May 28, 2024

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Milwaukee, WI

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre En Route Milwaukee, WI

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Milwaukee, Wisconsin

10:56 A.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hey, everybody.

Q    Hello.

Q    Hello, hello.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  So, as you all know, we’re en rou- — en route to Racine, Wisconsin, to showcase a community that underscores the President’s Invest in America agenda.

Today, President Biden will announce a $3.3 billion investment by Microsoft to build a new AI data center in Racine, creating 2,300 union construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs over time.  Microsoft will also provide scaling opportunities for thousands more Wisconsinites in the digital economy.

You may remember this is the same location as a failed $10 billion investment from Foxconn that the previous administration touted six years ago.  That failed deal ultimately left behind Wisconsin residents and workers.

Today’s announcement is just the latest example of how President Biden’s agenda is bringing innovation hubs to every corner of the country.  President Biden is delivering on his promise to create good jobs that will have a lasting impact on communities and families. 

And with that.

Q    Two quick things.  The —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll try and be loud.  I’m sorry.

Q    Okay.  The — going to Racine, so you were mentioning that the former President’s — the investment didn’t go through.  How can Biden guarantee that this investment will go through when, you know, the other one failed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, so, look — so, I’m going to obviously let — let — let Fox speak to their hirings.  What I can say is that the massive multibillion investment employing thirt- — employing 13,000 workers — that the previous administration promise never materialized.

Instead, today, we’ve re- — we’ve — we’ve — we’re — we — we’re headed to the very same site where, instead of Foxconn, Microsoft will announce a major investment in this community.

So, this is an American company making a long-term investment in this community.  So, you know, Microsoft isn’t just investing in this data center.  They’re investing in job training in the wider community and building an AI ecosystem in Wisconsin.   So —

Q    The U.S. paused the shipment of bombs to Israel.  I wondered if you can say anything about Isr- — how Israel has responded to the pause.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m not going to give any comment to the press reportings out there.  You’ve heard us say many times over the past couple of days that our commitment to Israel’s — Israel’s security is ironclad.  I’m just not going to speak to the press reportings out there at this time.

Q    There were reports today that the administration will miss a deadline to deliver a report assessing Israel’s actions in Gaza to Congress.  Can you comment on that?  And will the report be issued soon?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, this is something that the State Department is working very hard on.  I was asked a similar question yesterday.  My colleague at the State Department, Matt Miller, spoke to this in his briefing yesterday.  They are working very hard to get this done.  And so, I would refer you to the State Department on that particular question.

Q    Just on the ceasefire negotiations.  Netanyahu said that Hamas’s offer was very far from — from where Israel is right now.  What is the President’s outlook on the possibility of a ceasefire?  Is he still optimistic or is this hanging by a thread?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I think what’s important to note are two things.   That’s our top priority: to get to — to a hostage deal to — that would lead to a ceasefire — obviously, bring home hostages — some of those hostages include American hostages — create an environment where we can surge humanitarian aid.  Those things are — have been priorities for this administration.

The talks are — continue.  The talks are ongoing.  And I think that’s important to note as well.

And I said this yesterday and I’ll say it again: A close assessment of the two sides’ positions suggests they should be able to close the gap — the existing — the remaining gap. 

So, we’re going to continue to support that process.  And that’s where we are right now.  It is a top priority for this President.

Q    Karine, Ro Khanna was just on CNN saying that, you know, maybe if it — if Burns isn’t able to close this deal — he’s been going for months — maybe it’s time to send someone else.  Are you throwing any other diplomats or other government officials at this issue?  And is the President growing more frustrated with Benjamin Netanyahu for not listening to his entreaties?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, a couple of things there.  Look, I just said that our assessment is that — you know, that the two sides, what remains — the gap that remains could be closed.  And that is our assessment.  That’s what we believe.

So, we’re going to support that process.  And we’re going to continue to push that process along.  It is our pro- — it is a top priority.  And so, we’re — let’s — let’s that — let — let that happen.   

The talks are continuing.  That’s important.  And the President has confidence in his team to continue supporting that process so we can get to an incredibly important hostage deal.

Q    You’ve been close before.  You’ve said you’re close. You keep saying, “We’re close.”

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I know.  I know.

Q    I mean, are you closer now than you were —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look —

Q    — a week ago?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, here’s the thing.  I’m — I’m not going to get into — into point by point here.  This is a priority.  This is a top priority.  We’re talking about creating an environment so that we can surge humanitarian aid.

We know how dire the situation is in Gaza.  We want to continue to get that humanitarian aid, and we want a ceasefire.  We want a ceasefire.  You heard that from the President directly.

And let’s not forget: We got to get these hostages home.  We have to get them home to their loved ones and to their families.

So, we — we’re — we’re going to continue to be optimistic.  We’re going to continue to make this a priority.  We know how important it is to get this done.

And, look, you know, we believe that the — what — what exists — the gaps that exist between the two from our assessments can be — can close.  And so, I think the most important thing — we believe the most important thing is to supporting that process and to be optimistic about it. 

Q    Will the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And be very, very clear about what we want to see to all of you.

Q    Will the President call Netanyahu again?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So — as you just said, “again” — they spoke earlier this week on Monday.  The President had a 30-minute conversation with the Prime Minister.  It was constructive, it was direct, as many of their conversations have been, certainly since October 7th.

And the President talked about the Rafah crossing, talked about the importance of opering — opening Kerem — Kerem Shalom, as we all are — review all the reporting.  And we have been told by Israel that that has been opened.  It is important to get those trucks in.  It is important to get that aid into — into Gaza.  So, that’s what we want to see.

And so, that — that worked.  Right?  That moved forward. 

And so, look, we’re going to continue to have our conversations with our Israeli counterparts.  And we certainly will let you know if there — there will be — or we’ll — we’ll — if there is another conversation with the Prime Minister.

Q    Is — is delaying arms shipments a tool that the administration is willing to use to try to get Israel to — to follow American requests?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’m not going to speak to the — I’m not going to speak to the — the press reportings out there.  What I can say is — and I said this yesterday; you’ve heard this from my NSC counterparts as well — is that our — our support for Israel continues to be ironclad — Israel’s security to be — continues to be ironclad.  And I just don’t have anything else to share.

Q    And is that something that the American government could do, conceivably, without specifically commenting on the reports?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Not going to get into hypotheticals.  Here’s what I will say is that we have been engaging in a dialogue with Israel in — in part through the Strategic Consult- — Consultative Group format on how — for example, how they’re going to meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in Rafah — that’s something, as you know, that’s been certainly a concern for us — and how to operate differently against Hamas there, and — and — than any — than they have elsewhere in Gaza.

Those discussions obviously are ongoing.  And those are going to continue.  And it’s — we are — and we’re — and — and, as we can say, they have not fully addressed our concerns.  And so, I’m going to leave that there.

But I’m not going to speak to the — to the press — to the press reporting out there.

Q    Did the President direct that those weapons shipments be delayed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m — I’m just not going to speak to the press reportings out there.  We have been —

Q    (Inaudible.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m — I’m —

Q    A senior administration official —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I hear you.  I — I am not going to —

Q    — confirmed it yesterday.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I hear you.  I’m telling you I’m not going to speak to the press reportings out there. 

What we will continue to say is that we — our — our support for Israel’s security is ironclad.

Q    Can I ask about a couple of the regulatory things —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, absolutely.

Q    — that are being rushed through this y- — you’ve got an ongoing 301 tariff review.  You know, we’re very interested in that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I know you are. 

Q    Any update on the timing —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I know you —

Q    — of the President’s thinking on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I knew you were — you were very interested in that.

Q    Well, the President announced a bit of it in Pittsburgh.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  No, you did — you’re right —

Q    Whet our appetite little.  (Laughter.)  Any update you

can share?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I don’t have an update on timeline at this point.

Q    Are — is he planning one announcement or little ones like that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just going to be mindful, let that process continue.  I just don’t have anything to share beyond —

Q    And —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — what the President shared in Pittsburgh.

Q    — on the marijuana rescheduling.  Does he have a position on that?  Does he support moving it —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re going to let that — the rou- — the review process continue.  So, do- — I’m not going to get ahead of that. 

The President has been very clear — right? — about marijuana possession.  He doesn’t believe any American that ha- — that possesses marijuana should be — only mari- — possesses marijuana only — should — should go to jail.  That has always been — that has been his — his position o- — certainly over the past couple of years.

We’re going to — and that’s why he directed HHS and DOJ to review the — rescheduling marijuana.  They’re doing that — that process has moved — right? — went through HHS, now it’s at DOJ.  I just don’t want to get ahead of that.

Q    Can I ask you —

Q    And (inaudible) —

Q    — a domestic question?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.

Q    So, overnight, police, you know, closed down the encampment at GW University.  Tear gas was used.  There were some arrests made.  These kind of encampments are continuing.  But, also, the police action against the encampments has been quite aggressive.  And, you know, there have been concerns raised about policing, obviously, since George Floyd’s murder and long before that. 

Are you taking a look at any of the police actions?  Or has the — or have you asked the Justice Department to make sure that they’re staying within bounds?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as we’ve said many times, especially over the past week, is that when it comes to decisions of what’s happening on the ground, that’s certainly up to the university leaders and local police enforcement.  And that certainly continues to be the case, even what we see happening at GW.

You all heard the President repeat that message he’s had throughout this last week: The right to dissent is fundamental to who we are, but it cannot lead to disorder and violence, threats, vandalism, trespassing, and/or shutting down campuses.  Students have the right to be safe.  And antis- — antisemitism is repugnant.  And we’ve been very clear about that.

And so, look, you know, what’s happening on the ground, what’s happening locally is something that that assessment is being made by university and colleges and, obviously, law enforcement.  So, we leave that to them to make that decision on how to move forward.

And — but we want to make sure that students feel safe — that they feel safe to be able to learn, to have an academic experience that they should be having.  And so, I’m just going to leave it there for now.

Q    Do you think the protesters would be appeased if there were some moves to bring Palestinian refugees in?  There’s some discussion — we understand the administration is looking at some moves to bring in Palestinians from Gaza.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, there — I don’t have any news to share about those discussions, obviously.  As you know, very early on, when we had learned that there were about 1,800 Palestinian Americans in Gaza, we did everything that we can to get them out if they wanted to.  And we — we were able to do that.  The State Department certainly will have more to share there.

I just don’t have anything to share beyond — beyond that.  And no announcement on — on news as it relates to that.

Q    The — the House will vote this week on a bill that would add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census.  Does the administration believe that non-citizens should be counted toward congressional and Electoral College? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I got to — I’ve not talked to anybody on the team about that.  That’s new to me.  So, I would have to — I don’t want to get ahead of — of our team.

Q    Just one on Russia.  Russia fired 50 cruise missiles and drones at Ukraine’s power system last night.  Is the — is the administration looking at ways of bolstering the energy system within Ukraine to protect it?  It’s been a major target recently.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, we’ve talked about our concerns there over the past almost two years — more than two years about when it comes to Russians’ a- — obviously Russians’ actions on — on the grid.

Look, we have been very clear.  We want to make sure that we provide Ukraine the — the security assistance to defend themselves.  Right?  They are def- — they are fighting back against Russia’s aggression.  This is obviously an — an example of that.  And so, we’re doing everything that we can. 

We were very grateful for that national security supplemental to go through.  The Ukrainian, obviously, component was incredibly important.  As we saw, Ukraine was losing ground on the — on — because of congr- — congressional inaction.

So, we’re going to continue to provide Ukrainians what they need to — to defend themselves.  Obviously, that’s a concern, when it comes to energy grids.  We’re going to continue to monitor that.  But — and we’re going to continue to work with Ukrainians to make sure they have what they need to continue to fight that — the battle that they have to on the ground.

Q    Fifteen House Democrats wrote a letter to the President urging him to take executive action on immigration.  Is that something he’s still considering doing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, here’s the thing.  Two — two times — and more than two times — but the first day that the President walked into the administration, he took action — put forth a comprehensive immigration plan.

We know that the immigration system has been broken for decades, and we need to address that.  Congress didn’t act.  They didn’t take action. 

And then, most recently — you’ve heard me talk about this over and over again — that was that Senate bipartisan agreement that came out of — obviously out of the Senate.  We wanted to move that forward.  It would have been the toughest, the fairest piece of legislation — or law, if the President had been able to sign it — he would love to sign that — that we — that would have been enacted to deal with the immigration — the broken immigration system.

It got — it held up — it was held up because of the former President saying — telling Republicans to reject it.

We want to see that moving forward.  We — that’s what we want.

When it comes to any executive action, the President has take many executive actions.  We’re going to continue to review that, but we’re going con- — be cons- — consistent, right?  That — we need legislation.  We need this to — we need legislation that can go into law to actually deal with this broken system.  That’s what we want to see.

Q    Have you noticed a difference since the President spoke with President López Obrador and agreed to take, you know, measures to tighten the situation at the border?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would s- —

Q    Is there any impact of that yet?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I would say that our diplomatic conversation, our relationship with the President of Mexico has led to — to actions to help mitigate what we’re seeing, obviously, in the region.  And there’s always more actions to be taken. 

But we are — you know, we are — you know, that — we believe that relationship certainly has led to — led to actions that is going to be helpful.

But we need legislation here.  We need to see more.  We need to see more.  And we’re appreciative of —

Q    But —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — of the President (inaudible).

Q    If that doesn’t happen, is there an EO?  Or do you think you don’t have executive —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re just going to look at all of our options, as always.  Just don’t have anything to share at this time.  And we’re going to continue to pi- — push for that Senate bipartisan agreement and get that — get that in the hands of the President so he can sign it.

Thanks, everybody.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I got to sit down.

Q    Karine, is he taping the interview with — is he taping the Erin Burnett in — in Wisconsin?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I believe so.  I believe so.

11:12 A.M. EDT

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/05/08/press-gaggle-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-en-route-milwaukee-wi-2/