tv White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Holds Briefing with Reporters CSPAN March 9, 2021 7:03pm-8:00pm EST
[background noises] 's director watching c-span2 your unfiltered view of government. crated by america's cable television companies and today were brought to by these television companies who provide cspan2 to viewers as a public service. today's white house briefing with press secretary jen psaki takes questions and reporters on the divided administration pandemic response and the recent incident with diverse families dog major. this is just under an hour. >> hey everyone. hello.
joining us today the deputy director of the national economic council for financial reform and consumer protection. he was formally the managing director of the corporate power program at the roosevelt institute. he also served on the congressional oversight commission for the cares act, a position he was appointed to bite chuck schumer at last. previously was a top economic advisor to senator warren during her 2020 presidential campaign and senior counsel for banking and economic policy in her senate office. he will give you some -- deliver some brief remarks, take a few questions and thank you so much for joining us. >> good afternoon. earlier today the president had the chance to visit a couple of small businesses here in town would one is a locally owned hardware store that's been around for 150 years. the other leases part of the
same spaces in urban farm that was found eight years ago for like other small businesses across the country, these countries help serve their communities but the hardware store sponsors little league teams and hold events with the cub scouts sprayed the urban farm serves local of households and supplies food for local farmers markets. unfortunately a lot of companies like this with fewer than 20 employees were left out of previous rounds of small business relief. too many mom and pop businesses intimate minority owned businesses were left behind while larger well-connected businesses got funds quickly. the president of the vice president had made a top priority to ensure that this round of small business relief is distributed more equitably. in the companies that may have not gotten really before of a real shot getting relief now. so today we want to share some early results of how this administration is already making good on that commitment. on monday, favorite 22nd the president announced important changes to the patient protection program which is a primary small relief business the federal government office.
these changes were intended to ensure mom-and-pop businesses, minority owned businesses, businesses and rural areas and other underserved categories of business got the help they needed. these changes included instituting a 14 day period, starting on wednesday february 24 during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees could apply for relief. the idea behind the exclusivity pair was to give letters time to focus on reaching out smaller businesses including businesses that they may not have worked with before to make sure the smaller mom-and-pop shops had time to get their applications in and approved. at the same time as the president's announcement the administration long day hold government efforts what small business owners and lenders know about this opportunity for the small business administration launched a series of conversations reaching thousands of community leaders through webinars every day. white house officials held calls that ended up reaching thousands of small business owners directly. and the administration partner with congress to help members spread the word about the
changes and conduct outreach with their constituents. so now we are reaching the end of the two week exclusivity period the results are pretty striking. when comparing data from the exclusivity. with the ten days preceding the period, we have seen a significant increase the number of loans to the small firms, to minority owned and women-owned firms and the first time ppp participants. specifically we have approved more than 3000 loans for businesses with fewer than five employees at the increase compared to the pre-exclusivity. we've approved nearly first-time loans to borrowers which represent a choi 5% increase for that is my 20% increase in loans to minority owned businesses. and that translates to an additional 1000 minority owned businesses accessing relief every single day of the exclusivity. period despite a 14% increase in loans to women owned businesses which translate soon additional 600 owned businesses accessing relief
every day. there's 12% loans approved to businesses in rural areas. but that is not all pretty favorite 22nd the present also announced several other changes to access ppp and as of last friday the sp has implemented all these changes per already started to see some early momentum from those changes as well. 30,000 loan applications have previously been flagged because a small business owners were delinquent on the federal student loans. remove that restriction and can advance this applications. tens of thousands of already commit entry increase the amount available to sole proprietors and self-employed. so want to take this opportunity to say to the small business owners out of this probably poignant time selecting the program producing 20 of money available to go to sba.gov contact your lenders if you qualify for relief. would you continue to spend outreach and spread the word about efforts and what's available to small efforts.
of course our view is that is not enough. that is why the $50 billion in additional aid for small businesses. it provides more than $28 billion in grants to support hard-hit small restaurants to the restaurant revitalization fund which is a bipartisan proposal in congress. we provide $15 million for the smells most severely affected businesses especially those who serve lower business areas. provide $10 billion to restore the successful state small business credit initiative which leverages private dollars to provide the working capitol for small businesses. and it creates a community navigator program that small businesses can get help picking out how to actually get the relief they are entitled to even if they do not have a team of lawyers and accountants on-call. so that i'm happy to take some questions. >> that is good. see >> something related to overseeing on the hill. there is an increasing
movement among senate democrats to get extended unemployment insurance and stimulus checks added to the next vote for education. were senator durbin his sign onto it. this was needed both of these things are needed to keep people on policy. i'm wondering if you agree with that from an economic standpoint? >> number when the american rescue plan has been documented by several independent experts as providing a true tremendous amount relief all by itself to lower income and middle-class families. between the economic impact, the changes to the child tax credit, there is going to in a norma's infusion of relief for lower income and middle income families. as you know and as the president has said, this is only step one. up to us to build back better agenda. think were still trying to think through the aspects of
this are going to be. we have received a letter from the senators who talked about potentially including recurring relief payments in it. we are looking at the idea paid were still looking at the contours of what's going to be in that next package. reporter: thank you. earlier today the. [inaudible] is that something could elaborate on? i'm also wondering if you have any thoughts on inflation with stimulus. [inaudible] >> on the president statements i believe he was referring in the previous round of ppp in the previous administration there were documented problems from the inspector general and the small business administration. tens of thousands of companies that were not eligible for pdp ended up receiving it. in part that was because the previous administration did not put any checks in place on the front end. in other words when the application was received to make sure these are eligible companies. we have changed that.
there is now significant upfront checks to make sure any application that is submitted meets the criteria for the program. at the same time that we have instituted those we are still processing nearly one 100% of applications within 48 hours. we've tried to find the right balance between making sure folks are not eligible don't get the relief. but the people who are eligible get it as as possible but we think that's a significant change from the previous administration. on inflation is something the president said as secretary yellen has said, we are monitoring carefully. our belief has been from the beginning at the risk of doing too little to help american families outweigh the risk of doing too much. that said, we will always be carefully monitoring inflation we will continue to do so going forward. reporter: jute give us a broad sense of where you think we will be with the economy at
the end of this year? secretary yellen suggested employment but what about right now? >> so moody's which is an independent wall street firm projected the planted ringback additional jobs for the end of the year. i think that is pretty reasonable forecast. there are as we said there's a significant amount of relief going out to lower income/middle income families this bill paid as you said the vaccine rollout is accelerating. obviously that in many ways is the key to accelerating the economic recovery. we are optimistic about that this good credible independent experts that suggest will be making a big step towards getting these 10 million jobs we are short to back by the end of the year. >> how much debt is too much debt?
>> will look the way to look at it is not in terms of the sheer amount of debt. but what are the payments you have to make on the debt. that is why the interest rates are relevant to this. we are in extended period of historically low interest rates, not to get too wonky there are some structural factors that interest rates are going to remain permanently. there's pressure keeping them down over the long-term. we are carefully monitoring this. the president has made clear that being fiscally responsible is a priority of his. he is also made clear that right now one of the best things that we can do is find that these investments that's a good see economy moving more quickly. and in the launch of growth helps down the debt levels as well. >> i promise you'll come back soon. >> as administration considers what elements are going back to the build back a better
plan. with citizenship for undocumented integrative immigrants including essential workers included in that break-in you describe the white house current thinking of whether to provide that current provision the plan? >> that is a priority of the president prato think we've made a decision by the jungle better not include that. honestly the short term or focus on training american rescue plan into law. and that's going out telling the american people how it's helping them. we will continue to work on putting together the next step, the recovery part that the president has previewed what we are not quite there yet. >> thank you so much like you for joining us will have you back in the future. [laughter] >> okay. as the president said last week, once the rescue plan is signed we will be able to start getting payments out
this month. treasury and irs are working tirelessly to make that happen. the irs and bureau of physical servers are building on lessons learned from previous rounds to increase the number of households that will get electronic payments which are substantially faster than checks. and number of you and obviously the american people of s a lot of good questions on how this process works. without we would answer some of them. for households who have already filed their income tax return for 2020 the irs will use that information to determine eligibility and size of payments. for households who have not yet filed for 2020 the irs will review records from 2019 to determine eligibility and the size of payment. that includes those who use the non- filer portal for previous rounds of payments. she is a question i think someone asked sort of about yesterday paid for tax returns of direct apposite or bank account information the irs will be able to send money electronically. and for those households which
treasury cannot determine a bank account paper checks or debit card to be sent. of course not taking anything for granted pretty pushing to the finish line here. but you all have asked some really good questions about the implementation we wanted to get ahead of. this what means for typical family of four with parents making under one or $50000 year combined with kids in school age eight and five that family of four will get $5600 in direct payments. and because of the extent it expanded tax or they will get $2600 in addition to upper that's $8200 more in the pockets of this families a try to weather the storm on top of additional money to get back to school safely, and help those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. another scheduling announcement for all of you on friday morning present viable meet virtually with his counterparts in the quad. prime minister of japan, prime minister of india and prime minister of australia formed
in the aftermath of the 2004 synonymy and formalized in 2007 the quad has met regular at the working and foreign ministry level part however friday be the first and friday will be meeting at the leader level paired president biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements, speaks to the importance he placed on close cooperation with our allies and partners. the range of issues over these customer expect to be exit test i should say facing the cold global community from a threat of covid to economic cooperation into the climate crisis. earlier today final peace here, or covid coordinator had a weekly governor with calls from across the country. he announced pfizer would get increased to 15.8 million doses going out to states, tribes and territories. along with 2.7 million first doses going to pharmacies. he also highlighted the progress he made as a nation
on vaccinations. i generate 20th there's a seven day average of 890,000 shots per day. today we are averaging 2.17 million shots per day. it's obviously significant increase. finally our commitment to collaborating work with governments for both parties and encourage focused on masking, social distancing while her vaccination program continues to ramp up. repeat question on what the influx of young people and migrants in gentle unction general the southern border. is there any sense really two months into the administration early on you very much stressed humanity and trying to move away from the last administration. this is message data be tweaked at all? do you need to say that about
humanity but you also are probably not going to be able to stay. >> humanity will be of value from the president on down. they're continuing to work to convey to people in the region that this is not the time to come. that the majority of people who come to the border will be turned away. which is factually accurate. for we are really talking about in terms of being let in our unaccompanied children. that is a policy decision it was the most humane approach to dressing but very difficult circumstances in the region. that means there are more children, kids under the age of 18 coming across the border. >> i don't equity to put new labels on what we've already conveyed as challenging. what we have conveyed is a top priority what our teams are working on every single day. offices a trip to the border this weekend they are working
every day putting in place policy that will help address and make sure were keeping these kids safe and moving them across the border patrol facilities to shelter so they can have access to educational resources, health resources, mental resources legal aid et cetera. >> go-ahead. reporter: there are reports out there migrants have tripled it to 3200. is that number accurate? >> i'm not one to confirm numbers from here. the department security others or oversee the programs the gauge of the halves of the border. apple said there couple of reasons. i know were asked better change in policy for their couple of reasons we think people are coming to the border. of course individuals are fleeing countries were individuals and families are, they are fleeing prosecution,
they are fleeing violence, they are fleeing economic hardships and other things. the region is also expensed to hurricanes in the public for the express and the conditions in the circumstances that are facing individuals. all this is taking place during a global pandemic that impacts other countries economies. just like it did in the united states. their risk of factors. >> why once you confirm that member that's a very important number. >> we've been very clear there is an increase there are more children coming across the border then we have facilities for at this point in time break those of us are tracked by the department of helmet security. i'm just suggesting you talk to them about specific space bent we talked enable not confirm the numbers. >> i would encourage you to go back to them and talk to them. were not going to confirm this from the white house as their department brace back are you encouraging those to release the numbers in the spirit of transparency? smedley certainly encourage transparency but but talk
about important is the root calls here won't do for a standpoint to try to address the challenges that we are facing in that these are facing as they come across the border. >> in with relief to expect to see the president travel perhaps after he signs this bill >> after the broken rescue plan assigned customer would certainly recognize that we cannot just sign a bill again, we are not taking anything for granted paris getting across the finish line but will need to do some work and use our best voices, including the president, vice president at others to communicate to the american people the benefits of this package but how they can benefit from this package but how they can have access to checks, that's the reason i wanted to do that at the top it how it will help schools reopen site to give concert and expected present to be doing some travel provide more details on that the coming days absolutely go-ahead. maggie checked with the need of getting these 3000 potential children out of the border patrol facilities and into dhs facilities that are
meant to house children. how quickly cannot be done? and what is been done right now to make sure it happens? subject to approval me walk you little bit but those aren't what the team is working on now. i think the reason these kids are been let in a talked about that a bit. the majority people come to the border are still turned away or expelled under title 42 pizza families, adults et cetera. but children i'm just level setting here. when children are apprehended at the board there process as you know through customs and border patrol facilities with air held until i can be sent to hhs shelters with the children have access to education services, medical mental health services. we talk about this a little bit. but to reiterate the reason why 70 challenges we've had as a covid-19 pandemic had initially severely limited the amount of children that can be taken to hhs with facilities and what could happen.
working on how to address that. does guidelines for hhs facilities will allow capacity to be returned to pre-covid numbers all while taking other steps like increased ventilation, additional masking and other measures to keep these children safe. one of the things we are doing is implemented, working to implement these recommendations we can make sure there's more kids and safely need these facilities were also working to expedite, or look at additional facilities over can certainly house people and make sure they have access to all of the resources that i noted. and finally, we are looking for ways we can expedite the way that we bet and process families and sponsor host families were these kids can go. because of course want to go from cbp facilities with bear working to expedite that we do not want them to be in these
facilities want them to be in shelters as quickly as possible. where they can be processed. we are looking to expedite the weight we bet families and sponsored homes as well. reporter: last week you were not willing to confirm new facilities might be brought online and virginia homestead florida, can you give us any new details about how many mentally new facilities might be repurposed and how quickly? >> that's a good question i do not have any to confirm for you and new facilities overlooking a lot of silty's and part of the reason is where we want to have more kids able to transfer from cbp facilities to the cdc guidelines help us ensure there are more kids able were also looking at facilities but no decisions have been made at
this point. spaghetti thing about diplomatic efforts are taking place but in the biden administration on the central american countries to find ways to deter people from coming to the border? >> that's a good question a key part of our strategy. we asked roberta to joyce in the briefing room hope to that sooner rather than later those are great questions i think should be an excellent person to address. >> but in the meantime no information about any conversations the u.s.? >> i was conveying was a commitment to get she would expert that is involved in these discussions who can help answer your questions. i also conveyed it as a key priority for us their conversations going on at a number of levels through us security team a state department of the importance of conveying clearly this is not the time to comfort work with countries and how to address the root causes and as you know but everyone may not know one of the key proposals in the president's immigration
bill is additional funding to address the root causes for that something where certainly communicating about pretty think what i heard from you specific questions about engagements for a lot of those beat bret up from the state department. i've invited roberta come look for to having her here soon. go ahead. >> airlines have been urging the administration for a travel passport so americans can begin traveling the country again. is that something the administration is considering doing? you think it's a good idea to make this kind of guidelines? >> vaccine passports as i believe it they're calling it. we realize as many americans get vaccinated questions will come up and they're arty starting to come up as to how people will be able to demonstrate they are vaccinated per think it's important to them only about 10% the american population is vaccinated at this point her to privacy made progress but we have more work to do. right now our focus as the
u.s. government is on getting more people vaccinated. we'll think about how people can demonstrate they are vaccinated as we get more people vaccinated professor putting her energy and resources toward bird we also know that the private sector as you noted in your question is concerned and has raised this. we believe they and not for profits will be driving this initiative in all likelihood moving forward. >> the administration to sow was involved in setting the standards would qualify someone for vaccine passport? >> i think vaccine passport has been said that designated or an idea coming from the airlines paid what i am conveying as there are lots of ideas they'll come from the private sector nonprofits. we welcome those. but our focus in the federal government is getting more people vaccinated. that is where we feel we can use our resources best. >> on another subject this report today that u.s. and china are trying to set up some sort of high level diplomatic meeting in alaska to try to reset relations but is that any kind of meeting
like that, zappe play underwriter consideration right now? >> i have not heard or seen those reports i do nothing to report out to you. have see the president on february 10 we will look forward to seeking opportunities for engagement we do not have any details finalize or confirm at this point. >> is there any further updates? >> not the website as ready. i'll save them for next week. or possibly next week is the president chose it date yet or work with congress i went to address the congress wasn't going to look like whether it's virtual or in person? >> i do not have any updates for you on that. certainly as soon as we have that confirm we're looking forward to the joint address for looking at that with congress. the address the present be delivered on thursday night during his first primetime addressable talk about covid, within their is a country in the what the path forward
looks like we will focus on the next address once we get to that. : : : >> when people should expect them? >> it's something our treasury team is working on and working to expedite, of course, and that's a priority to the president. one of the steps they're taking is working to insure more people can get them electronically because that, of course, speeds it up. so let me just give you a little bit more detail here, caitlin, in terms of how it will work. so the first batch of payments will go to all taxpayers that provided direct deposit in their 2019 or 2020 returns followed by people who didn't but the irs has payment information from other programs. and, of course, as the president said, once the bill is passed, we'll be able to start getting the payments out this month. but we're waiting for them to
get all their systems in place, and we're hoping to have an update. >> any update on whether or not he wants his signature on there like former president trump demanded? >> well, we are doing everything in our power to expedite our payments and not delay them, which is why the president's name will not appear on the memo line. the checks will be signed by a career official at the bureau of fiscal service. this is not about him, this is about the american people getting relief, almost 160 million of them. >> so he did not want his names to appear on the checks. >> he didn't think that was a priority or a necessary step. >> okay, thank you. and on immigration, you said -- [inaudible] dhs secretary does not want to call it a crisis but instead refer to it as a challenge, but right since it is 3200 una accompanied minor children, that's higher than 2019 when it was around 2600 then. at that period there were kids sleeping on floors, they were
overcrowded facilities. so when his delegation traveled there, did they see that? people sleeping on floors and overcrowded facilities? >> well, first, one of the reasons is because we have a different policy than the last administration. we're not turning kids away at the border, unaccompanied children. we're also, of course, not ripping them from the arms of their parents. and so we know, we knew, we know there is going to be the an increased number of kids coming across the border. there are several steps as we've talked about a little bit that we're working to address that. the team, of course, we put out a readout of their meeting. they are going to do a meeting, of course, and give the president a full rundown of what they saw on the ground, a trip that he asked them to take, and i'll let them do that before we have more specifics. and we, of course, are committed to assuring there's transparency and access for cameras to the facility as well. >> do we have a timeline on when reporters will actually be able to go in and see? that was helpful last time, showing people what it looked like inside there.
>> yeah. >> so is that going to happen within the next week, or is it going to be pushed further down the road? when can cameras actually get inside the facilitiesesome. >> we're committed to doing that. i don't have a timeline for you at this point in time. we want with to do it with respect for the privacy of the people staying there, people who are being held there but also abiding by covid protocols, and so we're working through some of those steps. >> okay. my last question is did president biden agree that the travel restrictions should not be changed for people who are fully vaccinated like the cdc -- >> the cdc guidance, that was a determination made by the cdc. it wasn't driven by or directed by the white house. and as rochelle, dr. walensky has said, it's just a first step. as more people are vaccinated, they'll look at ways to ease additional restrictions. but there were some reasons, as she outlined, that travel was not a part of it according to what the health and medical experts at the cdc determined which include the impact of
travel, you know, 10% of the population is vaccinated, 90% is not. it still are remains, there's still concerning impacts of travel on people who are not vaccinated and also because we are still tracking and looking at the impacts of variants. so they will look at this again, it was just a first step on guidelines as she has said, and i'm sure they'll look at a range of factors as more people in the country are vaccinated. go ahead. >> yeah, a couple questions. to follow up on the border, why has this administration been so reluctant to call it a crisis with the huge uptick in the number of migrants being detained including thousands of children? if that doesn't qualify as a crisis, what does? >> because we think it's most important to explain the unsubstantive policy of what's happening, what the root causes are of why these kids are coming and why -- what we're doing to try to solve what is a very challenging circumstance at the border. that's the information the american people are looking for, so that's what we're working to provide. >> on a different note, can you
clarify for us what happened with the president's dogs? if there's some reports that one of them was involved in a biting incident. can you clarify exactly what happened? >> sure. major, the president and first lady's dogs, members of the family, are still getting acclimated and accustomed to their new surroundings and new people. and on monday the first family's younger dog, major, was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual which was handled by the white house medical unit with no further treatment needed. it had been previously planned already for the dogs to be cared for by family friends in delaware during dr. biden's travels to military bases this week. and the dogs will return to the white house soon. go ahead, sabrina. >> thank you, jen. two questions for you. first off -- [inaudible] to bring back earmarks as a part of an effort to build support for -- [inaudible] does president biden support the
return of earmarks, and are there specific restrictions he would seek to prevent the kind of as in -- abuse as in the pas? >> we don't have an infrastructure bill, and in terms of what the negotiations will require, we are happy to have that conversation when it's appropriate. but right now we're focused on the american rescue plan, so i'm not going to get ahead of the legislative strategy for a future bill. >> [inaudible] position on earmarks more broadly? >> i don't think anything has changed about his position. he obviously was in congress for 36 years, but in terms of what it will look like or what restrictions would be on a new package, i'm sure he'll hear from and listen to members of both parties about their views on this issue, and we'll certainly factor it in as we put together a new -- his next step in the build back better ageneral da. >> okay, second question -- [inaudible] threatened to jail employees at facebook and twitter if they do not comply with the government's data requests or requests that they take down accounts associated --
[inaudible] part of an ongoing for months now. what is the administration's view of a foreign government threatening to jail employees at u.s. companies? >> well, certainly, we believe in freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of expression, and it is a concern that the president and others at the highest level raise at every opportunity even with allies, with adversaries. but in terms of specific conversations about this, i expect the state department would be closest to those engagements. go ahead, karen. >> questions on the cdc guidelines yesterday. obviously very good news for families. >> yes. >> but the message that we heard from officials was all about families. we didn't hear anything about scoop reopenings -- school reopenings. if vaccinated grandparents can be with their vaccinated children without masks, how do you apply that same standards to schools? >> well, these guidelines -- i don't want to get over my skis here as a non-- i am not a doctor. these guidance were specific to
recommendations made for people's homes, right? so, karen, you and your his and your kids are -- your husband and your kids can engage with and have dinner with your neighbors when everybody is vaccinated. these were not guidelines for a workplace, whether it is the white house or a business or a school. there were guidelines provided, of course, for schools. and i think the cdc is, sees it as imperative that they take different circumstances with different -- looking at the very specific engagements, the number of people, the risks as they factor in what guidelines they're going to put forward. >> >> [inaudible] as more people get vaccinated -- [inaudible] >> well, they will continue to review. as dr. walensky has said, as more people are vaccinated, there's a greater opportunity to make rems that will allow people -- recommendations that will allow people to spend time together, to hug grandparents,
cousins, teachers and, certainly, that's all of our hope. but they look at all the factors including the impact of variants as she talked when she rolled this out and make recommendations based on how to keep the public safe. and, you know, there is a concern that has been raised by all of our medical experts about not taking our foot off the gas here. we are close, relatively so, given the last year we've been through, and they put out these guidelines because they feel comfortable that, you know, about the data they have as it relates to vaccinated individuals. but, of course, they need to continue to analyze data, look at health and medical advice, talk to the doctors at the cdc before they make additional recommendations. >> -- vaccinated, how will he change his behavior? will he see grandkids more? will he see family in a different way than he was doing before these guidelines came out? >> you know, of course, the prime minister abides by the cdc -- president abides by the
cdc guidelines, but he also believes he needs to be a model for the american people. this is a great question, i haven't talked to him about how it will impact him personally in that way. i'm happy to venture to do that, or all of you can do that next time you have the opportunity. but i notice -- and this was ad good question someone asked, i think, over the last 24 hours about how it impacts us here. and, you know, the white house is a place of work, right in it is not a private home, and so we will continue to wear masks, we will continue to be tested, we will continue to socially distance until our health and medical experts tell us otherwise. go ahead in the back. >> thank you, jen. so two follow-ups and first about the -- [inaudible] can we see this as a prelude to reengaging the tpp? >> i wouldn't see it as a direct connection to that, no. this is an opportunity to engage
at a, engage at a -- newbie. [laughter] at a high level, at an even higher level than has been done in the past with key partners to the united states, japan, australia. they're key partners -- and india, sorry. they're key partners to the united states. there's a range of issues to discuss and work together on whether it's addressing the climate crisis, whether it's working together to address the global pandemic or, of course, economic cooperation. but i wouldn't see it through that prism, the president has been clear about his commitment to rebuilding the middle class and looking at any trade engagement through that prism. >> okay, thank you. as for jordan, question about -- [inaudible] eventual discussion in anchorage. i have my colleague from the japanese news agency is asking how will the biden, more
broadly, how will the biden administration plan to engage with the chinese? are there talks under -- >> direct talks with the chinese? the president has spoken with president xi already. so, of course we remain engaged directly through, at a range of levels, and that will continue. >> like a summit type of event? >> i'm not here to predict a summit. of course there'll be a range of engagements that the president and his national security team will have with china and other countries in the region in the months and years ahead, but we are directly engaged. there are a range of issues we, of course, have talked with the chinese about through those engagements. we don't hold back about our concerns, but we also look for opportunities to work together. >> jen, just a week -- actually, eight days precisely before the president entered the white house, the previous administration put cuba back on
the list of state sponsor of terrorism. does the president share this view? >> well, we've talked about this a little bit in here before, and nothing's really changed, but i'm happy to reiterate our policy. our policy as it relates to cuba will be governed by two principles. first the, support for democracy and human rights will be at the core of our efforts through empowering the cuban people to determine their own futures. second, americans -- especially cuban-americans -- are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in cue da. a cuba policy shift is not currently among president biden's top priorities, but we are committed to making human rights a core pillar of our u.s. policy and committed to carefully reviewing policy decisions made in the prior administration including the decision to designate cuba as a state sponsor or terrorism. >> very, very last question, i promise. >> sure, go ahead. >> it's about the border. >> okay. >> this is not the time to --
[inaudible] isn't that sending the signal that there will be a time to come, just wait? >> well, first, to be clear, unaccompanied children who we want to keep safe, we want to insure they are in good shelters where there is access to educational services, legal services, health services, we want to insure they are quickly moved to vetted families or sponsor homes, many of them don't stay because they go through the process of having their application reviewed. we just want to keep them safe because they are kids under the age of 18. and when we say it's not the time to come now, the reason is this is a, we are still digging our way out of a dismantled, immoral and ineffective immigration policy that was being implementedded by the last administration that was largely based around funding for a border wall. it's going to take us some time. and we do want to put in place, modernize the immigration system which means investigating in smart security, which means creating a pathway to
citizenship, which means funding and supporting efforts to address the root causes in the region. and we, as a part of that, we want to insure that there is effective processing at the border. we're not trying to close our borders. we are trying to create an effective, moral, humane system. it's going to take some time to do that. go ahead. >> jen, i'd like to ask -- [inaudible] immigration and then -- >> another dog question, okay. go ahead. >> just a quick clarification on the dogs. >> sure. >> can you confirm it was a secret service member who was bitten, and you also reassure that major biden will not be euthanized? >> i can assure i don't you of . i don't have details on the individual. i would encourage you to ask the secret service, but i'm not going to have more details other than that. >> on immigration you've said repeatedly now is not the time to come, but have you noted there's a distinction for una accompanied minors, that they'll be allowed in.
this is something that secretary mayorkas said last week, quote, loving parents, end quote, were sending 9-year-old alone. of course they're frequently -- [inaudible] migrants in transit and also in u.s. custody. so i still need a drilldown on the messaging there. do you think it's important to send the message to children that now is not the time to come and to their parents that it's not a, quote, loving act to send them? >> i think it's imperative that we send the message this is a dangerous journey. children don't make it. they experience very difficult circumstances on the journey. now, the circumstances in a lot of these countries is such that the parents feel that taking that risk is better than the circumstances they're living through. but we are very clear about this message in the region that this is not the time to come, that this is a dangerous journey, that we, of course, are focused on modernizing our immigration system and making it a system that can better process people
at the border, make it more humane. we are going to abide by our laws and continue to implement those laws, but i can assure you that message is being sent clearly in the region. >> now the not -- now is not the time to come for children as well. >> correct. >> a couple questions. you've been asked this many times about the sexual harassment allegations against him, i just wanted to confirm you have spoken with both president biden and vice president harris about the allegations. >> yes, and i've reiterated on their behalf that they believe all women should be heard, that they should be treated with with respect. there's an independent investigation, as all of you know, that is being led by the attorney general who named some individual lawyers will be in charge of that today, if i'm reading reports correctly. and, certainly, they respect that and believe that should move forward. >> -- speaking themselves about this, these allegations. >> i don't have anything to
predict for you on that front. i'm here to speak on their behalf, so that's what i venture to do on a daily basis. go ahead. >> first off, i have two questions. about dogs, we were promised white house cats. what happened to that? >> where is the cat? today is a good day for the cat. we know the cat will break the internet, but i don't have an update on its status. >> and has the president now ruled out nominating -- [inaudible] is she -- [inaudible] and he said neera tanden would have a job in the administration. where are we on that? >> neera only pulled herself out of consideration six days ago, if i'm doing my math -- seven days ago? sorry, if i'm doing my math correctly here. the president values her perspective and her experience. in terms of ms. young, no, we have not made -- the president has not made a decision about who he will nominate. he nominated her to serve as deputy director of omb which is an enormous job in the
administration, and once she's confirmed, she will serve as acting director of omb. but i don't have any updates on the timeline or decision making for the nominee. >> and people in the running for some of the ambassadorships -- [inaudible] has got the gig in london. are they going to make an announcement today? >> well, they would be incorrect. given the president hasn't made any decisions about any of those roles. go ahead. >> john kerry is on his first overseas trip in brussels right now. what is president biden hoping he's going to accomplish there? >> well, the president asked john, my former boss, to serve in this role because he knows about his -- he's very familiar with his personal commitment to addressing the climate crisis not just domestically but, of course, internationally which is the role that former secretary kerry playing. this is an opportunity for him to engage directly now that we've officially rejoined the paris climate agreement to have
discussions with counterparts, with officials that the former secretary knows well from his experience as secretary of state and working on these issues for many decades. i'm sure that he will be reporting back to the president when he returns. >> and kerry mentioned in his remarks that he wants to raise the ambition of the initial paris agreement. how much more ambitious than that agreement is the administration willing to go, and is there a timeline when you guys are going to announce the 2030 emissions target? >> that's a great question. i think we'll wait for the secretary to return from his trip, and i'm sure he'll have a conversation with, of course, gina mccarthy, the president, vice president and others and what there's an appetite for out there in the global community, but i don't have any predictions at this point in time. great, go ahead in the back. >> [inaudible] >> first time here, right? welcome. >> i'm a newbie as well. >> good, there you go. [laughter] >> about the american rescue plan, there are two far-reaching
matters, the child tax credit and the affordable care act subsidies that are -- [inaudible] there's been calls on the hill to make them more permanent. is president biden interested in working with congress to make them more permanent, and you could please address some of the criticism that those two measures have been getting that they are not in any way related to covid relief or stimulus directly. >> well, i would say if you're a family with kids that the notion that the child tax credit is unrelated to the economy is an absurd notion. i don't know who the critics are, but i would be surprised if they had small children. i would say the president talked about making the child tax credit permanent during the campaign. he certainly is open to continuing to look for avenues to do exactly that. he believes that benefits like the $3,000 child tax credit that is included in this package are benefits that help address what he and the vice president feel is a crisis which is the large number of women who are leaving the work force and have left the
work force since the pandemic started. so he will certainly continue to look for evidence on that. what was the other piece, i'm sorry, you asked about? the other one? >> the affordable care act. >> oh, of course. look, i think one of the things the president is committed to, has talked about, talked about on the campaign, i should say, when he ran, was strengthening access the affordable and accessible health care. so one of the things we did was reopened the period of time where people could apply on the, to get access to the benefits from the affordable care act. we've seen a huge, a huge influx of people who were not previously covered with health insurance do that. and he will certainly continue to look for ways to reduce the cost of health insurance, to look for ways to expand it, to make it for accessible, and certainly having lived, all lived through a pandemic, the need for greater access to affordable health care is pretty front and center for him and others in the administration.
sabrina. >> [inaudible] >> sure. go ahead. >> -- has spoken often about the need for a two-step rescue and recovery for the economy. he's held many meetings on infrastructure and said the recovery plan would focus on infrastructure, manufacturing and other issues. are you saying you're not sure there's going to be an infrastructure bill whenned asked about earmarks? >> well, no decision has been made yet internally about -- look, the president has not made a secret about what's in his build back better agenda. infrastructure's a part of that, and it's something he's had a long commitment to. he's also had a long commitment to investing in care giving, to investing in our manufacturing sector, to doing something about our tax system. so there are a lot of components of his build back better agenda. what i'm conveying is we're still in a policy process internally about what the next part of his agenda will look like and what the format, the size, the order will look like. so that's all i was conveying. but certainly infrastructure is one of the areas where he feels there's opportunity for
bipartisan support and for democrats and republicans to work together. go ahead. >> if i could follow up on that too, the president made overtures to republicans when it came to covid relief inviting many of them to the white house, and at this point you have zero republicans in the house or senate voting for this package. is there going to be similar effort to try to get republicans onboard if the next agenda item is an infrastructure package? >> well, we've already had two bipartisan meetings on infrastructure to tate as he's looking to gather ideas and hear from the democrats and republicans about how they feel. we can with continue to work together and rebuild the economiment i would say that -- the economy. i would say that while we don't expect or did not receive, i should say, to date republican votes for the american rescue plan, the individual -- the republicans in d.c. are loving in this zip -- living in this zip code seem to be outliers given the majority of people in the country, the majority of republicans support this package.
so maybe it's a moment of self-reflection, but the president will continue to leave the door open to work with republicans on his agenda moving forward. go ahead. >> this is a process question on the build back better -- >> okay. >> -- which is i know it's early days, but is the white house committed to getting bipartisan support for an infrastructure package, or would you -- [inaudible] the stage of moving that through reconciliation like you guys did the american rescue plan? >> well, the president's preference is certainly to work together in a bipartisan manner. that's part of why he's had two bipartisan meetings on infrastructure in the oval office. but we haven't made a determination about what's next in his agenda, and certainly we're not going to take that off the table in terms of path forward that congress may choose. go ahead. >> is there enough money to deal with the surge at the border, and has there been any discussion of invoking emergency finish. [inaudible] >> you mean in terms of opening additional facilities? >> [inaudible] >> it's a good question.
i'm happy to talk to our immigration team and see if that's part of the structural issue. it may -- as i understand it, part of the issue is finding appropriate facilities in determining what process steps can be taken to expedite the processing, but i'm happy to talk to them about that and get an answer back to you. go ahead. >> infrastructure bill package, there was a bipartisan push last year to knock down the payment of the top paid federal employees, ceos and -- [inaudible] who reportedly earned $15 million last year in compensation. there are democrats in congress who support this, the former president supported this, some conservatives do. does the biden administration believe an infrastructure bill should slash this $15 million compensation for -- >> i appreciate the opportunity. the president believes everyone should pay their fair share, but we don't have a bill that actually exists, so we're not going to talk about components that would be a part of it or not at this point in time. go ahead. >> at the risk of asking you --
[inaudible] a question from somebody who can't be here today, andrew fineberg, president biden has repeatedly spokennen about his -- [inaudible] desire for zero emission vehicles. the federal highway trust fund is funded by taxes on gas and frees -- [inaudible] does that mean the president will insist that any infrastructure bill will include the new funding source for it? >> i just am not going to get ahead of a bill that has not been designed, formalized, finalized, packaged in terms of size, scope or timeline at this point in time. okay. thank you, everyone. have a great afternoon. [no audio]
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