Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Holds Press Briefing 20 April

The White House

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.

Q Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sorry I'm delayed. I was actually listening to — to your reporting — your live report from your seat. (Laughter.)

Q Got any — any suggestions about things that we need to include next time?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, I have a lot of suggestions.

Q Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But I will keep that to myself.

Q Yeah, we'll chat later.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. We'll — yeah, we'll chat later. Circle back. (Laughter.)

All right, happy Friday, everyone. Today, President Biden announced that his administration is taking action to conserve more than 13 million acres in the Western Arctic and to honor the culture, history, and enduring wisdom of the Alaska Natives who lived on these lands for generations.

From safeguarding sacred lands near the Grand Canyon to protecting Alaskan treasures, the Biden-Harris administration is conserving more than 41 million acres of lands and waters.

This administration will continue to take ambitious action to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, protect America's lands and waters, and fulfil our responsibility to the next generations of Americans.

On a more solemn note, as many of you know, tomorrow marks 25 years since the tragic shooting at Columbine High School. Two students killed twelve of their fellow classmates and one teacher with guns they obtained from unlicensed dealers and without background checks.

We continue to pray for the families and victims of the Columbine shooting, as well as communities across the country that are being torn apart by gun violence.

Since Columbine, there have been hundreds of school shootings, exposing hundreds of thousands of students to the horrors of gun violence.

As the President has said, this is not normal, and it must end.

That's why he signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun safety legislation in decades, and created the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

We've also made the largest investment in youth mental health in American history. And just last week, the Biden-Harris administration implemented the largest expansion of the gun background check requirement since 1993, addressing the very loophole that allowed the Columbine shooters to obtain their weapons.

Under President Biden's leadership, we are taking action, but we need Congress to finish the job.

They need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require safe storage of guns, pass a national red-flag law, and invest in proven solutions that reduce violence, also enact universal background checks.

And finally, I know there's a lot — a lot of interest in reports from the Middle East overnight, and we understand that. We get that.

I'm going to say it now, though I know you all will — will certainly ask me about it, that we do not have any comment on the reports at this time. Obviously, you all heard from Secretary Blinken earlier this morning.

But, with that, Darlene, it's good to see you.

Q Good to see you. Thank you. On the Middle East. Why is it that you don't have any comment at this time? It's been several hours since the reported strike. Certainly, that's enough time for the administration to investigate and come up with something to say.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just going to be really mindful. Just going back to what I said just — just before I called on you to ask me this question. So, I'm not going to speak or speculate about any of the reports that are out there. I'm not going to comment. And I'm just going to leave it there.

Q Can I ask you a domestic question then?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely.

Q Average gasoline prices have risen about 20 cents a gallon in the past month. Oil production — domestic oil production is down slightly from its recent peak, and now we have the situation in the Middle East. How concerned is the administration about the combination of all of those things?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we're going to continue to watch the markets very carefully. As you know, this is an adminis- — administration — the Biden-Harris administration is commit- — committed to maintaining a stable and secure energy supply and lowering prices for Americans, as you saw the President — as you all know, when Russia invaded Ukraine and gas prices started to go up, inflation obviously was infected [affected] by that, the President took action and tapped into the SPR. So, obviously, we are — we are focused on securing energy supply and, like I said, lowering prices for Americans.

The United States' current record domestic oil and gas production is helping meet our immediate needs while we make the historic investment needed to transition into clean — a clean energy economy, but obviously we're going to continue to watch the markets carefully.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. This level of silence from you guys about what's happening in the Middle East is really new, and I — I heard what you had to say, but can you explain why? Because the official line that "we're not going to talk about this," that is the line — that is the choice.


Q Is it part of your strategy to deescalate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm going to, again, be super mindful. And I — I get the interest. Obviously, I understand the interest. And — and I'm going to be disappointing many people here this afternoon. I just don't have anything to share. I'm not going to speculate on the reportings out there.

You heard the same — obviously, you said our — our — what we've been saying since this morning. You heard from Secretary Blinken, and so I'm just going to be really, really mindful.

But as you asked me as well about escalation, I'm going to speak more generally: We — we have been very, very clear from here from the beginning that we do not want to see this conflict escalate. We continue to consult with our allies and partners, including — including in the region, obviously, and to reduce further risk of escalation in the region. And that's — that's the sentiment that was expressed in the G7 foreign — foreign minister — ministry's [ministers'] joint statement that went out this morning. You heard that obviously from — from Secretary Blinken, who was — who — who was part of that — who was part of that meeting.

I'm just going to be super mindful. I'm not going to speculate or speak to any of the reportings that are out there at this time.

Q Okay. And earlier this month, President Biden said that if Israel did not change its approach with regard to Gaza, then the U.S. would have to change its approach. Can you bring us up to speed about what Israel has done, other than the steps that it announced in those immediate hours after the President had that phone call?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we're continuing to have conversations, obviously, with the — with our counterparts in the Israeli go- — in Israeli government. You know that th- — as you know, we put out a — a readout of the Rafah meeting yesterday, and it was a constructive meeting.

So, obviously, the readout speaks out for itself. And as it says, the United States and Israel agreed on the shared objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah. The U.S. side — side continued to express concerns with various courses in a- — in action in Rafah, and Israeli participants agreed to take these concerns into account and to have further follow-up discussions between experts.

So, certainly, as it relates to that, we'll have more to share. And we're going to continue to have those conversations with our Israeli government — with the Israeli government, with our counterparts there. And — and, you know, we're — the President made himself very clear. He made himself very clear.

Q So, I'm actually talking about the commitments to do more to —


Q — protect civilians —


Q — and aid workers. Just this week —


Q — an Israeli strike hit a refugee camp that killed several children. So, I'm asking about the commitments to better protect people —


Q — and to get more humanitarian aid in.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think speaking about Rafah is also protecting — right? —

Q Sure.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — almost 1.5 million Palestinians who are seeking refuge in — in Raf- — in Rafah. So, that is something that I wanted to make sure that was very clear. We — we care about that, which is why the President has been consistent about not wanting to see a major military operation.

So, I think that is important for — for folks out there to — to note.

And, look, we've been really clear. You know, the President had that conversation with the Prime Minister about making sure that we protect innocent civilians, as I just mentioned, and also the human- — humanitarian aid workers.

Look, we do not want to see that type of — any — any civilians — any innocent civilian's life taken. We don't want to see any humanitarian aid workers — their lives being taken, as well, as they're doing really — ta- — undertaking some, you know, really brave, brave actions by making sure that what we're seeing in Gaza, the humanitarian crisis, that they are attending to that and making sure that people get the food, get the aid that they need.

And so, we're going to continue to have those conversation. Israel said — the Israeli government said that they were going to take action. And we're going to continue to obviously speak with our counterparts there.

Go ahead.

Q On Rafah. Did the Israeli delegation give any indication that they were open to changing their plans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we're going to certainly continue to have those conversations. They — they shared their side of their — their concerns. We shared our concerns. I'm not going to go into details. We have the readout that we shared with all of you. Just don't have anything beyond that.

Q After the G7 meeting, the Italian Foreign Minister today said that the U.S. was informed by the Israelis at the last minute about this counterstrike in Iran. Is that accurate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to speak to our diplomatic conversations.

Q And then, domestically, here at home, a third Republican is expected to join the motion to vacate Speaker Johnson from his post. Would the President encourage Democrats to save Speaker Johnson and his job? Was that part of the conversation that he had with the Speaker on Monday?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I'll — I'll say this, and we've been very consistent, and I think that what I'll say will answer the question: We do not get involved when it comes to leadership in — whether it's the Senate or in the House. We're very mindful. That is something that the members — in this case, the members in Congress have to decide on.

As it relates to Democrats, Leader — Leader Hakeem Jeffries, that's something that he and his caucus have to make a decision on. We do not get involved.

Q The President doesn't have any opinion about whether Democrats —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We do not —

Q — should help save a Republican Speaker and his job?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I've been asked this question many times, whether it's on the Senate side or the House side, in the last two years, almost three years, when we've gone through these types of exercises or the House has gone — in particular, has gone through this exercise. And we've been pretty consistent. There's nothing new here. We have said we're not going to involve ourselves in this. This is something, in this case, for members of Congress to decide.

Q Thanks, Karine. Just about the call yesterday between U.S. and Israel. To what extent did Iran come up on the call?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm going to be super mindful. I'm just not going to speak to diplo- — diplomatic conversations. Obviously, we put out a — a — we put out a readout. And so, I'm just going to leave it. I'm not going to go beyond the readout.

Q There wasn't in reference to that, but can you at least talk about —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not — I'm not going to go beyond the readout that —

Q Okay. What —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — we shared with all of you yesterday.

Q –did the U.S. lobby Israel at all on a smaller-scale response? Can you can you talk to that? Can you talk about that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I can say that — I'm going to be mindful because I'm not going to speak or speculate to any of the events from last night. And I know — I know you all have a lot of questions on this. I get it. I understand. I just — I want to be mindful here.

Go ahead.

Q Okay. Well, on domestic policy, then. On U.S. Steel, I know you and I spoke a little bit about that yesterday as well. The transaction is under review at CFIUS. You know, that process will sort of play out. And, really, Japan is an ally. So, what is really the national security concern here? I mean, is it Nippon's business in China? What — and, you know, at the same time, the President is, of course, pledging that, you know, the company will stay in American hands. So, is he confident that a CFIUS review will come up with national security complications? And, if that happens, what is his concern primarily?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me just first say at the top — and you heard the President say this when he was making the announcement in Pittsburgh — that steel is the backbone of our economy. It's the backbone of our national security. It helped build the middle class. You heard directly from this President. The CFIU- — CFIUS has its own process. I'm not going to get ahead of that.

And so, I'm going to just let that process go. I'm not going to get into hypotheticals. And we've said before that this — this is — looks like this is an action — an action for CFIUS to take on. And so, that is what's — they're going to d- — designed, obviously — they are designated to examine this. And so, we're going to let that process be.

Q Is the White House telling CFIUS — is there sort of any kind of mandated timeframe they're —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: They're — they're independent. They are independent body, and we're going to let CFIUS —

Q So, how is the President —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — move their process.

Q — as confident as he is pledging that the company will remain in U.S. hands?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, he believes — the President believes that U.S. Steel will remain an — American owned and American operated.

We're going to let CFIUS run its operations, do its process. It is designated to do this process. I'm just not going to comment.

But he believes strongly on that, as you just stated in your question.

Go ahead.

Q Last weekend, President Biden advised the Israeli Prime Minister in his phone call to think carefully and strategically about next steps following Iran's attack against Israel. Is it the U.S. assessment that the Prime Minister took the President's advice? And has it tamped down concerns of escalation in the region?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Going to be mindful here. I — we're not — I'm not going to speculate or speak on any of the events that's been reported overnight. So, I'm just going to leave it there.

We have been very clear — you heard this from Secretary Blinken this morning — about de-escalation, not escalating in the region. We've been very clear about that.

Any question that is related to the reporting out there, I'm just not going to speculate about.

Q Okay. Moments ago, someone set themselves on fire in front of the courthouse where Donald Trump's trial is underway. Are there any plans to step up the federal authority's presence, enforcement?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, so, it's a very sad news. We're just learning this, as you all were reporting this live. I was watching all of you reporting this live. So, it's a developing situation, so I — I would direct your comments, your question at this time, at least to what's happening currently, to local authorities.

I don't have anything beyond what you all are reporting. It's just happening, and it's developing. It's obviously a very sad news.

Q Another question. More than 100 people protesting the war in Gaza were cleared off the Columbia University campus yesterday and arrested. Is the President aware of these arrests? And what is his message to these protesters?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just let me say at the top, because I have to be mindful here, as you know, there is a — an investigation currently being led by the Department of Education. It's an ongoing civil rights investigation of Columbia University. So, I won't speak to specifics about the protest here.

There's a couple things I do want to say — is that — is that we know this is a deeply painful moment for many communities impacted by this conflict. The President and our administration continues to speak out and forcelly — forcefully condemn antisemitism, and our administration is implementing the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

In recent months, we've seen a shocking rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab hate in the U.S. and around the world. He has also been clear that hate has no place in America, whether it is based on race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or any other form of hate, which is why there is no place for discrimination on college campuses or anywhere — anywhere in America.

The President also believes that free speech, debate, and non-discrimination on college campuses are important American values.

When students are subject to hostile environments because of their faith or ethnicity, schools must act. Students must be safe to learn. And that's where we stand on that one.

Go ahead.

Q And just to follow up on the protests, I get you don't want to go into specifics, but what does the President think about young people in America saying things like, "We are all Hamas" and "Long live Hamas"?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I will say — look, this is a president that has been — since he's been in office and the reason why he ran has been very clear about what he witnessed in Charlottesville. Let's not forget what we saw — the antisemitism, the bigotry, the hate that we saw in the street of Charlottesville, which, as I just stated, was one of the reasons that he decided to run. And no president has taken more action to combat antise- — -semitism than this president.

And so, you know, in our national strategy, we made clear that when Jews are targeted because of their beliefs, because of their identity or when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hate — hatred, that is antisemitism. And that is completely, completely unacceptable.

Q I do have to ask you about a different topic.


Q Why is President Biden saying that his Uncle Bosie was eaten by cannibals?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, I th- — I th- — I answered this question yesterday. I believe I've seen some clips on your — on your network about me answering this question. I don't have much to say beyond what I said to some of your colleagues.

Look, I was there. I think you traveled with us, too, to Pennsylvania. I'm not sure if you were there at the memorial in — in Scranton. The President had an emotional and, I think, a symbolic moment. He had an opportunity as president to honor his uncle's service in uniform. He had an opportunity to be there, as president, to — to — you know, to speak to the bravery of his uncle — and not just his uncle but many U.S. service members that put their lives on the line on behalf of this country.

So, his uncle who lost his life when the military aircraft he was on crashed in the Pacific after taking off near New Guinea, the Pres- — the President highlighted his uncle's story as he made the case for honoring our sacred commitment to equip those we sta- — we send to war and take care of them and their families when they come home.

And as he iterated, the last thing American veterans are or the last thing Americans are — should be called are "suckers" and "losers." And — and that is — those types of words should not come from a commander-in-chief, as we have in the past, and we should actually be lifting up our American veterans and honoring them. And that's what you saw from this president.

Q And I agree Second Lieutenant Ambrose J. Finnegan was a war hero. But the Pentagon says, "For unknown reasons, the plane was forced to ditch in the ocean. Both engines failed at low altitude."

Why is President Biden saying he was shot down? There's no evidence of that.

And why is he saying that his uncle was eaten by cannibals? That is a bad way to go. (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He lost his life. It's not — look, I'm not —

Q It's —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We should not make jokes about this.

Q It's not a —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wait. Wait.

Q President Biden said —


Q — that his uncle —


Q — was eaten by cannibals.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, your — your last line is — it's for a laugh. It's for a funny — a funny statement. And he takes this very seriously. His uncle, who served and protected this country, lost his life serving. And that should matter.

You have a president that lifts up our U.S. troops, our American veterans every day, who thinks about them, who actually thinks they're all heroes. And they are. And you have a former president who disrespects that, who doesn't honor that — said it as president, "suckers" or "losers."

Q Where did —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's what he said.

Q Where did the cannibalism come from?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But the — I think you're missing the point. The point is, you have a president that lifts up American veterans, who lifts up our U.S. service members, and that's what matters. He understands how critical and how important it is to be commander-in-chief.

I'm going to move on. Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. Does the President support the UAW's efforts to unionize its Volkswagen plant in Tennessee? Has he been involved at all or in touch with Shawn Fain?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm going to let, obviously, the —

the union speak for themselves. I'm not going to comment on what's currently happening.

You hear the President say this. He was — he was in Pittsburgh. You heard — he — he — you saw how — how — how union members reacts to this President.

He is the most pro-union president ever, and we're going to continue to lift up union members. We believe that they should certainly be paid fairly. We believe that they should get — get a contract that is fair, and we've said that over and over again.

As it relates to this particular si- — situation that's happening, I'm just not going to speak to it. I'm going to let them — let the union deal.

Go ahead, Gabe.

Q Karine, I know you alluded to this, and you said that you didn't want to speculate. But we're not asking for speculation. We're asking for an official response. And given that —


Q — U.S. taxpayers give more than $3 billion each year for military defense systems in Israel, shouldn't Americans have a response from this administration more than 12 hours after this attack?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I appreciate the question, and I understand the importance of the American people who — you are correct, they are taxpayers. And I want to be incredibly mindful here. And I understand the interest here. And I am going to continue to say: I'm not going to speak to this or speculate about the reports out there. That's not going to change. And I'm just going to be super mindful.

Q So, last week, the President warned Iran. He said, "Don't," when he was asked his message to Iran about retaliation. They did it anyway. He urged Israel to show restraint. And Israel, according to the reporting, has retaliated. Does the U.S. have any leverage in the region?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know this is not going to be satisfying. I'm not going to speak to any of the reports out there. I'm just not going to do that. Not going to speculate.

I will say — and we have se- — you've heard this from my NSC colleagues, and you've heard this from many of us here at the White House: The President and the Prime Minister have a — a longstanding relationship that goes decades — decades. And because of that longstanding relationship, they are able to speak very honestly with each other and have difficult conversations when it's necessary. That is the type of friendship that they have.

I'm just not going to speak to any of the events that's been reported.

Go ahead, Justin.

Q Thanks, Karine. I appreciate you aren't ready to speak to it right now, but I don't think we're expecting to hear from you guys again until Tuesday. Can you make some sort of commitment to, you know, brief on this before the middle of next week?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I — what I will say is that I — I

don't have any schedule to announce or anything to share about,

you know, speaking on — on the reports that are out there or making a comment. I wouldn't expect — I wouldn't expect anything further beyond today.

But, again, want to be super mindful. I'm not going to speak to this. I'm not going to —

Q Sure.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — give comments.

Q I mean, I think it would just be (inaudible) —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — I understand, but it's –it's hard for me to — to say to you, "Before Monday." That is —

Q Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything in the docket. I don't have any schedule to speak to at this moment. At this time, I just can't spec- — speculate or speak to any of the reports from — that —

Q (Inaudible.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — that are being — any of the — the reporting from the event overnight.

Q Then a couple of domestic ones, then.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Sure, sure.

Q There's reports overnight that Sony is discussing a bid for Paramount that would push consolidation among — in Hollywood and amongst studios to some of the tightest we've ever seen it. Considering the White House's push for competition, do you guys have any concerns about such a deal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you mentioned, the Competition Council is something that the President put together because he wanted to make sure that we can — there's fair competition out there. And so, obviously, it's important to have that Competition Council.

I'm not going to speak on the potential action that being — may be taken by Sony. I'm just going to leave that there.

Q And then on 702. Senator Durbin, the Democratic Whip, has not backed down on his push for an amendment that would require warrants for certain information. Does the White House feel confident that this is going to get through the Senate today to avoid the — the lapse that would happen if it wasn't reauthorized? And why is — why do you think you've been un- — unable to convince Senator Durbin not to push forward with this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: On — on which piece?

Q The amendment on 702.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, on FISA. So, also going to be careful here. I don't want to get ahead of the most important point here, which is the provision underpinning the government's most critical foreign intelligence tool. As you know, Section 702, which is also FISA, is expired to — is — is going to expire today and, you know, with — along with other provisions.

Look, Section 702 provides irreplaceable information on almost every threat that the American people expect their government to find and stop: terrorist plots, illicit fentanyl, ransomware and other cyberattacks, Russian war crimes, and many more. And so, we're going to continue to urge the Senate to act to authorize it now.

It is — the bipartisan bill is currently, as you just stated in your question, in the Senate — in the Senate. And so, we strongly support it.

And so, we're going to continue to have those conversations with Senate — Senate members on making sure that we move forward with it, encouraging to pass it. This is something that our Office of Leg Affairs; our, obviously, National Security Council has been on top of not just this past week, not just today, but for several weeks now. And we want to strongly see it move forward.

And so, as you can imagine, we're having conversation with senators. And so, hopefully, we see that.

Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine. Just going back to the Columbia protests really quickly. Does the President see these arrests as a threat to freedom of speech or assembly?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I got to be super careful. I got to be m- — really mindful. This — there is an investigation currently happening with — ongoing with Columbia University about the Civil Rights Act und- — that's under the Civil Rights Act. And so, going to be super mindful.

I talked about — I laid out the importance of — of freedom of speech, but also the importance of making sure that students don't feel fear- — fearful, and making sure students are — are able to go to school feeling safe. And so, I have to be really, really careful here because there is an investigation, and so I'm just going to leave it there.

I did — well, I'll say one more thing. We understand that this time is incredibly painful for many Americans. And at the same time — right? — it's important for schools to protect students. It is one of the things that we have to do as — respecting — and, also, they must do this respecting of — of freedom — their freedom, obviously, to debate on their campuses. But students should feel safe.

Q And one more, please, if you don't mind.


Q The President has made a lot of policy — like, notable policy moves recently with student loan debt forgiveness and the steel tariffs and the drilling moves in Alaska. Are all of these — can you just talk about why are these happening right now? And is there — are they an attempt to kind of just shore up the Democratic base?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I would read this as what the President promised in 2020, what the President said when he walked into this administration.

He said: Climate change is a crisis — is one of the crises that we are dealing with not just here in this country but, obviously, globally. And he has been incredibly progressive on this, taking actions that we have not seen any other president take.

And so, he's — this is his commitment. I would see this as a commitment that he has made not just to young people but to Americans as our role, as the United States — obviously, as the United States of America, to make sure that we are doing our part in dealing with climate crisis. And that's what you're seeing.

You're seeing that from this — from this announcement today, but from many other announcements. So, it's not just now. He's been doing this from day one of this administration.

Go ahead, Danny.

Q Thanks, Karine. Firstly, can I just ask you: Has the President been briefed on these reported events that you don't wish to speculate on?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So — (laughter) — I knew — I knew some humor would be coming in. And I appreciate the humor.

So, I will say this: The President is regularly kept up to date in real time by his national security team. And certainly, the last 24 hours, there's no exception there. But, again, as you just stated in your ans- — in your question to me, I'm just not going to speculate on any specific events.

Q Okay. And just one other thing on Ukraine, if I may.


Q If — if the supplemental passes, how soon do you anticipate that U.S. military aid could start getting through to Ukraine again? Is there any timeline on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right away. Right away. We have been clear since October, since we put forth the original, obviously, national security supplemental, how critical it was to get that Ukraine aid to the brave people of — of Ukraine who have been fighting — who have been fighting to protect their democracy, fighting for their freedom, obviously.

And so, we've been saying it is critical. It is critical. They have been losing ground because of Congress inaction.

But we are — and I'll — I'll add this: We are very grateful to see that the House is moving, to see that it is moving in a bipartisan way. We want to get that out of the House, obviously, out of the Senate, to the — to — to the desk of this President, and he will sign it right away so that the brave people of Ukraine can get that aid.

We know what Mr. Putin wants to do. He wants to take over their sovereign territory. And we cannot allow that. We know what happens when you do not stop a tyrant, when you do not stop a dictator. And we cannot have that history repeat itself.

Go ahead, Jon.

Q Thanks a lot, Karine. Following up on that legislation regarding Ukraine that will be likely voted on tomorrow. Plan A was for the House to take up that bill that passed the Senate 70 to 29. That apparently has not happened. Is this, for the administration, a satisfactory plan B, having this standalone bill passed by the House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we see it as — he said this. He — I mean, the President said this maybe two days ago. I'm losing track of my days this week. But he strongly supports this package to reinforce Israel and Ukraine. And let's not forget the humanitarian aid that's needed in — in — for the Palestinian people, in Haiti, in Su- — in Sudan. This is important humanitarian aid. Let's not forget this — the security in Indo-Pacific.

So, these are — this is what this package is going to do. The President strongly supports that. He — as I just stated to Danny, your colleague here, that we want to see — the President wants to see it moved out of the House, which is — I'm going to let the Hou- — obviously, let the House speak to their protocols and their processes. It's going to move out of the House. Then he wants to see it move out of the Senate. He wants to see it on his desk so he can sign it so we can get that aid — the security assistance, obviously, to Ukraine.

That's very needed. I talked about the humanitarian aid that's needed. I tal- — also, the all-important aid that's needed to Israel as well and Indo-Pacific. This is important. But we see it as a package. That's how it's moving forward.

Q And then in response to Danny's question, you said that Ukraine has been losing ground because of congressional inaction —


Q — inaction in the House.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That's something we've said multiple times.

Q So, is it your expectation that because of this package that likely will pass the House, hopefully, from your perspective, pass the Senate, get to the President's desk, that Ukraine can win back that ground that they've lost because of congressional inaction?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what we need to do right now is make sure that they have the security assistance to defend themselves, to defend their sovereign territory. I can't speak to the military operations on the ground. And what I'm — what I'm repeating is something that the CIA Director said even yesterday. He said that — to the Big Four when they met very early on this year, that they are losing ground and con- — congressional inaction is hurting — is hurting what Ukraine is trying to do.

So, we want to see — right now we're seeing action. I want to be very clear: We're grateful for the action that we're seeing coming out of the House. We want to see it out of the House, out of the Senate, to the desk of the President so that he can sign it. And so, we are grateful for that — for that movement that we're seeing.

And we're grateful to both the Speaker and Leader Jeffries that they're moving in a bipartisan way to get that all — very important, needed national security supplemental aid to the — to the — to Ukraine, Israel, humanitarian aid, obviously, and also the security of In- — Indo-Pacific.

Go ahead.

Q Karine, two questions, both on the aid bill. The first one is more logistical, kind of a follow-up. What kind of engagement will the President have over the next day or so? Is he planning any calls to House members, to Speaker Johnson? And how is he ingesting, sort of, what's going on?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. As you know, earlier this week, the President had a call with the Big Four. And that was — and you're talking about the na-

Q Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, national security supplemental. So, he had a call with the Big — the Big Four. And I think that's important to note.

And on Monday, the Speaker — Speaker Johnson reached out to the President to share his plan for the national security supplemental. Obviously, the President shared his support for moving — moving that package forward. And throughout the week — but, I mean, not just the week. It's been some time now.

You have — you have our offices here — Office of Leg Affairs, other advisors to the President — meeting, talking regularly with leaders in Con- — in Congress to talk about — to p- — to offer any — any assistant here, but provided consistent briefings — continued consistent briefings — that hasn't stopped — on pressing national security needs.

And so, those conversations continue. The President has been very much engaged in this week, this — this past week.

And so, look, we want to see this moving. We want to see this moving. We're grateful to the leaders for getting this moving — certainly looks like — out of the House. We want to see it moved out of the Senate, get this signed by the President so we can get that — the — that all-important national security needs to where — to — to protect our national security, obviously.

Q But anything as it comes over the finish line over the next day or so?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Don't have anything from the President himself reaching out. Don't have anything else to share. But the President has been engaged. He was — he talked to the Big Four, and Speaker Johnson called him to lay out what was in — how he was moving forward, what was in the package. And we appreciated that.

Q Let me ask just one more.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, sure.

Q I — the President is a student of history. He ran largely on returning norms —


Q — to Washington.


Q I — what does he think about the fact that, you know, for the second time in seven months, we're kind of knocking on the door of ousting another House Speaker?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I mean, you said something that I probably should have said in — in my answer to you about how we're moving — how the national security supplemental was moving.

Look, it's moving in a bipartisan way. You're right, the President believes in — in getting — and the way to get things done for the American people: to do it in a bipartisan way. And that's what we're seeing with this national security supplemental. Because it's not just about — it's not just about Ukraine and Israel and Indo-Pacific. It's also about our own national security, which is why it's important that we step in, and this is why it's important that we move — move quickly here.

And so, I think that's important to note, that we are seeing a bipartisan process here as it relates to our national security.

Look, you know, that is a question for House members to speak to. It is their decision on who their Speaker is going to be. So, that is something that they have to deal with.

What the President wants to see is to make sure that really important initiatives, really important issues are moving forward. And that's what we're seeing with the national sec- — security supplemental.

Go ahead. I know I have to wrap.

Q On the national security —


Q — supplemental. There's language in it that has the — language that would force the sale of TikTok that could eventually lead to a TikTok ban. That's stalled in the Senate. Is the White House concerned about legal challenges that might come to — to that —


Q — piece of (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I — we have expressed strong support, obviously, for the package. And — and certainly, we'll continue — the national security package — certainly we'll continue to show our support, as I've been doing for the past, you know, few minutes here. And, you know, it was — this — this bill — obviously, this national pac- — this national security package includes this bill, as you just mentioned. It i- — which has improved thanks to the leadership of members of the House and the Senate.

So, in that — what you're talking about — the TikTok divestment, not a ban, of the app TikTok — there's been improvements in this made by both — both chambers. So, we're proud to see that.

And just to be very clear, it is not a ban; it is a divestment. It would ensure that ownership of these apps wouldn't be in the hands of those who can exploit them and to do us harm. And so, that's how we're seeing.

Q But if it doesn't sell, there will be a ban, right?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, that's not — look, let's — let's — let's see where this goes. We believe — we support the package as it certainly stands. There's been improvement made to it. We think that matters. We see this as a divestment, not a ban. And it is important. This is another piece of our national security and protecting our national security, protecting American people. So, making sure that they don't get exploited and that harm could be done.

Go ahead, Gerren.

Q Thanks, Karine. Ahead of the cannabis holiday 4/20, a few advocacy groups, including the Drug Policy Alliance and SPLC, sent a letter to the President thanking him for his actions on marijuana reform, but they say that it falls short of promises he made when he was a candidate in 2020 that he would decriminalize marijuana.

They acknowledge that the rescheduling of marijuana is — is an attempt to address racial equities, but they say that it doesn't go far enough. They want the President to publicly support decriminalization.

Does the White House believe that it has done enough as it relates to the issue of marijuana reform?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, on decriminalization, the President has been very, very clear. He doesn't believe that anyone should be in jail or be prosecuted just for using or — or possessing marijuana. He continues to say that. He believes that.

As you know, he asked the Secretary of HHS and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review how marijuana is being scheduled.

HHS concluded their independent review, which was guided by evidence, by science, which is how we — what we believe here in this administration. And now the scheduling review is now with the Department of Justice.

And so, would certainly — the process is still going, the review is still going, so DOJ has this. But the President has been really, really clear about how he feels about — you know, about the pros- — people being prosecuted just for pr- — using or possessing marijuana. That has not sta- — changed.

And now HHS has — did their review, and now DOJ — it's in the hands of DOJ.

Q (Inaudible) — any future announcements whether par- — future pardons or anything else?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't ha- — as it relates to pardons, I don't have anything to preview at this time.

But, look, there's a review that Department of Justice is currently undergoing. So, we got to let them do their review. The President has been pretty clear on where he stands on this.

And so, I would refer you to Department of Justice on any — you know, on rescheduling and their review.

I do have to wrap it up.

Go ahead.

Q Thank you, Karine. In light of recent events that we're not discussing, is there less pressure on the President to condition aid to Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) Not going to speculate on any of the events that have been reported. Me answering that question would be speculating on those said events. So, I'm not going to speculate on those events or any of the reports that are out there.

And I know that is not satisfying to all of you. But that is where we are.

Q Can I just follow up? The House —


Q The House Israel bill includes a provision that congressional notification of foreign military financing obligation may be waived under emergency authority of the Secretary of State, which means up to $3.5 billion

of weapons can potentially be provided to Israel without notifying lawmakers.

Does the administration believe that the American taxpayers have the right to know what kind of weapons we're sending to Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let's let the process move forward. But you have heard from me, you've heard the President: We support this package. This is about our national security. This is about, you know, making sure — we saw what happened, obviously, with Iran and what happened recently, earlier this week, and how they — and what they did and how they attacked Israel.

So, we understand — right? — we understand that we have to continue our strong commitment to Israel's security. That is — continues to be ironclad. But it's not just that that's in the national security package. We're also talking about Ukraine, we're also talking about humanitarian aid to — to the Palestinian people, to the people of Sudan and Haiti. And this is really — and the security of Indo-Pacific, obviously.

So, we support that package. I'm not going to get into speculation here. Let's let the House do their process and the Senate do their process.

Q And then just one last one, Karine. I know that Jake told us that he's consulting with allies and partners on the Middle East issue. I was wondering: Has the administration had any conversation with China regarding the Middle East since last Saturday?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any- — anything to — to share beyond the readout that we had when the President spoke to President Xi. Outside of that, don't have anything else.

All right. Thanks, everybody. Thank you.

Q (Inaudible) on the 911 outage?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, everybody. Have a good weekend.

2:48 P.M EDT

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