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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:31 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, good afternoon, everybody.  I just have a few things at the top.  So once again, please bear with me.

President Biden has done more than any prior President to tackle the climate crisis, and today he’s making clear that he’s not done yet.

In the Rose Garden this afternoon, with environmental justice leaders and climate advocates, President Biden will sign an executive order making environmental justice part of the DNA of every federal agency.  His order will mean cleaner air and water, reduced risk of asthma and cancer, and better access to safe and affordable housing, and clean transportation for communities across the country.

The President’s bold climate and environmental justice agenda could not stand in starker contrast to the dangerous proposals MAGA House Republicans are putting forward. 

As you can see from the slide behind me — here you go — while President Biden is fighting to clean up toxic pollution and lower costs through clean energy tax credit, Speaker McCarthy unveiled a ransom note holding our economy hostage.  It’s a 320-page plan to kill jobs, fill our cities with smog, and give asthma to our children.

The proposal would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act’s green energy tax credits, sending thousands of jobs back to China.  It would make it easier for oil companies to use toxic chemicals that cause severe burns, damage people’s eyes, and quite literally melt bones.

It would severely weaken the Clean Air Act, sending us back to the times when cities across the country filled with heavy smog that dirties our air and poisons the lungs of our children.

It’s no surprise that over a dozen health and medical organizations, including the American Lung Association and the Children’s Environmental Health Network, oppose these dangerous proposals.

Speaker McCarthy extreme MAGA proposals would be a climate and health disaster that President Biden won’t allow on his watch.

Speaking of — speaking of, earlier this week, Speaker McCarthy redoubled his threat to default and hold the American economy hostage unless he can slash programs that the American people, including our nation’s veterans, rely on every single day.

While the President’s budget honors our country’s sacred obligation for care for America’s veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors, Speaker McCarthy’s proposal would cut these critical programs by 22 percent and threaten critical services for veterans.

Today, the Department of Veterans Affair has put out analysis of the impact Speaker McCarthy’s 22 percent cuts would have on those who have bravely served our nation.  The extreme MAGA cuts he has put forward would mean 30 million fewer veteran outpatient visits, meaning veterans who need cancer screenings or mental health services would be unable to get an appointment; eliminate 50,000 veterans’ housing vouchers, putting veterans at greater risk of homelessness; take away vital food assistance from older veterans, the VA’s ability to care for the final resting place of veterans who lost their life serving this country.

The congressional Republican plan is to threaten veterans’ health, food, housing, and even gravesites for brinksmanship over the debt ceiling. 

Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans should take those threats off the table, just as they did three times in the last administration.

Now, changing gears just a bit as we move on, I also want to take a moment to wish the millions of Muslim Americans across the country a blessed and happy Eid Mubarak.  This is a special day when many gather with family and friends, cherish those special bonds, celebrate a month of charity and spiritual reflection, and rejoice over the morning cup of coffee they longed for the last 30 days.

Here in the Biden administration, for the first time ever, we’ve got over 100 Muslim American appointees joining in the celebration.  These are public servants who are tackling the climate crisis, building on the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, protecting health, combatting hate in all its forms, restoring our alliances, and so much more. 

It’s a testament to the commitment that the President ran on to unite the nation.  An administration that reflects the diversity of this nation, the beauty of this nation is a core part of that, and it helps ensure that our government truly, truly serves all Americans.

The President and First Lady look forward to continuing the tradition of hosting the Eid celebration here at the White House on May 1st.

Now — and now for the week ahead.  A couple of things.

On Sunday, the President and the First Lady will return to the White House from Camp David.

On Monday, the President and First Lady and the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, will honor the Council of Chief State School Officers 2023 Teachers of the Year at the White House.  Teachers from each state and territory will be honored for their excellence in teaching and commitment to students’ learning.

Later, the President will welcome Tennessee State Representative Jus- — Jus- — Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson to the White House.  They will continue their discussion on their efforts to ban assault weapons and stand for the — for democratic values.

On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks at the North American Building Trade Unions Legislative Conference held at the Washington Hilton.  The President will discuss how this investing — how his Investing in America agenda is bringing manufacturing jobs back — or manufacturing, more broadly, back — rebuilding the middle class, creating good-paying jobs, and union jobs.

On Wednesday, the President and the First Lady will host President — President Yoon — Oon [Yoon] — pardon me — and Mrs. Kim for a state visit to the United States, which would include a state dinner. 

As part of the visit, the President and the First Lady will participate in a visit with President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim to the Korean War Memorial on Tuesday evening. 

On Wednesday morning, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President and the Second Gentleman will greet President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim for the official arrival ceremony on Wednesday morning. 

Then the President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Oon [Yoon].  In the afternoon, the President will host a joint press conference with President Oon [Yoon].  In the evening, the President and the First Lady will greet President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim on arriv- — on arrival for the state dinner. 

After, the President and the First Lady will participate in a photo opportunity with President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim at the grand staircase on the occasion of the state dinner.  Then the President and the First Lady will host President Oon [Yoon] and Mrs. Kim for a state dinner. 

As you may have seen this morning, Korean American chef Edward Lee will be the guest chef for the state dinner.  He was selected by the First Lady because of his experience with the intersection of American cuisine with Korean influence. 

For entertainment, guests will enjoy a musical selection by Broadway stars Norm Lewis, Le- — Lea Salonger [Salonga], and Jessica Vosk.

On Friday, the President will present the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to the Air Force Falcons during a cer- — ceremony at the White House. 

On Saturday, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President and the Second Gentleman will attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton where the President will also deliver remarks. 

Now, finally, I just want to say one last thing.  And I know there’s a lot of interest in this.  Obviously, I totally understand this.  A lot of questions about all — all of this — the press reports that we have seen in the last 24 hours, when it comes to the President’s plans for 2024.  I just want to say, and I know all of you in this room know this — I understand that you all know this, but there might be some folks who are watching at home who may not know, and so I just want to lay this out for all of them: 

As a government employee, federal law prohibits me from discussing campaign-related topics from this podium.  So I will be following that law and not discussing anything regarding the 2024 race.  The President has been very clear.  I know you all have reported this many times, and he has said this in many — in multiple interviews over the past several months, with multiple outlets and — on his attentions to — to — to — what his intentions are when it comes to 2024. 

But beyond that, I will not be able to comment on anything, again, related to the 2024 elections. 

And with that — and thank you so much for your patience with me today with our toppers.  With that, Darlene, please take us away. 

Q    Thank you.  I wanted to follow up — one housekeeping question on your topper.  The Tennessee lawmakers, when they come on Monday, do you expect that to be an open event with the President and those lawmakers?  Or what can you take — what can you tell us about what that visit will look like?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, first, look, we’ll have more to share.  But I do want to say that the President looks — very much looks forward to meeting with the three legislators who, as you know, he spoke with, had a very important, critical — we thought — conversation with them about how to move forward with gun reform, about them doing their democratic duty, and — and peacefully protesting for assault weapons ban. 

And what we saw, and what we saw happen to the three of them — as you heard the President say, as you have heard me say — it was undemocratic when they were expelled and essentially ousted out of their — out of their seats.  And it was also an attack on our democracy. 

And so what you’ll see is the President sitting down with — with these three legislators, having a conversation on how to move forward — on how to move forward with commonsense gun reform; how to move forward on protecting our communities, our kids, our churches.  And he will hear them out, and he looks forward to having that conversation. 

And we’ll have more on what that will look like and if there will be any availability for all of you to — to — to kind of experience or see that — that meeting.  I just don’t have anything at this time. 

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