Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre | Eastern North Carolina Now | Good afternoon, everybody. A couple of things at the top. Today’s announcement by Micron is another big win for America.

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Press Release:

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  •  Washington D.C.  •  September 1  •  2:39 P.M. EDT

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody. A couple of things at the top. Today's announcement by Micron is another big win for America. Micron is investing $15 billion over the next decade at a manufacturing facility in Idaho, and they directly credit the passage of the CHIPS Act that made this possible.

    Just this week, we've seen First Solar, Toyota, Honda, and Corning make major announcements of new investments and new jobs as a direct result of the President's economic plan. U.S. manufacturing is back.

    Americans have experienced an unacceptable level of flight - of flight delays and cancellations this year due to airline issues. When these disruptions occur, it's really difficult to figure out if you will receive a meal voucher and hotel accommodations.

    So, two weeks ago, Secretary Buttigieg told the top U.S. airlines that our administration plan to publish an interactive airline customer service dashboard before Labor Day to give Americans more transparency about what airlines owe them when there is a delay or cancellation due to staffing or mechanical problems.

    Secretary Buttigieg also urged the airlines to immediately improve their customer service plans before the dashboard launch.

    Today, the Department of Transportation officially launched the dashboard, and we're proud to report that airlines vastly improved their plans.

    And we have a graphic right behind me. We love graphics here, as you know. Before the Secretary's letter, there were significantly more red X's across this table. None of the airlines had guaranteed that they would cover meals or hotels when they are at fault.

    Now eight of the top airlines cover hotels and nine of them cover meals. Before Secretary Buttigieg's letter, only one airline guaranteed they would rebook you at no cost. Now, 9 out of the 10 do so.

    This is a huge win for American travelers. From the start of this administration, President Biden has directed his team to work with airlines to help Americans get where they need to go safely, affordably, and reliably. And we will not hesitate to hold the airlines accountable. If airlines aren't providing you with these services, file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. Our administration has your back.

    Lastly, I want to make a few comments on the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Report on Xinjiang that was released just last night. The United States welcomes this report - this important report, which describes authoritaritively [authoritatively] the abhorrent human rights treatment of the Uyghur and other minority communities by the People's Republic of China government. The report deepens our grave concern regarding the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity that China is perpetrating.

    Our position on the atrocities in Xinjiang has been clearly demonstrated with our words and in our actions. The Biden administration has taken concrete measures, including improving visa restrictions; Global Magnitsky Act and other financial sanctions; export controls; import restrictions; and the President has rallied allies and partners, including the G7 commitment to ensure all global - global supply chains are free from the use of forced labor, including from Xinjiang.

    We will continue to work closely with partners and the international community to hold China accountable. And we will call on China to immediately cease committing these atrocities, release those unjustly detained, account for those disappeared, and allow independent investigators full and unhindered access to Xinjiang, Tibet, and across China.

    With that, all right, go ahead, Zeke. What do you got?

    Q Thanks, Karine. Can you confirm that the United States is ending humanitarian parole for Afghan refugees? And is the administration concerned that this is going to make it more difficult for people trying to flee the Taliban's rule to get - get to safety?

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, here's - we have an update on the Enduring Freedom - the Operation Allies Welcome, what it looks like long term. This isn't a - this is a - this is an update that the Department - that the - the Department of Defense announced recently. And so, look, our commitment to our Afghan allies is enduring. We have welcomed nearly 90,000 Afghans to our country over the past year and have been providing relocation assistance over the past year as well.

    As part of our efforts continue to welcome our Afghan allies, we are adopting a new model where Afghan arrivals will travel directly to the communities where they will be moving with the help of refugee resettlement organizations, without a safe-haven stopover in the United States.


    We have also been pivoting toward welcoming Afghans from visa programs that have long-term durable status, such as the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa, the SIV program - "S-I-V programs," as you hear us call it - and refugee admissions programs so that Afghans who are looking to resettle in the United States will remain with an immigration status that provides a path to long-term, permanent residence rather than a temporary status, which is what is provided through humanitarian parole.

    At the same time, we have been undertaking substantial effort to improve our relo- - relocation efforts, working to make them more efficient. We are developing a system to help Americans with family members in Afghanistan, as well as Afghans who have arrived in the U.S. over the past year bring their family members to the - to the United States.

    So, we're going to continue to improve the SIV process and have substantially increased the number of staff processing SIV application by more than fifteen- - fifteenfold since the beginning of the Biden administration. So, this is important to us. This has been a priority. And that's how we're going to make this process work a little bit better.

    Q The question, though: Is the administration concerned that this process - by pushing people to that longer-term residency visa program - that that's going to make it more difficult for people who are just trying to get out to get out? The purpose of the parole was to allow people to get the United States and get to safety quickly.

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we - look, we know that many - many of our allies and Afghans remain - in Afghanistan remain under threat in the country. So, we're putting the infrastructure in place overseas to increase the pace of our relocations, and we have made a number of process improvements to refugee and SIV immigration process that should make this faster.

    So we believe it's going to make this faster. We believe this is an improvement in the process. And this is a commitment that we continue to have.

    Q And then can you provide an update on the situation in Jackson right now, the federal support? What has FEMA been able to get to the city thus far?

    And has the President spoken to the governor yet? And what's been the reason for the delay?

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, FEMA - just to give you a little bit of an update on what's been going on on the ground and from the federal government: The FEMA Administrator, Deanne Criswell, will travel to Jackson, Mississippi, tomorrow to assess the ongoing emergency response.


    As you know, the President took immediate action to improve - to approve the governor's emergency declaration request and directed his team to surge assistance to Mississippi as soon as he got - got the declaration request.

    The President and Vice President both spoke with the mayor of Jackson yesterday. We read out that from the President - that they spoke. And the FEMA Administrator spoke with the governor earlier in the week.

    So FEMA has a number of personnel on site in the state - in the state Emergency Operations Center and is coordinating with the Mississippi Emergency - Emergency Management team to ensure that everyone has access to water.

    The EPA also has a subject-matter expert on the ground to support the emergency assessment of the Jackson water treatment plants. The agency is also working to expedite delivery of equipment needed to repair Jackson's water treatment plant.

    So, we are doing everything that we can to make sure that we're helping the people of Mississippi. Again, we are in close touch. We've had multiple conversations with the governor. And clearly, we've read out the - our conversation with the mayor. And we'll continue to have those open lines.

    Q And lastly for me, you mentioned the U.N. report on Chinese genocide in Xinjiang. What - the administration has been planning a phone call between the President and President Xi - sorry - or a meeting between President Biden and President Xi in the coming weeks or months? Why is now the time, after this report - the time for a meeting between those two leaders to take place, given Chinese atrocities?

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wait. Say that one more time? You're saying why shouldn't we have this meeting?

    Q Why sh- - you're planning a meeting right now. Why is - are you - do you plan to go forward with that after this report?

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to read out about an upcoming meeting or - or anything like that, any specifics of a meeting that the President could potentially have with President Xi. I just don't have anything to share.

    Q But there's been no change to the - the plan, after they spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago, that they were planning to meet in person. That's - that process is still underway?

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There's just nothing for me - there's not a process that I can speak or share with you at this time.

    Go ahead.

    Q Thanks. You guys have talked about the President's speech tonight as one that's about the continued battle for the soul of the nation. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said this morning that the President "does not understand the soul of America." Since we're a year and a half into this presidency and the country is still so divided, could McCarthy have a point?

    MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me say a few things about the response to - to Kevin McCarthy. And it comes from himself, like what he said on January 6th - after January 6th, 2021, one week after - after the January 6th insurrection - I'm sorry, January 13th.

    And, you know, he said the violence, destruction, and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable. He said this on January 13th of 2021 - it was "undemocratic"; it was "un-American." We all should stand united in condemning the mob together.

    And then he said - and then he said, "The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob['s] rioters." This is speaking about the former President.


    The President strongly agrees with Kevin McCarthy on the January 6th comments and the January 13th, 2021, comments and does not find the comments that Kevin McCarthy made then to be divisive in the least, but rather aligning with fundamental, nonpartisan, mainstream American values - that we uphold the rule of law, reject political violence, and condemn violence against law enforcement.

    And that's what we're talking about when we're talking about "protecting our democracy," when we're talking about "fighting [for] our democracy." That was - those were the words of Kevin McCarthy. And the President agreed with that Kevin McCarthy. He agreed with the Kevin McCarthy of January 6th. He agreed with Kevin McCarthy of January 13th of 2021.

    And what we hear from him - what we hear from him, of course, is a change of heart. And even formally punished fellow Republicans like Liz Cheney, who've had the courage to consistently tell the truth about the attack on the rule of law and the law enforcement that day, and continuing to - the threat to democracy that these extreme conspiracy theories represent. That is what we're talking about.
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