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Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – Washington.DC April 27 2023

Good afternoon, everyone. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Lavender Scare – a dark time in our nation’s history when thousands of LGBTQ+ federal employees were investigated, interrogated, and fired for who they were and who they loved. To acknowledge this period, President Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation to remember those affected by this discrimination, honor those who fought to end it, and celebrate the many important contributions of LGBTQ+ public servants – including those in our Armed Forces.

As someone who has the privilege of working alongside some of these individuals every day, both here at the White House and across federal agencies, I am proud to say that under President Biden’s leadership, LGBTQ+ leaders are serving at the highest levels of government. We have the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, the first openly transgender Americans to be confirmed by the Senate, and the first open lesbian to serve at the ambassador level.

Today, the Administration joins Americans across the country to honor the lives impacted by the Lavender Scare and renew our commitment to equal rights for all. In a time when there are attempts to erase LGBTQ+ history from classrooms, we are committed to telling the truth and ensuring that the contributions and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community are recognized and remembered.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the imposition of targeted sanctions on actors involved in hostage taking or wrongful detentions in Russia and Iran, as well as those who provide them with material support. This is the first time that the administration is using a new tool established under an executive order by President Biden to impose severe economic costs on governments and groups that hold or wrongfully detain Americans around the world. These sanctions will give the administration additional leverage to support negotiations and impose additional costs on those responsible for holding Americans against their will.

The Biden-Harris Administration has been taking a series of actions, both public and private, to deter and disrupt hostage-taking and wrongful detentions and help bring Americans home.

In addition, it is Arab American Heritage Month, and President Biden signed the first-ever presidential proclamation for a national Arab American Heritage Month on March 31st, 2023. Earlier today, the White House hosted a briefing for Arab American community leaders to discuss efforts to promote equity and protect the civil rights of Arab Americans and all communities across the country.

Regarding the House Republicans passing legislation on the budget and debt limit, the White House has a couple of things to do, including working with Congress to ensure the country meets its financial obligations and communicating with the public about the importance of raising the debt limit.

I would like to talk about the statement made in this conversation. The speaker emphasizes that the United States has never failed to pay its debt in its history and avoiding default is Congress’s responsibility. The speaker also criticizes House Republicans for holding the economy hostage and threatening default by trying to negotiate an extreme Maga wish list, which includes cutting education, healthcare, and Meals on Wheels while increasing the cost for working families. The speaker highlights that the president’s approach to the economy is to build it from the bottom up, leaving no one behind. In response to a question about screening for extremism in the military, the speaker mentions that the president has confidence in the Department of Defense, and there is an ongoing DOJ investigation. Finally, the speaker talks about the administration’s announcement of new processing centers for migrants in Colombia and Guatemala, which reflects the president’s approach to working closely with partners to manage immigration challenges and direct people to legal pathways…..

“We are focused on providing legal pathways for people from where they currently are, instead of seeking generous and disorderly pathways. We have made it very clear that our goal is to put forth an immigration process that is humane and orderly. We want to move forward with this process very differently than it was done in the last administration. For specific information on legal counsel for people, I would refer you to DHS and the State Department. What we want to emphasize is that we want to make sure that this process is done in a humane way. This has been the president’s stance on how immigration reform should move forward in an orderly fashion, and that is what we have been doing from day one.

Regarding negotiations on the debt limit, the U.S Chamber of Commerce is now directly calling on the administration to sit down and negotiate with congressional leaders to find a path to raise the debt ceiling and address runaway deficits. We have been very clear on this – we will not delay in finding a path to raise the debt ceiling. When it comes to the debt ceiling, the Republicans in the House cannot allow a default to happen. This is their constitutional duty, and we have been very clear that they should not allow our economy to be held hostage. The House has now passed a bill that would prevent a default, but it has to be a clean bill before the president will sit down. We have said very clearly that they need to deal with what’s at stake here, which is our economy and making sure that we do not default. We cannot be a deadbeat nation, and this is not the time to do that. This is their basic constitutional duty, which they have done in the past with Democratic and Republican presidents, and we have been very clear on this.”

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