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tv   White House Holds Briefing with Reporters  CSPAN  April 16, 2021 4:25am-5:15am EDT

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to abolish it. mr. secretary, thank you for yoe
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will have another significant act. okay. i have a couple of items for you at the top. today, we are announcing the release of $39 billion of american rescue plan funds to states, territories, and tribes to address the childcare crisis caused by covid-19. these funds are a critical step to pave the way for a strong economic recovery and a more equitable future. these funds will help early childhood educators and family childcare providers keep their doors open and make sure every state has a strong childcare system that provides families with what they need. since the start of the pandemic, as we've talked about a bit in
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here, roughly 200 million women have left the workforce. that's disproportionately due to care giving needs. we're hopeful this will help. as you know, later this afternoon the president and vice president will meet with key members of congressional asian pacific american caucus. the meeting will broadly focus on their priorities, our shared priorities, i should say, including critical issues such as combating anti-asian hate, the american jobs plan's impact on shared infrastructure priorities, and immigration. last night we announced the appointment of the deputy assistant to the president, an asian-american and pacific islander liaison. she will bring her experience and expertise to the biden/harris administration, a vital voice to advance the president's and the administration's priorities. we'll have a readout off that meeting of course as well. as you know, the president will be making some brief remarks at the top. an update on our covid-19 vaccination progress.
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today we reported over 3.5 million covid shots -- sorry. today it was reported from yesterday, of course, we had 3.5 million covid shots yesterday. this is a new thursday record, so certainly a step, a good piece of good news. one more scheduling update. president biden looks forward to welcoming president moon of the republic of korea in the second half of may. we're still finalizing the date for that. this visit following the recent two plus two visit to seoul by secretaries blinken and austin. it will highlight the iron-clad u.s./south korea alliance and the long standing ties between the people of our two countries. with that, amer, we've had a lot going on this week. >> it's not the end of the week. >> we have more to come. go ahead. >> with prime minister suga coming tomorrow, and you just
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announced president moon coming, looking ahead to both these visits, what message is the president trying to send, and in a sense, elevating particularly with tomorrow's visit with the japanese prime minister, is he sending a message to china by who he's picking first? >> first, the president is looking forward to welcoming the prime minister tomorrow. and it is significant that our first bilateral meeting in person is with japan. it emphasizes our important relationship and all of the cooperative work we have to do together. i will say that of course our approach to china and our shared coordination and cooperation on that front will be part of the discussion, as will our joint commitment to the denuclearization of north korea. security will be a prominent issue, regional security as well. so i would say these relationships have a range of areas of cooperation. it's an opportunity to discuss those issues in person.
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and i would anticipate that china will be a part of the discussions. >> if i could ask just a question on the russia sanctions today. in a statement, the white house noted reports that [ inaudible ] personnel in afghanistan. the report seems to have some ambiguity. does the white house believe russia placed bounties on american troops? >> well, i would say first that we felt the reports were enough of a cause of concern that we wanted our intelligence community to look into those reports as a part of this overall assessment. they assessed with low to moderate confidence, as you alluded to, that russian officers sought to encourage attacks against u.s. personnel in afghanistan. the reason that they have low to moderate confidence in this judgment is in part because it relies on dt&e reporting and due
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to the challenging intelligence environment in afghanistan. so it is challenging to gather this data. our intelligence community assesses that gru, also known as the manage interaction with criminal networks, we have high confidence in that assessment. and the involvement of this unit is consistent with russia's encouraging attacks against u.s. and coalition personnel in afghanistan. while there is low to moderate assessment of these reports, we felt it was important for our intelligence community to look into it. and we of course will not stand by and accept the targeting of our personnel by any elements including a foreign state actor. this information really puts the burden on russia and the russian government to explain their engagement here. >> jen, given that assessment, does the president have any regrets for how many times he attacked president trump on the campaign about this issue, not
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taking action related to russia? >> i will not speak to the previous administration but i will say we had enough concern about these reports and about the targeting of our men and women serving, the men and women who are proudly serving around the world, that we wanted our intelligence community to look into it. now, again, there are several factors that contributed to the low to moderate confidence in the judgment, including the difficulty of the operating environment and of course the reliance on detainee reporting. at the same time, we still feel there are questions to be answered by the russian government. >> on foreign policy, with the russia decision, the afghanistan decision, i'm trying to get a sense of how the administration operates here. there are still americans unjustly detained in russia, an american was kidnapped by a taliban-aligned group in afghanistan. at what level does the administration look at those hostages, i guess, as they think through foreign policy
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decisions? do you have a team working on that, did that play a role in either of these decisions? >> certainly every relationship we have, when it's adversarial or even when it's not, we raise issues of the detainment of american citizens or even sometimes citizens of our partners and allies around the world through those diplomatic conversations. typically those conversations are led by the state department and officials that are working at the state department. typically we don't read out too much detail because our focus is of course on bringing americans home. >> just one more, i think we ask you this every week, but on the refugee camp, we hear a lot of concerns from your allies on capitol hill. the big concern is not necessarily right now, when is the president going to sign the directive. it's what are the issues that are holding it up. and i feel like democratic senators we've spoken to don't have answers to that, they say they've reached out to you guys, we don't have answers from you either. are there tangible reasons why this has not been signed yet? >> i can assure you and anyone who has concerns that the
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president remains committed to this issue. he believes refugees, that immigrants, are the heart and soul of our country and they have been for decades. and that is why he has proposed, you know, a comprehensive immigration reform bill. that is why he wants to improve the processing of those seeking asylum at the border. it's an issue he remains committed to. that's why he stated that. but i don't have an update on the timeline of the signing. >> what is the holdup? >> it remains an issue. the president remains committed to raising the refugee cap. and i can assure anyone who has concerns that that remains the case. go ahead. >> jen, the u.s. has been putting on sanctions on russia for years for its behavior, it hasn't deterred them in the past. why should we expect these new sanctions will do something that past sanctions have not?
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>> first i would say, peter, our objective here is not to escalate. our objective is to impose costs for what we feel are unacceptable actions by the russian government. some of these are done in coordination with our european partners and allies in the past. and our view is that when there are actions that are taken that are unacceptable, that are not aligned with our interests, that we feel go beyond what should be acceptable from any country you have a partner relationship with, then there should be consequences. we can't predict what the impact will be. but we still believe when there's unacceptable behavior, we should put consequences in place. >> let me ask about afghanistan, if i can, quickly. the president's only cia director warned there is significant risk that al qaeda and other terrorist groups could fill the vacuum that exists when the u.s. and allies leave the region. i have the quote for you but you saw the testimony as well as i
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did. why not leave a small residual force behind, and knowing he addresses this in some form, why not leave a military force there to help protect them and their ability to collect intelligence? >> first i will say that we believe we have the means to keep our eye on any terrorist threats or any sign of al qaeda's resurgence without having a persistent footprint on the ground. and the evaluation and the decision made by the president was that based on the recommendations, the advice from national security advisers, from his team across the administration, is that the threat against the homeland now emanating from afghanistan can be kept to a level that can be addressed without that persistent footprint. now, at the same time, because obviously our capacity and our capabilities have dramatically increased and improved over the last 20 years or even ten years. we are going to reposition our
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counterterrorism capabilities. we'll retain significant assets in the region, we talked about horizon capabilities to counter reemergence of a potential terrorist threat. that's our focus. >> the j&j single shot, as you know, was particularly attractive to those populations that are harder to reach right now. what specifically is the white house doing now to redouble its efforts to improve equity or to attain equity in the distribution of these vaccines? >> i would say that if you take a step back, which we sometimes like to do, our focus has been on ensuring that equity and addressing any issues related to confidence, was central to our strategy. so we have had a robust strategy in place long before the announcement by the fda a couple of days ago. we've also seen so far that by the number of shots that we were able to distribute yesterday,
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some data and polling that's been out there, and we'll have to see as time goes on, that we have not seen to date yet an impact on confidence in the vaccines writ large. but there are a number of steps we've taken over the course of time that we feel will continue to pay dividends and be impactful, because we're overpreparers here. one is the launching of the community corps program to get fact-based messages into the hands of local messengers. more than 6,000 organizations are participating in that effort. we've launched a $3 billion effort to provide states and community-based organizations funding and support to strengthen vaccine confidence. and we also have public health officials who have been out on your airwaves, across the board, communicating with local organizations to reassure and confirm that we have enough supply to meet the demand that is coming. >> the first lady had a common medical procedure yesterday. do you have an update on how she's doing? >> i think we put out a note yesterday that she returned to the white house and resumed her
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daily activities. >> thank you. >> absolutely. go ahead, kristen. >> thanks, jen. does the president support the bill just introduced by the chairman of the house judiciary committee to add four seats to the supreme court? >> just last week the president signed an executive order creating the bipartisan commission on the supreme court of the united states, a group of over 30 constitutional and legal experts who are examining a range of questions about proposed reforms to the supreme court. one of the issues they'll look at of course is the size of the court but they'll also look at the court's rule in the constitutional system, the length of service, the turnover of justices. they'll come back to the president with a report on what their discussions and findings are. so that's going to wait for that to play out and wait to read that report. >> so, i mean, this isn't just coming from some obscure member of congress, this is coming from the chairman of the house judiciary committee. so is the president, is the
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white house frustrated that chairman nadler perhaps didn't wait for this report from the commission that president biden just called for last week? >> no. the president believes that it's important to take a look at a range of points of view, whether they are progressive or conservative, different sets of legal opinions. and he looks forward to assessing that himself. and i expect he will not have more to convey about any recommendations or views he'll have until he reads that report. but he certainly understands that members of congress have a range of views and they're going to propose legislation. he may or may not support it. >> i just want to be clear, the president does or does not think that this bill is premature? >> he believes that members of congress have the right to put forward legislation on issues they support. his view is that he wants to hear from this commission that has a range of viewpoints. >> one more question, senator ed markey just said, we must expand
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the court and aboish the filibuster to do it. is the white house comfortable with linking these two ideas from the steps of the supreme court? >> the president believes in freedom of speech and members can share their views on issues including the future of the supreme court. he looks forward to seeing the recommendations that come out of this court commission. go ahead. >> i wanted to start with the russia -- >> sure. >> the kremlin has been kind of downplaying the actions today, noting that americans still [ inaudible ] on the secondary market. there's also been some criticism from republicans including senator toomey who noted the north stream 2 sanctions weren't part of this package. i was wondering if you could respond to both of those and explain if this is a more modest package than you could have perhaps pursued, what the strategic thinking behind that is. >> well, one, we broadly
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speaking felt this package was proportionate and appropriate for the response. but there were a number of steps, as you know, you've all reported on, that we did to give ourselves maximum optionality, including the executive order that provides authority for relevant agencies to target any sector of the russian economy and anyone determined to be a leader, official, or anyone who has played a role instrumentally in the government of the russian federation. so that gives us a great deal of flexibility moving forward. and we wanted to have that. we felt it was important. i will say in terms of the impact, before we took this action, the u.s. only -- the united states only prohibited u.s. banks from new purchases of debt in the primary market. this means the vast majority are 80% of russia's sovereign debt. we have now made a move into this space. but again, we have maximum optionality moving forward. our hope, though, is that we can
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move forward with a predictable and a stable relationship. we still felt, and as i said in response to peter's question, that it's important to respond and put in place consequences to actions that we felt were unacceptable. >> so north stream you felt would be disproportionate in response to this or north stream is on a different track? >> i don't have anything to predict about that, we feel north stream is a bad deal. >> yesterday you said the president would address the resettlement of translators and other afghanis who helped u.s. forces in his speech. it didn't sound like that made the final cut, i was wondering if you had any more on that considering immigration issues that have been present over the last year. >> sure. and i'm happy to get you more specific details from our national security team as well. i will say that, you know, we will continue to provide and work with congress to expedite
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and expand special immigrant visas. we remain committed to working with and helping people who have served alongside and been important partners to our men and women searching on the ground in afghanistan. and we are of course maintaining, intend to maintain a diplomatic presence there as well to help with that. >> last one, yesterday you guys said that you would keep the temporary scheduling order on fentanyl substitutes. civil rights groups have said this is counterproductive, it makes it harder for folks to seek treatment and replicates the war on drug criminal justice system that has been shown to disproportionately impact communities of color. and so i'm wondering if you could explain the decision and respond to some of those concerns. >> well, this is a decision of course that's made in part -- or the recommendations, by omdcp and the department of justice. and i would just reiterate that we are committed to avoiding ex
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expiration of this legislation but we have legitimate concerns related to some components of it including mandatory minimums. we're having discussions about that. we want to avoid the expiration of this legislation and recognize the role that fentanyl plays. go ahead. >> thanks. the white house has said over and over again that you want a stable and predictable relationship with russia. >> yes. >> but that seems to run completely counter to the way that russia operates. they try to be unpredictable and they have been destabilizing in their actions. so is this goal really realistic, to have a stable and predictable relationship with russia? >> well, we feel that has to be our objective, and that part of our objective is to, as you said, have a stable and predictable relationship in order to leave space to pursue areas where we feel there is
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greater opportunity and also address areas where there might be greater challenge. now, we're not going to get ahead what have those discussions look like. obviously this continues to be a difficult relationship. there are adversarial components of it. but our objective is to move to a place to de-escalate and to move to a place where, you know, this is not that escalatory focus. >> is there anything that the president plans to be differently than all the other administrations to bring that kind of relationship as opposed to this adversarial relationship? is there something different this administration plans to do? >> i would say first we're going to be clear with russia that we will impose consequences when warranted and that we are not going to hold back in response to their behavior.
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at the same time, i think the president's conversation with president putin and his invitation and proposal that they have a discussion about areas of mutual agreement, whether that is, you know, working together on iran nuclear negotiations or issues along those lines, gives an indication that we feel we can work together in areas where we agree and continue to make clear areas where we have disagreements. >> on the issue of the sanctions, russia has said that that makes the idea of a summit, which president biden had, you know, broached, that that makes that less likely to happen. does the administration still expect to have a summit with putin? is that still something that the white house is going to press for? >> the invitation remains open and we believe it would be a good step forward in continuing to move forward on a stable --
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the development of a stable and predictable relationship. >> just really quickly, so on the fda kind of punted on the decision on j&j, within ten days they'll talk about that pause, is the white house frustrated at all that that decision is on hold right now and that it's going to take ten more days to decide whether that pause is going to be changed or anything? >> well, science moves at the speed of science. and they want to review more data. we believe they are the gold standard, the fda is the gold standard in the world. actually their thorough and transparent approach should give the american public additional confidence in the role they play and the role -- the approach the united states takes to the approval of vaccines out on the market. so no, we remain confident that we have the supply needed to meet the demand. because we are overprepared and oversupplied, we remain
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confident in that. we've also seen, as i noted at the beginning of the briefing, positive, so far, in the last 24 to 36 hours, you know, numbers in terms of individuals taking the vaccine. so we believe the fda, their process to review the data, is transparent, it's appropriate, it is the gold standard, and we will look forward to hearing what their outcome is. go ahead, tyler. >> [ inaudible ] who is the president's point person now moving forward on the border? >> first i would say that secretary mayorkas will continue to play a predominant role here. but there's different components of this, of course, because one of the things we've talked about is addressing the root causes. ricardo zuniga is a special envoy, has a great deal of experience in the region, in the western hemisphere. he was named to that position only just a few weeks ago. so he will continue to play a
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vital role. and of course the vice president will continue to play a role in the northern triangle as well. >> a little bit more on the vice president's role, republicans over the past few days have been quite critical of the vice president. >> i've seen that. they need more to do, i think. >> is the white house, is her diplomatic role disconnected from the border? >> i will say -- all respect to you, but this confusion is very perplexing to me, i have to be honest. the current president, who was vice president, ran point on the northern triangle when he was vice president. that's a role focused on diplomacy. the vice president has had a number of those conversations at the leader level. having a discussion about what steps can be taken, whether it's improving the personnel and the approach they each take at the border, we've seen some steps they've taken on that front, or whether it is working with them to determine how we can provide
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the best assistance to address the root causes over the long term. that's the role that the vice president is playing. that is certainly a significant role. of course that's linked, because if we don't address the root causes, we'll continue to see influxes and large numbers of migrants coming to the border cycle after cycle just as we've seen over the last several years. it is not even a one-woman job. it is a multi, high level official job. secretary mayorkas is obviously playing a significant role overseeing the border patrol facilities, overseeing a lot of steps and policy proposals that are coming about the border. the secretary of health and human services oversees the shelters. this is an interagency process, as it should be. and as it has always been. >> just one on the j&j vaccine. some white house official were touting polling data that came out yesterday that showed the pause in the distribution of the
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j&j vaccine and confidence in americans. new polling comes out today that shows the opposite, there's some decline in confidence around the j&j vaccine. how do you reconcile those two, and what is the white house doing proactively to try to deal with issues of vaccine hesitancy? >> first, to be clear, i think the poll you're referencing from yesterday was measuring vaccine confidence writ large, in all of the vaccines, and i think the poll today, if i'm correct, but correct me if i'm wrong here, was related specifically only to johnson & johnson, which are slightly different. so it's a little apples and oranges. >> some white house officials were touting that data yesterday on twitter, about -- pointing to it, saying, look, the pause was a good thing given this data. >> correct, which is what the poll said. so what i'm conveying is they were not measuring the same thing, which is i think important for people to understand. our focus is on ensuring we get shots in the arms of every adult
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american. and we have enough moderna and pfizer vaccine to do that. we will. so we of course will see the fda process play its way out. and we are fortunate to have a massive effort under way to increase vaccine confidence long before the announcement by the fda just a couple of days ago, which we will continue to implement. but i think it was touted in part because we want to ensure americans understand and show americans do understand, so far, that they can remain confident in the efficacy and the safety of the vaccines out there in the market that are currently being distributed with the fda emergency approval. >> two quick ones, do you think that secretary becerra will be making a briefing room appearance at any point? i know a lot of the cabinet secretaries have come in. as you said, he has a big role in what's going on with the care of migrant children. will we have an opportunity to ask him questions? >> yeah, absolutely. we haven't had in all of the secretaries, as you know, here. we hope to get them all here in the coming weeks. >> is the administration still
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planning to roll out the second part of the infrastructure, the america's families plan, this month? >> that is our intention. >> no changes on that front? >> nope, that's our intention. >> a couple of followups on russia. >> sure. >> does the white house and the u.s. intelligence community have a better sense now of what the impact of the solarwinds attack was, on the u.s. government? what did the russians steal? what was the broad impact? >> we do have a little bit of a better understanding, i should say. so we know, one, that the compromise of the solarwinds software supply chain gave it the ability to spy on or potentially disrupt more than 16,000 computer systems worldwide. the scope and the scale of that is obviously significant, and national security and a public safety concern particularly given russia's history of reckless behavior in cyberspace and what they could have done
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had we not caught it and tried to address the issue. so there may be more than that, jeff. and i'm happy to connect you with one of our cyber experts directly if that would be useful to you. >> that would be great. >> sure. >> something else that was included in the sanctions today were five russian cybersecurity firms. can you give a sense to us of what those -- why those firms were chosen and what they did in the united states? >> well, i would say the firms -- let me see. i probably have more specifics on this, jeff. one moment. if not, i can also get you connected with our cyber experts on exactly that question. i mean, obviously the individuals who were in the -- and the companies who were designated through our announcement this morning had a direct involvement in hacking, and that was the reason for designating and taking the actions we took. but let me connect you with a cyber expert so you can get more specific detail. >> okay. one followup on justin's
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question on nord stream. nord stream was approved to be one of the sanctions. did chancellor merkel advocate for that to be left off the list? can you give a sense of why it didn't end up being part of the sanctions today? >> i don't have any more detail on that. obviously if there are additional actions taken, we certainly preserve the option of putting additional actions in place and it doesn't mean we won't have more. but i don't have any more detail on why sanctions were or were not finalized. >> next week is the earth day climate change summit. can you give us any sort of a preview on your plans to release the u.s. target for emissions by 2030, when can we expect to see that? >> it's going to be a full week next week. let me see if we can get you
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more previewing by tomorrow. we're still finalizing the specifics. i just don't have anything to provide to you at this moment. go ahead. hi, laura. >> hi, thanks. a question from earlier, immigrant and refugee advocates say they can't recall a time when a presidential declaration took this long after first announcing to increase the refugee count. so i'll just ask again, what is the delay here? >> again, i can just reiterate the president remains committed to raising the refugee cap. and obviously his commitment to ensuring that we're treating refugees, immigrants, people who come into our country, with humanity is evident in his policies. but i don't have any more specifics for you. >> on the infrastructure bill, speaker pelosi says she wants to get this all done by july 4th. how much time is the white house willing to negotiate with republicans before you start making big decisions about what to push through? >> we would like to see some progress and some forward movement by memorial day. and the president would love to
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have the package signed or passed, i should say, this summer. >> is the white house encouraging the senate to pass traditional infrastructure bill with regular order with republicans? >> we certainly agree there should be agreement. there is agreement on a number of proposals. we've been encouraged by a number of the conversations we've had to date. we look forward to hearing alternate ideas or different ideas as they come forward, and there should be an opportunity for that. we're also quite open to what path this takes. we're not going to predetermine whether it has to all happen in one big package. there are different components that could move forward. certainly on their own. and we -- right now is the time where members and their staff and committee staff are doing the hard work of determining where there's agreement and what pieces can move forward. >> senator [ inaudible ] was saying today that to pass something with republicans maybe on traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, et cetera, and
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then everything else could go in a reconciliation bill, so you guys are open to that? >> that's senator coons' point of view, which we certainly respect, he's a friend of the president's. there are a range of views on the hill, as you know, laura, about what the size of the package should be and what components could go together. we'll let it move through. >> do you think young women, ages 18 to 26, should register for the draft? >> i'll have to talk to him about that, hans, that's an interesting question. >> the justice department said they weren't going to join a suit about the constitutionality of that. does the president think everyone should register for the draft? >> i'm happy to talk to him about it and i'll take a look at the department of justice case as well. go ahead. >> thank you. the border patrol agents have been shifted in recent weeks from the northern border, canadian border, to the mexican border. and we've seen complaints about
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shortages at the northern border. how many agents are going to be diverted ultimately, and can they maintain security along that rather long northern border? >> i'm sure that is assessed as they're making changes or making -- or shifting resources. i would certainly point you to the department of homeland security for specifics about the movement of border patrol agents. >> and some of your own administration's immigration experts, officials, have said that some migrant families are, in their words, self-separating at the border and sending their kids across alone because they know that unaccompanied minors will not be turned away. is it time to rethink that policy because of these unintended consequences and the way people are kind of taking advantage of it? >> you're right, todd, that is certainly an unintended consequences. and we have been clear and have continued to convey the message that our border is not open. that is a treacherous journey.
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even as families are doing that, a number of these kids are still taking a very dangerous journey even for a shorter period of time or distance, i guess i should say. but i don't think we have any intention to rethink our approach to treating kids humanely and ensuring they are safe when they cross the border. >> can i ask a followup on the court packing bill? >> sure. >> so the president is not ruling out the possibility of expanding the court and he has started this process that could lead to recommendations to expand the number of seats on the supreme court, right? >> i think that's getting a little bit ahead of the process. this is a commission that has officials who are -- many very progressive, very many conservative, have a range of viewpoints. they're going to look at a number of issues. the size of the court is one of the issues. but there are a number of other issues they'll look at. i'm sure the president will look forward to reviewing that report when it comes to his desk. and then i'm sure it will impact
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his thinking moving forward. but we don't know what that report will look like, and he obviously can still make the decision about what he supports. >> taking the idea off the table, so isn't it a fair inference that he is open to the idea of expanding the size of the court? >> he's spoken to the issue in the past, during the campaign. his position has not changed. however, he believes that it was important to look at a range of issues related to the court, given at times the politicization of the court. and that is what he has asked this commission to do. go ahead. >> thank you, jen. i want to go back on russia and the sanctions. >> okay. >> we know the details. can we just -- bring us back to the conversation the president had with president putin, what was his reaction, how cold or warm was it as a conversation? >> president putin's reaction? i would point you to the russians to characterize that. >> people in the administration were on the call listening to
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his reaction. >> yes. >> the two men talked to each other, two translators. >> yes. >> was it warm, was it cold? >> i'm not going to characterize the tone. i will say that on that call, the president made clear that there would be consequences, that consequences would be coming. he also suggested that they meet in person and that he wanted to have a stable and predictable relationship. so the content i think can tell you a lot about the tone of the conversation. >> about president moon's visit next month, can you tell us if the administration had made some more steps to start a dialogue with north korea, and i guess it will be part of the conversation with president moon. >> there's been an ongoing review, of course, of the approach and the steps forward here. of course our objective is a key nuclearized north korea. that remains our focus. i don't have any more about the review to read out.
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it's an important part of our objective to approach the denuclearization of the north korean peninsula in close coordination with our allies in the region. certainly south korea and japan are two of our important partners in the region. >> last question of the day. knowing that communities on both sides of the borders are suffering from the closing of the borders and the fact that vaccination has been going well on this side of the border, have conversations started with the trudeau government about loosening the restrictions? >> we would -- obviously conversations, and that is raised, as you know, by foreign governments including canada, certainly for the reasons you outline. we'll base any decision on the guidance and the recommendations of our health and medical experts. there's been no change that i'm aware of at this point. go ahead. >> hi, jen, thanks. i wanted to go back to the infrastructure plans, specifically the tax portion. >> okay.
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>> what parts of that is the president flexible on? are there parts of it he would be open to negotiating about? >> you mean in terms of the the pay-fors? the president is quite open to alternate proposals to paying for his package. his most important focus here, his line in the sand, is the vital imperative of investing in infrastructure and modernizing our infrastructure, creating jobs for the american people. he believes that should be paid for. he's proposed a way to do that. if others have alternatives to that, he's quite open to a range of options. >> and one on climate, i know the summit is next week. >> yes. >> and going back to one of the early executive orders that the president signed on climate change, there was a line in there about creating a green procurement plan for the federal government where the government would consider climate in their spending decisions. he set a deadline for the end of april on that.
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do you know what the status is and when we can expect to see it? >> for those excited about climate, we'll have a lot more to say next week. if there's anything we can preview by tomorrow, but it will be a busy week or two on the climate front. i'm just not going to get ahead of any announcements. >> thank you. >> sure. go ahead. >> we're being told congressional republicans are looking toward a counteroffer on infrastructure with the top line number being in the area of $650 billion. i'm wondering what the white house's response to that would be. >> we would welcome any good faith engagement on finding common ground on infrastructure in this proposal. we haven't received, just to confirm, any concrete counteroffer so far, at least as of my coming out here to see all of you, so we're not going to speculate about hypotheticals. but from the outset, the president has said that he wants this to be a collaborative process and he wants input from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on how we can improve the jobs plan. and certainly he looks forward
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to hearing what their proposals might be. he has some fundamental -- and this kind of goes in response to an earlier question, he has some fundamental corps elements that are important to him. money to update our infrastructure, investments in long term growth, investments in americans' workplaces and communities. we'll see what the proposal looks like. >> to eliminate, as you know, the cap, i'm hoping you can clarify the position from the white house. do you believe that eliminating the salt cap is good policy that needs to be paid for somehow or do you believe it's not good policy? >> the president didn't put it in his proposal. but i will say we understand there are a number of members who feel strongly about the elimination of the salt cap and we are happy to hear from them. as you also know, just with our little calculators out, it is not a revenue raiser. it would add cost potentially significantly to a package. there would have to be a
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discussion about how that would be paid for, what would be taken out instead. then there's a discussion to what's important to achieving our overarching objectives. >> in a different space, cryptocurrency. >> mm-hmm. >> in the news the last many weeks, certainly the last few days here. $2 trillion market cap, big growing space. we've heard from janet yellen, her thoughts. we've heard from jay powell his thoughts. we've heard from gary gentzler, his thoughts. to the best of my knowledge, i don't believe we've heard from president biden his thoughts on cryptocurrency. can you give us some insight, what is the president's thinking on it? >> i would suggest that secretary yellen, who is our of course treasury secretary, is the appropriate person to speak to it. i'm not -- i don't think the president has a disagreement with her on this particular issue. >> so if he doesn't have a disagreement, does he think there needs to be some form of
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regulation at some point? >> we would defer to her and her comments on cryptocurrenies and the market. >> on north korea, you've said the u.s. is considering the denuclearization of north korea and later you said the north korean peninsula. >> sorry, north korea. >> i'm wondering if you could explain why that's sort of shifted in the administration and you're no longer seeing denuclearization of south korea as part of this long term negotiation. >> well, i would say that it's just an indication that we understand that the denuclear -- i wouldn't overthink this, honestly, sometimes we say one, sometimes we say the other. but we understand the intentions of the north korean leadership are ones that we have concerns about. and that certainly is a factor.
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yes. >> as it relates to expanding the court, did the president speak to speaker pelosi in advance of making her comments? >> i don't have any calls to read out. i think the president has spoken about his views, and obviously we announced the commission publicly last week. >> as it relates to his views as a senator, his view was, he was speaking of president roosevelt then who wanted to expand the court by six seats, he said it was a boneheaded idea. does he still believe it is a boneheaded idea? >> the president feels it's an important to take a look at a range of issues related to the courts. i think that's an indication that he's seen the impact in recent years and it's time to take a fresh and clear look at a range of issues. the size is one of them. but -- so is the length of service. the selection, the case selection rules and practices. >> the last question is, on the vaccine, just one other thing, we heard with j&j now, out of
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commission at least for the next ten days or however long it will be. the white house says they have enough doses for every american who wants it by the end of july i think was the latest. not just for everyone who wants it, but to be able to give it to them, for everyone who wants it by the end of july. my question is, that requires a calculation by the white house about how many americans they believe do not want it. the question is, how many americans by your judgment, by the white house's judgment, are you assessing do not want to take a vaccine? >> well, i would say -- let me try to answer this question, i think this is going to get to part of your question here. when we say we are confident we're going to have supply for all eligible populations who want it, that means that by the end of may, for about 80% of the population. by the end of july, about 90% of the population. we also recognize, and as you guys have reported on, that there are parts, populations in the country that are going to be hesitant or going to be reluctant to get the vaccine.
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we are having a massive campaign to communicate about the efficacy, the safety, through a range of trusted messengers. so we are working to rebuild that confidence as well. we're talking about what we think the demand will look like. >> to be clear, in terms of the demand, is there a figure, an expectation that you guys believe there will be some americans who won't. where do you set that number? right now, obviously you're trying to overcome it, right now, what is your belief in terms of how many tens of billions of americans that will say no? >> i don't have an assessment. there's no playbook for this, right? so what i'm conveying to you is that when we say we will have enough, for 80% of the adult population by the end of may, we think that will meet the demand, right? but we assess day by day, week by week, what progress we're making. >> by the end of may, it's 220 million total available doses.
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>> mm-hmm. >> or 220 million americans who could get their shots by then. that means there's an additional number of americans above that who wouldn't, but you guys don't have a specific number you're circling right now? >> i don't have any number to share with you. oh, go ahead, did you have one last question? >> the supreme court commission you've been talking about, will that commission at all study lower court reform? >> it is looking at five issues. it's primarily focused on the supreme court. it's a presidential commission on the supreme court of the united states. so it will primarily be looking at the court's rule in the constitutional system, the length of service, the turnover of justices on the court, the size of the court, the court's case selection rules and practices. the supreme court will be the focus. >> and no lower court at this point? >> that's what the focus that have commission is. okay. thanks, everyone. >> participants for the 2:00, when you get a chance? >> oh, sure, sure, sure.
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