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tv   White House Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  January 21, 2022 4:15pm-4:50pm EST

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if an interrogator thought someone was being cagey and not forth coming with the information, they would call in one of these two fellows and they'd say o', you don't want to talk to us? how about if ivan here takes you to the soviet union? maybe they'd like to hear what you have to say. that worked incredibly well both at fort hunt and in europe. >> robert sutton and his book "nazis on the potomac," sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's "q&a." listen to "q&a" and all our podcasts on our new c-span now app. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we're funded by these television companies and more including comcast. >> you think this is just a community center? no, it's way more than that. >> comcast is partnering with 1,000 community centers to
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create wi-fi enabled centers so students can get everything they need. >> comcast supports c-span along with these other providers, give jug a front row seat to democracy. >> at today's white house brief, press secretary jen psaki answered reporters questions about a range of things including voting rights information, covid testing and intel's announcement on a new production plant in ohio. the briefing runs about a half-hour.
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jen: hi,ern. a couple of items at the top. the president worked to boost the supply of semiconductors and rebuild our supply chains here at home. these are steps that are going to help slow price increase, create good-paying manufacturing and construction jobs across the country and strengthen our economy. for three decades, america has lost semiconductor manufacturing to countries like china but since president biden took office that tide has turned. he's prioritized investing in critical supply chains, and set out a clear path to do with so with his executive order he was brought together labor and business to get it done in. doing so we catalized the industry's outlook and gave them confidence in america again including intel's announcement today of the $20 million investment in ohio and a teal of over $# 0 billion invested since he took office. this is the power the president is using to make it in
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america -- to support his made in america vision putting it into action. those sorts of investments have never been more important, particularly as we see a global shortage of chips driving up prices of cars here in america. as we know it accounts for about one third of the inflationary pressure with auto prices contributing a big part of that. today's announcement is the latest progress in our efforts to ramp up manufacturing, clear up bottlenecks with critical goods like semiconductors. earlier this year, samsung, texas instruments and others announced investments in semiconductor manufacturing. congress can increase this progress by passing the act which the president long championed and calls for action on today. this puts historic funding behind unclogging supply chains, research and development and vapsed manufacturing in every corner of america and invests $52 billion in making more chips, something that's vital to address our supply chain.
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and lower inflation. tomorrow marks the 49th anniversary of the supreme court's landmark ruling in roe v. wade, reproductive health care has been under extreme and relentless assault ever since, especially in recent months testimony bns nearly 150 days since women in texas has been denied these rights. we are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care and will defend it with every tool we have. that includes working to pass the women's health protection act and codify it into law. the administration has taken a range of important actions from strengthening the gag rule to strengthening the family program. today an additional title 10:00 grant was announced and there'll be other announcements from h.h.s. as well. this is the moment for committing to health care, defending the constitutional
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right laid out by roe. i'll try to get through as many people as possible and otherwise i'll be here in my office. reporter: the u.s. presents a certain response to russia next week is it willing to offer something that goes beyond what's been stated particularly when it comes to russia's ban on future nato expansion? jen: we'll put in writing the surgeon we and other allies have about russia's actions as well as for ideas about how to strengthen each other's sense of security going forward. there are several steps we can take that are being discussed. all of us, russia included, to increase transparency, to build trust, we are coordinating with our allies and partners and anticipate that secretary blinken and prime minister lab ruff will -- labruv will be
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meeting again. as secretary blinken said today he made clear to foreign minister labruv that there are certain issues and fundamental principles the u.s. and our allies are going to defend, including the right of the ukrainian people to rate their own future. we've said there are certain proposals that will not be viable. we will of course be responding as you noted and i expect the president will continue to discuss that over the next couple of days with his team. reporter: i want to ask another foreign policy question. the strike in gemmen -- in yemen today. 70 people dead after the saudi-led coalition strike. what's the administration's immediate reaction to this strike? and does this cause any
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reconsideration of sales to saudi arabia? jen: i don't have any prediction of that at this point in time. obviously we have a long history of a relationship with saudi arabia, one where we raise issues where we have significant concerns on human rights. and on a range of issues. and one where we have had a long security relationship that's been in the interest of the united states. in terms of this specific strike and reaction, obviously any time there's a loss of life, of innocent life, that's a tragedy. and we are mindful of that, focused on that. obviously you know our focus and the president's focus, which is -- from the very beginning, he established new interim guidance concerning the use of military force related to national security operations. that's how we operate here as the united states which i think is reflective of his view. but certainly the loss of life is always a tragedy. and again if there's anything new on our relationship i'm happy to get that from our
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national security team. reporter: one last domestic. tax season. the reduced staffing levels, less funding authorization from congress, inch r.s. tasked with overseeing funds for pandemic relief programs, many 2020 refunds haven't been processed. how will the president ensure that this year's returns will be processed in a reasonable amount of time? jen: a lot of this predates this administration and i think that's important for people to understand. as the treasury department and i.r.s. have said, the i.r.s. right now has an unacceptable backlog in customer service that people are receiving is not what the public deserves. the president is mindful of that. many of those challenges are related to the pandemic but also years of underfunding from congress. the agency hasn't been equipped with the resources it needs to
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serve taxpayers in normal times, let alone in a pandemic. the president prioritized ensuring that i.r.s. gets $80 million in stable funding that it needs to serve the american people. as he said in december, he american people deserve an equitable and accountable government that meets the needs of its people we call on congress to act now to give the i.r.s. the funding it needs to meet its goals. nerms of addressing the backlog it's going to take work, it's going to take time. i think people need to understand they need fund bug they need -- there's a long history here that's led to this moment. reporter: secretary blinken is leaving geneva. it doesn't appear he has a firm commitment from russia not to invade ukraine. another -- is another summit necessary at the leader level? do you anticipate president biden will be having a summit with president putin?
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jen: secretary blinken met today with foreign minister labruv to share serious concerns of the situation. he warned we are prepared to respond to any action against ukraine with swift and severe action. ultimately this has always been putting the choices up in front of president putin and the russians, right? it is up to them to decide which path they are going to choose. secretary blinken also convey wed don't expect -- didn't expect any breakthroughs today. the president will meet this weekend at camp david with his national security team to discuss the situation. some will be virtual. some will be there in person. we'll also continue to consult with our allies and partners and we'll respond next week in writing, as i conveyed. in terms of the president and his role, you know, i think part of that will be discussing with secretary blinken and his
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national security team what the appropriate next steps are. the president always values leader-to-leader engagement but we'll determine if that's the appropriate next step. reporter: is he open to that? jen: he's always been open to that. that may not be the next step but if that's a step that's reck menned and we think would be effective at this point in the discussion of course the president is always open to leader-to-leader engagement. reporter: secretary blinken told ukrainian tv whether it's one russian soldier or 1,000 crossing the border, it's an attack on ukraine. is the president -- does the president agree with that statement? jen: that's what the president has instructed secretary blinken to convey and the message he's conveyed to president putin. reporter: it seem there is could be progress on the electoral count act. some said out could be a vehicle
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to get preclearance passed is that something the white house thinks is a possibility? is the likelihood of that what the president will be pushing for? jen: i don't have any -- jen: i don't have any prediction of process or vehicle. 19 republicans have supported voting rights in the past duh did not when given the opportunity. the electoral count act is something we are open to but it's not a repolicement for and there are many components of the voting rights legislation that are vital to protecting people's rights in this country. including the fact that we know that voter suppression largely impacts communities of color across the country and one of the components of the voting rights legislation the president has been fighting for is requiring states that have a history of voter suppression to get approval to change their laws. it also -- these voting rights legislation that we've been fighting so hard for would also ensure there's a fundamental base line of what people can know and expect
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if you're a mother of three you should have many places to drop off your ballot and vote. this is not a replacement for that. in terms of a vehicle or what's possible i don't have anything to read out to you. reporter: it seems like there are going to be discussions during break between lawmakers, bipartisan lawmakers about the electoral count act and where they can find consensus. was the president's role given he's been very clear he'll be taking a new strategy in terms of reaching out to the american public? jen: the president can walk and chew gum at the same time. he will be spend manager time engaging with, talking with the american people about how far we've come and where we need to go from here he has a tall inned and experienced teem that's engaged in a range of conversations with congress. i can tell you from spending a lot of time with the president and in the oval office with him that sometimes he just picks up the phone and calls a member of congress or senator when you're sitting there. no one is suggesting he's not going to engage with members.
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what we're conveying is that as you look at the time he's going to spend over the next couple of month, it's not going to be hours and hours behind closed doors in the oval office. reporter: why would the u.s. agree to submit written answers to russia given that it could undermine or be used to discredit the u.s. negotiating position, and is the u.s. asking for written responses from russia? jen: no one sees it that way, from the u.s. negotiating team or from our partners and allies around the world. i think what we're engaged in here is seeing what's possible as it relates to diplomacy. as i noted, it's not written answers like we're filling out a q&a. we're also going to con say what our concerns are. and reiterate a number of strong statements we have heard the president and secretary blinken convey publicly. this is just the part of the diplomatic process and diplomatic negotiations and has been a standard part of the process often with countries and nations where you have
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agreements. reporter: does the president have a plan to evacuate americans from ukraine? jen: i know there have been a range of reports out this morning which is probably why you're asking, jackie. i will say that one, we are already at a level 4 travel advisory for ukraine for covid and have advised that u.s. citizens have been advising that u.s. citizens should be aware of reports that russia is planning for significant military action against ukraine we do conduct rigorous contingency planning as we always do in case any security situation deteriorates in any country around the world. the state department does that assessment and i would point you to them for any steps they may take. reporter: is there an effort to get a handle on how many americans are in ukraine? in afghanistan that was an open question. jen: it's an open question around the world. we don't put a chip in americans when they go to countries around the world. people can register with the state department. or they may choose not to
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register. or there might be people in any country who are dual citizens who haven't lived in or never lived in the united states. but the state department would certainly have the number in terms of americans who have registered with the state department. reporter: is the president aware he was caught on a hot mic? and why does he appear to be dismissing proactive deterrent? yoip the president doesn't dismisthat idea considering he's taken a lot of steps including supporting and approving the -- several sanctions put out by the treasury department a couple of days ago. i would note the united states has delivered more security assistance to the ukraine, and we committed $650 million to ukraine last year and since 2014 $270 billion. these deliveries are ongoing including today. the president has authorized the
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presidential drawdown authority to expedite lethal aid and meet ukraine's emergency defense needs. we have authorized third party transfers allowing u.s. allies and partners to provide u.s. origin equipment from their inventories for use by ukraine. specifically the state department has given the go-ahead to russia anti-armor missiles. finally in identifying additional equipment held in d.o. deform inventory that can be delivered under the excess defensive articles among other mechanisms we notified congress of our intent to deliver m-17 helicopters. i would say the president is hardly wait, actions are clear on that front. reporter: i want to ask you about something you said yesterday. you told me in response to the ukraine question, it's important to remember who the director is here. russia is building up military troops and putting out misinformation in the ukraine. why does it seem u.s. officials
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are so concerned about being seen as escalating things if russia has created the crisis? jen: i think we want the american people and the global community to be clear-eyed about propaganda. they are pushing propaganda about ukrainians. there is propaganda pushed here in the united states. this is about a potential foreign conflict. it's a about the buildup of troops by one power that is a much larger military power than the other on the border and we want to be very clear with the public about the realities and facts. reporter: on a different topic, on crime, yesterday the manhattan d.a. clarified his memo about downgrading certain crimes and he said armed robberies, for instance, will be prosecuted, violence against police officers won't be tolerated, clearing up some confusion about how the office intended to prosecute crimes. does the white house have a reaction to that or welcome that kind of clarification given that
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these questions do keep resurfacing? jen: i don't have any reaction from here to the decisions of a local district attorney -- district prosecutor or district attorney, d.a. i would say the president -- and he'll talk about this, he'll talk about crime, you asked about this yesterday, buttic you can expect to hear him talk a little bit about crime during his remarks late they are afternoon. the president believes that no one in this country should worry about whether it's safe to ride the subway or go -- or the bus or go to work or walk home at night. that's why he's put more cops on the beat, has step up efforts to get guns off the street and invested in anti-violence programs. he's got $300 million more for cities and more to bolster law enforcement. we've been working with local mayors and leaders on this but i think the president's record speaks for itself. reporter: what you said about
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the agreeing to put the response in writing. are you saying the world shouldn't view that as a concession to russia? jen: i think you should see what it has to say. we've been very clear about what we're not negotiating on, which is the sovereignty of ukraine, which is this question continuously raised about ukraine's rights to pursue joining nato. that's up to nato countries to make that decision. you heard the president, tony blinken and others, say time after time we are not making decisions about ukraine without ukraine. but negotiating takes many forms. it takes forms where you're in person. it takes forms where there's an exchange of written materials. that's standard and has been for decades. >> yesterday again, minority leader mcconnell said that the u.s. should send forces to shore up nato not if and when putin escalates but now before it's too late. what's your thoughts? why wait?
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jen: we work in close coordination with our nato partners and ally and respond to what their needs are. we've been very clear and the president has been clear that we will support whatever their needs are should they have security needs but i don't having any more to predict at this point in time. reporter: and one quick domestic question. yesterday you talked again about the idea of chunking up parts of the build back better. jen: a bad word. reporter: splitting apart, breaking apart, seeing if there was -- there were parts that could be voted on. any thoughts on the proposals you feel positive about? universal pre-k? where do you feel you might get 10 republicans? jen: is there a proposal where there's 10 republicans? i'm not aware of one. maybe there is. very some -- there are some senators out there saying they support different components. senator romney said he supports or is open to some component of the child tax credit.
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he's not the only one. are there 10 republics they can get to support that? great. let us know. we're happy to have a discussion about it. that's not what the president was talking about the other night. what he was talking abis getting as much -- though we're open this to that. what the president is talking about is we have 50 votes in the senate. we're going to get as much, a big mountain-sized chunk, whatever you want to call it, as much as we can of the build back better agenda that we can get 50 votes for. there's clear agreement on some key goals, right? lowering the cost of child care. negotiating the price of prescription drugs. lowering the cost of elder care. making sure the wealthiest americans in companies have to pay more. the unfairness of the tax system. we have to figure out how much of that we can get and get approval for. reporter: sounds like your focus is still on a reconciliation partisan package. jen: absolutely. it's not that it's not, you've covered the hill before, are
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there 10 republicans supporting? we'd be happy -- it's a mystery. listen, if there are 10 republicans who want to come support the child tax credit or something else great. they're welcome. let's have a conversation about it. but you know, that's not -- i don't know why -- none of us know why they're ceding ground on supporting lowering the cost of child care to us but so far they have. reporter: over the weekend insurers started paying for at-home tests or being open for reimbursement but medicare is not. i know medicare recipients can go through their doctors and some through advantage programs can get reimbursed, other members of the program can't. i'm wondering why not? this seems like a group that would be -- you would most want to sort of be vigilantly testing before going to gatherings. they're older tand therefore most at risk for covid. especially since you said yesterday that you had all the money you need fight covid right now. why isn't the government paying
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for these tests? jen: there are a couple of things happen, you glossed over some of them. but let me give you specifics. state medicaid and chip programs are required to cover at-home covid tests. c.m.s. has also issued guidance to states to effectuate this requirement under medicaid rules a lot of people are eligible for medicaid out there. and chips program. and people who are covered by original fee-for-service medicare, medicare pays for covid diagnostic tests such as p.c.r. and antigen tests. we're also exploring the best way otion to keep medicare beneficiaries safe and healthy. in addition to p.c.r. tests, rapid p.r. tests, and rapid point of care antigen tests, are available at 20,000 sites across the country. also sent 50 million out to community health centers and rural health centers. we are exploring a range of options. i'm not ruling anything out but there are a range of ways that
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insurance, not just private insurance, have been covering not just in doctors offices but at-home tests as well. reporter: the federal reserve issued a report yesterday saying they're weighing the possibility of launching additional u.s. currency. they said as part of the report they were asking for public feedback and would be engaging with lawmakers so i know that you normally defer to the indpoafns the fed but this is an instance where they're openly soliciting advice and consultation. i'm wondering, this is something that impact ours competition with china. impacts especially low-income americans. does the white house have an opinion on this? jen: i think it's unlikely we'll weigh in from here. as much as they've asked for public comment. but i'll check with our economic team. reporter: there were internal memos but said you guys are putting off executive actions
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for defenders and police department reform. can you confirm that that's coming and give any time lieb about when we'll be hearing from the president on that. jen: on clemency the president talked about, we have talked a little bit about the president wanting to deliver on his commitment to consider clellen -- clemency requests for non-violent drug offenders. that's ongoing. i don't have anything to preview in terms of timeline. absolutely the fact that we had every intention of doing that is accurate. he has every intention. on police reform, you know, i think we said at the time that we're holding back on executive action because we wanted to give space and room for the bipartisan negotiations to move forward because of course federal legislation is -- would be the preference because it's permanent. but we have been considering and looking at, i don't have anything to predict for you in terms of timing but we have be and are looking at that through the policy team. reporter: the president on
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wednesday was talking about keeping schools open, referenced the tens of bostles dollars sent out in the program and said not every district used it as well as it should be used. what state or school district is refer -- is he referring to there? he's mentioned it twice. reporter: thank you for that. i would say, karen, what people should understand first is 98% of schools are open currently. it fluctuates a little bit but 98% as of today. school districts for the most part are spending federal relief funding, by and large, across the country. part of what the president's message he wanted to hammer home when he spoke the other night, as you said he talked about this a little bit, is to spend the money right now for any school that has some left or maybe some hasn't spent all of it. i'll get to that in a moment. it's important for any school districts to note that different school districts spend it in any way.
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desert sands in california, they're investing in safety measures like ventilation. a district in montana is increasing pay and providing bonuses to retain educators and taf. there's lots of ways to use and spend it for those who haven't. but we're continuing to exert pressure anywhere that hasn't. so in terms of an example would be florida. where they have done little to distribute money. to -- little to no steps to distribute money across the state and to school districts. now part of it is you have to write a plan for how you're going to keep schools open to get the third trawnch of must be but right now that's an example of a state that could do more. reporter: you said we're exerting pressure. the mungos to states. how is the white house exerting pressure? jen: the department of session the primary conduit. they've been working with school districts and states across the country from the beginning. reporter: is there a way to have
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a public accounting so americans can see where the money is going? jen: we of course work to ensure there's no waste, fraud, and abuse and we're closely in touch with how it's being spent in states. i can check and see if there's a public accounting. reporter: it's been four days since has been live. how many have been ordered and is the plan to be sent out next week? jen: they will be sent out very soon. i don't have a number on the on the number ordered. hopefully we'll have that next week. reporter: on build back better does the white house need that to be passed by state of the union? is that the goal? jen: we have not set a deadline on that. we want to get it done as quickly as possible. reporter: does it need a different name? speaker pelosi suggested that jen: we'll see. do you have any ideas?
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reporter: actually -- [laughter] on the electoral count act, the president has had conferrings with lawmakers on the hill. here's the question. it's a bipartisan group right now. is he going to let them work on their own for the miami? or is he going to engage we the manchin-collins group now? jen: our team is engaged with every component of legislation being discuss odd the lil including this i don't want to run out. reporter: right before the briefing a federal judge in texas ruled president biden's mandate for federal workers to be vaccinated not approved. jen: 98% of federal workers are vaccinated, that's a remarkable number. i would point you to the department of justice as it sounds like the news just broke. we are confident in our legal authority here.
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reporter: an event being -- and intel today is the white house concerned with intel and china? jen: we have spoken about concerns we have had. i'm not familiar with the specifics of their engagement in china. i'd have to check with our team. we have not held back, i should say, if we have concerns about engagement in parts of the country with human rights abuses. we also do at the same time work with a range of companies even when we voice our concerns about issues that we don't agree with. reporter: the plan for the $20 billion semiconductor facility in ohio, how can this be an immediate solution to the chip shortage if they won't be fully online until 2025? jen: our view is it's an important step forward in ensuring we have manufacturing capacity here in the united states, that we don't have a chip shortage in the future we also, the president called for the passing of useca, i
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reiterated at the top of the brief, so we can get that $52 billion in semiconductor investment to get more going now. reporter: what's the holdup with useca in the house? jen: i think speaker pelosi made clear she wans to move it forward. sorry, we got to wrap it up, guys. reporter: does the president like meatloaf? jen: "i would do anything for love"? he might say that. >> on the anniversary of roe vs. wade anti-abortion advocates met on the national mall and marched to mark the ruling which legalized abortion in all 50 states. watch the 49th annual march for life education and defense fund rally tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span, online at or full coverage on our video app,
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>> next, associate attorney general gupta and charles ramsey, former police chief for washington, d.c. and philadelphia, join mayors from around the country for a u.s. conference of mayors discussion on law enforcement initiatives and reforms. this runs 50 minutes. >> we're back. we're turning it over to --


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