Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, June 21, 2021 | Beaufort County Now | Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, June 21, 2021

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Press Release:

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  •  Washington D.C.  •  June 21  •  1:06 P.M. EDT

    MS. PSAKI: Hi everyone. Good morning — or good afternoon. Okay. A couple of items for all of you at the top.

    Today, the Biden-Harris administration has launched Child Tax Credit Awareness Day to educate the public and encourage non-filers to sign up for the largest Child Tax Credit in history.

    The American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 for families whose children are between 6 and 17 years old, and $3,600 for families with children under 6 years old, and allows half of that tax credit be paid to families in advance through a monthly check or direct deposit.

    So, starting July 15th, almost all families who have filed taxes in the last two years will receive this monthly payment automatically. This means most families with two young children would receive a monthly payment of $600 starting in July.

    But we want to make sure that everybody who is eligible signs up, hence we have launched a website: ChildTaxCredit.gov — very easy to remember. And if anybody is not sure — maybe they haven't filed taxes because they — they don't — they're not required to — they can go there and learn if they're eligible for this incredible benefit.

    Second, today, the United States — in coordination with our allies and partners in Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom — has taken a number of actions to impose costs on the Lukashenko regime in Belarus for a variety of egregious acts.

    Last month, we said we would develop a list of targeted actions against key members of the Lukashenko regime associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 Election, and the forced diversion of the Ryanair flight.

    Today, we are following through and holding the regime accountable. So, earlier today, the Department of State and the Department of Treasury designated 62 Belarusian individuals and 5 entities in response to continuing repression in Belarus.

    Importantly, we did this alongside our partners and allies. And with these coordinated actions on both sides of the Atlantic, we are demonstrating our deep and shared concern regarding the Lukashenko regime's activities.

    Finally, today, the Biden-Harris administration announced the distribution list for the remaining 55 million of the 80 million doses of America's own vaccine supply President Biden has pledged to send out globally and allocate by the end of June in service of ending the pandemic.

    Already, we have sent millions of doses to the world, including 2.5 million doses that arrived in Taiwan this weekend.

    And, in addition, sharing doses fr- — in addition to sharing doses from our vaccines — own vaccines supply, the Biden-Harris administration is committed to working with U.S. manufacturers to produce more vaccine doses to share with the world.

    And we've purchased, as we announced last week, half — or the week before that — half a billion Pfizer doses to donate to 92 low- and middle-income countries and members of the African Union. In total, the G7 agreed to provide an additional more than 1 billion doses starting in the summer of 2020 [2021].

    With that, Alex, why don't you kick us off?

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    Q:  Thanks. I have a few. The first is on that vaccine allocation. The President promised to distribute those 80 million by the end of the month, but he's obviously falling short of that goal. So, is there any indication that the red tape in this distribution is costing lives at this point? Why is it taking so long?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me say we've — we're committed to allo- — we're committed allocating those doses; we've done exactly that. What we found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply — we have plenty of doses to share with the world — but this is a herculean logistical challenge. And we've seen that as we've begun to implement.

    So, you know, as we work with countries, we need to ensure that there's — safety and regulatory information is shared. Some supply teams need needles, syringes, and alcohol pads. Transportation needs — teams need to ensure that there are proper temperature storage, prevent breakage, and ensure the vaccine immediately clears Customs.

    So, this has not, as you all know, been done before. Sometimes it's even language barriers that occur as we're working to get these doses out to countries.

    So we have announced today where these doses are going. We will continue to announce as they land on the ground and as they are being shipped. And we're looking forward to doing that as quickly as possible.

    Q:  Sure. And on infrastructure, the latest compromise: You said, earlier today, the President needs to see more details. What details does he need to see? Was he not able to take a look at the package this weekend?

    And one of the issues you've obviously raised are payfors. So, gas tax aside — that being a nonstarter — what payfors would the White House be open to? Specifically, some have raised potentially using leftover CARES funds or funds from the December COVID package. Would those be feasible? And do you want to see the package ultimately fully paid for?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me say that, you know, the President's pledge was not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year. And the proposed gas tax or vehicle mileage tax would do exactly that. So that is a nonstarter for him. I'd also note, for the mathematicians in the room: That only raises $40 billion, which is a fraction of what this proposal would cost.

    The President has proposed a range of ways to pay for this package, including ways that would not violate the red lines that Republicans have put forward. One of them is ensuring the highest — wealthiest individuals in this country pay what they're supposed to pay as it relates to taxes — additional tax enforcement — which would raise a great deal more by multiples of what the gas tax would raise. And it would — it would fall on for — predominantly wealthy Americans and just ensure they're paying the taxes they owe. So, that is an area where we feel there should be an opportunity to move forward.

    And as it relates to details, of course, there needs to be ongoing discussion; there will be over the coming days, rapidly. I expect he'll have conversations this afternoon. Tomorrow, we'll read those out as those happen, provide information to all of you. And we're eager to get those continued.

    Q:  Is the White House open to using those leftover funds to fund the ultimate bill?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, one, there's minimal, very small amounts that would be leftover. And many of those small amounts have already been allocated or they are to help small businesses, help keep cops and firefighters on the beat. And so we feel the best proposal that does not violate the red lines that the Republicans have put forward would be tax enforcement and some other proposals the President has already put on the table.

    Q:  Lastly, on voting rights: Obviously, there's going to be a show vote on S.1. tomorrow that's going to fail. So, I wanted to come back to President Biden pledging to do whatever he could. He said he'd use every sort of tool at his disposal to get the bill passed.

    What has he done to get that bill passed, considering this vote is going to fail? And since he has pledged that, is it time for him to start calling, again, for filibuster reform more loudly? That's a tool at his disposal he has not yet really pushed for.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me just give you a sense of how we see this and how the President sees it: It's a step forward. We don't expect there to be a magical 10 votes. I'm not suggesting that. But just two weeks ago, there were questions about whether Democrats would be aligned. We certainly hope that will be the case tomorrow.

    It's important to remember that this has been a 60-year battle to make voting more accessible, more available to Americans across the country. And our effort, the President's effort to continue that fight doesn't stop tomorrow at all. This will be a fight of his presidency.

    In terms of the steps he's taken, he's had conversations, obviously, with members about supporting this legislation, including Senator Manchin, as you all know, over the last couple of weeks. And he will continue to advocate.

    He's also asked his Vice President — or, agreed with his Vice President that she will be in charge of this effort moving forward. It doesn't stop. This is an important piece of it — the federal legislation. More work to be done. But it doesn't stop with that. There's work to do in the states. There's work to do with voting groups. There's work to do to empower and engage legislatures. And that's something that will also be part of her effort.

    As it relates to the filibuster: You know, I don't think you have to take it from us. That would be Congress moving forward or making a decision. If the vote is unsuccessful tomorrow, it will — I — we suspect it will prompt a new conversation about the path forward, and we'll see where that goes.

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    Go ahead.

    Q:  Following up on infrastructure: You know, Senator Portman said over the weekend that he thought that dropping the gas tax and this fee on electric vehicles could be something that they could do, so long as the President puts forward ideas that do not include raising any taxes. Is that a potential compromise that seems feasible?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, again, last I checked, the proposal the President put forward in his initial proposal — that has been a part of this discussion to increase investment in tax enforcement, ensure that people who are the wealthiest are paying what they should be paying in taxes, which would raise a significantly larger amount than the gas tax — does exactly that and should meet his bar.

    Q:  And, to Alex's point, do you want this bill to be fully paid for?

    MS. PSAKI: The President has proposed means of fully paying for this package, including the tax enforcement components. He thinks that's a responsible thing to do. And we'll continue to have discussions with members about how we can find a path forward.

    Q:  You mentioned continuing discussion: Should we expect another in-person meeting perhaps here at the White House this week?

    MS. PSAKI: I suspect — you can expect that, yes.

    Go ahead.

    Q:  Jen, just going into this week, how does the President view his role in these negotiations? Is he the closer? Is the the facilitator? Like what's his approach this week to try and get this across the finish line?

    MS. PSAKI: I feel like there's a baseball analogy here I really want to deliver on so my husband thinks I'm cool, but I can't think of it.

    Look, I think the President, having served 36 years in the Senate, he's always going to be deeply involved. He's always going to roll up his sleeves and want to know every detail of what's being discussed, every detail of the proposal and package. As I — as I noted, in response to Mary's question, I suspect he'll have some members here over the past — over the next couple of days to have those discussions in person.

    So I don't know how you — I will leave it to all of you to — to characterize or give a label for that. But he's ready to roll up his sleeves, ready — the O- — the door to the Oval Office is always open. And he'll be deeply involved and engaged in these negotiations over the coming days.

    Q:  And some progressives have made the ask that if you're going to move forward with this bipartisan package, moderate senators commit to them to supporting the reconciliation piece of this as well — the second track, if you will. Will the President also seek that commitment from the moderates if they do move forward on a bipartisan piece of legislation?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say that the President sees this as a process that is — has multiple paths forward. And the reconciliation process — which is already underway, being led through the budget committees in Congress — is an important component of that.

    And a number of his priorities and his proposals that he's put forward are not a part of this negotiation or are not a part of this discussion that's happening in a bipartisan manner. So he certainly would like to see that move forward, and he will make that case to others as well.

    Q:  And then just one last quick one: Does he support the Manchin language on the voting rights issue?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, you know, again, I think this is a compromise. And as that happens, as compromises happen, it means there's a lot that you like about it — and it may not be everything you love, but he certainly sees this as a step forward.

    And — and as Stacey Abrams said over the weekend, incremental steps forward in making voting rights more accessible, making voting more available is a good thing.

    And he certainly is appreciative of the efforts by Senator Manchin and others to continue to make progress on voting rights, which he feels is a huge priority.

    Go ahead.

    [ ... ]

    Read the full transcript HERE.



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