Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, December 5, 2022

The White House

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:28 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone. Apologies for being late. I had a — my meeting with the President in the Oval went long, so I apologize.

Okay —

Q Is there any chance we can go straight to questions? (Inaudible.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I have a — I was just about to say — just give me a second, Darlene — I have a super, super short thing at the top.

Q Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And then we can get straight to questions.

Q Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, today, marks the first day of National Flu Vaccine week. As flu and COVID-19 continue increasing in circulation, we have two safe and effective vaccines that are — are our best way to stay protected this winter.

The simple message from our health and medical experts is this: To be protected this winter, get your flu and COVID shots.

Today, Dr. Walensky held a briefing with the American Medical Association to tic- — to kick off a week where she and doctors across the country will be blitzing the airwaves about the importance of getting your COVID and flu shots.

And, with that, Darlene, go for it.

Q Thank you. Can you give us a rundown on what is being done at the federal level to speed up the restoration of electrical power to the folks in North Carolina?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, the White House is monitoring — has been monitoring the situation and is in contact with local officials. Local law enforcement is receiving federal support on the investigation. We will continue to let that investigation play out.

President Biden has made, as you all know, critical infrastructure secure and resilience to all hazards, both natural and manmade, a priority since the first day of his administration.

While we still have a long way to go, through initiatives like the bipartisan infrastructure bill and also the infer- — the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden-Harris administration is already flowing through on its prom- — following through on its promise to deliver those results to protect against the limit — and the limit of the impacts of incidents like this.

We’ve closely worked with private sector to strengthen resilience against this — the full spectrum of potential threats, including through utilizing new technologies and improving how government communicates and shares threat information with the private sector, which owns the majority of our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Department of Energy, Department of Justice, including the FBI, are — will be your best place to get more specific information.

But, again, we’re going to let — we’re going to continue — let the investigation play out.

Q But on the issue of restoring power, authorities there are saying it could be until Thursday before power is restored. And so —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Understood. We have been — we have been in touch with local officials, and we are — we’re going to provide any assistance needed to help them on the ground.

Q Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q Yeah, thanks, Karine. On Friday, you said there were no plans of going to Congress for any legislative changes to the IRA for France and Europe. Over the weekend, there were some French officials who said that one way of making tweaks that President Biden proposed to the IRA was through executive orders. And we’re wondering if the administration has already started working on, you know, certain EOs or if you’re planning to work on them going forward. Can you offer any specifics?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, there’s two things. The first thing is, the President was clear that there are ways that we can address Europe’s concerns — right? — the concerns that they actually have. This is a matter we are working through a substantive consultation with Europe — our European count- — counterparts. We don’t want to get ahead of that process, but we’re going to have those conversations and find ways to, again, address their concerns.

I was speaking to specifically, like, glitches that might be — that we have talked — that we have heard about in particular — in this particular piece of — this law now. And so, what I was saying — no, there are no — there are — there — we don’t have plans to go back to Congress on that — on that.

But when it comes to their concerns, of course we’re going to have conversations with our European allies.

Q And specifically on that, I mean, the administration did say during the French President’s visit that — you know, that it had worked on overcoming French objections to whatever it is that they were talking about in — with respect to the IRA.

But the administration has, again, of course, not released any specifics on that. And I know you’re talking about, you know, having future conversations with them, but could you talk about the work that has gone in so far?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’m not going to get into specifics. Again, we want to have this conversation. There’s a process that’s happening. Don’t want to get ahead of that.

But I also just want to say, and you’ve heard us say this many times — look, the Inflation Reduction Act was a historic piece of legislation. It’s going to help Americans — millions of Americans across the country, as we talk about lowering costs, as we talk about really attacking one of — the number-one priority when you think about the economy for the President, which is lowering costs on healthcare, lowering costs on energy, doing that — doing that historic investment on fighting climate change.

So, this is something that the President is very proud of. And it’s going to really, truly change lives.

When it comes to the concerns of our European partners and allies, certainly we’re going to do our best to have those conversations, but I’m just not going to get ahead of the process that’s currently happening.

Q And a quick one on Russian — on the oil price gap. Obviously, Russia has said that, you know, they’re not going to abide by it, even if that means cutting production. Ukraine is saying $60 is way too much. You know, Russian oil blends is selling in Asian markets at $79 a barrel, which is like $20 higher per barrel and which kind of shows that there’s willingness to buy oil from Russia at that price.

I mean, given all the work that is going in, how confident are you that this is going to actually have any impact at all on Moscow and President Putin’s oil revenue?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. You — you just asked me a couple questions all at once — or made a couple of statements all at once. So, when it comes to Russia’s reprom- — response, look, we’re not surprised by that. We’re not surprised by what their reaction of — their reaction has been, and what they’re saying.

Look, the goal of the price cap has always been to ensure that discounted Russian oil continues to flow onto global markets, and — even as we limit the energy revenue that Russia is using to fund its illegal war in Ukraine.

And so we — we believe — we believe that the cap at this level maintains clear incentives for Russia to continue exporting. Not doing so would have serious repercussions for Russia. And so, that’s how we see this process moving forward.

I know you were mentioning, “Why 30 and not 60?” And I know that there’s been some comments out there. And so, look, the price — the price will lock in a discount on Russian oil, especially in light of the $100 per barrel they earned just a few months ago, and it can be adjusted over time to prevent Russia from further profiting from its war.

And so, this is — we believe this is an — you know, this is an unprecedented action that we’re seeing right now. And it demonstrates the unity that United States and our allies and partners have. And I think this is — we think this is an important step forward.


Q Thanks, Karine. In your meeting with the President, did he indicate that he’d made any headway in his lunch with Senators Leahy and Shelby about reaching an agreement on the topline for the omnibus?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So don’t have a — don’t have any readout for you on the President’s — the President’s lunch. As you just mentioned — just first, for folks who may not be aware — the President had lunch today with Senators Leahy and Shelby of the Senate Appropriations Committee to toast their long careers but also, to your point, Phil, to discuss the funding bill.

Look, the President believes that Congress needs to and has to reach a deal, a bipartisan deal. This is something that they were able to do just last year around this time in a bipartisan way, and he believes that they should be able to do this again. This should not be about partisanship. We are talking about critical, critical funding.

When you think about public — public education; when you think about our national security; when you think about — you know, about health, these are important things that are im- — that are critical to the American people. So, he believes that we should — that Congress should move forward in getting this done.

But more broadly speaking, and I said all this last week, when it comes to our efforts and — and the funding, we — and how we’re moving forward, we believe that process is in good hands with our OMB director, Shalanda Young. She knows how to get this done. She knows how to get a bipartisan deal — get that done.

And also, you know, we have our Office of Leg Affairs, who is working on this as well. They have been — we’ve had, you know, multiple conversations with members of Congress. And we’re continuing to make calls. We continue to do briefings.

But, again, this is something that the President believes needs to get done. It was done last year in a — in a bipartisan way; we should be able to do that this year.

Q Just one follow-up on that. Is the President — has he shown any openness to the idea of dropping the parity between defense spending and non-defense domestic spending, which is currently the Republican proposal on the table?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’ll say this: You know, I’m not going to get ahead of any discussions that are currently happening right now. And so, I know the Congress is moving forward, having those discussions. I’m certainly not going to be negotiating from here — from the podium.

Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. Two topics, if I can. The Supreme Court heard arguments today about a graphic designer who objected to designing websites for gay couples. The justices seem to be sympathetic toward her in today’s — on the Court today.

We’ve heard the White House talk about the potential ripple effects after the Dobbs ruling. Do you have a comment on this specific case? And any concerns from the administration about the potential wider implications of this particular case?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I want to be very careful here. Don’t want to weigh in or pre-judge the Supreme Court — the Supreme Court’s outcome. You know, that’s something I’m [not] going to do here at the podium.

But to your point, more broadly speaking — and we’ve talked about this — we recognize the — the right to free speech, and we support ensuring that no one is discriminated against or refused services because of who they love and who they are.

And so, as you know, we’ve been very clear about that. The administration believes that every person — no matter their sex, race, religion, or who they love — should have the equal access to society, including access to products and services on the same terms as other members of public.

Look, the Department of Justice said in its brief that, for decades, non-discrimination public accommodations laws have coexisted with the First Amendment. Courts have recognized that we can recognize — that we can require businesses open to public — to service people, regardless of their backgrounds, even when that means businesses must incidentally engage in speech which they are — which they disagree upon.

So this is no reason to upend this balance right now. As the — as the Department of Justice just laid out — as I just laid out what their — what they said in their brief. But, again, I don’t want to weigh in. I don’t want to get ahead of what the Supreme Court’s decision will be on this.

Q And then on the yearend wish list and to-do list: Is there a push right now by the White House to renew the expanded Child Tax Credit?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything new to share on that particular piece of legislation — or piece of a plan that — that’s incredibly important to the President. As you know, he included it in the American Rescue Plan, and it was — it was able to cut child pov- — child poverty in a historic way.

So, again, an important issue for this President. Don’t have anything to share — to share further on — on that particular plan moving forward.

Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. I wonder if you could give more detail about the Wednesday event about the rise of antisemitism that’s hosted by the First Gen- —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The Second Gentleman.

Q The Second Gentleman. I messed that up.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Were you going to call him the First Gentleman?

Q I slipped up. (Laughter.) How long has it been in the works? And what do you hope Mr. — what does the White House hope Mr. Emhoff adds to the debate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things, just to give you some insight of what’s going to be happening with that — with the roundtable talks — the antisemitism roundtable talks that the Second Gentleman will be — will be hosting.

So, first and foremost, President Biden has consistently spoken out — I just want to make sure that’s clear — against antisemitism — its rhetoric, it’s hate, and all of the vile language that we have been hearing, which is incredibly dangerous — these past couple of weeks.

And so, we’re going to continue condemning antisemitism and hate wherever it exists. It does not have — it should not have a place in our society. And so, you’ll — you’ll continue to hear that.

The President says, “Silence is complicit- — complicity.” And so, you know, that is something that we will make sure that we continue to condemn.

Now, as it relates to Wednesday, the Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will convene a roundtable with Jewish leaders from across the country. The roundtable will include leaders of Jewish organizations fighting antisemitism that represents the wide range of Jewish community from students to seniors, and including Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox denominations.

And the Second Gentleman will be joined by Ambassador Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Advisor; Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism; and Keisha Lance Bottoms, Senior Advisor to the President for Public Engagement.

He felt it was important to host the roundtable given the rise, as I just was mentioning, of antisemitism that we have seen over the past several months and even longer.

This is something the Second Gentleman takes very personally. He is the first Jewish person in this role, the first Jewish individual married to a President or a Vice President. He has said himself that he is in pain and that this is something we cannot normalize. And that’s one of the reasons, as I just laid out, that he wanted to do this personally.

Q Just a — just to follow up. Is it something that he asked for or something that the President directed him to do?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I just laid out: The President has — has been very clear in condemning antisemitism, the hate that we have been seeing — racism, the increase of hatred that we’ve been seeing just the past several months.

So, this is something that his administration more broadly is going to continue to do when we talk about condemning that type of speech.

But, look, I just laid out: This is something, when it comes to this roundtable that the Second Gentleman is holding — it’s something that is very personal to him and important for him that he believed that he needed to do.

And clearly, you know, it’s part of the — our administration’s response. And certainly, we welcome — we’ll welcome it.

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