ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE,
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MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Good to see everybody. So, let me just first say that the President is heading to the Gulf today for the people of the Gulf. That is going to be the purpose of his trip.
For as long as it takes for them to recover, clearly, we will -- the federal government will be there for the people of the Gulf.
Q We can't hear you. We can't hear you at all. Can you come closer?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. They can't hear me. (Laughter.) I'll start over so you can hear me. Got to make sure I'm heard here.
Okay. So, the President is here for the people of the Gulf for as long as it takes for the -- for them to recover. The full force of the federal government is working closely governor -- with the governor -- with the governor in
This is not about politics, as you can imagine; this is about the people here in the Gulf that need the help in this difficult time.
But let me give you a little bit more about what today looks like. The President will meet with federal, state, and local leaders and surve- -- that surveyed the impacts of storm damage from Hurricane Ida.
He will visit the St. John Parish emergency operations center; tour a neighborhood in
He will be joined today by FEMA Administrator
The focus in
However, power does remain out and boil water advisories remain in effect for more than 800,000 people. There were over 2,800 people were in shelters in
The President understands how important the smooth flow of maritime commerce is to this region and to our nation, and we are doing all we can to get it back up and running.
This morning, the
In this role, which is a short-term appointment through roughly the end of the year, Markell will work hand-in-hand with National Security Advisor
The interagency team is working across the federal government to conduct rigorous security vetting; implement -- implement COVID-19 testing; and process payroles [parolees] into
Today, we are -- we are also announcing that the inaugural meeting of the
The council's members, including eight
Today, we are also announcing that the CEC [
Some more. I have more for all of you.
As we announced this morning: On
Established in 2013, the HLED advances strategic economic and commercial priorities for both countries, with the shared goal of fostering economic development and growth, job creation, global competitiveness, and reduction of poverty, and equality.
This year's Dialogue will focus on four central pillars: Building Back Together; Promoting Sustainable Economic and
The USG delegation is led by three co-chairs: Secretary of State
Last but not least, we have the week ahead for you. Just a very, very quick preview. We promise to have more in the upcoming days.
The President will give remarks on the administration's response to COVID-19 pandemic next week. We are finalizing those details, and we'll have more to share in the upcoming days.
As you can imagine, the President and the First Lady will commemorate 9/11. We'll also have further details on that later today to share.
Josh? Oh, you're blocked. (Inaudible.)
Q Thanks, Karine. On the jobs report today, you had zero jobs added for leisure and hospitality and a decline in retail. Some economists say that's due to Delta, but is there a concern that the will of the American consumer is declining, as shown by what's happening in those sectors?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll say this, Josh: While we saw an impact from Delta in today's jobs numbers -- you heard clearly the President speak to this just this morning -- and in some in-person services, the fact is that consumer spending has consistently held up during the pandemic.
In some periods, this had led to stronger demand for goods, like home -- like home workout equipment that [sic] in-person services -- than in-person services like going to a nail salon or going out to eat.
Last month, in July, data showed consumers pivoting to spending on services as they felt more comfortable with the public health situation.
And we'll be watching carefully to see how they respond in August. We get that data later this month, so we'll have more to share at that point. But right now, it's too soon to tell.
And while it is possible that Delta will have an impact on how people spend their money, they have been consistently spending it.
And the fact that we're adding jobs at a strong pace in recent months -- 750,000 jobs per month just over the past three months -- and wage growth remains strong should help boost consumer spending in coming months and quarters.
Q Karine, are you concerned about the people coming back to work -- not coming back to work in the service sector? Everywhere across the country, you know, restaurant owners continue to complain that they are having trouble recruiting the staff that they need. Are you -- is there anything that the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, this is -- you know, we have a lot of work to do. We understand that. I just listed out the 750,000 jobs a month that we have been able to create. You know, Biden has created jobs every month of his presidency and has created more jobs in the first seven months than any president in history. So that does matter.
But to your point, we have a lot of work to do. But, today, again, more than 74 percent of adults have at least one dose, and over 170 million people are fully vaccinated, which is really important because that's what we have seen -- right? -- from people being hesitant, which is the vacc- -- which is the Delta, right? The Delta variant and vacc- -- and people -- and vaccination.
But, importantly, we have accelerated recently -- recent the pace of vaccinations. In August, we administered over 14 million first shots; that's almost 4 million more than in July. So that is -- we believe that's going to be helpful.
And thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we have the economic and public health tools we need to deal with challenges like Delta, without going backwards or shutting down our schools or our economy.
So, the American Rescue Plan was designed to both provide immediate economic relief and to provide the firepower and flexibility over the months and years to ensure that we could overcome inevitable bumps on the way to be -- to a strong, sustainable, and accountable recovery.
But I think what we're seeing with the vaccination is certainly going to help in those industries that you were just mentioning.
Q Was the President talking about -- on abortion, he said there are things that can be done by the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, let me just first say that, today, the
And so, on the table, we're looking at legislative actions -- what are the best legislative actions, what are the actions that the administration itself can do. And he wants to see action and remains committed to that.
So that is what -- that is what the President continues to support, and that's what the President continues to look at.
And also, let's not forget: Additionally, as you all know, you know, this is all being taken seriously by Speaker Pelosi and
Q Does that mean providing transportation for people? What does it -- I still don't understand. Is it legal? Is it just -- do we know the law?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, he's been very clear -- if you read the statement that he put out yesterday: Again, he directed the
The President specifically tasked the
So this is what he wants to do. He has -- he's been taking a whole-of-government approach. Like we said, he's going to see what the best idea is on the table. And I mentioned that the GP- -- the GPC, the
Q Given the smaller-than-expected jobs report today, is there any thought in the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, there is no plan to reevaluate that. As you know, that was temporary -- the emergency unemployment benefits. And so -- but the -- but one of the things that I can say -- and I think Jen spoke about this earlier in the week -- is that, you know, first, it's important to take a step back to look at the national landscape here. In about half of all states, 24 governors have already made the decision to eliminate pandemic unemployment benefits. In the remaining 26 states, unemployment levels vary widely, from 3 to 7 percent.
But I want to just lay out what the administration announced new tools to help states that choose to further extend pandemic unemployment benefits -- right? -- which is, first, the Secretary of the
So these are the things that we have done and helping states with.
And one last thing. And over the last couple of weeks, the administration has done extensive outreach to 27 states to offer support as they consider whether to provide additional payments to unemployment workers.
So this is an ongoing outreach that we will continue to do to make sure the states have an understanding of how to move forward and what they can do to help.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, he is in constant communication with members on the Hill.
Let me just say this about the question you just asked me about the op-ed. So,
The President should not -- pardon me, the President would pay for these investments by making corporations and the wealthiest Americans paying their fair share.
This is an important part of the President's economic policy. You've heard him talk about it for the past year, even before he became President.
So, indeed, the best way to reduce costs that are hitting families' pocketbooks -- childcare, prescription drugs, tuition, eldercare -- is to pass the President's Build Back Better agenda, which will cut these costs over the long term.
So these are -- this is what the President is going to be focused on is making sure -- working closely with
Q But has he -- has he spoken to
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just said that he talks to him -- he talks to members of
Q There are a number of polls out right now, including one from the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me just say, I know there's been a lot of polls and conversations about, you know, the different multiple crises that the President has to deal with right now. But he sees -- like, this is -- this is -- this is the role of the President -- right? -- to make sure that we can -- we have -- address multiple crisis at the same time.
But when those moments arise, you need to have a strong and capable team, coherent in the subject matter and nimble enough to adapt quickly.
And so, the way that we see this is we have capable teams working on, you know, an airlift -- airlift as many people as possible out of
And so that is something that -- it was one of the most historic airlift that was able to happen. And -- and so that is something that we feel that these are the different crises that he's able to work on.
You know, prepare for and respond to a historic hurricane. Right? We're going to
And so -- and getting the pandemic under control. If you look at where we were seven months ago, we're just in a completely different place.
So, these are the -- when you -- these are the things that the President takes on and really brings a whole-of-government approach to make sure that we get things done.
Q In reference to
Does he still have full confidence in the envoy? And how much longer will he continue to serve in the Biden administration?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Who are you talking about again? I didn't hear the --
Q Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad. Khalilzad.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, got it. He has full confidence in his team. As you can imagine, he wants to -- you know, there are -- there are things -- when we think about
Will they uphold their commitment to freedom of travel and safe passage for Americans and Afghan allies? Right? Will they live up to their counterterrorism commitments? Will they form an inclusive government? Will they sustain progress for women or girls? Will they respect fundamental human rights?
And so, the
If they -- if they earn any -- if they earn anything from the international community, it will be through actions and not words. So, that is how we're looking at how we're moving forward with the
Q On the storm: We've -- you know, the death toll has gone up; we're in the dozens. We had people drowning in their basements in Queens. Was there a failure of notification at either the federal, state, or local level?
And is the President concerned there's any risk that the -- all the stuff going on in the big media markets will drown out -- forgive me for the bad phrase -- what's going on in
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I would say when the President travels, usually that gets a lot of attention, and the President is going to focus on the people of the Gulf.
You guys are all here. You guys are going to be covering it. There are going to be people clearly on the ground covering the local aspect of this.
But you gave me an opportunity to talk about the Northeast because you were just talking about the flood. I want to give an -- give you all an update on what's happening there.
So, the President approved emergency declarations from
Q We're hearing that people are not using the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll tell you this --
Q What can you do to accelerate that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'll tell you this: As of this morning, there were six shelters open in
So, the shelters are there. We're doing everything in a whole-of-government approach, as we've talked about, to make sure that the people who are dev- -- who have been devastated by these storms, by these floods, get the help that they need. And we'll continue to do that.
Q Do you have the numbers for
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me just give you a little bit about what we're doing for individuals, and hopefully that helps answer your question, Andrea.
So, individuals in affected areas can apply for disaster assistance and get referrals to local, state, and federal agencies and voluntary organizations. The fast way to apply for disaster assistance is through DisasterAssistance.gov.
So, for all of -- for all of you who are here and writing about this could help get the word out. So, again, it is DisasterAssistance.gov.
You can also apply by calling 1-800-621-3362 or through the
So, there's a lot that's happening on the ground that we're helping people with, and so we'll continue to do that. The President will clearly highlight this when -- on the tour today and talk about this in more (inaudible).
Q There's reports that
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you can imagine, I'm not going to, you know, go into back-and-forth about what's in the reconciliation bill from here.
We're continuing to have conversations with
All these things are incredibly important, as well as the hard infrastructure, which is the roads and the bridges -- and something that we'll see, right? This is something that the President will talk about today: the importance of passing Build Back Better, as we're looking at what's happening just across the country.
Q Another note on that infrastructure. Much has been made about the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, absolutely. It's clear that we need to make critical investments and make our infrastructure more resilient to disasters and to the impacts of climate change, which the President has proposed, as I just mentioned, the Build Back Better agenda. And the -- it's bipartisanship that we see with the infrastructure deal that was made that he helped bring -- bring both sides of the aisle together.
So, yes, it's important to continue to invest in our infrastructure. That is what the President is trying to do with the Build Back Better agenda, and he'll (inaudible).
Q For the New -- on
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any information on that. I'm happy to go back to the team and get you some (inaudible).
Q Is the President considering a trip to the Northeast to view the storm damage there, particularly given 40 people died?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to preview for you, but I -- as you know, I just listed out what we've been doing on the federal government to help the folks in the Northeast.
Q Is there an investigation into who leaked the conversation between -- the purported conversation between the President and
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any more for you on that. But let me say a couple of things on that, because I don't think we've had a chance to really address this.
So, the President conveyed privately exactly what he conveyed publicly at a pivotal time, when you're talking about the call -- the phone call with Ghani: In the pivotal time in the down -- the drawdown, when it was essential for the government and the military to step up, it was a -- it was pivotal for
So that's what he was trying to convey to the President, and I don't have any more to say on that.
Q Did he also tell him to try to convey strength and that his government was in firm control, no matter if true?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll say this: The President, Secretary Austin, Secretary Blinken,
The view of our military leaders, as well as common sense, was that the best chance Ghani had was to rally the country and implement a strategy that could both stop the
That advice was both sound and consistent with what we were saying publicly. Unfortunately, Ghani couldn't or wouldn't heed the advice.
Q Does the President support congressional hearings on what happened and why these -- why there was such a surprise about the rapidity of the takeover by the
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll say this --
Q Is he willing to cooperate with that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'll say this on the hearings: Since taking office, the administration has been regularly briefing
All right. Thanks, everybody.