of the Canadians is this 2004 treaty. I imagine the President’s position is that he doesn’t want to see a change in that treaty. But can you speak generally about the United States’ position when it comes to the concerns that Canadians do have about migrants heading from this country north?
And secondly, if you could lay out some of the asks he’ll make of the Canadians when it comes to NORAD modernization.
MR. KIRBY: So, on the first question, we’ve had many opportunities to talk to our Canadian counterparts about migration concerns. And it’s not as all — it’s not at all something that Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden haven’t spoken about. In fact, they were down in Mexico City not long ago for the North American Leaders’ Summit. And that was a prime topic of discussion, and you guys all followed up on that.
So I suspect that they’ll continue to talk about this tomorrow and — and Friday. I have no — no doubt in my mind. I’m not going to get ahead of — of any decisions that might be in the offing or how this might — might transpire.
But issues of migration — we are well aware of Canadian concerns. We have concerns of our own. And — I mean, it’s a shared hemisphere, a shared regional challenge. So I have no doubt that they’ll discuss it.
And on NORAD modernization, I think the — the issue of the Chinese spy balloon was a — a good reminder for all of us that we need to continue to make sure that when it comes to our defensive capabilities, particularly our air defensive capabilities, that we are at the cutting edge all the time. And so, modernization of air defense capabilities, and certainly in NORAD specifically, is something that we never take for granted. We’re always looking to — to improve that.
You can see a lot of that embedded in the — in the Defense Department’s budget, which has been submitted. In fact, I think there’ll be testifying this week on that. And I have no doubt that they’ll discuss that as well.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Nandita.
Q Thanks, Karine. Just a quick question on House Republicans asking the administration to share their review on the Afghanistan withdrawal with Congress and even the public. Is the administration considering that?
MR. KIRBY: So I think you know that we’ve been engaged in an effort to — to review the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to assess the lessons learned. We expect to be able to share those takeaways with the public by mid-April. And, of course, we also have every expectation that the agencies themselves, who conducted these after-action reviews, will be able to share the classified reports with their relevant congressional oversight committees — again, on the same basic timeline of mid-April.
Q And one quick one. Your comment on the fresh set of missile strikes that we’ve now seen from Russia. This comes right as Xi left Russia.
MR. KIRBY: Yeah, pretty ironic, isn’t it?
Q Yeah. And — and so your thoughts on whether you think that visit has now definitively emboldened Putin.
MR. KIRBY: Mister — Mr. Putin hasn’t really taken the foot off the gas since he invaded a year ago. He just continues to find new brutal, violent ways to kill Ukrainians and to try to destroy Ukrainian cities — basically wipe Ukraine off the map as an independent sovereign nation.
So it would be hard for me to say that this visit emboldened him, but I find it pretty dang ironic. I mean, yesterday, I was up here reading quotes that these two leaders put out about sovereignty and U.N. Charter, peaceful solutions and cessation of hostilities. And then the very next day, Vladimir Putin is launching drones and cruise missiles into Zaporizhzhia, into Kyiv, and as I noted, you know, killing — killing innocent civilians, even just last night. Two of them were kids. Two of them were kids.
So it’s hard to say whether he’s more emboldened or not, but he certainly hasn’t — he certainly hasn’t changed tack in the wake of all that lofty rhetoric about peace and cessation of hostilities.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Mary.
Q One other quick one on Putin’s behavior. The Russian defense minister also awarded awards of Orders of Courage to the two pilots that were involved in the —
MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I saw that.
Q — downing of the U.S. Reaper drone. You know, obviously the U.S. made it very clear that we found that to be unacceptable. Just, what do you make of Russia portraying them as national heroes?
MR. KIRBY: I — I don’t know of another military in the world, another air force in the world that would award a pilot for smashing into a drone. If that’s bravery, then I guess they got a different — a different definition of it. It’s ludicrous. It’s insulting.
Now, we don’t know whether that pilot was trying to intentionally ram that drone or not, but he did. Video evidence was pretty conclusive. Either way, I mean, in the — in the — in the Navy I grew up in, you don’t want to hit anything. Hitting anything is bad for you. So, like, I –- I –- I –- I’m sorry, I just — I got to throw the flag on this one. I have no clue why they would give a bravery award to a pilot who was, at worst, maliciously putting himself and U.S. property at great risk and, at best, just an idiot.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Cleve.
Q Thanks, Karine. John, a question on Canada again. Will President Biden push Prime Minister Trudeau on an international peacekeeping force in Haiti? Can you talk about what specifically, as much as you can, they plan to do on that — in that country?
MR. KIRBY: No question that they’ll talk about the situation in Haiti. And — and both these leaders talked about it when we were in Mexico City. They share a — a concern about the dire situation down there from a security and humanitarian perspective. This is not something that is unfamiliar to either the Prime Minister or the President.
I think they will continue to talk about ways we can continue to support, from a humanitarian assistance perspective, the people of Haiti and Haitian national security forces.
And as for, you know, a multinational force or anything like that, I — again, I don’t want to get ahead of the conversation here. But as we’ve said before, if — if there’s — if there’s a need for that, if there’s a place for that, that’s all going to have to be worked out directly with the Haitian government and with the — the U.N. But I won’t get ahead of where — what the conversation is going to be.
Q Sure. One more — one more thing. Do you have an update on Jeff Woodke? Is he back in the States? Has the President talked to him? Does he plan to talk to him?
MR. KIRBY: No conversations that I’m aware of. You know what? Let me check and see. I — I don’t know that he’s actually arrived back here in the States. That’s a good question, and I owe you an answer to that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Janne.
Q Thank you. Thank you, Karine. And thank you, John. I have few questions on China and North Korea.
First question: Does — the United States’ view on the China and Russia economic and military and technical cooperation agreement? And do you think this will affect the relation with North Korea? And then I follow up.
MR. KIRBY: In what — what agreement? I’m sorry.
Q Economic and military and technology.
MR. KIRBY: I’m sorry, and I missed — between two — between who?
Q Between China and Russia.
MR. KIRBY: Between China and Russia.
Q Yeah. At this time when Putin is —
MR. KIRBY: And how that will affect North — North Korea?
Q Yeah. How that’s going to —
MR. KIRBY: I think it remains to be seen how — what effect there’s going to be with bilateral relations with the North Korea, Janne. I just — I think we need to dive into that a little bit more deeply and try to under- — understand it.
It certainly doesn’t — just at face value, it doesn’t appear like there will be some huge impact on — on the way China relates to North Korea.
But we’ve said this before: China does have influence in Pyongyang. And we continue to urge them to use that influence to help us decrease the tensions there on the Peninsula and to enforce the sanctions — the international sanctions, the U.N. sanctions — that have long been in place to try to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Q And then, one on North Korea. North Korea conducted a tactical — tactical attack simulations — nuclear weapons simulations recently. And Kim Jong Un ordered to be ready for a nuclear attack at any time. Do you think North Korea’s nuclear attack is imminent?
MR. KIRBY: We watch it as closely as we can. There’s no indications or no information at this time that would lead us to believe that some sort of actual strike by North Korea is imminent, but we’re watching and monitoring as best we can.
Again, we urge Mr. Kim to sit down with the United States without precondition. We’ve made this clear I don’t know how many times: willing to sit down without precondition to talk about de-escalation of tensions and denuclear- — denuclearization of the Peninsula.
He hasn’t taken us up on that offer. So we’re going to continue to make sure that we’ve got the requisite military capabilities in place.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. A couple more. Go ahead.
Q Back on Haiti, Trudeau seems to be rejecting the idea that military force is a way to stabilize Haiti. So, will you urge him, will the President urge him to reconsider?
MR. KIRBY: As I — I think I answered before, we’re going to talk about Haiti. And we’re going to talk about all the things that we got to continue to do for the Haitian people and for security there on the — on the — on that part of the island.
And as I said, any discussion about the use of military forces has got to be done — obviously, it’s got to be resonant to sovereign decisions that nations who might be contributing military forces to make, but also it’s got to be consistent with the needs and the requirements both of the U.N. and the Haitian government.
And I just don’t think we’re at a point right now where we can answer that question definitively.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you. I wanted to see if I could get your reaction to some news coming from Venezuela. On Monday, the President, Nicolás Maduro, announced an extensive corruption investigation on the state oil company PDVSA. And as a result, 19 people — 19 officials have been arrested, the oil minister has resigned.
Has the U.S. been following this? And more broadly, how would this affect Chevron’s activity in the country? Thank you.
MR. KIRBY: So, we certainly support efforts to root out corruption, certainly including there in Venezuela. And we’re going to continue to monitor the situation as it develops.
As for Chevron, I would note that we provided targeted, time-limited sanctions relief to support efforts to restore democracy and alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people.
Venezuela’s state-owned oil company will not receive profits from the sale of oil, as any profit must go to the repayment of debts to Chevron.
And then for any more details, I’d refer you to Chevron.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, in the back.
Q Can I follow up on the — sorry, you said that you support these kinds of investigations. Do you think is a credible investigation coming from President Maduro?
MR. KIRBY: We — we would expect any investigation to be to be transparent, to be thorough, and to be as independent as possible.
It just started, so I don’t think we’re going to grade the homework here before it’s done. But — but we would urge Venezuelan authorities to do this in a very accountable, transparent, and credible way.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. And thank you, John. There’s been considerable scuttlebutt about the damage that was inflicted on the Nord Stream pipeline.
Now, last fall, Jake Sullivan said he believed, and I quote, “it was an apparent act of sabotage,” and he supported investigations.
It’s been six months now. Has there been any progress on a government investigation? And will we be reading an official account of Nord Stream 2 in any way?
MR. KIRBY: First of all, I applaud you for the appropriate use of the word “scuttlebutt.” (Laughter.) It is a great Navy term.
Secondly, I think as Mr. Sullivan mentioned, there are three, now, national investigations being done into the Nord Stream 2 explosion by three of our — of our allies. We are not going to get ahead of that. That work is still ongoing.
We still do believe it was an act of sabotage. The United States was not involved in any way, contrary to some press reporting out there.
But we need to let the work of these investigators go on. And it needs to go on unimpeded and without any — without any influence or pressure from anybody else.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q No intention of impeding, but can you give us a ballpark when it might be done? I mean, within —
MR. KIRBY: Remember, you got three. You keep saying “it”; there’s three.
MR. KIRBY: And each of them are being conducted independently by three different nations. And I think we need to let them finish their work. I don’t know of any timeline. You’d have to go to — to their — their national investigative bodies to find out.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jon.
Q Thank you, Karine. John, prior to Xi’s three-day visit to Russia, China described this visit as a “peace mission.” He still hasn’t reached out to President Zelenskyy. How would you describe his three-day visit?
MR. KIRBY: We would not describe it as a “peace mission.” We’d let these two leaders characterize it in their own words. What — what I’ve said still holds.
You know, we noted that — that they said they were standing up for the U.N. Charter and for sovereignty. And, you know, we agree with that. And if China really wants to — to be helpful in that regard, they should be urging President Putin to get out of Ukraine.
Here we are the day after, and Mr. Putin is launching more drones and missiles into Ukraine. So, I don’t know if President Xi delivered that message. But if he did, Mr. Putin ignored it. If he didn’t, then, you know, you got what you got today.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Two more.
Q Thank you so much, Karine. I have two on TikTok. The first is: The administration has supported the RESTRICT Act, which would clarify the executive branch’s legal authority to ban TikTok. Is there anything the CEO could say tomorrow that would convince the White House that that isn’t necessary?
MR. KIRBY: I certainly am not going to get ahead of his testimony or how he wants to characterize his company. The President really, as you rightly noted, has been very consistent about our concerns in terms of Big Tech, and particularly some social media applications, and that includes TikTok.
So, again, with the CFIUS review on — underway, there’s not a whole lot that I can talk about right now. But — but we’ll watch — we’ll be watching and monitoring his testimony.
Q The administration has requested that the Chinese owners in the app divest their stakes. Have they responded to that request?
MR. KIRBY: You’re referring to a press report that — that I — I am not in a position to confirm one way or the other.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Last question.
Q I wanted to follow up on TikTok. Obviously, you’ve expressed again today the national security concerns with the app. Why then did the President agree to appear in TikTok videos as recently as, I think, St. Patrick’s Day?
MR. KIRBY: Again, we have not changed our national security concerns about the app. It’s not on — it’s not for use on government devices. And I don’t have anything more for you on that.
Q But does it send the wrong message if the administration is weighing a ban or could in the future have to weigh a ban?
MR. KIRBY: We have been very consistent about our concerns over TikTok. There’s a CFIUS review underway. I know you want me to tell you more about this, but I’m just not going to get ahead of that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much, Admiral.
Q John, can you clarify in the —
MR. KIRBY: Great. Thanks, everybody.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
You had your —
Q I’ll ask you to clarify.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You had your chance. (Laughs.) You asked him a question.
Q Then he made news afterwards.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I probably won’t go beyond what he said, then.
All right, just have one thing at the top and then we can get going.
As I’m sure you all aware, and I mentioned this earlier in the week, this week we’re — we use this week to show how the MAGA House Freedom Caucus budget proposal will be a five-alarm fire for hardworking Americans.
Today, we’re revealing how their extreme proposal would ship manufacturing jobs overseas and undermine workers.
And here are some examples of how it would do that: reverse investments by President Biden and congressional Democrats and American manufacturing; deny 750,000 American workers job training and employment services; reduce investigations and targeted inspection so 135,000 workers would lose an average of $1,000 in back wages that they are owed.
That’s a sharp contrast with the President’s Investing in America agenda. That economic strategy is bringing supply chains to America, supporting workers and small businesses, investing in innovation, and fueling a manufacturing boom in communities that have been left behind.
The private sector has invested more than $300 billion in manufacturing under President Biden, and the Inflation Reduction Act will create millions of jobs with shovels are re- — with shovels are already hitting the ground.
Republicans want to reverse that progress and undermine American manufacturing workers.
And, with that, Aamer, you want to kick us off?
Q Yeah. First thing, I just wanted to see if you could offer a little bit of clarity on the Afghanistan — remarks of the after-action review that’s coming out in mid-April that Kirby just referred to. Is that the hotwash that Jake had referred to, going back to, basically, in the midst — right? —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — in August 2021?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I —
Q Is that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is —
Q That’s what we should be —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That — that’s what you should be expecting in mid-April.
Q Okay. I guess, if you could just add a little bit of meat to the bone. Why — it’s — I guess, for — I’m not turning down this review coming out —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q — but why did — why did it take so long?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’m not going to get into the specifics on — on the process or the timeline of it. I know that Jake had talked — you guys have asked him about this many times. And I — my — I would say that we wanted to make sure that we were — you know, take the time to get this right.
It is an important question that the American people are pr- — an important review that the American people need to know about. And we wanted to make sure that we got this right.
Not going to get ahead of NSC or our team here, on the review. But you could expect it, again, as — as the Admiral said, in mid-April.
I’m just going to leave it there for now.
Q And the Fed said today that financial upheaval stemming from the collapse of two major banks is likely to result in tighter credit conditions and weigh on economic hiring and inflation. Should Americans expect an economic slowdown because of the banking system?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m going to start with what I normally say about the — the Fed, is — just first and foremost, the Fed is independent, and we do not comment on — interfere on their policies. We want to make sure — the President wants to make sure that we give them the space — give the Fed the space needed to make their decisions on monetary policy. So, I’ll say that.
One of the things that I’ll just repeat that — that — that the Chair — Chair — Chair Powell said, which was — and I quote — “Our banking system is sound and resilient, with strong capital and liquidity.”
So, I’ll just leave it there. I won’t go beyond what he said.
Q Finally, just — do you have any reaction on Florida Governor DeSantis expanding the rules that forbid classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. It’s wrong. It’s completely, utterly wrong. And — and we’ve been very cry- — crystal clear about that, when it comes to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and other — other actions that this governor has taken in the state of Florida.
But make no mistake: This is a part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the country of legislations that are anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans, anti the community in a way that we have not seen it in some time.
And so — and it’s not just the LGBTQI+ community. We’re talking about students. We’re talking about educators. We’re talking about, just, individuals.
And so, the President has been very clear, this administration has been very clear: We will continue to fight for the dignity of — of Americans, for the dignity and respect of the community, of opportunity that should be given to students and families in Florida and across the country.
So, again, this is just plain wrong, and we’re going to continue to speak against — speak out against it.
Go ahead, Mary.
Q On the economy, does the President still have the same level of confidence that he’s had that the U.S. will get through this banking crisis, get through this high inflation without going into a recession?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President has complete confidence in — in — in the process, in his — in his economic policy. If you think about it, when we look at — when we look at how strong the economy is, it’s because of the President’s work, what he’s been able to do: building an economy from the bottom up, middle out.
And you see that with — with the — with — with the jobs that’s been created — more than 12 million jobs just last month. In the jobs report, we see — saw 300,000 jobs created. And — and that continues because of the work that this President has put forward, because of these economic — these historic economic policies that have — that have passed under this administration.
So, we do not see — because of what I just laid out, we do not see a recession or a pre-recession. We see a strong economy, and it’s because of the work that this President has done.
Q And just, on another topic, has the President been briefed on the shooting in Colorado today? And has the White House been in touch with officials out there about this shooting?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know this kind of just occurred as I — as I was walking out, so I wasn’t to touch base with the President on — on if he’s been briefed. I did see him earlier, I just didn’t see him right before this briefing.
Our hearts go out to the families of the two school administrators in Denver today and to the entire school community. Too many communities are being devastated by gun violence. Denver Public Schools said today that school officials have confiscated at least 10 guns from students already this year, and that’s just in Denver.
From Columbine to Parkland to Newton [Newtown] to countless other tragedies in — in between, our schools are too often scenes of gun violence instead of spa- — safe spaces for our kids to learn.
And we — I know many of you feel that. I have a kid. I know many of you have a kid — have kids. And so, this is devastating to continue to hear.
Last week, the President, as you all know — some of you all traveled with us out to California — announced yet another executive order aimed at taking action to address the scourge of gun violence. And he will not stop fighting to keep our communities safe and guns out of dangerous hands.
You got to remember, this is a President who took — who has taken historic steps when it comes to executive actions. And he was able to do another one just last week, as I just mentioned.
So, the President continues to believe that Congress must also step up and they must also act. It’s time for an assault weapons ban. It’s time to close loopholes in our background check system. It’s time to require safe storage of guns.
And as the President said in the State of the Union, Congress needs to do something. It is time — way past time for Congress to do something.
And I’ll leave it there.
Q The Federal Reserve Chairman said today that inflation is still too high. Does the President agree?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President has always said that he’s going to do everything that he can to make sure that we work every day to lower costs.
He has always said, when it comes to his economic plan, the number one thing that he wants to do is lower costs for Americans. And that’s why the Inflation Reduction Act is so important. Lowering — lowering costs for healthcare, lowering energy costs. And he’s always going to continue to work and take — and take actions to make sure that we’re doing that as much as we can in a different — in different ways. And you’ve seen the policies that he’s put forward to deal with that.
So, look, one of the things that Jerome Powell did say about inflation: “Good…” — “Goods inflation’s been coming down now for six months…housing services is really a matter of time passing.” And that came from the — from Jerome Powell — Powell earlier today.
Q Given all that, the price of goods is still high.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Americans are paying about $372 more a month, according to one estimate, than they were a year ago. What does the President say to Americans who — everything that you say is happening on paper — for them, paying that amount of money a month is still a lot?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And we say and we’ve been saying we understand what the American people is feeling. That’s not lost on us. That’s why we’ve made it a priority to do everything that we can to lower costs for Americans.
There’s junk fees. You’ve heard this President talk about junk fees that we’re trying to deal with, writing — writing out executive orders or hearing from different agencies on how we’re dealing with junk fees, which is going to matter to Americans.
Again, when you think about healthcare costs, lowering the cost on healthcare.
And this is why we’ve made the contrast with what Republicans are trying to do. You see Republicans in the House saying that they want to lower Medicare — they want to cut — cut Medicare; they want to cut Social Security — which is actually going to hurt working Am- — working Americans.
And so, we’re going to call that out and protect — would protect what taxpayers pay into. They want to — they want to repeal Inflation Reduction Act, which, by the way, would add to the deficit and also increase costs on healthcare for Americans.
So we’re going to continue to do the work. It never stops today or tomorrow. This is something that’s going to be consistent in this administration.
Q And just quickly, I know that earlier this week you said the President still has confidence in Jerome Powell. Now that we see these rate hikes, does that confidence remain?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He still has confidence. The President still has confidence in Jerome Powell.
Go ahead, Kristen.
Q Karine, thank you so much. There’s a bipartisan bill
that’s floating between Senators Rick Scott and Elizabeth Warren that would essentially require an independent inspector general to oversee the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Is that something that the President would support?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We — we just don’t have a position on that. I understand the question, Kristen, but we just don’t have a position on that at this time.
Q Is it something that you will be taking a look at? Is it something that the President will be speaking to (inaudible) about?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we normally, when it comes to legislation that — that — that’s created at the — in the House or the Senate, we always take a look. But we just don’t have a position to share on this at this time.
Q As you know, a number of economists were calling for a pause in rate hikes. Is there any concern about the action the Fed took today?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’re just going to be very mindful from here. Again, the Federal Reserve is independent. That’s what the President believes. We want to always give them the space to make the decisions that they need to make on — specifically on monetary policies. And so, we’re just not going to — we’re just not going to comment.
Q And let me just ask you one more, Karine. President Biden said several weeks ago that he plans to visit East Palestine. Can you update on — us on that? When is he going to be visiting East Palestine? And why hasn’t he yet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, plans are underway, discussions are underway. Just don’t have anything locked in at this time. The President — the President’s words stand on — on what he shared about at some time going to visit the community.
Again, this is a community that the moment that we heard, on February 3rd, what occurred in that community, hours after, on February 4th, early — the wee early mornings of that day — the President and his team — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation and other agencies acted right away, and they were on the ground. And the directive from the President was to make sure that we make that community whole.
Q So you’re saying he still plans to visit. What’s your message to residents there, lawmakers there, including Democrats who say he should have been there already?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President has had his team on the ground since day one. I just laid out: Hours — hours after we heard about the derailment, we had agencies, administrators or leaders in the different agencies, regional leaders in the different agencies on the ground, taking action and making sure every day to — to make sure that the community is going to be whole.
That is the message that the President is sending to the East Palestine community, is that we are going to be there until they are whole again, and make sure that we hold the company responsible — Norfolk Southern — accountable. That is also in- — important. We are cleaning their mess, but we are going to make sure that they are held accountable.
Go ahead, Steven.
Q Thanks, Karine. The messaging from TikTok increasingly is focused on the number of users, now up to 150 million. The TikTok CEO is expected to stress that in his testimony tomorrow. Is the app now so popular that it’s too late for these national security concerns to be properly addressed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m just going to repeat what you heard from my colleague, and what I say all the time from here is: We’re just not going to comment any further on this app. We’ve been very clear about the national security risks that we think that it poses. There’s a CFIUS review, so we’re going to let that go underway and let them do their review. I’m just not going to speak beyond — beyond that.
Q Can I just ask one follow-up on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Absolutely.
Q Is there any way you can shed some light on why the CFIUS review process has taken as long as it has? I mean, this is now — the former President tried to ban TikTok more than two years ago, and the app has only grown in popularity since. What’s taking so long?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I can’t speak to their process. It is — they are doing this independent review, or this process is being clearly done by them. It’s a separate process. I’m just not going to speak to the timeline or how long it takes.
I can say this — and you’ve heard me say this last week: We support the passage of RESTRICT Act. And the whole point of that legislation is to take a tailored and risk-based approach so we protect Americans — so Americans feel protected, their freedom of speech is protected, while protecting, also, national security.
So I’m just going to leave it there for now.
Go ahead. I know I meant to call on you earlier. Go ahead.
Q Thanks. Chairman Powell, in his remarks today, referenced the role that social media played in the fall of the Silicon Valley Bank and suggested that regulations might be necessary to — might need to be updated to reflect this sort of new environment. Does the White House agree with that assessment by Chairman Powell? And would there be regulations in that space (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to go beyond what — what the Chairman said. I think we’ve been very clear about the role of social media and reforming Section 230. I just don’t have more to share on that. I’m not going to elaborate on what he said.
Q And just one other quick one. The White House has yet to appoint a Vice Chair for the Fed. Sort of given the last few weeks and the turbulence, is there any sort of timeline that you could share with us? Or could you share whether there’s been any heightened, I don’t know, urgency in filling that role?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to preview to you — to you today. The President has taken this — this open appointment very seriously. As soon as we have something to share, we certainly will do that.
Go ahead, Jeremy.
Q Thanks, Karine. Today was the first time since the Fed started raising interest rates that they didn’t say that they anticipated ongoing increases. So, I’m wondering, would the White House welcome an end to interest rate hikes in the future?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, this is something that the Federal Reserve decides on. We’re going to give them the space to make these monetary decisions, to make these monetary policies. That’s what the President believes. We’re certainly not going to interfere or get involved in that process. So I’m just going to leave it there.
Q And then your second-favorite topic, which is TikTok. I —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: TikTok is the topic today.
Q This is — this is without — without getting into —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q — the CFIUS process or any —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q — of the sensitivities there. There’s a new poll that says that a majority of daily TikTok users oppose banning the social media app. And so I’m just wondering, as this administration has talked about the national security concerns around this app — and this is really a communications question — does the President need to do a better job of explaining to Americans, explaining to TikTok users why this app represents such a national security concern?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, our job is to make sure — and the President’s job is to make sure that Americans, when it comes to national security, is protected. We’ve been very clear about that. We’ve been very explicit about our concerns with the app. Again, there’s a CFIUS review.
We understand. We understand the popularity of TikTok. That is something — we get that. But the President’s job is to make sure, again, that their — Americans’ national security is protected as well. And that’s what you’re seeing this President doing.
We’re going to wait — wait for the CFIUS review. We’re going to let them do their process. It’s an ongoing process, a separate process from here. And so we’ll see what — we’ll see where they land.
Q But is there more he can do to convey those national security concerns? Because, clearly, it’s not getting through to a significant portion of the population.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I understand your question. I think the President’s main focus is Americans’ national security, and that’s what you have seen him do from this administration.
Q And then, real quick, on Phil Washington, the administration’s nominee for the FAA: The Senate Commerce Committee abruptly delayed his committee vote. This comes nearly eight months after Phil Washington was initially nominated. The FAA has now been without a permanent director for nearly a year amid a lot of turmoil in the aviation industry.
And so, I — I guess I’m wondering why the administration is so intent on digging in on a nominee who, after eight months of being nominated, still doesn’t seem to have convinced senators that he deserves this position.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we think he has the qualification. When we — when I say “we,” I mean Phil Washington — he has the qualifications and the experience for this role. The President believes that, and — and that’s what our administration believes as well.
He has led the Denver International Airport, one of the busiest airport in the world; managed large transportation safety organization; and served as a Command Serg- — Sergeant Major in the military.
This is a role with a key safety mandate. And that’s what we believe. We believe that he is experienced for this role.
I’ll say one more thing. We’re going to continue to urge Senate to move swiftly on his confirmation. And we heard today from Senator Cantwell herself — has made clear that Phil Washington’s nomination will receive full — full consideration from the committee. And that’s coming from — from the senator herself.
Go ahead, Nandita.
Q Thanks, Karine. Bank CEOs have been meeting in D.C. since yesterday to discuss possible scenarios to help First Republic, which continues to be in focus. Can you tell us any details in the conversations White House officials have been having with industry executives and bank CEOs, specifically on First Republic?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have anything to preview today on — or for you on any conversations with bank CEOs at this time.
Q Will there be communication that you will put out?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have any — a readout at this time or anything to share with you.
Q And — and specifically on meetings with investors that we understand, you know, administration officials and White House officials have been having: We know Warren Buffett, you know, has had — has met senior administration officials. We just ran a story about Jamie Dimon. He has a planned meeting with Lael Brainard. Are they talking about throwing a lifeline? Are they talking specifically about First Republic? Any details on, you know, what the White House is talking to investors about?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have any details of those conversations, these private conversations that they’re having. Don’t have anything to share on that. So, I’m just going to leave it there.
As it relates to the First Republic, again, I’m just not going to comment on any specific institutions from here.
Because of the actions that we took last week — earlier this week and last week — Americans can be confident that their deposits are safe and banks have access to resources to meet depositors’ demand.
That’s what you’ve seen from Treasury. And that’s what you’ve seen from the regu- — the banking regulators at the direction of this President. And we’re seeing that deposit flows are stabilized. But I’m not going to comment about any specific institution from here.
Okay. Go ahead.
Q I have a question on a review on G- — GI Bill funding. It found that the University of Phoenix has received more GI Bill funding than any other institution of higher learning. The University of Phoenix has had a history of government scrutiny for misleading military veterans.
Is there any cause for concern for this — the amount of funding it’s receiving, especially as the President has made an effort to rein in predatory colleges?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I have not seen that report, so I’m not going to comment specifically on — on what’s occurring there locally. What I can say is the GI Bill is something that’s incredibly important for our military veterans. And so, I just don’t want to go beyond a report that I haven’t read — I haven’t read.
Q And then I have another question. So, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has installed more than 130 miles of razor wire on federal land in the Rio — in the Rio Grande canal. Abbott didn’t seek the required permits to do this and has kind of — and doubled down on — yesterday on Twitter, saying that they are not going to ask permission to do this.
Does the administration plan to sue Texas, like they did in Arizona over former Governor Doug Ducey’s makeshift border barrier?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a question for the Department of Justice. I don’t have anything to share here.
But more broadly on — on the governor in Texas, these — this is another political stunt that we’ve seen from him over and over again. Inste- — instead of dealing with an issue in a way that can actually have results, he continues to have political — do these political stunts. And it’s unfortunate, because what it’s going to do is actually hurt the communities that he is supposed to represent.
And this is a President that has — when it comes to working to secure the border, dealing with a real issue, he’s taken actions. He catched — he’s catched record levels of fentanyl because of the work that he’s done, because of the record levels of funding. We support 23,000 agents, the most ever working to secure the border. And we taken — we take more than 8,000 smugglers off the street.
We want solutions. We want real solutions that they are going to matter to the American people. And that’s not what Governor Abbott is all about.
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. Two topics, if I can. Was anyone at the White House ever flagged about issues with Silicon Valley Bank ahead of its collapse, given that the Fed was aware of the risks for more than a year?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That part, I — I don’t have an answer for you on that. I can tell you that — I’m trying to — it’s been about two weeks. So that Friday — right? — we were made aware of what was occurring. And — and, you know, we took action. The President directed the Treasury and the banking regulators to take action. And they came up with a solution, as you heard from the President, that following Monday.
And they have continued to take action to make sure that depositors are — are — continue to be whole and that — and that, you know, our banking system continues to be resilient. And so I just don’t have any conversations to read out.
Q In terms of the timeline of —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The timeline — I don’t have a timeline to —
Q — how early on it might have been —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I can tell you about the timeline for the last two weeks. But beyond that, I don’t have any timeline to share.
Q And the second topic: Can you give us a preview of the event the President is doing tomorrow on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act? Who’s coming to that event? What’s his message? Is there any new announcements that you can say?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’ll –- we’ll have more to share later today on that event for sure.
I’m going go around. Go ahead, Gerren.
Q Another question on the Affordable Care Act. The ACA notably led to a significant reduction in the number of uninsured Black Americans. However, there are still millions of Black Americans who don’t have insurance, and there remains a significant gap between uninsured Black Americans and white Americans. Healthcare policy experts say that states expanding Medicaid could significantly close that gap.
Can you talk to some of the inner workings in the administration to push states to expand Medicaid? And are there other ways that the administration can ensure that a reality is — there’s a reality for Black Americans to have affordable healthcare?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. And this is why the President’s economic policy is what it is, which mean- — meaning that he has had a policy — again, make sure that we have an economy that is from the bottom up — from the bottom up, middle out, and not leave anybody behind. Communities that you’re talking about right now, the African American community, and other communities across the country.
But I’ll say this: As — we — we’ve seen some progress made under ACA by lowering healthcare co- — prices, increasing the number of Americans with insurance, and capping out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare. That is something that this administration has worked on this last two years.
And it — it brings me back to the Inflation Reduction Act — right? — how important it is, especially for many members of the Black community, when you think about — when you — think about Medicare being able to –- to — to lower cost for — for our seniors across the board, when you think about the insulin cap for Americans. That’s what you saw from the Inflation Reduction Act, for seniors in particular.
And then you saw Eli Lilly what they were able to do and others what they were able to do for all Americans. That’s because of the — of the work that this President has done.
And so we understand that there’s still millions of people that need a lot more. But because of the President’s economic policy, because of his understanding of how — what healthcare means to people, his personal understanding of that, he has done the work to make sure that people who are normally forgotten are not.
Go ahead, Peter.
Q Thank you, Karine. House Oversight says they’ve got bank records showing a Chinese energy company paying three Biden family members through a third party. What were they paid for?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’m — I’m just not going to respond to that from here. Look, we have heard from House Republicans for years and years and years how — how — the inaccuracies and lies when it comes to this issue. And I don’t even where to begin to even answer that question because, again, it’s been lies and lies and inaccuracy for the past couple years. And I’m just not going to get into it from here.
Q Okay. Xi told Putin at their meeting, “Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together.” What do you think that means?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You would have to ask them.
Q Okay. President Biden said: To lower inflation, we should trust the Fed. Now the Fed is saying that rate hikes won’t be enough to quell inflation. Why does he still trust
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: They’re an independent agency. The President has always said that. He wants them to be independent. He wants to make sure they have the space to make these monetary decisions. We are not going to interfere. We are not going to get involved. And I’m certainly not going to comment.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Thank you, everybody. All right, see you guys on Monday.