Aboard Air Force One
En Route Durham, North Carolina
12:37 P.M. EDT
MS. DALTON: Well, good afternoon. As you’re all well aware, we’re on our way to Durham, North Carolina, where President Biden will visit Wolfspeed, a manufacturer of semiconductors that recently announced a $5 billion investment to expand their North Carolina operations and create 1,800 good-paying jobs.
This visit kicks off the administration’s three-week Investing in America tour, where President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, White House officials, and members of the President’s Cabinet will fan out to over 20 states to highlight how the President’s economic agenda is unleashing a manufacturing boom, strengthening U.S. supply chains, creating good-paying jobs, and expanding economic opportunity across America.
During the visit, President Biden will announce that over $435 billion in private-sector manufacturing commitments have been made since he took office. And on this visit, the President will also highlight what’s at stake if MAGA Republicans in Congress get their way and repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, slash funding for manufacturing, research, and innovation to give tax breaks and breaks to the super-wealthy.
North Carolina, in addition to Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and New York, is among the states that stand to lose the most private-sector investment under these reckless proposals.
Aamer, you want to kick us off?
Q Just a couple of scheduling questions. Is there anything in line for either Mississippi, to go visit the devastation and the people there, and also the situation in Nashville?
MS. DALTON: So, one at a time. So, with respect to Mississippi, I don’t have anything — any travel to preview at the moment. I will just — just to give you the latest:
As you know, on Saturday, the President spoke to Governor Lee, both senators from Mississippi, as well as Congressman Bennie Thompson. On Sunday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled down to the region to assess the damage to see where, you know, the pre- — the federal response was needed most quickly.
And we’ve continued to stay in touch with state and local officials on the ground to support that response. We’ll keep you posted if there’s any travel to be aware of there.
And with respect to Tennessee, I have a couple of updates.
So as you all know, yesterday, the President spoke to both the governor, Bill Lee of Tennessee, as well as the ma — Mayor Cooper of Nashville. Just a short time ago, he also spoke to Senator Hagerty, as well as the Nashville police chief.
I have no travel to preview at the moment there. But I would just — you know, I know the President spoke once again to this terrible tragedy just a few moments ago. But our hearts absolutely go out and break for the families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones today in Nashville. Just absolutely heartbreaking the loss that they experienced once again yesterday.
Q Olivia, saw Karine’s statement, of course, in response to Speaker McCarthy. But the sort of unanswered question is the Speaker asked for talks with the President. And will the White House hold talks between the President and Speaker McCarthy until — is it conditioned on them producing their budget, or are you willing to have those talks in absence of a Republican budget?
MS. DALTON: Well, I guess — you know, we’ve seen the letter, but where’s the budget? The President released his budget three weeks ago. He released a budget that reduces the deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years, invests in America, reduces costs for hardworking American families. And so far, all we’ve seen from Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans in Congress are proposals that would blow up the deficit, and sell out hardworking Americans to the wealthy and special interests, and do nothing to address the deficit.
So, you know, I think — you know, the President has been asking for weeks to see what the Republican budget looks like. And all we’ve seen are these proposals from the House Freedom Caucus that would do nothing to address the deficit and would, like I said, you know, sell out hardworking families.
Q Can I just re-ask the question, which is: Is the condition for the President to meet with Speaker McCarthy that they produce the budget? Or — because it seems like you guys are just talking past each other at this point.
MS. DALTON: Look, the President has laid out his budget, and he thinks that the Republicans should lay out their budget.
And then, separately, you know, I know the Speaker raised this issue of the debt limit this morning. And I would just say once again that — you know, and I know that you saw the statement from Karine just a short time ago — but this is — this is a constitutional obligation that Congress has to address the debt ceiling. It is their constitutional obligation to address the debt ceiling, as they did 3 times during the previous administration and 78 times since 1960. And we believe that that, you know, has to move forward, that they can’t hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. There’s just too much at stake.
And we know, from independent experts and economists, that would cost millions of jobs and throw our economy into chaos. And so, they have an obligation to act.
And separately, when they put forward a budget proposal, let’s take a look at that, and we’ll have a conversation.
Q So, not to beat a dead horse, but if you’re not willing to condition the meeting on them producing their budget, what’s the next step? How does this move forward?
Because, clearly, I know that you would prefer them to produce their budget. Speaker McCarthy has said that he wants to negotiate on these points. So how do you — how do you break through this impasse?
MS. DALTON: Well, once again, I mean, the President has put forward his budget, and all he’s asking in return is to see what the House Republicans will put forward. I think that’s pretty reasonable.
So, I’ll move on.
Q Olivia, does the — does the banking crisis now raise the stakes in the debt limit to a certain extent? I mean, the markets — you know, markets are already very volatile. There’s a lot of concern about financial stability that is still there despite all the emergency measures that have been taken. Does — you know, is the President or is the White House communicating with people in Congress about the — the — you know, the — that — does that change the equation as far as the debt limit discussion?
MS. DALTON: Certainly it, you know, makes the stakes all the greater. I mean, the — you know, certainly given recent events, we want to see the debt limit addressed quickly, and we want to see, you know, assurances that House Republicans aren’t going to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage.
This has to be addressed, like it has been so many times before. And as we’ve recently seen, given recent events, it’s all the more urgent.
Q On the banking situation, regulators — there’s a hearing going on right now. We’re, you know, getting a lot of questions about what the next step will be. Can you tell us a timeline for proposing some comprehensive reforms to restore Dodd-Frank? And, you know, the President has already made some suggestions. Like, when will we see those proposals? How comprehensive will they be?
MS. DALTON: Right. So, as you alluded to, the President has already called on Congress to make it easier for regulators to claw back compensation, impose civil penalties, and ban executives from working in the banking industry.
And as the President said, he’ll also call on Congress and bank regulators to strengthen rules for larger banks so this doesn’t happen again.
The previous administration rolled back tough requirements put in place under the Obama-Biden administration that strengthened the financial system. And this administration is actively looking into what regulations or laws should be strengthened to prevent this from happening again.
Beyond that, I don’t have a specific timeline for you.
Q Just — I’m sorry — one more quick one. Given the impasses in Congress, do you see any movement forward?
You know, we saw bipartisan legislation introduced by Rick Scott and Elizabeth Warren — odd bedfellows. You know, not — not people you would normally think of as working together. The White House has not yet taken a position, you know, on that legislation. Does that offer you a moment of bipartisan, you know —
MS. DALTON: I don’t have any updates on that particular legislation to share.
Q Olivia, (inaudible) international. On Israel, does the President have any plans to invite Bibi Netanyahu to the White House? Is there anything you can tell us on that front?
MS. DALTON: Yeah, just — as Ambassador Nides said, there’s no plan for Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Washington.
Israeli leaders have a long history, tradition of visiting Washington, and Prime Minister Netanyahu will likely take a visit at some point. But there’s nothing currently planned.
Q Does the White House believe that Netanyahu will now move forward with the judicial overhaul? Or are you guys seeing this current pause as a signal that he’s backing down from it?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, yesterday, we welcomed the decision to delay the implementation of the judicial reform plan. We thought that gives important space and time for compromise and dialogue. And as we’ve said all along, we believe that’s incredibly important.
Q One last one on Northern Ireland. With the UK raising the threat level to severe, is that going to impact President Biden’s travel to the region next month?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, we’re still in the process of hammering out details, so I don’t have additional details on potential engagements to share, though I do know that the President has obviously stated he’s looking forward to visiting at some point in the future.
Also, I’ll just say: No, it does not have any potential implications for future travel. I think, as some of you may be aware, according to the UK authorities, this announcement returned Northern Ireland to the threat levels that they have been at for the last 12 years, reversing a downgrade that occurred just last year.
Q Can I ask a follow-up to the banking question that Andrea asked? Last week, Karine had said in the next few days there would be additional announcements, specifically on the financial regulatory front. That was last week.
And I guess — I mean, I just wanted to follow up on the timeline, because I’ve been hearing from the White House it’ll be “a few days, a few days, a few days” — frankly, ever since SVB happened.
And so, do you have any guidance on — it sounds like you guys are working on something, but what’s — she kind of previewed the next few days last week.
MS. DALTON: Well, I just outlined some of the steps the President has already called for. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to share at this moment.
Q Is it — is it accurate to assume that you guys are still planning to push for something specifically on the regulatory front? That was on the accountability front.
MS. DALTON: As I just said, we’re still looking at that. And I don’t have anything to — additional to share at this moment.
Q More broadly, on guns, this is yet another attack in a school. Six people shot dead. What is it — without getting into kind of partisan party politics, what is it about America that this can happen and we don’t see any meaningful momentum for gun control?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, I think — you use the word again and again — I think this is yet another heartbreaking instance. I mean, how many times do we have to mourn school — schoolchildren? I mean, there have been more than a dozen attacks in schools alone this year, many more mass shootings, and countless other shootings that don’t even make the headlines.
And, you know, what you’ve seen from this President is a commitment to act; historic action to — you know, the most significant bipartisan safety — gun safety legislation in 30 years; nearly two dozen executive actions, including an executive order he rolled out not two weeks ago that brought us closer to universal background checks than we’ve ever been before; expanded red-flag laws; urged the FTC to publicly report on marketing assault weapons to minors.
This President has been extremely forward-leaning and aggressive in trying to tackle this issue of gun safety. And I think you just heard from him moments ago the sort of sentiment that there is a limit to his executive power and there’s a need for Congress to do more in this moment.
He said it in the State of the Union: Do something. He’s saying it again today.
And, you know, it just — I think a lot of us, even here, you know, internalize these moments as parents. It’s really hard to put yourself in the shoes of the parents of those three nine-year-olds who aren’t going to come home.
And, you know, I — I appreciate that we have the opportunity to have this conversation today and put the spotlight on this issue and where it belongs.
But I really do — you — you asked me to stay away from partisan politics here, but it’s impossible for me to do that because the reality is we need Republicans in Congress to get on board with an assault weapons ban, to get on board with universal background checks, to get on board with requiring safe storage.
These are not — these are commonsense policies with broad bipartisan support. They wor- — these are policies that work. And so, it’s not rocket science here. If we can get Republicans to come to the table, we can do something about this.
Q But do you have any real expectation that Congress is going to act this time?
MS. DALTON: Well, you know, I think the President will do everything in his power to — to continue to urge them to act. And, you know, you heard Karine say the other day he is relentlessly optimistic. You know, all we can do is continue to fight.
Q Governor Ron DeSantis is — says he’s going to be traveling to Israel at the end of April, right before the Knesset reopens its legislative session and reopens this debate over judicial reform. Is there a concern at all that this issue, Israeli democracy, will become a partisan matter here in the United States? And what are you doing to ensure that your response remains bipartisan?
MS. DALTON: I — I can — I’m not sure that — that, you know — I think you saw the President spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu just last week. They have — they have been in touch many times. We are in regular touch with the Israeli government. They know our strong views about the importance of democracy to the U.S.-Israeli partnership. They know where we stand on — on this issue. And I think that’s — that’s where I’m going to leave it. I don’t think I have any comment on speculating on whether the governor of Florida is traveling to Israel and what that might mean.
Q Olivia, on this — on this barnstorm tour that’s going on now — that’s kicking off today, I mean, are you hoping that that kind of — you know, what’s your overall goal for this trip, this three-week trip, where Cabinet officials are going to be going — it’s to — you know, are you looking at the politics involved? The President’s approval ratings have been relatively low — very low, actually — despite, you know, the funding that you talk about. Like, where’s the disconnect there?
MS. DALTON: We’re embarking on a three-week tour to highlight how transformational this President’s economic agenda has been for hardworking Americans across the country. He’s going to announce the fact that pri- — the private sector has invested $435 billion in the United States of America in the last two years since he’s been President and the transformational that — impact that’s having on communities, like the one we’re visiting today in Durham, and all across the country.
And so, you know, as we start to see the implementation of some of this transformational legislation over the last couple of years, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act — the way that that is bringing good-paying jobs back to — and entire supply chains, manufacturing back to the United States once again.
The President is going to take that message out to the — out to the people of the United States and show how his economic agenda is delivering for them. That’s part of what his job is.
Q Is he going to do interviews and press conferences?
MS. DALTON: I’m really sorry. We have to leave it there. I’m due up front. I’m so sorry.
Q Is there a chance we can get a press conference with him?
MS. DALTON: I can’t commit to that right now. But I’ve — but I’m happy to follow up.
12:53 P.M. EDT