Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Lexington, KY

The White House

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Lexington, Kentucky

10:18 A.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: How’s everyone doing? Okay. Before I get to what we have done to assist those in Kentucky affected by the devastating flooding and what the President will do on the ground today, I want to take a moment to reflect on the tremendous victory for American families over special — over special interests yesterday.

As you all know, Democrats in the Senate passed historic legislation yesterday that will allow — that will lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs and reduce the deficit while making the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share. This is another promise made, promise kept.

This bill will cap seniors’ out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year. No matter what their drug bills would otherwise be, seniors will not have to spend more than $2,000.

In addition, 13 million Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act will see their health insurance premiums reduced by $800.

This bill tackles inflation by lowering the deficit, lowering costs for regular families.

This bill also makes the largest investments ever in combating the existential crisis of climate change. It addresses the climate crisis and strengthens our energy security, creating jobs manufacturing solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles in America with American workers.

It lowers families’ energy costs by hundreds of dollars each year.

Finally, it pays for all this by establishing a minimum corporate tax so that our richest corporations start to pay their fair share. It does not raise on those making under $400,000 a year, not one cent.

Every Republican voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, siding with tax welfare for big corporations and the rich over lowering costs for families and fighting inflation. Forty-three of them even voted against capping the price of insulin at $35. And remember that many of them have proposed putting Medicare itself on the chopping blocks.

Many thought this legislation could never come to be, but the President was not — was not one of them. He proposed these policies in 2019 and 2020, including when he fundamentally shifted the party’s approach to climate action from one cap — one of cap and trade, which couldn’t get through the 60- and then 59-seat Senate — majority Senate in 2009, let alone the 50-50 Senate of 2021, to a plan that achieved our climate goals through incentives for clean energy development.

He knew this was the framework that could unite labor groups, industry, environmentalists, our caucuses, and more. And he was right.

We worked for more than a year with lawmakers to get to this moment. He has traveled the nation to urge action, and he directed the team here at the White House to work closely with senators for months to get over this line while staying in touch with key members himself.

The President looks forward to the House taking action later this week and looks forward to signing this vital piece of legislation into law. It will build upon the American Rec- — Recovery plan, the infrastructure plan, the CHIPS Act, the gun reform bill, the veterans healthcare bill that — that comes from the Unity Agenda he proposed in the Senate of the — of the Union — in the State of the Union, pardon me, and delivering results for American families.

And now, on to our trip to Kentucky: Today, The President and the First Lady will join Governor Andy Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear to survey the damage caused by catastrophic flooding in Eastern Kentucky. They will receive an update on the disaster response, thank those on the frontlines, and share in the community — community’s grief.

As you know, devastating floods in Eastern Kentucky tragically took the lives of 37 people and washed away the roads, bridges, and homes.

President Biden immediately reached out to Senator McConnell, Governor Beshear to make clear that the people of Kentucky have the support of this administration.

The President quickly surged federal resources to the region, and already we have delivered over $10.4 million in assistance, with more on the way. These funds will help families and businesses with temporary housing and home repairs and lower loans for property losses and — and more.

Following the elementary school visit, the President and the First Lady will survey flooding damage in a neighborhood in Lost Creek, Kentucky.

The floods in Kentucky and extreme weather all around the country are yet another reminder of the intensifying and accelerating impacts of climate change and the urgent need to invest in making our communities more resilient to it. That’s why President Biden secured billions of dollars for climate resilience through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. And that’s why the infla- — Inflation Reduction Act the Senate passed yesterday is so vital.

Over the long term, these investments will save lives, reduce costs, protect communities like the one we are visiting today.

With that, Seung Min, you want to kick us off?

Q Did the President play any direct role in the Gaza ceasefire? Can you talk to us about that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’ll tell — I’ll just give you what he shared with all you yesterday. So, as the President said:

“[We] welcome the announcement… of a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based militants after three days of hostilities.

[Throughout this period], the United States… worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a shift [sic] res-” — “a swift resolution to the conflict.

[U.S.] support [of] Israel’s security is longstanding and unwavering, including its right to defend itself against attacks. Over these recent days, Israel has defended its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the United States is proud of our support for Israel’s Iron-Dome, which intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved…lives.

The report of the civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad position or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza. [We] support a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports…we also call on all parties to fully implement the ceasefire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsidy [sic] — subsides.”

The President made clear during his recent trip to Israel and the West Bank, Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. The United States will remain engaged with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to support that vision and to implement the initiatives launched during the President’s visit to improve the quality of life for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Q Karine, I just had a quick question on what the President said about the impact from the inflation bill. Most of it will not be right away. Could you talk a little bit about how soon Americans can actually expect to see an impact, even on prescription drug prices and other items, once the bill passes?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, so, as you know, the ACA provisions and lowering premiums, that’s going to have an effect right away, and that’s incredibly important. And there will be parts of — there will be parts of the legislation that we’ll see next year.

But, example: ACA policy will be felt with continuing to lower costs — lowering healthcare costs. This immediately — this will immediately act to lower energy costs, for example, with tax rebates being felt right away. And the prescription drug benef- — benefits will start kicking in next year.

Q And a quick question on China. Sorry. He said he is concerned about, you know, how fast — the fact that China is moving in, you know, around — around Taiwan after the Speaker’s visit. What was he specifically referring to when he said he was “concerned”? And what — you know, how is the U.S. planning to respond?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we condemn these actions. We have. We’ve been condemning them since they’ve started escalating. And we have also said we anticipated China might take this step. They are pro- — they are provocative, responsible, and raise the risk of miscalculation. And that’s what he was — the President was referring to when you guys were talking to him at the — at the wing of the plane.

They are also at odds with our longstanding goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects.

You’ve seen a strong statements from the G7, including Japan, ASEAN, Australia, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

Taiwan, the U.S., and the world do not want to see an escalation here. The United States is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do.

Q Can I follow up on China real quick?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Yeah.

Q So, first of all, does the U.S. expect or fear, perhaps, that this enhanced Chinese military presence in the Taiwan Strait is permanent — that they’re trying to normalize that status?

And then, secondly, you’ve said time and time again the administration policy on China hasn’t changed, but, A, does Beijing believe that? And, B, you know, how are you — what are you doing to convince them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we’ve said time and time again — you’ve heard me say it; you’ve heard the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, say it; you heard the President say it — nothing has changed. The China — the China One policy is — is long — is longstanding, and nothing is going to change there.

So, look, we knew that the Chinese were going to react this way. We’re going to communicate closely with our allies and partners, and we’re going to communicate directly with Beijing.

Again, the trip — the Speaker’s trip, it was her right to take. It was — it — there was precedent for it.

And — and so, again, I just repeat what the President said: There’s no need for escalation here — what we have said — and we’re going to continue to keep those lines of communication open.

Q Karine, in Ukraine, is the White House concerned by the situation around this nuclear power station, Zaporizhzhia? And — and if it’s — if you’re watching that, do you have a sense of, like, you know, who’s to blame here? Because, obviously, the Russians are accusing the Ukrainians of shelling it, but the Russians are the ones who are dug in there.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, that’s part of their playbook, when it comes to the Russians.

But, look, we continue to closely monitor the activity at ZNPP. The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration report that the radiation sensors are continuing to provide data. And, thankfully, we have seen no indications of increased or abnormal radiation levels.

We are also aware of the reports of mistreatment of ZNPP staff and the — and we — and applaud the Ukrainian authorities and operators for their commitment to — to nuclear safety and security under trying circumstances.

Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous, and we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine.

For our part, we continue to support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to fulfill its technical safeguards mandate and to assist Ukraine with nuclear safety and security measures across its nuclear facilities.

Q But what are you trying to do to (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. I’m going — we just got to — we got to get around. Go ahead.

Q Karine, there’s been two Republican criticisms of the IRA. One is that the stock buyback provision will hurt Americans’ 401(k)s. The other is that the increased funding for the IRS will not just hit tax-cheat millionaires and corporations but dramatically increase the investigations of ordinary Americans who don’t have accountants and lawyers to deal with audits. So, could you address both of those criticisms?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. So the first thing is: It’s like dishonest water that the Republicans are carrying for tax welfare for the rich and the big corporations that we’ve seen all — all week, last week. So, nothing new here.

This is not a tax on the middle class or retirement savings though. That 1 percent surcharge — as you know well, Justin — on stock buybacks, which is when corporations purchase their own stock, is paid by large publicly traded corporations. A number of experts have argued that CEOs use stock buybacks to enrich themselves to the detriment of the long-term growth of the company.

The truth has been recognized by both Republicans and Democrats, both sides of the aisles, that companies can do two things with cash holdings: invest in the growth of their businesses, which helps lead to more jobs, higher salaries, and other prices; or use it to buy back stock just to pad the finances of their wealthiest shareholders.

So, again, the claims from Republicans is just purely false. That is not what it does. And we know that because we’ve heard that from both sides of the aisle.

On the IRS piece, look, this is just the latest example, again, of those who do nothing to protect tax welfare for the rich at the expense of everything else. Their blatant lies — congressional Republicans came to the defense of corporations earning more than $1 billion per year who — who use loopholes to pay zero dollars in taxes. The American people don’t think that’s fair, and we know that. That is a popular thing that we know Americans think, but apparently congressional Republicans think it’s a hill to die on. And so, again, it’s another false claim from them.

Q Karine, can I —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And I think we have —

AIR FORCE ONE CREW: We’ll be on the ground in 10 minutes.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, no problem.

Q Karine, New York Mayor Eric Adams was complaining yesterday about a lack of federal assistance for the migrants that Texas is sending up to New York. Why isn’t the federal government stopping Governor Abbott and/or helping D.C. and New York more?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: First of all, the question is to Governor Abbott: Why is he using migrants as a political pawn in doing what he’s doing? And he is — there’s a legal process here, and he’s not using that legal process. Instead, he’s using politics for his own benefit and sending these migrants who are here — who are desperately here — to putting them on buses and sending them to cities because of his — of what he feels is the poli- — it’s politically right for him.

It’s costing Texans, as you might know, $1.5 million — what he’s doing — $1.5 million by busing migrants into different cities.

And so, look, this is — this is what he does. I’ve talked about this in the briefing room before. This is what Governor Abbott has done in the past. There’s the Operation Lone Star — put National Guardsmen and law enforcement in dangerous situations and resulted in logistic nightmare.

Q But, I’m sorry, my question is: Why isn’t the federal government doing more for New York?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, you asked me two questions.

Q I did. Yes. But (inaudible).

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You did. Yes, I know, but — no, but I’m just answering the questions. And so, the first one I answered was: You should ask Governor Abbott why he’s doing what he’s doing. And it’s not good for his constituents.

And the second question is: FEMA has been involved; I said this last week. It makes grant funding available to local NGOs assisting migrants. We have been in close, regular touch with Mayor Adams and his team, and are committed to working with them as we do effectively with other local leaders.

But again, this is on Governor Abbott. This is what he is doing.

Okay, I’ll take one more.

Q Karine, when you were at NABJxNAHJ over the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I want to make sure — I didn’t — did I take everybody’s question?

Q (Inaudible.)

Q Karine, I meant: When does the administration actually expect Americans to see an impact of the Inflation Reduction Act? And do you think that it will be before the midterms?

AIR FORCE ONE CREW: We have to sit down.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Sorry, guys. I just answered that question. Okay, sorry, guys. I’m so sorry, guys.

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