60.7 F
Virginia
HomeUncategorizedPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic...

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:46 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everyone.

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Tomorrow, the President and the First Lady will travel to Lewiston, Maine.  

While there, they will pay respects to the victims of the horrific shooting attack last week and grieve with the families and community members who have been affected by this senseless act of violence.  

The President will also meet with the brave first responders, dedicated nurses, and others on the frontlines of the response. 

Unfortunately — unfortunately, this type of trip by the President has become too — too familiar — far too familiar.  

Too many times, the President and the First Lady have travelled to communities completely torn apart by gun violence.  

As the President said last week, this is not normal, and we can’t accept it as normal.   

So, while Friday will be a solemn day and a time for the President to be with Americans who are in mourning, he will also continue to demand that Congress act.  

They must pass an assault weapons banned [ban].  They must enact universal background checks.  They must help states across the country adopt and strengthen red flag laws.  

In the meantime, this President will continue to do everything in its power — his power to end this gun violence epidemic.  And I would note that Greg Jackson, the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, has been on the ground in Maine all of this week helping to marshal a whole-of-government response to support — to support the people of Maine. 

Today, as I have been talking about almost every day in — in the briefing room, as part of our “10 Days of 10 Drugs” series, we’re hili- — we’re highlighting Farxiga, a drug used to treat diabetes, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease that was selected for Medicare price negotiation as part of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. 

Last year, hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries spent an average of up to 448 bucks out of — out of pocket for this lifesaving drug, while Big Pharma made record profits and spent nearly $400 million on lobbying to keep prices high for American families.  

For years, politician talked about — they talked about taking on Big Pharma and allowing Medicare to negotiate f- — lower drug prices for seniors. 

President Biden and, of course, congressional Democrats finally got that done by passing the Inflation Reduction Act without a single Republican vote. 

As a result, insulin is now capped at 35 bucks a month for seniors.  And for the first time ever, instead of drug companies charging Americans whatever they want for lifesaving drugs, Medicare will be able to negotiate lower prices for drugs like Farxiga.

And finally — finally, before I turn it over, over the past few months, you have heard scores of current and former national security officials, veterans, and hundreds of military spouses and families sound the alarm on Senator Tommy Tuberville’s dangerous blockade on many — on many — and nearly 380 military appointments.  

Yesterday, Republican senators joined that call.  And I will lay — lay out a few quotes from some of them.

Senator, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said those holds are a “bad idea.”  

Republican Senator Joni Ernst said that Tuberville was using nominees as “political pawns,” and “I do not respect men who do not honor their word.” 

Republican Senator Dan Sullivan said that Tuberville’s blockade is “100 percent wrong,” will be remembered as a “national security suicide mission” and a “downgrade of [our] readiness.” 

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said, “Sen- — Senator Tuberville, this — this doing great damage — is doing great damage to our military.”  Let me say that again: Senator Tuberville is “doing great damage to our military.”

Republican Senator Todd Young said Tuberville’s holds “just doesn’t make sense to me.” 

And Republican Senator Mitt Romney said, “We recognize that there is [a] personal suffering as we- — as well as issues of military readiness, so we need to act.”  “We need to act.”

Nearly all of them warned of the risk we face of servicemembers leaving military service if its blockade continues.  

So, we agree.  We have been very clear about this for the past several months.

These — these vacancies are causing serious damage to our military readiness and our national security.  And they are causing stress and disruption to our military families across the chain of command and for military spouses and also their families. 

The world is too dangerous — it is too dangerous to play political games with our military. 

So, we are pleased to see that the Senate is taking action.  Senator Tuberville needs to end — to end this damaging hold on all of our military nominees as soon as possible. 

Now, with that, I will turn it over to Admiral John Kirby from NSC, who knows this very, very personally — understands this well. 

MR. KIRBY:  Thank you, Karine.  Appreciate that.  Thank you. 

Good afternoon, everybody.  Let me get my cheaters out here. 

I think you all heard the President address this earlier today, but thanks to his leadership and the intensive diplomacy that we’ve been involved in, more Americans have been able to get out of Gaza today. 

As the President said, so far, 74 U.S. citizens and family members arrived on the Egyptian side.  That’s in addition to the five Americans who departed Gaza yesterday. 

And I want to stress that these numbers are changing in real time. 

Embassy Cairo has deployed a consular team to the Rafah Crossing to support all these folks, make sure they get back to the embassy, and then we work with them on onward movement as appropriate. 

We obviously continue to be focused on getting as many Americans out as quickly as possible.  And we still fully expect that more Americans will be able to depart — hopefully more today, but certainly we’re looking for them to depart at a similar pace, if not — if not better than what — what we’ve seen. 

But again, I — I want to stress again, it’s a fluid situation. 

Obviously, intensive diplomacy has been underway to open up the Gaza side of the border for foreign nationals and for some wounded Palestinians as well. 

In times of crisis, of course, like this, we rely on our friends.  And today’s positive news would not have been possible without the assistance of Qatar or, frankly, the leadership of President Sisi of Egypt, who, of course, I think you know President Biden spoke to last Sunday.  And we’re grateful for his leadership and his efforts. 

On the humanitarian side, yesterday an additional 55 trucks with lifesaving humanitarian assistance — including food, water, and medicine — were able to make their way into Gaza via the Rafah Crossing.  We’re hoping that the number of trucks crossing into Gaza will continue to increase as well. 

We know that 55 more trucks — which brings us to more than 220 total since the 21st — is not enough, and we’re going to continue to work to get more in there.  Increasing that aid has been a top priority of the President and a — and a keen focus on his diplomacy. 

Speaking of diplomacy, today, the President is going to participate in two bilateral meetings — actually, I think he’s already done the one, met with President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic to discuss a host of shared priorities, including deepening bilateral economic ties, advancing our democratic principles and labor rights, as well as addressing the security situation in Haiti. 

And then later today, he’s going to meet with President Gabriel Boric of Chile to discuss issues of shared concern, including promoting further economic cooperation, combating climate change, and addressing irregular migration. 

And, of course, all of those discussions — those two bilateral meetings — come just ahead of the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit that’s here at the White House.  And we’re glad to have the participation of all members of the partnership here for this summit.  A majority of them will be at the leader level. 

This leaders’ summit advances President Biden’s commitment to strong regional partnership in the Western Hemisphere, as he announced during last year’s Summit of the Americas. 

Taken as a whole, this two-day summit represents a strong demonstration of the United States’ commitment to work with our partners to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to recenter critical global supply chains in the Americas, continue to address our shared migration challenge, and build meaningful economic opportunity across the hemisphere. 

Okay. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Colleen.

Q    Thanks, John.  Can you tell us a little bit more about the humanitarian pause — what that would look like, what it — what it means, how long it would be, how it would work?

MR. KIRBY:  Sure.  I think we’ve talked about this before, Colleen.  I mean, the — we’re really not just talking about, like, one pause.  What we’re trying to do is explore the idea of as many pauses that might be necessary to continue to get aid out and to continue to work to get people out safely, including hostages. 

The President already worked on one such pause when we were able to get those two Americans out.  And that’s go- — that’s what we’re kind of looking at. 

And just to remind: When we’re talking about a humanitarian pause, what we’re talking about are temporary, localized pauses in the fighting to meet a certain goal or goals — as I said, get aid in, get people out.

Q    And is that something that can happen immediately?  I mean, how — where is the Israeli Prime Minister on this?  Is he willing to continue to do this, especially if it’s more than one pause?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, we were — we were able to work with him to help get Americans out before, so we’re certainly hoping that that kind of cooperation will continue. 

But each — each instance of it, each effort to get a pause is going to be unique in its own way, and it’s going to require negotiation and diplomacy.  And the President, you heard him talk about this yesterday, is 100 percent committed to — to doing what it takes to — to pursue that kind of diplomacy.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead. 

Q    The U.N. Human Rights Office is raising some serious concerns about the — the Israeli airstrike at the refugee camp, saying they “have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes.”  Does the administration share the U.N.’s concerns?

MR. KIRBY:  We certainly don’t want to see a single civilian hurt or killed in this conflict, and there’s been too many deaths as it is.  Each one is tragic in its own right, as I’ve said, Mary, and — and we’re doing everything we can to work with our Israeli counterparts to try to minimize the risk of — of civilian deaths and collateral damage.

Q    But do you believe that this refugee camp was a legitimate target?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not in a position to say it is or it isn’t. 

As I said, these are questions for the Israeli Defense Forces.  These are their operations.  And they and only they can speak to their targeting decisions and the way they’re conducting the operations.

What we are going to do is make sure that they’ve got the tools and capabilities — including our perspectives and lessons that we’ve learned in this kind of warfare — as they venture into these operational decisions, because they have a legitimate threat — a legitimate threat by Hamas, an organization that wants to wipe them off the map.

At the same time, because you can do both, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to help them minimize civilian casualties and get humanitarian assistance in.

Q    And one quickly on Tuberville.  He’s made pretty clear this morning, again, that he is not going to be changing his position.  Would the President support changing the Senate rules to get around Tuberville’s blockade?

MR. KIRBY:  That’s for the Senate to decide. 

The President wants — as Karine said, wants the hold lifted.  I mean, it — you’re talking about 375 officers at this point, 379 positions — because some of them are dual-hat nominations.  That’s a whole lot of senior leadership that can’t move right now. 

And let me just give you an example here, now that you made me think of it.  Let’s just take a look at the Central Command region of the world. 

And I won’t go through all of it, but here’s some of the — here’s some of the positions that are being affected by Mr. Tuberville: the Fifth Fleet commander — that’s the fleet that’s in the — in the Gulf Region; the deputy Fifth Fleet commander; the deputy Central Command commander; the defense attaché to Israel; the commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing; the chief of staff at U.S. Central Command; oh, and here’s a good one, the deputy director of Strategy, Plans, and Policy for U.S. Central Command — the person that actually helps write our operational plans and executes policy decisions at that level. 

And there’s more than that.  I mean, it’s beyond ridiculous that this one senator is having this kind of an impact on our operational readiness. 

And if you don’t think it isn’t, I would urge him or anybody else who doubts this: Go on down to Tampa, Florida, and talk to the folks in Central Command about the priorities and what they’re trying to do on behalf of the — our administration’s policy in the Middle East, especially right now with everything going on.  It’s having an impact. 

And as Karine rightly said, it’s also having a deleterious impact on family members and folks who can’t get schools for their kids; can’t buy or rent houses; you know, don’t know where they’re going to be living next. 

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Justin.

Q    Thanks, Kirby.  The Vice President was over in London and said that if Israel and Ukraine aid were bifurcated that the President would veto it.  We — you know, you, over the last couple of days, have explained that you would veto something with offsets, especially involving the IRS. 

But I wanted to be clear: If the President was — was presented with a clean Israel funding bill without Ukraine, he would veto that as well?

MR. KIRBY:  The President believes that the supplemental requests that we submitted contains four really critical national security urgent needs: Israel; Ukraine; our Indo-Pacific resourcing, particularly when it comes to manufacturing of submarines; and, of course, border security.  All four are important. 

And the whole idea of an urgent supplemental is, you’re submitting what you think are urgent requests, and the President wants to see all of them honored, all of them acted on by Congress — all of them together. 

We wouldn’t have submitted it that way if we didn’t believe that they all weren’t important and should be acted on together.

Q    Obviously, you guys want to see them all four together, but lawmakers are trying to figure out right now how to, kind of, negotiate through this.

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    And it seems to be — it’s, sort of, an unclear signal from the administration. 

So, was the Vice President correct?  He would veto an Israel-only bill if it didn’t have other issues that you were concerned about?

MR. KIRBY:  The President would veto an only-Israel bill.  We — I think that we’ve made that clear. 

Q    Okay.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nancy.

Q    Thanks.  Admiral, the President keeps saying Israel needs to follow international law.  Israel needs to follow international law.  That suggests that he thinks that Israel isn’t following international law, doesn’t it?

MR. KIRBY:  No. 

Q    Why would he be saying that if he felt that Israel was doing everything it needs to do to prevent civilian casualties?

MR. KIRBY:  We’ve been saying it since the very beginning, Nancy, that — that we want to see our good friend and partner abide by our shared commitments to the respect for civilian life and the respect for — for the law of war.  We’ve been saying that since — since dang near the beginning of it.

Q    I’ve never heard him say that Ukraine needs to follow international law, so he seems to be making a point of this particularly when it comes to Israel.  Does that signify that he has any concerns —

MR. KIRBY:  Well, there’s — these are different conflicts.

Q    Right.

MR. KIRBY:  And Ukraine was the victim of a massive invasion by a neighboring nation.  And — and their military operations have been — with the exception of the counteroffensive, where they’re going after Russian positions — have been largely defe- — defensive in nature. 

It’s a different situation than what the Israeli Defense Forces are doing inside Gaza, going after Hamas terrorists in a fairly aggressive way.

Q    Question about the evacuees.  The President said 70-something dual citizens were able to make it out today.  How many days do you anticipate it will take to get all of the Americans who want to leave out of Gaza?

MR. KIRBY:  We don’t know.  I mean, as I said in my opening statement, we hope that that number can increase over coming days and — and we can get them all out very, very soon. 

Today is progress.  I mean, yesterday, it was five.  Today, so far, as you and I are speaking, it’s 74. 

We’re — we’re hoping that that number could increase throughout the day.  Hoping.  So, that’s a good sign that the trajectory is going in the right direction.  We want to get them all out as soon as possible, but I couldn’t put you — couldn’t put a date on a calendar and tell you that’s it.

Q    And just very quickly, is part of the deal that none of them will stay in Egypt — that they will all leave and go elsewhere? 

MR. KIRBY:  That’s going to be up to them.  I mean, they’re — they’re free citizens.  You know, they’re American citizens, and they’ve got families to look after. 

And that’s why we’re getting them all collected toward — at the Embassy in Cairo and our consular staff, who collected them, verified all their identities, you know, got them on buses.  And — and now we’re going to be working on whatever forward, onward movement they might want.  Some may not want that, but we’ll — we’ll work that out individually with each family.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Michael.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  John, the Israelis are saying that referring to Jabalia as a “refugee camp” is a — is a misnomer.  Is that the position of the administration as well?

MR. KIRBY:  I’ll leave the Israeli Defense Forces to speak to their operations.

Q    And then on the bilateral with the — with Abinader, did the Dominican-Haitian border dispute come up?  And what is the U.S. position on that?

MR. KIRBY:  The discussion around Haiti was largely over the security situation in Haiti and our continued efforts to want to work with the international community to do what we can to hold those accountable who are causing that insecurity and the violence but — but also to work — work on ways, throughout the region, to — to provide relief to the Haitian people.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Peter.

Q    Thanks.  John, so, talking about getting Americans out of Gaza, President Biden said, “I want to thank our partners in the region and particularly Qatar.”  The leader of Hamas lives in Qatar, so why is President Biden thanking them for anything?

MR. KIRBY:  Oh, geez, Peter.  Let’s take a step back here and look at this.  Qatar was —

Q    “Geez, Peter”?  They —

MR. KIRBY:  Peter —

Q    They are a terrorist group that killed Americans and kidnapped Americans within the last month.

MR. KIRBY:  Peter, Qatar has been helpful in getting those Americans out.  I’m sure you would agree with me and everybody at your network would agree that getting American hostages out is a good thing.  And Qatar was a key player in that regard. 

Qatar has lines of communication with Hamas that almost nobody else has. 

Now, I’m not saying that we support Hamas.  Of course we don’t.  They’re a terrorist organization.  And Israel has an absolute right to go after them.  But Qatar has lines of communication that not everybody else has. 

And it would be irresponsible — in fact, I would expect that you and everybody else in here would be — would be going after me if we weren’t doing everything we could and having every possible conversation we can have to get Americans that are held hostage back home with their families.  If we weren’t doing that, it would be diplomatic malpractice. 

Let me read something to you, if you don’t mind, just to —

Q    Okay.

MR. KIRBY:  Just — I think I — I want to put this into some context here.  Let me tell you what we’re dealing with with Hamas. 

Oh, geez, this is your notebook, Karine.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The letters are (inaudible).

MR. KIRBY:  Sorry.

This — this fella in Hamas — a guy named Ghazi Hamad.  He did an interview a couple of days ago.  He said, “Israel is a country that has no place on our land.  We must remove it, because it constitutes a security, military, and political catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nation and must be finished.  We are not ashamed to say this with full force.  We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again.” 

That’s what the Israeli people are up against.  And that’s the group that are holding innocent Americans, as well as 200 Isra- —

And you’re going to say, “Well, then why are you talking to him?”

Q    You’re making my point here.

MR. KIRBY:  No, I’m not.

Q    If Qatar is so helpful —

MR. KIRBY:  No, I’m not. 

Q    — why aren’t we asking them to hand over the leader of this terrorist group?

MR. KIRBY:  We are working with Qatar to get our people out and to help get aid in.  That’s a priority right now.  And obviously, we’re also helping Israel go after Hamas.

Q    And — and as you push the Israelis for humanitarian pauses, are they just supposed to sit back and let Hamas attack them and attack them and attack them and not fight back?

MR. KIRBY:  We have been crystal clear that Israel has the right to defend themselves.  I mean, my goodness —

Q    So, a pause means they can still shoot back?

MR. KIRBY:  My goodness, Peter.  We’re giving them security assistance almost every day.  But do we advocate pauses by both sides here — temporary, localized — to be able to get Americans out, to be able to get aid in?  You betcha we do.

That doesn’t mean that we’re calling for a general ceasefire.  There’s a — hang — hang on a second.  There’s a difference.  There’s a big difference here. 

And we understand that, as I said earlier, humanitarian pauses have to be negotiated and you have to have a credible basis for doing it, in a temporary localized way. 

I would also expect that we would get a lot of criticism from you and — and from your network and others if we just eschewed the whole idea of some kind of temporary pause so that people couldn’t get out. 

I mean, we’re doing exactly what you should be doing to try to look after these folks. 

Q    So, a pause does not help Hamas?

MR. KIRBY:  A temporary pause that’s localized, that would allow us to get aid in and to get our people out, is a good thing for the people of Gaza.  It’s a good thing for the Americans that are being held hostage.  And it’s not going to stop Israel from defending itself, because the security assistance we’re providing continues to flow. 

And a temporary pause doesn’t mean a general ceasefire or the war is over.  It means pause, only temporary, for a specific purpose. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  M.J.

Q    The temporary ceasefire that the President said he had convinced Prime Minister Netanyahu to put in place to get the Raanans out — can you tell us more about that?  Was it localized?  Was it for a short period of time?  Just anything about the parameters of that.

MR. KIRBY:  No, I won’t go into the details of that since we’re going to be trying to see what we can do to get additional temporary pauses — humanitarian pauses in place. 

But in order to move hostages from where they were being held to safety, it does require a — a short pause in the fighting so that you can do it safely. 

I mean, why wouldn’t you?  I mean, it — it would be — it would be completely unsafe and irresponsible if you weren’t trying to find some safe passage for hostages you got released while there’s a — an area of combat going on.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Andrew.

Q    Admiral, earlier this week, you had said, after the first airstrike in Jabalia, that it’s obvious to us that Israel is “trying to minimize” civilian casualties.  Now that you’ve had more time to see and assess the situation there, would you still say it’s obvious that Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties?

MR. KIRBY:  We see in the scope of their operations that — that they are making efforts to try to minimize civilian casualties. 

That does not mean — and I did not say — that they aren’t still causing some — that their operations aren’t still causing some.  They are, and each one is tragic.  Each one shouldn’t happen.  And we have been crystal clear about that. 

Q    Would you say, with Jabalia specifically —

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not going to talk —

Q    — that —

MR. KIRBY:  — about a specific event.

Q    But — but why not?

MR. KIRBY:  Because I’m — I’m not going to litigate an operational event that our military is not involved in in almost real time.  I’m just not going to do that, M.J.  It would be inappropriate for me to do that from the White House podium.

Q    But specifically on the question of minimizing civilian casualties, isn’t an air strike that targets a refugee camp or a densely populated civilian area — isn’t that sort of the definition of not minimizing civilian casualties?

MR. KIRBY:  That is a question for the Israeli Defense Forces.  They should — they should have to answer questions about the decisions they’re making on the battlefield and how they’re doing their targeting and how they’re doing their operations. 

We’re not going to — we’re not going to throw it in from the sidelines here, all the way in Washington, D.C. 

I will just tell you again what I’ve said a hundred times already: We’re having daily conversations with our Israeli counterparts about their thinking, about their plans, about their strategy, about the execution of that strategy, and continuing to urge them to do everything they can to minimize civilian casualties.

Q    So, on this, you wouldn’t weigh in, even though the President and everyone on down has said that the minimiz- — minimizing civilian casualties is incredibly important, that it’s something that he is talking to his counterpar- — -part about all the time. 

MR. KIRBY:  What I said was, I’m not going to weigh in from the podium and make public — provide public analysis in near real time of operations that U.S. forces aren’t involved in. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Andrew.

Q    Thank you.  Admiral, given the intensity of the IDF bombing across Gaza and reports that — that even areas that are considered to be safe passage are being targeted, is there any concern that Americans who want to get to Rafah can’t get to Rafah?

And then I have a second question for you. 

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t know what the status is of how many of all Americans in Gaza are down at — at Rafah.  I just don’t know.  That’s a better question — question for the State Department. 

I do know — we believe that the — the vast, vast majority of American citizens who we know are in Gaza are — are down there.  But I can’t tell you with certitude that there’s not family members elsewhere that haven’t made it — their way down or — or can’t make their way down. 

The other thing I can tell you is I know the State Department is in direct contact with all the American families in Gaza and keeping them informed, particularly those that are coming up on the list for departure.  They’re being notified where to go, when to be there. 

And as far as I know — again, a better question for the State Department — that — that there isn’t — that we don’t — that we aren’t aware of American families that are trying to get down there and — and can’t.  But again, that’s a better question for my colleagues. 

Q    And then, my second question: The Independent has reviewed a list of 400 Americans who have been cleared to leave by the Egyptians, the Israelis, and — and so forth. 
There have been prior reports that there were, I believe, between 500 and 700 Americans in Gaza.  So, I’m just curious about this discrepancy. 

There are 400 cleared to leave.  If there are several hundred more in Gaza, is there a reason that they have not been cleared to leave?  Have they not asked?  Are they on some other list?  And why, then, would the U.S. not object to U.S. passport holders not being allowed to exit (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  So, what you’re — you’re talking about a rolling process here.  I think our estimate is somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 U.S. citizens, and that includes, you know, dual nationals and legal permanent residents, and family members.  So, then, the — the pool is somewhere in that number — is somewhere — is somewhere there — about 400 families. 

But this is a rolling process of getting folks out.  So, we know that there have been 400 that have gotten through that process.  And we fully expect that the rest of them will get through that as well. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Patsy.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  John, I have a question on the Islamophobia strategy.  But first, two quick ones on Gaza. 

In London, the Vice President said that every Gazan who wants to go back after the war will be allowed to.  Does the President agree?  And how will the U.S. ensure that Israel will allow this?

MR. KIRBY:  Say that again?

Q    The Vice President in London said that every Gazan who wants to go back after the war will be allowed to do that.  Does the President agree?  And how will ensure that Israel will allow this?

MR. KIRBY:  Of course.  I’ve said this before.  It’s nothing new. 

Q    So —

MR. KIRBY:  That it — that if — if a citizen of Gaza finds themselves outside of Gaza and they want to go back to their home, yeah, we absolutely support that.  And we’ll work with partners in the region to make it happen. 

Q    Okay.  And on — still on Gaza: This week, Israel released intelligence showing Hamas taking fuel from the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza — it appears with the knowledge of the hospital’s director.  Is this something that you can confirm?

MR. KIRBY:  No.

Q    On Islamophobia.  Some of the Muslim leaders that I spoke with said that while they appreciate the effort to combat Islamophobia, they thought the timing of the announcement was interesting, because this is something that the administration has been working on for months.  And some of them feel that this is a political bone thrown at them and does not address their bigger concern, which is U.S. policy to support Israel, where they are frustrated that their perspectives are not being heard.  Your message to them? 

MR. KIRBY:  This is a very genuine effort on behalf of the President and the Vice President and the entire administration to — to plant a marker about how hate has no business here in the United States, particularly hate that can lead to real threats of violence against the Muslim communi- — community, the Arab community, the Palestinian community. 

We take that seriously.  This — the thinking that went into leading up to this strategy is longstanding and predates the events of October 7th. 

But — again, I don’t know who all these folks are necessarily, but we value their opinion.  We value their res- — perspective, and even especially if it’s a contrary perspective or they — they feel it’s a contrary perspective, that’s valuable to us. 

We want to — as we embrace the effort to develop this strategy, we’re absolutely going to reach out to folks all across the country, from all different perspectives, particularly in the Muslim community, to get their views.  That will be important.  It’ll inform our work.

Q    Well, the complaint that I’ve heard raised a lot is that every time they want to address U.S. support to Israel, the White House pivots to Islamophobia.  Is that an accurate assessment?  How would you respond?

MR. KIRBY:  No, I’ll let them speak to their opinion of our work.

I can tell you that — that this strategy is born from a genuine desire to go after the kind of hate in America that could lead to real threats of violence against real people — our fellow citizens, who ha- — who are of the Muslim faith or in the Arab community and the Palestinian community. 

I mean, that comes from a genuine, instinctual place for the President and for — and for the Vice President.  I mean, he has said time after time after time that that kind of hate has no place.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Andrea.

Q    John, I just want to go back to what you said about your conversations with the Israelis and trying to encourage them to minimize civilian casualties. 

You said that you’re trying to impart some of the lessons that the U.S. has learned.  Can you elaborate?  And to what extent would the U.S. be able to help Israel in pinpointing its targeting precisely to avoid the casualties?  For instance, 195 that were killed at Jabalia. 

I mean, what — what do you have to offer?  What can you offer?  How can you help Israel minimize casualties?

MR. KIRBY:  I mean, look, we have a lot of experience in what’s called “urban warfare” in Iraq, Afghanistan.  I mean, think about Mosul.  Think about Fallujah.  Places like that.

And one of the reasons why we dispatched a few senior officers to Israel not long ago was to share some lessons learned about how you conduct operations against a terrorist network inside an urban environment such that you are minimizing damage to civilian infrastructure and absolutely minimizing loss of life to — to innocent people. 

And there are — there are — there are things you can do on the ground that you can’t do from the air, particularly if you have good intelligence. 

And so, I think those were the kind of conversations that we were having with — with our Israeli counterparts. 

And on your second question, I mean, there’s no plan or intention for the United States to get involved in the targeting process.  These are Israeli military operations, and the Israeli Defense Force, they’re — they’re leaders.  They’re making these decisions.  They’re executing these operations.

What we are doing is making sure that we are giving them the tools — including perspective and advice but also weapons — to be able to conduct these operations in the most efficient way possible and in a way that, again, minimizes civilian harm.

Q    Can I just follow up?  If the U.S. is providing weapons that are intended to minimize harm but then we see large civilian casualties in places like Jabalia, does the U.S. bear some responsibility by providing the weapon?

MR. KIRBY:  We are not making the targeting decisions.  The Israeli Defense Force are making the decisions.  We are giving them the tools and capabilities they need to defend themselves against what I just read is a pretty dire, chilling threat. 

I mean, these guys want to wipe them off the map.  They don’t believe they even have a right to exist.  They have every right — in fact, they have a responsibility to their people — to go after these folks. 

And we’re — we’re trying to give them the tools and capabilities to do that.  But in addition to it is our perspective, our lessons learned, our advice about how to do it in a way that minimizes civilian harm.

Q    Are you going to increase the number of officers that are providing this advice? 

And then I have a real quick question on Chile.

MR. KIRBY:  I know of no other decision to — to send more officers over there.  The ones that went over are now back.  They’re — they’re not still there. 

But obviously, we have terrific communications with our Israeli counterparts.

Q    Okay.  And then on Chile, the President of Chile will be meeting later with the President, very shortly.  Chile has recalled its ambassador from Israel.  You know, obviously, there are other —

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    — countries in Latin America that have also recalled their envoys and have broken ties.  Bolivia has actually broken ties with Israel. 

You know, do you see this being a big topic today?  And what will the President say to the President of Chile about this decision to recall the ambassador?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, I’m not going to get ahead of a conversation that hasn’t happened yet. 

But obviously, each country — these are sovereign nations.  They have the right to handle their bilateral diplomatic relations in the way they see fit.  We’re not going to lecture to people about how they handle that. 

I don’t know — to your other question: I — I don’t personally know of other nations that have recalled their Israeli ambassador.  But obviously, that’s for them to decide.

What — what we’ve decided to do is what I’ve just told you about our goals and our — and our support for Israel.  And we can speak to that. 

Q    Thanks.  This might be repeating something, but I just want to be fully clear that — so, when the President said last night that he convinced Prime Minister Netanyahu to do a ceasefire, he was referring to the two Americans that got out.  But Israel has never acknowledged that they paused, so can you give us a better understanding of what exactly was paused and if the understanding is that for every sort of hostage release there would be a pause? 

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not going to go into more detail than what we’ve already put out there publicly.  We were able to help negotiate the release of those two Americans, and that’s a good thing. 

And in order to be able to get folks out, you got to make sure they can do it safely.  And that’s what the President was referring to. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Gabe.

Q    Admiral, switching gears from Gaza to Israel’s northern border.  Tomorrow, Hezbollah’s leader is expected to make his first public comments since the war broke out.  And the group has said that it mounted 19 simultaneous strikes on Israeli forces just today using guided missiles and other weapons. 

So, what does the White House expect to hear from Hezbollah’s leader tomorrow?  And if the goal of the administration was to prevent a wider war, isn’t that starting to happen with so many engagements with Israeli forces already?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, we’ll wait to see what he says.  I mean, I don’t think he’s calling in asking for our talking points.  So, we’ll see what he has to say. 

Our message to him and to anybody else is, if they’re thinking about widening and escalating and deepening this conflict, that you shouldn’t do it.  We’ve got significant national security interests at play here.  We’ve proven in the past we’ll protect and defend them.  We’ll do it again in the future. 

Q    But how concerning is it that there have been consistent engagement with Israeli forces (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  Obviously, we’re concerned about — about continued attacks on Israeli forces there in the north, as are the Israelis.  But I don’t believe we’ve seen any indication yet specifically that Hezbollah is — is ready to go in full force.  So, we’ll see what he has to say. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nazira.  And then, (inaudible).

Q    Thank you so much for this question today.  Mr. Kirby, as you know, Afghan refugee in Pakistan, there is a lot of problems.  Pakistan pushed them and police, you know, make a bad deal with them to force — force them to leave Pakistan, although they don’t have any opportunity in Afghanistan.  Any comment there?  Is there any possibility to United States bring them — to Pakistan some pressure to give them more chance? 

MR. KIRBY:  Well, we — we’ll let Pakistan speak to their — to their policies with respect to refugees and asylum seekers.  Obviously, we want to see all nations do what they can to help refugees and asylum seekers.  And that certainly includes our — our Pakistani friends with respect to Afghans who are — are trying to flee. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Jon.

Q    Thanks a lot, Karine.  John, over the past three weeks, you’ve expressed from the podium your opposition to a ceasefire.  Now you’re advocating for humanitarian pauses.  That’s the way you described it. 

What’s the difference between the two?  And is it a two-way street?  Is a humanitarian pause one in which there would be essentially no fighting from the Hamas side at the same time that there’s no fighting from the Israeli side?

MR. KIRBY:  So, a couple of things here.  First, you said “now” we’re advocating.  This is something we’ve been talking about now for several days.  In fact, Secretary Blinken brought it up at the U.N., I believe, late — late last week.  I mean, this is — this is not some new idea that we’re just introducing into the — into the intellectual pool here today. 

And I’ll — I’ll repeat it again.  When we — when we talk about a general ceasefire, we’re talking about a stoppage of fighting all across the front, if you will, all across the battlespace, where neither side — they just — everybody lays down their arms, and it’s a general ceasefire. 

Usually, when you’re talking about a general ceasefire, it is about trying to find a cessation to the hostilities to try to get to a truce — right? — or to some sort of end — an end of the war.  That’s what we mean by a general ceasefire.

And we aren’t advocating for a general ceasefire at this point.  As I said earlier, we believe that a general ceasefire would benefit Hamas in providing them breathing space and time to continue to plot and execute attacks on — on the Israeli people. 

A humanitarian pause, it — when we talk about that, it is temporary, localized, and focused — focused on a particular objective or objectives: humanitarian aid in, people out.

And in a pause — again, each one would have to be negotiated separately and distinctly — but the general idea is that, in that geographic space for that limited time, there would be a cessation of hostilities — enough to allow whatever it is you’re trying to allow.  Does that make sense?  Does that lay it out?

Q    It does.

You’ve spent most of your professional life in the military.  I don’t know the answer to this question: Was there a time in the U.S. fight against al Qaeda in which the U.S. implemented humanitarian pauses?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not aware of any.  But I wou- — I would remind you that al Qaeda, you know, wasn’t in possession of 200 hostages in Iraq or Afghanistan.  And — and it’s a different — it’s a different situation. 

But that’s what we’re talking about here.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Toluse, then Michael.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Senator Durbin became the first U.S. senator to call for a ceasefire today.  Do you have any response to that?  I know you have said that that would benefit Hamas. 

Is there an analysis about how long this process could go before it no longer benefits Hamas to have a ceasefire?  And how are you doing that analysis, especially as additional lawmakers call for a cease- — a ceasefire?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, there’s no change to our view right now that a ceasefire is — is not in the best interest of the Israeli people and the Israeli government, who are trying to protect those people.  And that’s where we are.

Q    And then, secondly, about the communications blackout in Gaza.  You spoke about this a few days ago.  You said that the U.S. played a role in getting that reversed. 

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    There was another report about a blackout yesterday.  Is it the U.S. position that communications blackouts — cutting off Internet, cutting off phone access — is against U.S. policy for — for Gaza at this point?

MR. KIRBY:  There are — there are times in military operations where you want to limit your enemy’s ability to communicate.  And we’ve seen that in the — in the war in Ukraine: both Russia and Ukraine trying to limit each other’s ability to communicate. 

And sometimes that means — in the execution of that task — that you’re also shutting down sectors of the public communication — public communication vehicles. 

So, you know, I can’t sit here and tell you that in warfare either side might see benefit in doing that and — and a legitimate need to do that — to shut down an enemy’s ability to communicate amongst itself, move its forces around, make decisions, execute command and control. 

But in — in this particular case, we — we felt that — that such a blackout was hampering — specifically, hampering the ability to get humanitarian assistance in and hampering the ability of humanitarian agencies to communicate with their people on the ground to try to solve a — you know, a level of desperation that we just haven’t seen in a very, very long time.

And so, we did not believe that — that it should continue.  And we did have a hand in helping get it stopped. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Michael.  And then we got wrap — we’ve got to wrap it up, guys.

Q    Thanks.  John, on the subject of hostages, Hamas says that at least seven were killed in these Israel strikes on this Jabalia refugee cla- — camp, including at least three with foreign passports.  Does the U.S. think those numbers are accurate?  And of those three, do you know if any of them were Americans?

MR. KIRBY:  No, sir.  I don’t have any information to verify those — those claims.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right, Phil.

Q    Thank you.  I wanted to ask a quick question about Ukraine and then a follow-up to something you said previously.

In an interview with The Economist, Ukraine’s top commander acknowledged that his forces are locked in what he called a “stalemate.”  And he went on to say that there’s no chance that a significant breakthrough in the — the front there is imminent.

Obviously, the President continues to say that the United States will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.  But is there — in the months and years ahead, is there going to be a updated strategy required, perhaps, you know, more advanced weapons or perhaps more of an appetite for negotiations?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, certainly, we’ll let Ukrainian leaders speak to their progress or lack thereof.  That’s really for them to talk about. 

I think it underscores how important it is that we continue to support Ukraine. 

I don’t have — I can’t stand here today and tell you that it’s going to lead to this particular weapons system or this new capability.  We are evolving and have evolved what we’ve provided Ukraine as the war itself has evolved, and I suspect that that process will continue.

It would be eminently easier for us to do that if Congress would pass the supplemental funding that supports Ukraine, because it’s not only about capabilities for Ukraine.  It’s — there’s a big chunk of that that goes to replenishment ability for U.S. — for our own inventory. 

Q    And then, you said moments ago that the President would veto an Israel-only bill.  But you also noted that each of those four categories — I believe they were: Ukraine, Indo-Pacific, the border, and Israel — they were all critical, and that that’s the point of supplemental that, you know, you do it as the need occurs.  So, can you kind of take us into the — the President’s mindset here?  Why not triage this?  And as you have opportunities to meet those critical needs, why not take them as they come, rather than, you know, wait and try and deal with them all at once?

MR. KIRBY:  I think we’ve — I think in our statement of administration policy we laid out very clearly why we wouldn’t want to do that and why we think that all of the things we’ve asked for in the supplemental are important. 

And let’s go back on the Israel-only thing.  The way the House Republicans have carved this out is: no humanitarian assistance; it only goes to security assistance for Israel.  And that’s got to be a nonstarter.  I mean, that’s noth- — that’s nothing more than partisan politics right there. 

I mean, here we are — I’ve been taking I don’t know how many questions about civilian casualties and the desperation of the people in Gaza.  I mean, it’s incorrigible that anybody would think that we wouldn’t need some additional funding to help get food, water, and medicine to these people. 

They didn’t cause this.  They didn’t ask for that.  Hamas doesn’t represent them.  They’re victims too, and they need that support. 

Q    Thank you, sir.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.

MR. KIRBY:  Thank you.

Sorry, Karine, I’ve made a mess of your whole — let me just clean up here.  I think this is —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, go ahead. 

MR. KIRBY:  I got all my —

Q    They all say the same thing, John.  It’s okay.

MR. KIRBY:  No, I — I did.  I — I —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  They make a mess?

MR. KIRBY:  I think — I think that’s better.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s — it’s okay.

MR. KIRBY:  Thanks.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, Admiral.

I do want to touch on something that the — that the Admiral was asked about, and I just want to add to what he said as it relates to our strategy, when it comes to making sure that no hate of any kind — of any kind is allowed any light of day in this country — right? — and that’s including Islamophobia — certainly, antisemitism. 

And one of the things that the Admiral was saying that I just wanted to add to is: In December — as you all know, in December of last year, the President established an inter-agency task force to address antisemitism, to address Islamophobia, and related forms of hate.

And the first order of business when we did that a year ago was to — to — it was to release a strategy on — on combating antisemitism. 

And — and I know all of you reported — so many of you reported on this.  There was a hundred actions that agencies were able to take to counter — to counter the scourge of antisemitism. 

And then the next step was developing counter — to counter Islamophobia.  And so, that’s what you’re seeing. 

And that’s what — this is the President’s commitment.  He ran on this, as you all know, to restore the soul of this nation, to make sure that there — that no hate sees the light of day, to continue to — to fight against that type of hatred. 

And that includes all kinds, all types of hatred.  That includes Islamophobia; that includes antisemitism. 

And this is an administration that has taken action not just the last couple of weeks or the last couple of months, but started this process back in December of last year.

So, I just wanted to make that super, super clear.  And that’s what we’ve been — that’s been our approach here — the President’s approach and this administration’s approach.

Go ahead.

Q    On Tuberville, does the White House believe that the Reed-Sinema resolution is a way out of the blockade?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look — and we have said this: We’re certainly not going to speak to the — the procedure of — of how the Senate operates.  That is not for us to do. 

But we will be — continue to be crystal clear and very, very loud about what Tuberville is doing.  It is — it’s just shameful.  It is dangerous.  It is shameful. 

I think the Admiral did a great job laying out of how that’s affecting some of our key, critical service members.  And we’re talking about 380 service — or positions that are — that are — you know, that are — that are at risk or that no one knows where they’re going to go, right?  No one knows what’s happening. 

And we’re talking about families too.  That affects their families. 

And so, this is not a way to keep our national — you know, to keep our country safe.  This is not a way to move forward with our national security.  And it is — it is shameful, and it’s dangerous. 

And we are very, very proud to see Republican senators speak up.  I — as I did at the top, I laid out just direct quotes from them and how — how, you know, this is not how — especially in this time, what we’re seeing around the world — what we’re seeing — this is not how we should move forward. 

Q    And then on the mayors — I guess there were a couple mayors who came to the White House today to meet with officials on their — their problems with managing migrants.  I just wondered if you can say anything about how the meeting went and what they talked about. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple of things.  They met with the — the White House Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients.  They also met with Senior Advisor Tom Perez and other White House — and other White House — and DHS as well — officials that — DHS officials, obviously, who represent — who — representatives from Chicago and Denver to discuss the joint effort to manage what they’re dealing with with migrants arriving in their city.  And so, this is something that we took very, very seriously. 

We talked about — part of the conversation certainly was about the importance of the presidential supplemental funding request, which also includes support for communities and — and to continue our work to accelerate the — the proc- — the — the process of work permits — as you’ve heard us speak from — from here many times — for eligible migrants. 

And — and so, we’re going to continue that partnership.  We’re going to continue to have those conversations.  It was a — a constructive conversation. 

And this is not the first.  There have been many, many others. 

And so, look, we’re going to — we understand what they’re going through.  We understand what’s going on on the ground. 

And this is why we say, you know, that, you know, if — if Republicans truly care about border security, this is something — as we talked about the national security supplemental, we know that’s included — then they can act. 

Go ahead, Tamara.

Q    Thank you.  You just mentioned that representatives from Chicago and Denver were here.  There was reporting that Mayor Adams from New York was on his way and then turned around.  Do you have any more information about that?

And also, did any other representative from New York join that meeting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I believe a staff from the mayor’s office was in the room for this meeting.  I cannot speak for the mayor’s schedule.  That is something that I would have to refer you to his office. 

And — but, you know, you saw the reports.  I just can’t speak to — obviously, I can’t speak to his schedule and why he had to — he could not attend.

Q    And completely different — a government shutdown is about two weeks away if — if something doesn’t happen.  What are your expectations there?  The Speaker today was talking about something called a laddered continuing resolution. 
What is the White House position on that concept?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, we’ve been clear when we were here the last time — close to — close to a government shutdown that thankfully was avoided. 

And, look, you know, they have two weeks.  Congress has two weeks to do their jobs.  As you just stated, they have two weeks to honor their word to avoid a shutdown.  That’s what they have to do. 

And the President said this — the — when he signed the last continuing resolution, he said, “There’s no excuse for another crisis.”  There really isn’t.  That’s our message to them: There is no excuse for another crisis.  They have to do their job, and they have to honor and — and avoid a shutdown.

Q    Would the President sign a continuing resolution that has this laddered structure so that different agencies would have different expiration dates? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, what I will say is that they have to do their jobs.  They have to make sure that they avoid a government shutdown. 

Not going to get ahead of whatever process they’re going to move forward with.  The President wants to see them avoid a government shutdown.  And so, we’ll see — we’ll see what they do.  Let’s see if they’re able to do their jobs. 

Q    Was the White House concerned to see Senator Menendez attend a classified briefing on Ukraine yesterday, given that he’s been accused of aiding a foreign government?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look — and I’ve said this before, we — you know, this is very serious, you know, the — the investigations.  We take them very seriously. 

I don’t have anything to say about — to comment about the — you know, the meeting that he attend- — the classified meeting that he attended.  Just not going to get into that from here. 

But obviously, we take this very seriously. 

Q    Yeah, I just want to follow up on the Islamophobia question.  With this initiative, are you going to be reviewing laws and regulations that are in place across the U.S. government that are targeted at Muslims?  And — and, you know, not just in the federal level, but also at the state and local level, do you see some scope for those measures to be rescinded?  And in what kind of timeframe is that even possible?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we’re definitely going to — one thing I can say is we’re going to have — have — continue to have conversations with community leaders, advocates, and members of Congress and others, as we, you know, do- — move forward with the strategy.  And, you know, this is something that this entire administration takes very seriously and makes sure that every American have — has the freedom to live their lives. 

And certainly, we can get more — we can get you more specifics on what this is going to — the strategy is going to look like, the breakdowns and the agencies that are going to be involved. 

And I can’t speak to specifics of investigations or — or penalties of — of that — of that nature. 

But this is the beginning of it.  And certainly, this is something — like I said, the first step was — of order of business was back in May, when we released the strategy on combating antisemitism, and this is the next steps.  And certainly, we will have more to share as the days go by. 

Q    And on Maine, if I may, you know, you said that this is — you know, these — these visits are difficult for the President.  Are you planning to — after this latest shooting, is there any action that you’re planning in terms of maybe bringing people together again — local officials? 

You know, we’ve — the — the incident — I’m sorry, the tragedy in Maine did cause Representative Golden to change his view on an assault weapons ban.  Are you seeing any other lawmakers come forward that might have changed their view?  And will there be any kind of a summit or gathering?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  There’s a lot — there’s a lot that you’re asking in that — in that question there, Andrea.  And all very good questions. 

Look, one of the things that was so important for the office to be created — the office in preventing gun violence — obviously, one of the — one of the, I guess, pillars to that office is making sure that all of the executive orders that the President put forward is accelerated — right? — that we move really — much faster on getting — getting what the President signed out there to states and, obviously, to the — to Americans who are suffering and just communities out there who are suffering.

But also, to make sure that the — the law that was pa- — the bipartisan law also gets moved out very quickly. 

But one of the things that we’ve been providing — and these are the things that we’ll continue to provide to communities — is — you know, as I mentioned, Greg Jackson is on the ground.  He’s working with FBI and DOJ to coordinate with victim services, deploying experts from the newly created Mass shooting [Violence] Victimization Resource Center.  That’s something that we’re doing. 

We’re coordinated with the Department of Education and HUD to support school reopening strategy, because that was obviously really important, as the schools had to shut down and emergency housing, as needed, throughout the region. 

So, there are a lot of steps that we’re doing that is part of this office that’s going to help the community on the ground. 

As it relates to — as it relates to Congress, look, we’ve been very clear: The President did — has done more than two dozen — taken more than two doz- — dozen executive actions to deal with gun violence.  We believe there is more. 

We — this cannot be — what we’re seeing in Maine and other places cannot be the norm, right? 

And — and so, we’ve been very clear that more needs to be done.  We’ve been very clear on that.  And we’ve asked Congress to take legislative action in order to truly deal — if they want to save lives, that’s what they need to do.  They need to pass an assault weapons ban, enact universal background checks, require safe storage of guns, and immunity from liability for gun manufacturers.  And — and across the country, we must adopt, strengthen the red flag laws. 

And so — and that is something that we see the Department of Justice taking action and — and creating a model red flag legislation so that other states can — can move forward. 

So, there’s a lot of work to be done here — a lot of work.  And — and it started here with the two dozens executive action.  Obviously, there was a bipartisan piece of legislation that’s now law that the President signed last year, and now we need more legislation.  That’s what we need to — to really cont- — to really, truly save lives. 

AIDE:  Karine, you can take one more.

Q    The governor —

Q    Maybe to the non-Andreas in the room.  I don’t know.  I’m just asking. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  No, go ahead.

Q    The governor has asked — started an investigation now into mistakes.  Are you — is the federal government able to provide any assistance in that?  Are you troubled by the reports that we’ve heard that so many clues were missed? 

And there was a call this morning about $334 million going into community policing and the use of mental health of police forces and things like that.  Is there any funding that you’re thinking about making available to help local law enforcement do better in terms of targ- — identifying potential shooters?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the commission to probe that the governor announced — you know, we believe, of course, that the community needs answers.  And so, this is going to be something, obviously, that we support.  And the President has told the governor, like, since the tragedy unfolded, that Maine has its full backing of — of from the entire fed- — from the entire federal family, and we’ll provide resources.  And obviously, the Department of Justice and the FBI is on hand to assist in any way. 

And don’t want to — you know, they’re still investigating.  As you know — you just mentioned we’re hearing things, but the — obviously, law enforcement is still investigating.  I don’t want to get ahead of that. 

But we are here to offer resources.  And, of course, we support the governor’s efforts to get to the bottom of what occurred on the ground — this horrific, horrific tragedy.

Karen, you’re going to be the last one.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  And back on the mayors.  You mentioned the supplemental funding request that you guys have sent up to Congress.  But they say that $1.4 billion isn’t enough to help them deal with the influx of migrants.  They’re asking for $5 billion. 

Would the administration consider boosting that amount?  And what was the response from those senior officials in that meeting to the request for $5 billion?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we’re — we have been in constant conversation and communication, obviously, with the city — city mayors and others across the country as they’re dealing — certainly dealing with the influx of migrants in their — in their — in their city. 

I’m not going to get into, like, specifics of what came out.  What I know is what the agenda — what we wanted — what was wanted to — agenda on to — to discuss.  And what we believe was the important is that supplemental.  We do — we do need that that $1.4 billion.  That’s what we believe is needed. 

It’s emergency — as you know, emergency funding that we put forward in the supplemental that we believe — it’s important for our national security.  It’s important for what we’re trying to do with these communities.

I can’t speak to the $5 billion.  I’m not sure what else they’re asking on top of the $1.4 billion, so I can’t speak to that.

I can only speak to what we have requested in the supplemental funding to — to Congress.  And that’s what we believe is urgent, is needed. 

And we have said — we’ve been very clear: If House Republicans are very — are serious in dealing with this border security, this is something that they should move forward with easily — easily.  But what we’ve seen them do over and over again is play political — political games. 

And so, this is an opportunity for them to show in — in real — in a real way that they want to deal with the issues that we’re seeing at the border. 

All right, guys.  I’ll see you — see you next week.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you.  See you on the road.

2:49 P.M. EDT

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2023/11/02/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-and-nsc-coordinator-for-strategic-communications-john-kirby-26/

- Part of VUGA -digital marketing

latest articles

gossip news

explore more

fashion tv watch free