Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, everybody. Happy Tuesday. Hope everyone had a restful Memorial Day — an observant one, as well.
Let’s get started.
For months, the President made clear that Congress must meet its basic constitutional responsibility to prevent a first-ever default, just as it has been done 78 times before since 1960.
The President made clear that default was not an option and laid out the economic stakes of a default: a recession, millions of jobs lost, devastated retirement accounts, higher borrowing costs.
And the President said from the beginning that he would negotiate with Republicans on a budget just like it has been done every year.
He directed his team to work in good faith toward a reasonable, bipartisan agreement. This agreement will do the following:
Protect Democrats’ historic legislative accomplishments, including the Inflation Reduction Act, PACT Act, CHIPS Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Protect the economic gains we’ve made — 12.7 million jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in 54 years.
Ensure we have the same level of investments in the middle class as we did in fiscal year 2023.
Protect healthcare and not push people into poverty.
Block devastating cuts to law enforcement, public safety, and education as well.
Negotiations require give-and-take. No one gets everything that they want. That’s how divided government works. But the President successfully protected core Democratic priorities and the historic — historic economic progress that we have made over the last two years.
Now, the House and Senate, it’s up to them. They must pass this bill so that the President can sign it into law and so that we can continue to build on those very historic economic progress that I just list out we’ve made under this President’s leadership, and so — over the past two years, as I have stated as well, as you’ve heard us lay out as well before.
Now, without further ado, I have the OMB Director — the Director of Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. Director — Director Young is here, and she’s happy to take your questions. And thank you for all the work that you’ve done these past two weeks — or several weeks.
MS. YOUNG: Thank you. I will see my child again. (Laughter.)
And I do have a small confession to make: I’m also out of clean clothes — (laughter) — after these last couple weeks. So I think I ran into Annie Linskey of the Wall Street Journal and Lauren Egan with Politico as they saw me trekking back to get some clothes to wear with you here today because I don’t have time to do laundry or take anything to the dry cleaner. (Laughter.) So, that’s about how my last two weeks have gone.
But as you know, the President and the Speaker — Speaker McCarthy — reached a reasonable, bipartisan agreement over the weekend. As someone who had the pleasure of negotiating this as a part of a great team, I can assure you that this was no easy task to get here, but what was on the line for the American people was real.
I know I breathed a little easier — I called my parents, told them to breathe a little easier — that a deal had been reached. And that’s what this was all about.
It’s an agreement that not only prevents the first-ever default in this country, but it will protect our hard-earned and historic economic recovery. It will protect our legislative achievements, including the legislation that is creating good jobs in this country. And it’s protecting critical programs that millions of Americans count on that you’ve heard me repeatedly talk about.
I want to be clear: This agreement represents a compromise, which means no one gets everything that they want, and hard choices had to be made. Negotiations require give-and-take. That’s the responsibility of governing.
For months, the President made clear — and you may have heard me say this once or twice — that Congress must take action to prevent default. And from the beginning, he said he would negotiate with Republican leadership on a budget framework, and that will allow the appropriations process to proceed under regular order, just like we do every year.
The bipartisan budget agreement that we’ve reached protects key legislative accomplishments from the past two years, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy, corporate minimum tax, and prescription drug provisions.
It protects programs millions of hardworking families count on. It protects Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, safeguarding health insurance for millions of Americans.
It fully funds veterans’ medical care, including mandatory funding for the PACT Act’s Toxic Exposure Fund at the levels the President proposed in his fiscal year ‘24 budget.
And it protects critical public health funding from being clawed back to prepare for future pandemics and possible COVID-19 surges.
This agreement is now with the United States House and then on to the Senate. And we strongly urge both chambers to pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk.
And, with that, I’m all yours.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Phil, who just came back from Beyoncé, in Paris. (Laughter.)
MS. YOUNG: You did not.
Q It was great. It was a great concert. It was my wife’s 40th birthday present. That’s not bad.
MS. YOUNG: I have feelings right now. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I feel you.
Q Can we talk about it after, in a very lengthy interview? We can do that at the very end of it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Phil has feelings, too. (Laughter.)
Q This is going to be a hell of a segue. (Laughter.)
The appropriations adjustments —
MS. YOUNG: Yep.
Q — they’re a pretty critical part of the agreement, I think. We know about COVID funds; obviously, IRS as well. Can you detail, kind of, the full scale of the adjustments —
MS. YOUNG: Yeah.
Q — that you guys agree to, shook hands on?
MS. YOUNG: First, I think it’s important to know the appropriations process — hello, former staff director — uses adjustments all the time. They do rescissions. They use emergency money. That is how the appropriations process works.
Because we were dealing with the toplines, we thought it important to memorialize some of those adjustment agreements. It does not stop the appropriations committee from doing other things they feel is necessary to make sure the appropriations process works. But to ensure that we got to a similar level, close to the same level as this year, we certainly wanted to have an agreement with the Speaker’s team about what that was. Because, remember, part of this deal is to make sure we have an appropriations process that works. This unlocks that, just like budget resolutions would have.
So now we’re setting topline here. And when the appropriation committee works, you will see them use $22 billion of the COVID relief rescissions, which were taken in this bill. The appropriators will use some of that money to spread around how they see fit.
We didn’t get into the individual line items in this bill. They will also, as you’ve heard, use IRS rescissions from the IRA on the mandatory side. Again, we don’t dictate how, but they will rescind $10 billion both years, and they will then use that to be reinvested into non-defense discretionary.
They will also use other recissions that their appropriators will decide the mix of. But we agreed on the levels — that they could be higher, $10 billion higher than last year — and the appropriators will use that.
And building on the emergencies used in December, the appropriators will use about $23 billion in emergency for ‘24 and ‘25.
Q And then, can I just ask real quick: Do you have an understanding of how many votes Republicans will provide in the House to get this over the finish line?
MS. YOUNG: No, remember, I moved. I moved over here. We’re going to let the Speaker work with his conference. This is what I miss about the House, though. This is a fun day over there. Lots of meetings. I’m sure it’s very interesting and has a lot of energy.
But we’re going to leave that to them to work out the votes and how they get there. We know — we talked to them in good faith; they talked to us in good faith. But now it’s their — their chance to talk to their members.
We, from here, are making sure members know what’s in this bill. Education, education, education.
But, look, I know a lot of members of Congress. What you don’t do is call and tell them what to do. You educate. You say, “Let me know what you need to know — what — what’s in this bill, how it’s written, how it’s going to be implemented. And we’re here to answer you.”
Q Thanks. I have two questions. First, on SNAP, Karine just said that one of the President’s priorities was not to push people into poverty. But as this bill is written with the adjustments in the work requirements in SNAP, Republicans estimate 700,000 Americans are going to lose those benefits.
So, can you square that circle? How —
MS. YOUNG: Yeah. The President said to me, said to the rest of the team over and over, he would not increase poverty in this country.
So, while, yes, there will be a phase-in to add age up to 54, remember, we also got new exemptions in this bill that both parties agree to do. We will have exemptions for — from 18 to the new population of 54. So not just a new population, but these new three exemptions will go from the even existing population. So, some people who have these requirements now will no longer if they’re homeless, if they’re veterans, if they’re foster youth aged out of the system up to 24.
So, the analysis is being finalized, but we believe those who are off of those requirements, because of those exemptions, will be about the same number as those who are phased in on age.
And you have to remember this: This entire SNAP change is sunset in 2030 to give Congress a chance to see how the new exemptions work and how the new ages work. And they can opine on a future farm bill if these changes have made a difference in the SNAP program.
Q But do you know how many individuals would go off the program right — off government assistance right now who are not eligible for those?
MS. YOUNG: So, we think it’s about the same number. I don’t want to give you a number until that analysis by USDA is done. But the range is about what you said. But it’s also the same range of people who will take advantage and who qualify for the new exemptions.
So those numbers are going to be very close to each other, meaning a wash in those affected who go on and who are phased on over years, and those who come off of the requirements.
Q And sorry, different topic, real quick. Can you explain a little bit how the Mountain Valley Pipeline made it into this bill? Was it at the White House’s request? Obviously, it’s been Senator Manchin’s priority here, but he wasn’t in the negotiations. So how did it make it in the agreement?
MS. YOUNG: Well, I believe what you’re talking about is part of the permitting piece. We all thought permitting would be a part of this package. We all have an interest to make sure these projects move faster.
I talked about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. One of the things we’re focused on here is what can we do to get that money out faster to ensure that these projects really happen in an expedient manner. That’s why we’ve been for permitting. And the project you talk about is part of the permitting piece that we knew would be in the final legislation.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Nancy.
Q Thank you so much, Shalanda, for doing this. The chair in the Progressive Caucus says that it’s really unfortunate that you are expanding the work requirements for this particular age group. She says it’s terrible policy. I know that you’ve been working the phones speaking to a number of members of, I assume, the Progressive Caucus trying to convince them that this is good policy. Is she right about that, that this is bad policy?
MS. YOUNG: Look, I won’t get into individual member opinions because I think I told Phil or someone else: My job is to tell members what’s in the bill. You get into trouble when you try to tell members what their opinion is. Every member is — should have whatever opinion.
Our job is to say, “This is what’s in the bill. This is how some of the worst things Republicans wanted were mitigated.”
And, by the way, you heard me answer on SNAP. There’s a very real possibility, when we see the numbers, that the number who are phased in, who have new requirements on SNAP, is offset by the number who will now be covered under the new exemptions.
Q And then I heard what you’re saying about the Mountain Valley Pipeline and about permitting, but this is one project that takes up about 25 pages of a 99-page bill. Why was it so important to spend so much time on this one project?
MS. YOUNG: I think we’ve been clear about our position on permitting. We worked with senators to try to get permitting done last year. We will continue to get more permitting. This was a small piece. It was a start of a longer process that both parties know we have to do, especially to get clean energy projects going. And I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that permitting was a key part of a compromise piece that both parties know we got a little done here but we’ll need to get more done later.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Mary.
Q When you think big picture and you reflect on these talks, what lessons have you learned about how this Speaker and this Congress negotiate, lessons that may be applicable going forward?
MS. YOUNG: One never looks the same as the other. I’ve done this a few times. They end different every time. They feel different every time. Going in and thinking there is a formula is the wrong thing to do. Different people in the room this time. I’m used to being in a room with appropriators and a little leadership.
So it’s just always different, and you got to be flexible. The most important things to know: what they have to have. You have to be clear about what you have to have. I want to know their value statements, and they need to know mine, and we have to find a middle ground. They shouldn’t have to compromise their values, and neither should we. That is a bipartisan compromise.
I know what’s a reach. They try with me to see maybe if I’m asleep or not, but at the end of the day, we both have to find a way to protect each other’s core principles, like not increasing people in po- — on po- — going into poverty in this country. And that’s how you get to (inaudible).
And first and foremost — I’ve said this, I think, in this room — I have always thought the majority of members, Democrats and Republicans, did not want to take us even to the brink of default. I think this bill shows that that assessment was correct. And we have to keep our eye on the prize: that passing this bill, getting it to the President avoids the catastrophic thing that would hurt millions of Americans. And there’s a reason world leaders were worried about this: This would’ve impacted the global economy.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. Director Young, you talked a little bit about the calls that you’ve been making and that other members of the administration have been making to members of your own party. What is the mood or the tenor on some of those calls? And where, realistically, is the whip count among Democrats right now?
MS. YOUNG: Remember, I worked there a long time. So, the mood and tenor — I tend to get patched in with people’s children so I can say hello to people I haven’t seen in a long time, so it is catch-up time for me. And these are — these are friends of mine. And I play it straight with them, and they play it straight with me. And I have long relationship with a lot of people, and that means I’m honest with them and they are honest back with me.
And, again, this is education. I like — I play it straight with folks. They will make their own determination. And it’s incumbent upon us to make sure they know every single detail in those 99 pages.
Q Leader Jeffries said that Republicans had pledged 150 votes. Is that still the case? And can Democrats provide 70?
MS. YOUNG: I’ll let them figure that part out. All I know is, when you enter into good-faith negotiations, you don’t negotiate to see a bill posted; you negotiate to make sure it gets to the President’s desk. And we’ll fulfill our part when it gets to the President’s desk.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Nancy.
Q How concerned, Director Young, is the White House right now about the growing Republican opposition that threatens the compromise on the table from a procedural standpoint in the next couple of hours?
MS. YOUNG: Look, this is not — the — the House is not very different from when I was there. You have to have some faith in the governing majority, which I do, because I have a lot of respect for members on both sides of the aisle to do what’s best for the American people.
And that is not some pollyannish thing. I know them. And I’ve always thought we could get here if we let the extreme go away. Like, a lot of the things in the Republican bill just were non-starters. I get it. But we just could not do that, and they know that.
But at the end of the day, more people than not knew that default — threatening default would have been bad for — for America. The 12 million jobs added, record low unemployment — undoubtedly, that would have been wiped out almost immediately. And that would have been unacceptable.
Q And what does this mean for future negotiations in a sharply divided Congress, as you’ve been talking about, in terms of the level of confidence you have that we just — that there’s enough goodwill that we won’t just be back in this same position later this year when it comes to avoiding a government shutdown or just a repeat of this scenario with different stakes?
MS. YOUNG: Yeah, look, I think I’ve been honest with you. I — I have always, during this process, worried about the three months from now. And I represented that. Whatever these toplines were, they had to allow an appropriations process to at least try.
We couldn’t do things that were so draconian that we knew we’d be back here. I love them — those are some of my old offices I got to sit in — but I also like seeing my child. And we don’t have to do these things where we make the American people very nervous, even though we know we’re going to get there.
So, one of the goals here was, like, let’s try not to do this again; let’s set up a topline regime that allows the appropriators a fighting chance. Because it’s hard, even in unified government, to get all 12 bills done. And I think we reach the sweet spot in this agreement to give the appropriators the tools they need to get started, get that appropriations process unlocked, and have a fighting chance to get bills done by October 1st.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Steve.
Q Is there a mechanism for increasing defense spending if that is deemed necessary?
MS. YOUNG: They would have to — to change any of these numbers in the caps. You ha- — you would have to go amend this bill. So, if you spend — the idea of caps is: If you spend more than them, they’re sequestered. To change defense or non-defense, one would have to change — change this law.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Ken.
Q There’s been some suggestion that the X-date might move around in the final week; a Republican member said he’d heard it could move to June 8th.
MS. YOUNG: He knows more than I do.
Q Are you getting any indication that that might move?
MS. YOUNG: He knows more than I do, then, because I don’t have that indication.
Q And in terms of Ukraine funding, do you expect this bipartisan deal to have any impact on the administration’s ability to get more funding for Ukraine —
MS. YOUNG: I do not.
Q — in the months, weeks ahead?
MS. YOUNG: I do not.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Phil. In the back.
Q Thank you. The compromise gives you, as the OMB director, complete waiver authority over administrative PAYGO if you deem it necessary for program delivery. I’m wondering, if the bill as written becomes law, how frequently do you anticipate using that waiver authority?
MS. YOUNG: Look, it’s impossible to know the frequency, but I do know we negotiated all of this in good faith. We will follow the processes laid out in the law on PAYGO. And if that waiver is deemed necessary to make sure President Biden’s agenda is cared for, we’re going to use that — that authority. But we will have a process to follow the law as it’s written.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Steve Portnoy.
Q Thanks. Can you explain to student loan borrowers, who might be confused about what’s been agreed to here, how the Supreme Court decision may implicate that and explain the President’s continued commitment to forgiveness now?
MS. YOUNG: Yeah, thank you, because I want to be clear. Because as someone who owed a lot of money once upon a time in her life, people need certainty here.
There are the Court cases, which this bill does not deal with, so that continues to be where it is. Supreme Court will opine on the President’s action to forgive $10,000 in student debt and $20,000 for those with Pell Grants.
But in this bill, even though House Republicans’ bill sought to do away with that, we saved it in this bill. So there’s nothing on that in this bill.
We also protected the income-driven repayment rule, which if anyone has had student loans knows it was not — it did not work as intended. And this rule is intended to really tie payments to true income.
Like, it matters to people whether they pay $50 or $500 a month. The big balance matters, but when I was a young person starting out in this town, if you asked me to pay $200, then I probably ate ramen noodles. If it was $50, maybe I could go out a little.
So that balance each — this is an important rule to make sure people have a little breathing room every month, and that was protected in this law.
The one thing is: This bill does end the payment pause. But very close to the timeframe, we were going to end it, as an administration, when it comes to repayment.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Tamara.
Q Yeah, you talk about this as a compromise. I’m wondering if you could talk about what you lost on.
MS. YOUNG: Look, you — when the American people win and we avoid default, and retirement accounts are not in flux and the global economy is not crashing, I’m going to call that a win every day.
You know, individual people have issues with different parts of the bill. You’ve heard some of your colleagues bring up concerns that some members have.
I have to look at what was our ultimate goal. And we are in divided government. This is what happens in divided government: They get to have an opinion, and we get to have an opinion. And all things equal, I think this compromise agreement is reasonable for both sides.
And that’s what we saw. Protect the American people from the worst possible outcome: first-ever default. Allow Republicans to have some — some curbing of spending, which is flatlined for non-defense discretionary. And we move on and get an appropriations process that works. And I think that’s a good middle ground.
Q Just —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Francesca.
Q Just one more. Given that this process brought the U.S. to the brink, and this process isn’t quite over yet, has there been any reconsideration of doing away with the debt ceiling at some point? Is there — you know, late at night when you had no laundry or at other times, where is the administration’s thinking on the usefulness of having a debt ceiling?
MS. YOUNG: Right now, I’m thinking about how quickly this can get to the President’s desk and we can avoid default. And not only avoid default for a little while — until 2025, which is what this bill does. And it does give us some breathing room not to enter into these chaotic circumstances which would bring uncertainty to the American people. That’s where I’m focused.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Francesca.
Q Director Young, progressives would say that you lost on several provisions: permitting reform, work requirements, spending cuts that they view as harmful. Congresswoman Jayapal said today that the CPC wants to immediately sit down with the President and talk about what the next two years are going to be like.
So does the White House feel, as a result of the way this process played out, that it has some work to do with repairing relationships with progressives? And would the White House also like to set up a meeting like that?
MS. YOUNG: Look, I don’t do the President’s schedule. I’ll let other people opine on who he will meet with and when.
What I will say is: I’ve worked in many divided government situations. I think this is where you would expect a bipartisan agreement to land. It’s just the reality.
There’s not a unified government. They have ideas; we have to listen to them. We have to talk about it. We have to find a place that is not harmful for the American people or try to stave off the worst. I think we did that.
And so we have to look at the big picture. That’s what I’m going to do over the next two years: What can we do to find common ground, work together? This President has a history of bipartisanship, including over the last few years, including on veterans — PACT Act — and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
So there is opportunity to work together here. And we have seen that over the last two years with this President and Republicans, and there’s opportunity to keep that going.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks. You’ve said a couple of times that the agreement represents a compromise, and you’ve said it’s reasonable for both sides. But does the President feel like he came out ahead with this deal?
MS. YOUNG: The American people came out ahead. When you go into these things, what are you doing it for? Sure, there are some days where I have to slap myself and you’re like, “Ah, let it go. It’s fine.”
The point is to avoid default, not hurt American people in the process by having draconian changes, like we saw in the Republican bill on Medicaid, which we did not care for it.
So protect the things that would have hurt hardworking Americans. Come up with reasonable spending levels — which I think most Americans, when they hear a “spending freeze,” that’s reasonable. And do our basic — have Congress do its basic constitutional duty, which is avoid default.
So this isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. If you get into who won, who didn’t, you lost already. When you’re talking about default, it is the American people won today, especially when it gets to the President’s desk, because we have avoided what have — would have been absolutely catastrophic.
Look, we’ve seen government shutdowns, and I think people understand what the feel is.
Thankfully, we have not seen default in this country. So when we talk about catastrophe — since we have not seen it, have not felt it — I think people think it’s a little hyperbole. It is not. Every economist tells us that all the gains we’ve seen, we go backwards; that we’re back to situations like we’ve seen in the pandemic. That was absolutely unacceptable, and we avoided that by also protecting some key things and not violating our core values.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Just a few more. Go ahead, Ed.
Q Thank you, Shalanda. So, taking a larger view at this: Should the debt ceiling deal get signed, will it help bring down inflation over the next 12 months?
MS. YOUNG: So what I will tell you is: Would have — would have been terrible for inflation and the economy would have been a default. We have seen a moderation.
I’ll let — the credit agencies have not moved down the credit worthiness of the United States, but we needed to make sure we got a deal before that happened. We have done that and hopefully staved that off.
But this is exactly why — because we risk overturning — the gains we’ve made in inflation — is not low enough, but it is moderating. And my fear was even if we got closer and certainly defaulted, we would have been in a situation where we lost jobs and lost the gains we’ve made in tackling inflation.
Q But with this deal, is this an admission by the President that maybe the government spent too much money over the past two years?
MS. YOUNG: What I’ll say is: We’re in divided government, and both sides have thoughts about the trajectory of the country, of spending.
This President takes a backseat to nobody on deficit reduction. $1.7 trillion reduction in the first two years. He presided over that. His budget put forth a plan to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion more. He also made the case over and over in this conversation that if you really want to do big deficit reduction, where’s the revenue? Where are the high-income earners putting more skin in the game?
But this is one part. We’re not going to give up on our revenue proposals. So while this will change the trajectory of spending when you see the CBO — when we all see the CBO report when it comes out — where we really need to make headway is on our revenue proposals, which has long-lasting deficit reduction abilities and just structural change to change the unfairness in the tax system.
Q But, quickly, most of that $1.7 trillion that went off in the first two years was COVID spending that ran off. And the CBO says the deficit actually will increase next year. It’s 1.7. It was 1.4 this year, 1.7 next year, and then up to 2-point-something by — in 10 years.
MS. YOUNG: Well, that assumes this President did not preside over getting COVID under control, that it was an accident that he managed a vaccine program that was highly successful. Had we not done that, what additional measures would we have needed to ensure that more Americans did not die needlessly from the COVID pandemic?
So, I get the argument: You didn’t need COVID spending anymore, so you shouldn’t take credit for deficit reduction.
Well, he got it under control. He used the tools Congress gave him in the American Rescue Plan to get this virus under control and stave off the worst of economic scarring.
The rebound we have seen since COVID is not comparable to anything, including the economic recession we saw when he was Vice President.
So, this is not by accident. This President managed COVID. He managed the economic fallout. And that’s why you’ve seen 12.4 million jobs added.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, James.
Q Thank you very much, Karine. Director, I have two questions: one about this current set of negotiations and then a separate question, if you’d indulge me, on the President’s broader budget priorities.
It seems to me, in the context of these negotiations, that the White House has been clinging to a fiction, which is that this deal only was negotiated on the basis of the federal discretionary spending and that the President, who promised all along that he would never negotiate on the debt ceiling, didn’t do so in these negotiations.
That’s false, right? The President and his team, you included, did negotiate on the actual debt ceiling itself and not just the federal discretionary spending. Correct?
MS. YOUNG: If you’re asking me what was said in a room, I’ll be very clear: The debt ceiling was a — what did I say earlier? — I don’t like to use the word “red line,” but the debt ceiling had to be taken care of for a long period of time.
I’m not sure what you call a negotiation, but it was certainly a declarative statement from this side of the table. So —
MS. YOUNG: — maybe you call that negotiating; I call that a statement of fact and a statement we weren’t leaving the room with. So I’m not quite sure I would call that negotiating.
The debt ceiling had to be lifted, and it had to be lifted for a long period of time. You see this bill lift the debt ceiling until 2025. You can call it a negotiation; I call it a declarative statement. And that was our position, and that’s what’s in the bill.
Q On broader budget priorities, the President likes to say — we’ve heard Karine say many times — “Show me your budget, and that will show me your priorities.”
No one is more conversant with this President’s budgeting priorities than you. Based on the budgets he’s put together so far as President, would it be accurate to say that President Biden has been governing from the center? Or would it be more accurate to say, as Republicans would, that he’s been governing from the far left?
MS. YOUNG: The President does his own politics. I’m his OMB director.
What I will say is that his budgets absolutely show who he values, and it is working families in this country, it is the middle class in this country.
This is a President who had put out a tax fairness system in his — all of his budgets. This isn’t a new thing. This is the third budget this President has put out, the third time he has said the tax system in this country is not fair. And he means it.
That’s why you’ve seen billionaire minimum tax proposals. That’s why you’ve seen him call for the corporate minimum rate to go up to 28.6 percent.
It is not fair to ask working families in this country to bear the brunt. And, by the way, that’s not real deficit reduction. We have to have a fair tax system in this country.
This President has put forth three budgets that have been very clear about his priorities there. And again, we’re not going to give up on those. We’re going to keep pushing on those.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, last question. In the back, the (inaudible).
Q Karine, thank you. (Inaudible) we’ve heard a lot from Republican negotiators about the tone of this process. I was curious what your takeaway was on the tone of the conversations and where you felt like the toughest sticking points were. And when you walk away from this, is there anything you haven’t gotten done that’s going to be the next highest priority for you?
MS. YOUNG: Look, it was professional. You had people who’ve done this a long time in the room, certainly with the great team I had to work with. This is a full administration push to make sure this happened. We knew the risk of default if we did not find an agreement here. So it was a very respectful and professional working relationship between us and the Speaker’s team he had negotiating
You’ve heard, clearly, this was a small permitting piece, but we’ve got to do more on transmission. When it comes to the — to the permitting space, it’s very clear about that. This was a starting point, and we are going to make sure that we can get clean energy expanded by working on transmission in the future.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, thank you so much, Director Young. Appreciate you.
MS. YOUNG: All right, thank you. It was starting to get hot. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It gets hot —
MS. YOUNG: It’s the lights.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — up under these lights.
MS. YOUNG: All right, thanks so much. Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. I didn’t think she wanted to leave for a second. (Laughter.)
All right, I have one more thing at the top, and then I’ll take a few more — a few questions.
So, as you all saw, we announced this morning that President Biden looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom to the White House on Thursday, June 8th, to further deepen the close and historic partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom.
The two leaders saw each other most recently, as you all know, in Hiroshima at the G7, and they have met several times this year, including Belfast in April and San Diego in March as well.
During the visit, the two leaders will review a range of global issues, including our shared support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s brutal war of aggression, as well as further action to bolster energy security and address the climate crisis.
The President and the Prime Minister will also discuss efforts to continue strengthening our economic relationship as well — as we confront shared economic and national security challenges.
They will also review developments in Northern Ireland as part of their shared commitment to preserving the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
And to pre-exempt any questions that will come from here about a two-plus-two press conference during the visit, both leaders are looking forward to hosting a joint two-plus-two press conference on June 8th. So you certainly could expect that — well, should expect that from the two leaders on that day.
Go ahead, Zeke.
Q Thanks, Karine. There’s some news from Georgia today from the — former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has been diagnosed with dementia. I was wondering: Does the White House have any reaction? And has the President spoken with either the Carters recently or members of the Carter family?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, thank you for the question. I can say that the Bidens have stayed in touch with President Carter’s team to ensure that their family knows that they are — they are certainly in the President and the First Lady’s thoughts. And I will leave it there.
Q And then, secondly, in regards to the attacks — the (inaudible) attacks this morning in Moscow, has the U.S. ascertained whether American-supplied drones were used in that attack, that the Ukrainian government had knowledge of that attack?
And then, did last week’s discovery of U.S.-supplied material in Belgorod, in Russia, pro- — does it give the President any concern about supplying the — continuing to supply the Ukrainian government with military equipment that can be used in — on Russian soil.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know, we saw the — we’ve seen the reporting. We’ve seen the news and are, certainly, gathering information about what happened to get a better perspective and some clarity about what happened.
But I can speak to this more generally. As you know and as a general matter — we have said this before — we do not support attacks inside of Russia. We’ve been very clear about that.
We have — you know, we have been focused on providing Ukraine — as you’ve heard from the President, as you’ve heard from National Security Advisor and many colleagues from the NSC, my colleagues from the NSC — with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory. And that’s exactly what we’ve done for this past more than a year now.
And if you look at where we are today, today was also Russia’s 17th round of airstrikes on Kyiv just this month alone. Just this month alone — the month of May — which we’re almost, clearly, done with. Many of which have devastated civilian areas as Russia continues its brutal attacks — it’s brutal attacks against the people of Ukraine.
So, Russia started this unprovoked aggression, this unprovoked war against Ukraine. Russia can end this at any time. You’ve heard us say this many times from this podium.
They can withdraw their forces from Ukraine and ins- — instead of launching these brutal airstrikes against Ukraine, in their cities and on people every day. So, we’ve been very clear about that.
Q (Inaudible.) Does the President believe that Ukraine risks losing the moral high ground in this conflict if it strikes at — touches civilian targets in Moscow?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m going to be very clear. We’re gathering information. I’m not going to get into hypotheticals from here. We do not support the use of U.S.-made equipment being used for attacks inside of Russia.
We’ve been very clear about that. And we’ll continue to do that. And we have been clear not just publicly but privately, clearly, with the Ukrainians.
But not going to get into hypotheticals. We’re going to look into — gather information to see exactly what happened so we can get some clarity.
But, as I said, we’ve been very clear.
Q Have you spoken to Ukraine about this attack yet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I don’t have any calls to preview at this time on any specific conversations that have been had by this administration to Ukrainians. All I can tell you is we’ve been gathering information about exactly what happened.
Q And separately, what happened with Defense Secretary Austin’s plans to meet with his Chinese counterpart in Singapore?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you’ve heard us say — again, from here at this podium — it is — we value in — we see value, certainly, in military-to-military conversations to responsibility to — to responsibly manage a complex — a complex relationship and to avoid any misunderstanding or escalation of competition into conflict.
We’ve been very clear about that. And keeping the lines of communication open between the United States and China is a — is a responsible thing to do, is something that we want to, certainly, continue to — to have that approach.
Anything else, I would certainly refer you to the Department of Defense.
Q Thank you. And just one more. The President said yesterday there will be a review on engagement with Uganda. How long do you expect that to take?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I know the President, as you just stated, put out a statement about — about this — a pretty lengthy statement yesterday about what we saw from Uganda yesterday.
The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexually — -Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of human rights — of universal human rights, one that is worth — worthy of the — that one is not worthy, to be clear, of the Ugandan people and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country.
So, look, this certainly da- — endangers are poised — da- — the dangers of poise of — by this democratic backsliding are a threat to everyone residing in Uganda, including the U.S. government personnel, the staff of our implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community, and others.
And so, as we consider — and we — as the President stated in his — in his statement yesterday — additional steps, the National Security Council and other U.S. government agencies are evaluating the implications of this law and all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda, including our ability to safely deliver services under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — PEPFAR, as you — as we call it here, as you all have reported on — and other forms of assistance and investment.
Again, we’re going to review that. We’re going to take a look at that. And just don’t have anything to share on what that — when that review will be done and exactly what steps we’re going to be taking.
Q Just following — thanks for blowing me up on that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know, but I have a question for you. (Laughter.) What’s your — what your favorite Beyoncé song?
Q I — there’s too many to list — (laughter) — on camera in this moment.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Smart ques- — smart answer. Smart answer.
Q It was — it was a good concert. That’s what I will say.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Phil.
Q Following up on Steve’s question about the request for a meeting between Secretary Austin and his Chinese counterpart. Is the administration aware of anything that the Chinese want to try and open this line of communication? Where do things stand in terms of if there’s a pathway forward or if this just the reality from here on out?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look — look, I don’t have any — that’s something for, clearly, the PRC to — to — to answer to. What I can say is, we understand the importance — and we have been very clear about this for several months — about keeping the lines of communication open between the United States and China.
And so, we believe, again, it’s the most responsible thing to do. And as you know, most recently, the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, had a lengthy conversation with his counterpart about meaningful step forward as we think about the relationship — the U.S. relationship with China.
And so — so, that is important. Those lines of communication, certainly, have been open and continue to — continue — continue to happen. But, look, military-military conversation is obviously critical, as we man- — manage, as I mentioned moments ago, this really complex relationship that we have and — again, to avoid any misunderstandings or, certainly, avoid what we see as competition into conflict.
So, we’re going to continue to — continue to, certainly, have that approach. But any specifics that leads to — that has to deal with the Department of Defense, certainly, I would refer you to my colleagues there.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. So, there are now some 50 amendments and counting that have been proposed in the House when it comes to the — the budget debt bill. Is the White House position that this bill needs to pass as is? Are you open to some amendments depending on what they are?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, what I can say is: We have a short — limited of time here, as we know from the Treasury’s letter on when — when — you know, when default can happen, which is June 5th, with the budget agreement.
We’ve been very clear. We think this a bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement that the two sides certainly have come together and that, clearly, Speaker McCarthy supports and the President support.
And so, we’re certainly going to leave the mechanics and how this moves forward to the leadership in Congress. But as we see this budget agreement today, as we saw the framework that came out of these really good-faith conversations, we’re certainly going to continue to — to share our thoughts about how important it is to get this done for the American people.
I’m not going to get into specifics about the 50-plus amendments and what it will ultimately look like.
But, look, this has been something that both sides, again, came to the table in good faith, understanding how important this is to the American people. And that’s what you saw. And you saw — American people should at least have some understanding or some comfort that, you know, government is working for them in the sense of coming forward with a bipartisan, reasonable agreement.
Q And what does it say that this Mountain Valley Pipeline — which, you know, goes to southern Virginia — is being opposed in this bill by one of Virginia’s own senators, who says this shouldn’t happen, at least not this way.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the — as you know, and I — you guys have been reporting on this as we talk about the Mountain Valley Pipeline. It was going to move forward with or without this bill. That is just how — that is just fact. This is how it was —
Q It was being held up because of a lot of different —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well —
Q — environmental concerns.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, it — the bill doesn’t really do much as it relates to that — to that project, to be quite honest. Instead, it preserves the largest investment in climate protection that we have seen in history, under this administration.
It helps get hundreds of clean energy projects online faster, all while protecting the full scope — the full scope of the environmental reviews.
And so, look, we believe a bipartisan compromise that — that congressional Democrats can be proud of and — and also will accelerate on those clean energy promises.
Look, again, when you look at this — this bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement — and we have talked about negotiation — I’ve said this many times from here, and certainly Director Young said it when she was here moments ago — it’s not going to be perfect. Not everyone gets what — what they want, and that’s what negotiation looks like. This is a divided government, as you all — as we all know.
And so, look, this is — but this is really important to the American people. We have to get this done. We have to make sure that we get to the other side of these conversations.
Q Thank you. President Biden was asked yesterday about long-range missiles for Ukraine — ATACMS. And he said, “It’s still in play.” In the past, the U.S. would say, “No.” So what’s changed from “no” to “it’s still in play”? And what needs to happen for the U.S. to provide Ukraine with long-range missiles?
And also, I would like to follow up Zeke’s question. I would like to clarify: Do you — you don’t support Ukraine — Ukraine’s attacks on Russian territory at all or attacks with U.S. equipment?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I don’t have anything to — any changes in — to the policy to announce from here, as it relates to ATAC- — long-range mi- — information — long- — I’m sorry, long-range missiles.
Look, as it relates to the drone attacks that we saw in Moscow, we’ve been very clear: We’re going to see — we’re going to gather information and see exactly what happens. So just want to be very clear about that.
But look, we do not support attacks inside of Russia. That’s it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Period. I mean, that’s — I cannot be any more clear than what I just stated: We do not support attacks inside of Russia, period. We’ve been very clear about that. That’s been a general matter that you have heard from us over and over again this past several months. And I cannot be more clearer than that.
Q So why did the President say “It’s still in play” when asked about long-range missiles?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you right now is we — I don’t have any changes to our policy to — to share with you at this time.
Q Thanks. I have a NATO question and then an Afghanistan-Iran question. Starting with NATO: When the Danish Prime Minister visits on Monday, is the President going to speak to her about maybe being an interlocutor and working with Turkey on getting Sweden into NATO?
And then, also, can you just update us on the F-16s and Sweden’s membership? Is that something that — that the White House expects to have sorted by the time the NATO Summit happens?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, two things I can say. As you know, the President — we read out the President’s conversation with Erdoğan yesterday. They had a — clearly, a conversation.
But in that — in that — in that dialogue, the President did express his strong desire for Turkey to approve Sweden application to join NATO, which would — which — which we would like to happen as soon as possible so that — he did bring that up in a — in that conversation.
I’m not going to get ahead of what is going to be on the agenda, what’s going to come out of the Denmark visit that’s going to happen a week from this past Monday.
Look, when it comes to, you know, any conditions, as it relates to F-16s — the sales of F-16s to Turkey and — as with them approving Sweden’s bid to join NATO — look, that is not — that is not — that is not a condition. President Biden — long been clear that he supports selling F-16s — you’ve heard that from this podium — to Turkey, which would help facilitate NATO interoperability.
So, look, Congress has an important role in providing arm sales. And so, I would leave the rest to Congress.
But the President has been very clear where he stands in that — on that.
Q On Iran and Afghanistan, there have been some border clashes over the weekend over, I think, water rights. What’s the White House’s reaction? And do you have any leverage over either of these parties to get this violence to stop?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’ve been clear about how we see the conflict there.
I don’t have anything else to provide on — on what’s currently occurring there. And so, I’ll just leave it there for now.
Go ahead, Monica.
Q Karine, can you let us know a bit more about the President’s engagement on all this, calls that he has made?
He talked about reaching out to Leader McConnell yesterday. Is he also making calls to other Republicans — besides, of course, his conversations with Speaker McCarthy — on this? And what should we expect in terms of his level of outreach today and tomorrow ahead of an expected possible vote tomorrow night?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. I do have some – some — some items to share here. Look, the President has been engaging with members of Congress throughout this process, as you all know, and he’ll continue to do so.
And so, the President and his team are having conversations with Democratic members of Congress across the ideological spectrum — moderate and progressives. That includes more than 100 one-on-one calls with members of Congress. That’s with — between the President and his team. In the past 24 hours or so, our senior team made individual calls to all House Democratic leadership, all committee ranking members, and all Tri-Caucus and ideological caucus chairs as well.
So, we have hosted numerous separate briefings on the entire bill for the House and Senate Democrats, as well as six issue-specific briefings for House Democrats on energy policy, appropriations, TANF, and SNAP. That doesn’t include the numerous briefings for their staff.
We’ve also briefed or offered to brief each of the Tri- Caucuses and ideological caucuses as well. In addition, our policy experts have had numerous conversations with members of their staffs to answer specific questions about the bill that members have had.
And so — so, again, we’ve been in constant contact with leadership from both parties in the House and the Senate to provide information. As Director Young was stating is that her — their job is to provide information on the facts and what they know and how we can make sure that they have the — all of the details that they need.
So, as you know, we don’t provide private conversations from here, but I just list out all of the — all of the — all of the conversations and what we’ve done specifically coming out of this administration as it relates to this budget negotiation.
Q And is there still a concern about the U.S. credit rating being downgraded, given the Fitch warning last week? How (inaudible) is that right now? And how is that factoring it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we believe this is a reasonable bipartisan compromise that — that, you know, the House congressional members should be proud of. We believe that it is important to get this done. We believe that, again, we are a country that pays our — pays our debts and that — and that, you know, we should not — we should not be defaulting on those debts.
And so, what the President wants to see: He wants to see the House and the Senate take this up. He wants to see this pass in clearly both chambers. He wants to see this on his desk so he can sign it into law.
And — and that’s what we’re going to continue to have those conversations to make sure that occurs.
Go ahead, Peter. I haven’t seen you since Japan.
Q Nice to see you again.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, yeah. I’m sure. (Laughs.)
Q You can say it’s nice to see me too.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s nice to see you, too, Peter.
Q It’s been more than a month since the re-election announcement. Is President Biden going to hold a campaign event ever?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I will say this to you, Peter: As you know, we follow the rule of law here. We believe in following the rule of law as it relates — hold on — as it relates —
Q I’m not asking you to weigh in on the impact of an election —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m — I’m about —
Q — just his schedule.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m — I’m —
Q You’ll have to schedule around rallies.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m — I’m about to answer your question here. As it relates to anything that — that is connected to the campaign, any rallies, any events, any — any endorsement, anything that is connected to the 2024 re-election, that is not going to certainly come from here. That is going to come from his campaign or the DNC — and/or the DNC.
Q So you can’t say if he will be campaigning for re-election.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to comment from here
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — on 2024 re-election.
Q Another story.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The Hatch Act does exist.
Q A group of experts now say that AI poses an extinction risk right up there with nuclear war and a pandemic. Does President Biden agree?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say — you’re speaking to the letter that was provided today, made public. And so, look, the President and the Vice President has been very clear on this: As it relates to AI, it is one of the most powerful technologies — right? — that we see currently in our time. But our — but in order to seize the opportunities it presents, we must miti- — first mitis- — mitigate its risk, and that’s what we’re focusing on here in this administration.
As you know, the AI — we brought some CEOs here recently — that the President and the Vice President hosted — to the Whi- — White House to reiterate their responsibility for these specific companies — have to ensure that products are safe before they are released to the public. And so, I will leave it there.
I — as — again, I know there’s a letter that went out today from — from Elon Musk and CEOs. I will let the public read that letter. But, again, we have been very clear on that — how companies need to be responsible in — as it relates to AI.
Q It’s been months, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. Following up on the question about Erdoğan and President Biden’s call, yesterday the President said that when it refers to Sweden’s membership in NATO, we’re going to talk about it next week. Do they have another call scheduled? Do you know what that refers to?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I don’t have a call to read out to you at this time.
Q Okay. And then, Florida Governor Ron De- —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But as I — but let me just say, as I just stated, the President did bring that up in their conversation.
Q Sure. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said late last week that he would take an aggressive approach to issuing pardons to January 6th rioters if elected to higher office. Given the recent sentening [sic] — sentencings of members of the Oath Keepers, including 18 years in prison for leader Stewart Rhodes, who DOJ called the archite- — architect of the plan to storm the Capitol, do you have any comment on that proposed use of clemency?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m going to be very — very careful because he is a candidate in the 2024 pres- — presidential election, so going to be really mindful to not respond directly to the governor in this case.
But we’ve been very clear. We’ve been very clear. This President has been very clear as it relates to January 6th: It was one of the darkest days in our democracy, and we need to get to the bottom of what happened. As we know, there were law enforcement officers that were injured, that were harmed. And what we saw was devastating on that day. It was devastating.
So we need to get to the bottom of this, but I’m not — certainly not going to respond directly to a 2024 presidential candidate.
AIDE: Karine —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, okay. One more. Go ahead, Aurelia.
Q Thank you so much. So, Elon Musk is in China today meeting with the foreign minister, announcing new investments. In November last year, the President said that Elon Musk’s relationships with foreign countries are, and I quote him, “worth looking at.” So, is the administration looking at Elon Musk’s relationship with China? And what conclusions does it draw?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have anything to add or go beyond what the President said.
Okay? Thanks, everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow. Thank you.
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