Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, April 18, 2022

The White House

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

4:07 P.M. EDT

(The Easter Bunny enters the room and stands at the podium.)

MS. PSAKI: Who knows who’s under here? (Laughter.) No more bunny business.

(The Easter Bunny leaves the podium.)

That’s the line we worked on. Do you guys like it? (Laughter.)

Thank you for joining us, Easter Bunny.

Q Are there sticks and carrots?

(Laughter.)

Q Oooh —

MS. PSAKI: Ooh, Kelly, coming with the fire today. (Laughter.) I like it.

Okay. Okay. Okay. A couple of items for you at the top. Happy Tax Day to those who celebrate, which we hope is everyone in the room.

Q Oh, bring back the bunny.

MS. PSAKI: (Laughs.) As part of Tax Day, we’re highlighting the real difference between the President and congressional Republicans.

President Biden has a simple philosophy: The middle class deserves some financial breathing room, which is why his economic plan would give tax relief to tens of millions of families — families who work hard and deserve a little extra cushion each month.

And the President believes billionaires should pay their fair share so we can invest in our economic future and cut the deficit. That’s why he’s calling on the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent to pay the minimum tax of 20 percent, when, right now, the wealthiest families can pay a lower average rate than teachers.

And let me be crystal clear: The President will not raise taxes for anyone making under $400,000.

The congressional Republican plan, however, as Senator Rick Scott outlined, couldn’t be more different. Republicans on Capitol Hill are more than happy to pass a nearly $2 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthy and big corporations under the previous — they were, under the previous administration.

But now, led by Senator Scott, Republicans want to raise taxes on the middle class, with one independent analysis showing their plan would hike taxes by an average of around $1,500 each year on 75 million American families, 96 percent of whom make under $100,000. That’s the plan of congressional Republicans: tax hikes for the middle class; tax hikes for the wealthy and big corporations.

President Biden disagrees. It’s time to put the middle class first.

Tomorrow, as you may know, the President is traveling to New Hampshire to highlight infrastructure investments to modernize our nation’s ports and waterways, and discuss how these investments will strengthen our supply chain, support local economies, and help cut costs for American families.

American ports are a cornerstone of the United States economy, but outdated infrastructure in the COVID-19 pandemic have strained their capacity and jeopardized global supply chains, which has caused delays and passed costs directly to consumers.

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we now have $17 billion to upgrade, repair, and maintain our nation’s port infrastructure.

As the President continues to use every tool to help bring down prices for Americans, investments that strengthen domestic supply chains and move goods faster and more efficiently are critical to lowering costs for families.

So, during his trip tomorrow, he will visit Portsmouth Harbor, which is the only deep-water harbor in New Hampshire and handles approximately 3.[5] million tons and nearly $2 billion of cargo a year, including critical materials to support the local economy and clean energy production.

The port recently completed a project to widen the harbor’s turning basin and will receive funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to maintain safe and efficient operations along the channel — both crucial projects to accommodate larger ships and heavier loads of cargo.

I also wanted to note — a bunch of scheduling things today — today, we are pleased to announce that we will co-host the second Global [COVID] 19 Summit virtually on May 12th, alongside Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal.

The virtual summit will redouble our efforts to end the acute phase of the pandemic and prepare for future pandemics and other health threats.

Our role in co-hosting this summit continues to highlight — is to continue to highlight American leadership in the global COVID response, with our provision to date of more than $19 billion in health, humanitarian, and economic assistance, and our commitment to provide 1.2 billon vaccine doses to the world for free, of which we have already delivered more than 500 million doses.

And while we are dedicated to continuing to lead the global COVID response, we also need Congress to urgently do its part to fund the global COVID response.

We have requested a supplemental funding package for our most urgent needs to get shots into the arms and to provide lifesaving tests, treatments, and supplies. And we will obviously continue to work with Congress on getting that funding when they return.

Finally, I wanted to — last thing is that we also announced that on March [May] 12th and 13th, the President will host the leaders of the ASEAN in Washington, D.C. It will build on President Biden’s participation in the October 2021 U.S.-ASEAN Summit, where the President announced $102 million in new initiatives to expand our engagement with ASEAN on COVID-19, promoting economic growth and more.

And this will, of course — we’ll have more to preview as we get closer to that trip.

Josh, why don’t you kick us off?

Q Thanks, Jen. Happy Monday.

MS. PSAKI: Happy Monday.

Q Two subject areas. First, a federal judge in Florida says the CDC exceeded its authority with the mask mandate in airports. What’s the White House position?

MS. PSAKI: The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time — two weeks — to be able to assess the latest science in keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people.

So, this is obviously a disappointing decision. The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit. As you know, this just came out this afternoon. So, right now, the Department of Homeland Security, who would be implementing, and the CDC are reviewing the decision. And, of course, the Department of Justice would make any determinations about litigation.

Q Secondly, Russia is expected to virtually attend meetings of the IMF and World Bank this week. Is that appropriate, given the actions in Ukraine? And how should international organizations treat Russia?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the President has made clear that he does not believe we should be operating as business as usual. And he’s made clear about his concerns about their participation in the G20.

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