MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Why are you guys happy?
Q Because it’s all ladies in the front row!
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The ladies in the front row!
Q And it’s Friday.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, my gosh. So, then I’ll just start in the back, then. (Laughter.)
Q Nooo —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the guys — (laughs) — (points to back row.)
Well, Happy Friday. And, yes, it is an all-ladies crew in the front row. I wonder if there’s history-making here today.
All right. Good afternoon, everyone. Happy Friday. I’m not sure what’s going on with Andrea here. You got it? You’re good?
(Video on cellphone plays.)
Q Somebody has got audio.
Q I’m so sorry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, it’s Andrea. She’s trying. She’s trying, folks.
I don’t see you very often. And when I do, you cause a ruckus. (Laughter.)
Okay. So, today, President Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to a true hero of our nation, Colonel Paris Davis, for the gallantry he displayed at great personal risk that went above and beyond the call of duty during combat operations in Vietnam.
You all heard President Biden tell Colonel Davis’s story in powerful remarks, but I just want to say that Colonel Davis represents the best of America. Despite being wounded while leading his men in combat, he refused to leave the battlefield until all the members of his team were evacuated.
His bravery and devotion to our country during this battle has been recognized before in the form of a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. But until today, he never received the recognition for his extraordinary acts — and well-deserved recognition, obviously — which is a Medal of Honor.
We are proud to welcome Colonel Davis to the White House today as a Medal of Honor recipient.
Today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing its 33rd security assistance package for Ukraine using presidential drawdown authorities as we continue to surge weapons and equipment that Ukraine needs to defend itself against Russian aggression.
This package includes more ammunition for U.S.-provided HIMARS and howitzers that Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, armored vehicle-launched bridges, and demolition mu- — munitions and equipment.
The United States will continue to rally the world to support Ukraine. We have seen incredible commitment from our allies and partners, and applaud the more than 50 countries, including Germany — as you all know, Germany’s Chancellor will be here at the White House momentarily — and that have come together to provide Ukraine with military assistance. These contributions are making a significant difference, enabling Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russia alone could end this war today if they wished. They could end this war today. Until they are willing to do so, we will continue to strengthen Ukrainians’ military on the battlefield so that they will be in the strongest possible position at any future negotiation at the table.
Now, before we go to questions, I have a little bit of the week ahead, and I’ll lay that out for you.
On Sunday, March 5th, the President will travel to Selma, Alabama, where he will commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The President will deliver remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and participate in the annual commemorative bridge-crossing event.
In his remarks, President Biden will talk about the importance of commemorating Bloody Sunday so that history cannot be erased. He will highlight how the continued fight for voting rights is integ- — integral to delivering economic justice and civil rights for Black Americans.
In the evening, the President will return to the White House.
On Monday, the President will headline the 2023 International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference.
On Thursday, the President will release his budget. The budget will show how the President plans to invest in America, continue to lower costs for families, protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, reduce the deficit, and so much more. We will have, of course, more details to share with all of you next week.
On Friday, the President will welcome President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission to the White House. The leaders will review the strong cooperation between the United States and the European Union to support Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and democracy, and to impose costs on Russia as — for its aggression against Ukraine.
They will also discuss U.S.-EU coordination to combat the climate crisis through investing in clean technology based on secure supply chains.
The leaders — the leaders will take — will take stock of the joint Task Force on Europe’s Energy Security that they established one year ago, which has helped the EU reduce its independence — or dependence, pardon me, on Russian fossil fuels and accelerate its green transition.
They will also discuss other international security challenges, including our work together to address the challenges posed by the People’s Republic of
With that, Colleen, good to see you. It’s been a while.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You have the floor.
Q Karine, it is your 100th press briefing today.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, my gosh.
Q So —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m sure you’re thrilled.
Q Congratulations. (Laughs.) How — how do you feel about that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, my gosh. All right. Well, cheers.
So, moving right along, I wanted to ask about the D.C. crime — criminal code. Again, we’re — we’ve been hearing that some of the House Democrats feel like they got thrown under the bus a little bit by the President’s decision not to step in on the effort to stop the overhaul — which is a lot of negatives, I understand, but I think you know where I’m going.
So, I wanted to know, you know: Did the President give them a heads-up on the decision? Was there any sort of back-and-forth about it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, first, let me just say that the White House notified the — notified the members at the House retreat, as you know, back — that was earlier this week — or is still happening — in Baltimore. So that’s number one.
Number two, I do want to lay out that the President and the administration has a very close relationship with House Democrats and Senate Democrats as well.
We have worked together. The President has worked very well with the members on delivering bold, historic pieces of legislation in his first two years of his administration and is very proud of the relationship that he has with them. And our teams are constantly in communication with them.
And so, I’ll leave that there. This is a very strong, important relationship for all of us here, including the President.
I also want to state that, look, the President supports D.C. statehood. That is something that you saw in his SAP for this particular D.C. crime bill. And if Congress sends him a bill making D.C. a state, he’ll always, always be sure to sign it, because he’s been talk- — he’s been talking about that for the last two decades.
But, you know, vetoing the bill headed to this — his desk now won’t make — make D.C. a state. And so, those are the things that the President is really — has been very clear about when it comes to D.C. and their statehood.
And so, I’ll leave it there. But as it relates to the House, as it relates to Senate Democrats, it is a very important relationship to — for us and, clearly, very important.
And with the Senate Democratic Caucus, as you know, when he met with them yesterday, he provided what he was going to do and made it very clear to them, and they had that discussion.
Q I just also want to ask — so, you know, Biden and the Democrats have talked a lot about the need to stem, you know, rising crime, but also the need to reform a criminal justice system that still disproportionately affects, you know, Black Americans.
So why not engage in some sort of compromise or why not let the D.C. bill — because, you know, the mayor vetoed the criminal code but she also proposed some changes that she thought would have made the system, sort of, better on the whole.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I just want to be very clear here. And if you look at the D.C. bill itself — and I know that there was a little bit of — I was asked a couple of questions of what else does it do besides armed carjacking. And I don’t normally go line by line on — on legislation, especially legislation that we haven’t introduced. But I did talk to the team, and we have a couple of things that I just want to lay out for all of you and — on what the D.C. bill does.
It reduces maximum penalties for offenses like murders and other homicides; armed — armed home invasion burglaries; armed — armed carjackings, as I mentioned; armed robberies; unlawful gun possession; and some sexual assault offenses.
And so, look, the President has been very clear we need to do more to reduce crime, to make communities safer, to save lives. And that’s why he put together — he put forth his Safer America Plan that does just that — that we believe does exactly that.
So, the way that we see this bill, it doesn’t actually reform policing practices. That’s not something that it does — reform like the ones the President has put forward at the federal level — you know, about the executive order. When it couldn’t be done on the Senate side, making — doing — moving forward with police reform, the President put forth a historic piece — piece of — an executive order to get — to try to do what we can at the federal level.
And so, we believe that this bill does not actually do that.
Q Question on the meeting today with the German Chancellor. Not long ago, both Chancellor Scholz, along with President Macron, reportedly told Zelenskyy that he would, you know, soon have to make difficult decisions urging the start of peace negotiations.
Does the President see that as a sign that the united front that he has worked so hard to maintain, you know, may be not that united that much longer? And how much does he see today’s sit-down as a chance to just urge Scholz to stay the course and stick with this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the President is looking forward to — for a productive meeting with the German Chancellor. They first met — I don’t know if some of you have been tracking this — but they first met when he became German Chancellor early last year — I believe, on February 7th — soon after he, clearly, took office. And they met here at the White House.
And over the past — the past several years, they’ve seen each other at the margins of the G7, at the summit in Germany; at NATO; at the G20 Summit; and have talked by phone regularly.
And so this is a — clearly, a relationship that has been — that has been growing over the last year. And so, you know, what we’re seeing, what he’s — how we see this meeting is a bilateral cooperation to talk about a range of issues, global security, economic issues. And at the forefront of the — of this meeting that they’re going to have — this bilat that they’ll pretty soon, it will be on Ukraine. And that coordination is going to continue.
You saw the President in Warsaw. You saw him in Kyiv. You saw him having a bilat with the B9 and — well, a meeting with the B9, a bilat with the President of Poland.
And all of those — all of the actions and the meetings that the President has had over the last just several months is showing, I think, the strength — the strength of — of the union, the stren- — the strength of the EU, the strength of their — what you’re seeing with the NATO Allies and Europe and the West. And so I think that’s going to continue. We believe that’s going to continue.
Remember, when — when Russia, when Putin first started out on this war, he thought that NATO would be divided. He thought that the West would be divided. And we just have not seen that. If anything, we’re seeing more coordination and more support for the people of Ukraine, for President Zelenskyy, and the efforts that they’re doing on the ground to defend their democracy.
Q But you are seeing signs that their approach may start — is starting to look a little bit different, right? You say over and over again here, the President says, you know, “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” And yet, you do see some allies saying, you know, “It is time to get — to get to the — to the negotiating table.” They’re concerned that they’ll be able to do this for as long as it takes, as the President says. So does that not spark concern and worry amongst the President, around —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But — but, look, Mary, we want this war to end. We do. We want this war to end. But it doesn’t look like Russia is going to do that, right? And it is up to — they could. They could end this this war today, but they’re not.
And so what we’re going to continue to do is support Ukraine the best way that we can. We just announced, I just laid out a PDA, our 33rd drawdown since this war started. And we’re going to continue to do that, continue to give them the support that they need on the ground.
And, look, you’ve heard President Zelenskyy talk about peace and wanting — wanting to move forward with peace. But at the same time, we have to make sure we strengthen their hand, when those negotiations happen, that they are in a place of strength. And so that’s what you’re seeing from — from this President. That’s what you’re seeing from the allies across the globe.
And you’re going to see the President meeting with the German Chancellor today. We’re going to continue to show that — that supportive front, that coordination. They’re going to have that discussion. And you saw that last week when the President was — was in Eastern Europe.
Q I guess, just — it’s a sort of a housekeeping matter, but has the President had a chance yet or does he plan to speak with former President Carter or members of his family, given that I don’t think they’ve spoken yet since the news of his hospice care?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, there’s — I don’t have a call to preview or to announce. As you know, and I’ve said this many times before and I think you — many of you have reported this, that they’ve known each other since 1976. It’s a — it’s a relationship that has spanned many — many decades.
The President, certainly, and the First Lady — their hearts are — are with the — are with President Carter and his family.
I don’t — I just don’t have a conversation to preview at this time.
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