Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, July 16, 2021

The White House

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:20 P.M. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

Q Hello.

MS. PSAKI: Happy Friday.

Q Happy Friday.

MS. PSAKI: Brian Karem has got some sunglasses on. Everybody is ready for the weekend.

Okay, I have a couple of items for all of you at the top.

Last week, we launched the Supply Chain Disruption Task Force to monitor, engage, and act on current and emerging supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks.

This afternoon, the White House is hosting a convening of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse, and groups representing the full range of the homebuilding supply chain, from loggers and log- — and lumber contractors, labor leaders, realtors, and affordable housing advocates.

At this convening, these administration officials and key stakeholders will discuss strategies to address short-term supply chain disruptions in the homebuilding sector and how they can work together to address them.

I also wanted to note that yesterday, senior White House officials, led by Susan Rice and Julie Rodriguez, launched the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative announced by the President on June 23rd as part of his comprehensive plan to reduce gun crime.

The Community Violence Intervention is an evidence-based approach that’s been shown to reduce violence by as much as 60 percent. CVI prevents gun violence and crime in communities around the country before it happens by intervening in disputes early, and connecting potential perpetrators and victims with services and support to divert them — to divert them away from crime. It’s an approach that’s been embraced by an increasing number of law enforcement leaders nationally, as well as by mayors of both parties in cities around America. So this will be an ongoing initiative.

Also want to give you an update: I noted earlier this week that there have been 2 million people who now have access to affordable healthcare, thanks to the reopening of the — of the enrollment — special enrollment period.

Yesterday, we launched a “Summer Sprint to Coverage” campaign, leveraging robust paid media, increased community outreach, and more to get Americans signed up. This President Biden is urging Americans who need health insurance to visit HealthCare.gov or to call 1-800-318-2596, if they would prefer, to enroll today. We’ll keep talking about this quite a bit until August 15th, which is the end of the timeline.

I also have promised you that I would give you updates on interesting initiatives we’re taking to reach people, meet people where they are, as it relates to getting vaccinated. So, on Saturday, NASCAR will host the Get Vaccinated 200. They’ll have vaccines on site and will be encouraging vaccinations. This is the type of whole-of-country approach that is reaching people in convenient locations with messengers they trust.

Finally, a quick week ahead:

On Monday, the President and the First Lady will welcome Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein, to the White House. Their Majesties’ visit will highlight the enduring and strategic partnership between the United States and Jordan, a key security partner and ally of the United States. It will be an opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing the Middle East and showcase Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.

On Monday, the President will also deliver remarks on the economic recovery and the progress made under his administration — taking the country from 60,000 new jobs per month to 600,000 new jobs per month, and from 1 percent of Americans vaccinated to more than two thirds of adults with at least one shot.

He’ll explain why his Rescue Plan has helped us get here and will continue supporting Americans throughout the year, and why we need the infrastructure agreement and his Build Back Better plan to sustain that growth in the years to come while keeping inflation in check for the long term.

On Tuesday, the President will hold his second Cabinet meeting of his administration — his first in the Cabinet Room — get excited, everyone — and he looks forward to that.

And on Wednesday, the President will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, to participate in a CNN townhall.

With that, Alex, why don’t you kick us off?

Q Thanks. I have a few questions on China and then one on the BIF. Can you talk —

MS. PSAKI: I love that “BIF” is happening, just to note that.

Q Yeah, you made it happen. Can you talk a little bit more about the Hong Kong business advisory, and the latest sanctions and what triggered those?

And also, there have been reports that Wendy Sherman may tack a China visit onto the end of her Asia visit. Can you talk about what her goal might be with something like that?

And does this mean that we’re moving closer to — I know last month there was talk of a potential Biden/President Xi summit. Are we moving closer to that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, well, first, as the President said yesterday, the situation in Hong Kong is continuing to deteriorate, and we continue to see Beijing assault Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic institutions. We’ve seen authorities use the National Security Law to make politically motivated arrests. And we’ve seen a general deterioration of fundamental freedoms, which were guaranteed by an international agreement.

So that’s why the United States — we announced steps we’re taking today to promote accountability and transparency. On the accountability front, the State Department announced earlier today seven officials who were sanctioned for their actions — threatening the peace, stability, security, and autonomy of Hong Kong.

On the transparency front, today, the U.S. government issued a business advisory — as you noted, Alex, I just wanted to give the full context — for Hong Kong, which is intended to inform businesses and highlight the growing risk for those operating in Hong Kong.

The bottom line is that businesses should be aware that the risks faced in mainland China are now increasingly present in Hong Kong. And as the President said last month, of course, we will not waver in our support for Hong Kong and all those who stand up for the basic freedoms.

But as businesses are making decisions — and obviously they’re making decisions themselves — we want them to be aware of the use of data — accessing of data inappropriately, of the restriction of information. And they should be aware of that happening on — in Hong Kong, as well as in mainland China.

Q And then Wendy Sherman and President Xi?

MS. PSAKI: Got it. In terms of Wendy Sherman’s trip, we — I don’t have an update on travel. We, of course, have been and continue to explore opportunities to engage with PRC officials. We’ve been clear we will engage in conversations at the appropriate level when there’s an opportunity for them to be substantive and, hopefully, consequential.

So I don’t have an update on intended travel. Obviously, they are quite adept over there at the State Department of adding things as needed.

And as it relates to plans for the President: As we’ve said, he will look for opportunities to engage with President Xi going forward. He — we don’t have any particular plans at this moment, so no decisions have been made. But we’ll continue to evaluate what’s appropriate and what would be constructive in the relationship moving forward.

Q And then, just on the BIF, there are reports that it could be financed in part by tariffs on carbon-heavy imports, which could end up rising — hiking prices on goods for American families. Is the White House open to that? Or would that be a concern similar to the gas tax increase?

MS. PSAKI: There are ongoing discussions about the final components, of course, as we look to — and I know you are all eager to see bill language and legislative language and, of course, having discussions about the payfors are part of that.

The President’s bottom lines have not changed about the fact that that any payfors cannot raise taxes on individuals making less than $400,000 a year, and anything that would impact that would not be something he would support.

Go ahead.

Q Follow-up on — I can’t believe we’re calling it the “BIF” —

MS. PSAKI: (Laughs.)

Q You note that —

MS. PSAKI: Those of us old enough think of “Back to the Future”; those who were younger — I don’t know what they think of. But —

Q I’m in the “Back to the Future” category. Given the fact that discussions are ongoing, if the discussions are still ongoing come Wednesday, does the President believe that the Senate should vote to take the procedural vote to move forward if there’s no bill text or a deal in hand?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, Leader Schumer, of course, will be running point and leading the effort to determine and making the determination about the timeline, the process, and the sequencing of votes in the Senate. And we certainly work closely with him, and — but we certainly trust his — his path that he is mapping out for the legislative process.

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