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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, October 19, 2022

  • Politics

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:17 P.M. EDT  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Good afternoon, everybody.

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, nice.  Okay.  All right, as you just heard, today President Biden is taking further action to lower gas prices and promote energy security.  When Putin’s war sent gas prices up, President Biden made clear he would do everything in his power to lower prices for American families. 

And he’s been delivering.  Gas prices fell at the fastest rate in over a decade this summer.  They’ve dropped almost every week since June and are down by $1.16 per gallon on average. 

Now President Biden announced additional actions to strengthen energy security, address the supply chain, and lower costs.  He is releasing 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be delivered in December.  He is directing the Department of Energy to be ready to move forward with additional releases of oil this winter if needed.  And he announced that the administration intends to repurchase oil for the SPR when prices are around $70 per gallon [barrel].

He’s also calling on oil and gas companies to pass on their savings to consumers at the pump.  Right now, right behind me, you see this charg- — chart.  The profit that energy companies are making in every gallon of gas is — gasoline — is about double what it typically is at this time of year.  And you see that, between the crude oil and the retail gasoline prices there in the lines. 

The retailer margin over the refinery price is more than 40 percent over the typical level.  These outsized industry profit margins are adding more than 60 cents to the average price of gallon of gas and keeping prices higher than they should be.  This is unacceptable.

Lastly, as you know, in a few minutes, the President is going to be making another announcement, a new — new actions to boost electric vehicle battery production and ensure that we have the critical minerals we need to keep building — building them right here in America. 

The President’s economic agenda has generated an American electric vehicle manufacturing boom.  Today’s announcement will further that progress.  Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Department of Energy will award $2.8 billion in grants to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the electric grid. 

The President will also announce the American Battery Material Initiative, a new effort to mobilize the entire government in securing a reliable and sustainable supply of electric minerals used for power, electricity, and EVs. 

The President will be joined at today’s announcement by Energy Secretary Granholm and executives from leading battery companies.

With that — Josh, welcome back.  I feel like I haven’t seen you in a while. 

Q    Thank you.  I know.  Well —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, my goodness.

Q    I think last time was Air Force One on the way to Hagerstown.  Too — too brief. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s an eternity ago.

Q    What a trip.  (Laughter.)

Q    So, two questions.  The President just said that the oil releases from the Strategic Reserve were not political.  But we’ve seen on a daily basis that the administration is making these announcements on abortion, gas prices, EVs, student debt, and an array of other programs, such as infrastructure.  What’s the goal of these announcements, given that they’re happening so close to midterms?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, and the President was asked specifically that — that question on the gas prices and our announcement today, and he was very clear.  He said — if you’ve watched him these last several months, these last four months, I believe, that what — is what he said — he’s been working every day to lower gas prices for the American people, especially after we saw Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine, which led to Putin’s price — price hike, as we have seen in the last several — several months. 

So, he has made it very clear.  He wanted to make sure that we lower the prices for the American people.  We have seen — we’ve seen independent analys- — and analysts have said the actions that this President took — this historic action that the President took has worked.  And so, he’s going to continue to deliver. 

And when you — you’re asking me about the abortion and Roe.  Roe was decided in June.  And because that happened and understanding — the President understanding what that will mean for millions of women across the country, he took action.  He took — he took executive action.  He is going to continue to speak to it.  And he has been very clear that in order to actually codify Roe, the American people have to make their voices heard. 

And so, the President is not going to shy away from delivering for the American people.  He’s not going to shy away from a record that you all have seen for the past 20 months that is just that: an economic policy, economic plans, economic legislation, and now laws that is working for the middle class. 

Q    Gotcha.  And then, on the announcement today: A year ago, the President said after the G20 that $3.35 a gallon hurt families.  When he took office, gas was $2.40 a gallon.  What does the administration think is a reasonable price for gasoline so that it could end withdrawals and kind of allow the reserves to replenish?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, first of all, he’s taking this action — we know that gas prices are going down, but they’re still too high.  And he acknowledges that, and that’s why we’re continuing taking the work to bring those prices down.  And that is the promise that he’s made the American people.

I know people have asked what is the sufficient — what is the sufficient level — right? — in order to make that — to make — to be at a point where we feel that the supply is where it needs to be.

Look, the supply has to meet demand, right?  We just had this chart that laid out what was the stark differences that we’re seeing with cost.

When it’s 60 cents more, we are saying to oil companies, they need to make sure that the — the profits that they’re making, that also the — that everyday Americans feel — get that relief as well. 

And so, really, we’re trying to make sure that supply meets demand.  That’s what the President is trying to do.  And he uses the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, where he taps into it — as you know, which is a historic decision — that’s what the Strategic Petroleum Reserves are for.  They are for these moments, these global challenges, these global market challenges that we’re seeing, because — in particular because of this — of Putin’s war.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The 15 million barrels of oil the President talked about today, it’s — when you put that into context, Americans consume an average of nearly 20 million barrels of oil a day. 

So, for the actual impact of this announcement, when can Americans actually expect to see results of this when they’re filling up at the gas station?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, today’s — today’s announcement is about responding to the effects of Putin’s ongoing war.  And that’s why the President took this action, because it’s still continuing.  Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine is still ongoing, as I just said.

It completes the release of the 180 million dol- — 180 million barrels the President announced earlier this year.  And as you heard from the President just now, he’s directing the Department of Energy to be ready to release additional barrels of oil should conditions warrant it. 

And so, we’ve seen the impacts.  We’ve seen the impacts already.  Again, and I just said this to Josh, we have seen independent analysts say that the work or — the work that the President has taken when it comes to this historic decision with the stroleum [sic] — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has — we have seen the effects.  We have seen gas prices go down. 

So, again, the President is going to do everything that he can to make sure that we — we make the lives of American families a little bit easier.

Q    But you couldn’t say a timeline of, you know, by saying this today and happening in December, of when there’s actually an impact for American consumers and pocketbooks, when people might feel this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, again, we are already seeing the impact on consumers.  But what the President is saying is that the prices are already too high.  And so, we want to make sure that the supply out there meets the demand, and that is not what’s happening. 

Q    And just one more, sorry.  On restocking the reserve when it hits $70 a barrel, oil is trading at around $83 a barrel today.  What makes the President confident you’ll be able to buy back oil at that level?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the release of the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was always meant to be a bridge, as you’ve heard us say many times, to greater supply — so to make sure that we have that supply out there. 

The pace of releases for October and November tapered off just a bit.  But, again, we are — you know, we want to make sure that it matches, that the supply matches the demand. 

So, we’re not saying that we’re go- — we’re trying to bring down the price down to $70.  That’s not what we’re trying to say.  You heard the President mention how it’s an incentive is what he’s trying to put forward. 

So, what we’re saying is that if the — if it goes to $70, oil companies should know that the United States government will come into the market as a buyer.  And so, that will create more, certainly, for companies as — as they weigh increasing investment.  We’re giving them further incentive to increase production. 

Of course, you know, we refrain [retain] the flexibility to replenish at any market price, but we wanted to clearly signal to producers that we will continue the market — to support the market in this price range.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  To what extent does the White House and the administration feel the announcement today will actually counter the announcement we heard from OPEC and Saudi a few weeks ago to cut oil output?  Do you expect it to partially offset that decision?  Do you expect today’s announcement to completely offset that decision?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, what we’re trying to do — and we have said this many times — is prices are too high, and we’re trying to make sure that we lower those prices for gas — for the gas prices, even though we have taken these actions these past several months with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Again, with Putin’s ongoing war, the President wanted to make sure that he completed the one- — 180 million barrels the President announced earlier this year.

And also, as you know, the — as he also said, the Department of Energy is going to take actions as well.

Look, it is very important that the President, he feels, gives American families a little bit more breathing room and keeps to his promise that he’s made for the past several months to do everything that he can in his power to bring down gas prices for the American people.

Q    Would you describe today’s action as a counter to the decision from OPEC and Saudi a few weeks ago?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would describe the President’s actions today as a continuing — the continuation of his promise to the American families to bring gas prices down.  He feels that they’re still too high, even though we have seen them come down for 98 consecutive days, which is a historic decline that we have not seen in over a decade.  And so, this is, again, a continuation to his promise to the American people.

Q    And a quick follow-up on the reserve refill that the President spoke about at $70.  How long does the administration expect that to take?  Any internal estimates, especially because there is a price gap of $70 now set?  Are there any internal estimates on the timing that you expect this to take?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a timeline for you at this time.  Look, the President, as he said in his remarks, that he sees this as an incentive for oil companies.

Go ahead.

Q    Just on the President’s message to oil companies today that they need to not prioritize profits at a moment when Americans are going through such a hard time.  Just curious whether he has recently spoken directly to any oil company executives to deliver that message.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, it’s a — it’s a good question.  I don’t have any calls to read out to you. 

But, you know, I think when the President speaks at the podium and makes those comments, which he has made many times, that is speaking directly to the oil companies.  I’m pretty sure that they are — they are listening and that they are hearing the President directly.

Q    Just on the Pittsburgh event tomorrow and the grants that are being officially announced on the ground tomorrow, can you give us a sense of how these 12 states were chosen?  Were there other states that applied?  You know, what was, sort of, the criteria used to choose these 12 states?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’ll get the team to provide you with what the criterias were in selecting the 12 states.  I don’t have anything to share at this time.  I’m sure the President will also share more tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

Q    And do you know if John Fetterman will be at the earlier Pittsburgh event?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’ll share more of where — where — who’s going to be attending, as we always do, the various events when the President travels.  I don’t have anything for you right now at this time.  But as you know, John Fetterman will be with the President tomorrow.

Go ahead.

Q    Just to follow up on the gas, again, divert in a different direction: When you say now that the petroleum reserve is here for this reason, how long is this going to go on?  Should the oil industry, should Americans presume that the reserve will be tapped for the duration of the Russia-Ukraine war or until it hits a certain price point?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, first — first, let — first, let me — let me say a couple of things, because I think it’s important for the American people to know.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve remains the largest strategic reserve in the world.  There are more than 400 million barrels of oil in the reserve.  So I want to make sure that folks understand that. 

And I — and, to my point, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created for this time, for a moment just like this, when there is a supply disruption that is — has been caused by Putin’s war.  This is why the reserve exists.

I mean, we have been very clear.  I don’t have anything more to announce beyond the December extension that the President announced, beyond the 180 million barrels of oil that we have announced very much earlier this year. 

And if we have — we’re going to continue to monitor and take a very close look of what’s happening in the next several days, in the next several months.  And when we have more to announce, certainly the President will do that.

Q    I got to ask you: There was a lawsuit filed today in a federal court in San Francisco against the Biden adminis- — actually, against the President and the National Archives for continuing to hold up the release of 16,000 documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, alleging that the President is dragging his feet on the release.

He signed a memo saying it was supposed to be released in December of this year.  Any response to the lawsuit?  And does the President still plan to release — allow the release of those documents in December?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, we don’t respond to lawsuits from here.  It is not my place to do so.  I can get more information on the — the documents for you to see where it is in the process.  But I won’t be responding to a lawsuit from here.

Q    So you’re not aware of any plan to hold up the release of them in December?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not aware of that.  Again, I would have to check in with the team to see where we are in that process.

Q    Curious if the President himself has ever asked to see them.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I — I don’t have anything to share on the specific documents.  I would have to check in with the team.

Q    And he’s doing this visit to Pennsylvania tomorrow, making one campaign stop.  We heard again today that former President Obama is headed to Nevada now in November, in addition to the stops he’s making next week for Democratic candidates. 

There was no update on the President’s political schedule yesterday, the day before.  Any chance there’s an update today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We don’t have anything to share with you on the President’s travel.  And we will be sure to share any upcoming trips that the President may have in the upcoming days and weeks.

Q    Still in the works, though?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I just don’t have anything to preview at this time.  We announced, as you know, he’s going to go to Florida on November 1st.  And if there any other trips, you’ll — you will — you will hear from us, Ed.  I promise you.  I promise you.

Go ahead.

Q    How serious is the administration considering a ban on U.S. petroleum products?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, everything is on the table.  I don’t have anything right now to preview.  Clearly, our focus today is to make sure that we deliver on the President’s promises to continue to lower gas prices for the American people.  But again, I don’t have anything to preview at this time.

Q    And just on the G20: Has the administration locked in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping yet?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a meeting or anything to preview for you at this time with the — with the meeting with the President.

Q    Hey, I have a foreign policy question.  But first, I wanted to follow up on something the President said earlier.  He said that he’s readying his team to look for other opportunities for further releases.  Do you have a sense of what would spark a further release in the future?  I know Europe is considering a ban on — or planning to implement a ban on Russian oil imports.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, the President has asked his team to be on the ready in case there needs to be any more releases.  Don’t have anything else to preview.  Clearly, we’re going to be monitoring this the next several weeks, the next several months.  And when we have more to announce, we will — we will do so.

Q    I wonder, also, if you can comment on the arrest of our — yeah — of Saad Ibrahim Almadi.  His — in Saudi Arabia for sending tweets critical of the government.  His son says he’s been tortured and has accused the State Department of mishandling the case.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we can confirm the detention of Mr.  Almadi in Saudi Arabia and are closely following his case.  We have consistently and intensively raised our concerns regarding this case at senior levels of — of the Saudi government in both Washington and also in Saudi.

We will continue to do so.  The Saudi government understands the priority we attach — we attach to resolving this matter.  Exercising the freedom of expression should never be criminalized.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks very much.  Back in 2020, when Congress was debating funding for replenishing the SPR, Democrats blocked it, saying it was a bailout for big oil.  Why is it a good deal for taxpayers now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, right now we are dealing — again, I laid out what the Strategic Petroleum was created for.  It was created for these moments.  Right?  We’re seeing a supply disruption, right?  There is a war currently happening in Ukraine that was started by Putin — a brutal war.  And this is what these moments were for. 

When you see these global challenges — remember, this is a global challenge.  This is not just happening here.  It is affecting the global markets.  And so, this is an opportunity to do what we can to help American families.

Q    I was referring to the purchasing of the oil at $70 per barrel to replenish it.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I’m — (laughs) — I’m sorry, I thought you were meaning like why would we tap.

Q    No, no, no —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.

Q    — I mean the replenishing at a lower price. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So can you say your question one more time, so I hear it properly?

Q    Yeah, back in 2020, when Congress was debating funding for replenishing the SPR —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.

Q    — at a low price, Democrats blocked it, saying that it was a bailout for big oil.  But now President Biden said today —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I —

Q    — that it would be a good deal for the taxpayers.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about.  You’re talking about when Donald Trump was trying to sell it at $20 per — per barrel.

Q    To buy it, I guess.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, to buy it.  Look, it was a different time then.  It was not the same situation that we are currently in.  The reserve was close to full capacity at that time.  And so, there was no reason to — to — you know, to make that type of repurchase.

Q    Yeah.  Earlier, you pointed out that this isn’t the first time that President Biden has called out the profits of oil companies.  You know, a couple months ago, it was talking about first quarter profits, now its second quarter.

And so, at this point, does the President feel like oil companies are ignoring his calls on this issue — the fact that they’ve continued to keep these profits?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, he — he doesn’t think so.  They actually — they actually brought down the prices.  We have seen that in the past several months, but they need to come down more.  And that’s what the President is trying to make sure that continues to happen. 

And so, he is — again, he’s not going to shy away from it.  He wants to make sure that — as we saw in the chart, they did come down.  They were able to do that.  If you saw at the beginning of the chart, the prices —

Q    It dipped.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — it dipped.  And it met — it met what the retailers were paying. 

And so, now we’re seeing the difference — that 60 cents difference.  And so we want them to bring that — to bring that down to meet where consumers are.

Q    And then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an interview posted today by Punchbowl News, said that Democrats need to improve their messaging when it comes to inflation over the next three weeks before the midterms.  She calls inflation a “global issue” and points out — or argues that because unemployment has decreased under Democrats and Biden that inflation has gone up. 

And do you — what’s your response to the Speaker of the House saying that there is a messaging issue, and that message is not getting out to voters right now, as indicated by polling that shows that those who, you know, have concern — voters that are concerned about the economy and inflation are favoring Republicans over Democrats?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, first, let me just say, got to be mindful, because of the Hatch Act, on when I speak about —

Q    Sure, but I’m asking from —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — I cannot speak —

Q    — the White House — yeah.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I’m going to get there.  I’m going to get — give me a second.  I have to lay this out. 

Q    Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Right.  It is my prerogative to say I don’t — want to make sure that I adhere to the Hatch Act.  So that — I put that out there. 

As it relates to messaging: Look, we have always been very clear, the President has always been very clear.  We understand — I know you were talking about polls and what the American people are feeling.  We understand what they’re feeling.  We understand that they are feeling a bit of a crunch, because of — of cost, because of inflation. 

And that’s why the President is doing what he’s doing today.  That’s why he’s making it very clear that he’s taking extra actions to bring down the cost — continue to bring down the cost of gasoline. 

You heard me talk about hearing aids.  Thirty million Americans are going to see now lower cost in purchasing — in purchasing hearing aids. 

When you think about the — the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s going to lower costs. 

When you think about healthcare, when you think about energy costs — these are actions that this President has taken.  These are action that he’s taken with congressional Democrats, and we’re going to continue to speak to that.

But we get it.  We get that Americans right now are feeling that pinch. 

But, you know, the other piece of this too is you have congressional Republicans who were doing the opposite.  They don’t want to give the healthcare costs.  They won’t bring down healthcare costs.  They don’t want to bring down energy costs. 

If anything, they want to increase what Americans are paying with healthcare and with energy.  And that’s their plan.  Their plan is to get rid of Medicare.  Their plan is to get rid of Social Security.  And our plan is to make sure that we are protecting American families, that we are lowering costs, and we’re going to continue to push that message and make sure that the American people hear directly from us.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  The football/soccer World Cup starts in a month in Qatar.  How does the — how does the White House feel about the many reports of human rights abuses in that country, particularly in the preparation for this World Cup? 

And also, at what level will — from what level of government will somebody be sent there as a — you know, as a representative?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, to your last question, first: We’re still determining who will lead and join an official U.S. delegation to the World Cup.  We look forward to this important event.  And, of course, we will be cheering on Team USA from the White House. 

As you’ve heard from the President, he has said this directly himself, he will always and will continue to call out any human rights abuses.  That is something that he never shies away from, whether it is leader to leader or whether it is speaking about it outright.  And so that will be something that he will continue to do.

Q    He wouldn’t call it out in the sense of sending them a message by not sending a delegation or — you know, to watch, sitting in one of these stadiums where supposedly, people were, you know, horribly mistreated?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I hear — I hear you — I answered the question as to — he’s going to — you know, this is an important event, and we’re going to cheer — be cheering on the team — Team USA.  It is not an unusual thing for us to do when there is an event like this in whatever country — whichever country it is. 

But again, when it comes to human rights, the President — human rights abuses — the President will continue to call that out.  This event is about our team — Team USA.  It’s about, again, a special event, and we’re going to cheer them on.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  You have condemned governors sending migrants through various cities across the country.  But where should officials that are overwhelmed by the number of migrants coming into their cities and into their shelters — where should they send the migrants?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we have said many times before there’s a process — a legal process, and that we are willing to work with cities who are dealing with this issue. 

What we have seen from governors is that they are using –using migrants as a political tool.  And that’s not the way to do it.  And they’re sending migrants — as we’ve seen the last several months — the last several weeks, they’re sending migrants without letting city — city officials know and without letting the federal government know. 

And what they do is they call TV news stations to be there to capture this moment and use it as a political stunt.  And so, we are — we will continue to call that out.  But we are willing — we are willing and open to work with cities that are dealing with this issue, as we have done with New York City, as we have done with Washington, D.C., and other — and other cities as well. 

Q    But does President Biden want more migrants to come to Delaware?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t even understand that question.  But I’ll move on. 

Go ahead. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I’m wondering if you have a response to these videos first published by the Tampa Bay Times this week that show people in Florida who had been convicted of murder or sex offenses being released from prison who apparently thought they had the right to vote and have now been arrested for doing so. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, we have seen — we have seen those — those videos.  We’ve seen that reporting by the publication that you just mentioned.  I want to be careful because I don’t want to weigh — weigh in on any specifics, ongoing cases in Florida. 

But the President believes that people who — who are not incarcerated for a felony should have their voting rights restored automatically.  And he has repeatedly called on the Senate to pass comprehensive voting rights legislation that would do just that.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Two questions on two different subject matters.  First, high gas prices.  Has the President or the White House ever consider summoning these oil and gas company executives here to the White House so that President Biden can deliver some of the message that he delivered earlier in the Roosevelt Room?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, as you know, the Department of Energy has had several meetings, a couple of meetings with oil companies to have conversations on what we can do to — to help in lowering prices and to help with — with the issue that we just laid out today, and how, you know, oil companies are not meeting or not lowering — they’re getting the profits but not lowering their prices.  So we’ve had several meetings.  We had White House officials who have also attended those meetings as well. 

Don’t have anything else to preview or to add to that.  But we have been in close touch with these oil companies. 

Q    Okay.  And also on Ukraine: As you know, there has been bipartisanship in terms of supporting Ukraine financially and militarily over the course of the past year, since February 24th.  Yesterday, the Leader for Republicans in the House, Kevin McCarthy, said, if Republicans take over the House, don’t expect a “blank check” — that’s the way he put it — in terms of supporting Ukraine.  What’s your response to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, the United States has provided Ukraine with robu- — robust, bipartisan support as Russia wages this brutal war, this unprovoked war on the people of Ukraine.  We will continue to work with Congress, as we have these past several — several months, on these efforts and support Ukraine as long as it takes. 

And that is a commitment that the President made to President Zelenskyy just last week, when they had their one-on-one conversation, and also at the G7 meeting with President Zelenskyy last week as well with our partners and allies. 

Look, we thank leaders across the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, who are working with us to hold Putin accountable and support Ukraine to defend itself from Russia’s crime and atrocities. 

And so, again, we will remain in close contact with House and — with House and Senate members.  This is an important — we see this, supporting Ukraine in their fight for democracy and their fight for freedom, as an important moment in time.

Q    So you expect bipartisanship regardless of who controls Congress, as it —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re going to —

Q    — relates to Ukraine funding?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I — look, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals from here.  What I’m saying is, we appreciate the bipartisan support that we have seen these past several months, and we will continue to work with House and Senate members to make sure that the support that we are giving the brave people of Ukraine — that continues.

Go ahead.

Q    I’ve got a question about the upcoming meeting with the President of Israel next week.  The Israeli government once again reiterated its, sort of, position that it won’t send direct weapons to Ukraine, preferring humanitarian aid.  Given the situation, given Russia’s action, given the increasing implication of Iran in this war, is this something that the President is going to push with his Israeli counterpart when he meets with him — push for the Israelis to maybe help more, militarily, the Ukrainians?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I would refer you to the government of Israel for — for more on their decisions.  Not something that I would comment from here. 

But the President looks forward to welcoming the President of Israel to the White House on October si- — 26th, as I announced yesterday, for a visit that will underscore the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel.

I’m not going to get ahead of any specific issues the President plans to raise, but I can confirm they will consult on a variety of issues — of key issues, including opportunities to deepen Israel’s regional integration and ways to advance equal measures of freedom, prosterity [prosperity], and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. 

Again, when it comes to their own government decision, I would refer you to them. 

Go ahead. 

Q    Thank you, Karine.  So, you’re asking oil companies to further lower gas prices.  What makes you think that they are going to listen to an administration that is ultimately trying to put them out of business?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  How — how is the administration trying to put them out of business? 

Q    Well, they produce fossil fuels, and this President says he wants to end fossil fuel.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So look, I — you kind of asked me this question yesterday.  And here’s — here’s where — what we would say: U.S. oil production is up and on track to reach a record high next year.  We’ve seen that from their — from when we see their profit margins.  They are — they — you know, it’s record high. 

And so, in fact, the United States has produced more oil in President Biden’s first year than under Trump’s administration’s first year.  But at the same time, oil companies are raking in record profits while more than 9,000 approved drilling permits remain untapped by the oil industry. 

There is no shortage of opportunity or incentive for all companies to ramp up production.  This is something that they can actually do.  It is available to them.  They can do this.  And also, they’re getting the profits. 

And so, because they’re getting — I just showed 60 cents on the chart — more profit — right? — that they — that we’re seeing higher — more higher costs that we’re seeing that what — than what retailers are paying at the pump.  They can bring that down.  They’ve done it before.  You saw that at the chart, in the beginning.  They were able to bring prices down.

Q    And one more that folds in the President’s top domestic priorities.  In Georgia, the President’s endorsed candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, is suggesting that one may — one way to mitigate the effects of inflation is to get an abortion.  Does President Biden agree?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I did not see her comments on this, so I don’t know the context of this.  Again, I want to be careful because this is a political debate, and it — it’s related to a midterm, an election.  So I — this is — I’m not going to comment on that. 

Okay, I’ll go to the back.  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Yeah, thanks, Karine.  So the FTC has — so far has found no signs of wrongdoing for price gouging within oil companies.  So I’m wondering why the President still continues that narrative.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Because we’re seeing it from the chart.  And oil companies were able to do it before, as I just stated to Peter.  We’re seeing a — a 60-cent gap between where — where their profit are and what — what people are paying at the pump.  And so, they can bring it down.  They’ve done it before. 

And so the President wants to make sure that — that the profits that oil companies are making is also being — you know, their profits is — is being afforded and given to — to the American people.

Q    So we’ve heard you say that the President believes there’s not going to be a recession or could not — might not happen.  But a growing number of business folks who are outside this building — Jeff Bezos, yesterday, joining Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs’s CEO — why are they wrong then?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President has said this, and I’m going to say this here as well: What he wants the American people to know is, because of the resilience of the economy and be and because of the — our economic plan, we are in a better place to deal with these global challenges, to deal with global inflation than any other, you know, global major company — I’m sorry — major country in the world. 

And we are in a stronger position to navigate through these global challenges.  We see jobs — jobs are — jobs are up.  We created 10 million jobs.  We — we see — we see that, you know, unemployment rate is at the lowest that we’ve ever had — or had in a while, in historic lows. 

And because of those pieces of data that I just laid out, we think we are in a stronger place than we have been, that we have seen when you — when we talk about a recession, what leads to a recession. 

And so, look, again, the President was very clear: He doesn’t anticipate there being a recession because of those data points that I just laid out.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  A couple of summit questions, and then one on Iran, if I may.  The first one is on the G20.  Can you speak about what the President is trying to do in terms of rallying support for Ukraine in that forum? 

And on that note, can you confirm reporting that the White House is trying to ensure that President Biden does not bump into President Putin should he attend the summit?  We still don’t know whether he’s attending the summit or not.  That’s my first question on the summit.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Those reports are not correct.  They’re not true.

Q    Okay.  And what about what he intends to do in terms of rallying support for Ukraine at the G20?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President as — he rallied sup- — he has been rallying support for Ukraine these past several months, as you have seen.  He was on — he was on the phone with G7 and also President Zelenskyy last week — again, rallying support. 

I don’t have anything specific to share about the G20 and what that could or might look like, so I won’t get ahead of our plans.

Q    And then, on the APEC Summit, can you confirm: Local media reporting that Vice President Harris will be attending the APEC Summit instead of President Biden.  And respond to criticism that the forum is not considered important enough, especially because the President would already be in the region, and also concern that President Xi Jinping might dominate the forum?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we don’t have any travel announcement to announce at this time.

Look, we are, of course, consider the forum important.  That is why the United States will be the host of the APEC in 2023.  So clearly, that is important to the President; that is important to us.  It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration to serve as a strong, reliable partner to APEC economies and identify common ways to replenish — to unleash economic opportunity, prosperity, and growth for us all.

So again, this is important to the President, but I don’t have anything to announce as far as any travel.

Q    Thank you.  And then, one last one on Iran. Is the administration aware that Iran has sent military personnel to Crimea to train Russian military personnel on Iranian drones?

And on that note, can you also enlighten us or share anything on the discussion of Iranian arms transfer to Russia that’s being raised by the U.S. and allies at the U.N. Security Council?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, on those reports, I don’t have anything here to share or confirm. 

Look, we’ve said for months that Russia had plans to — to turn — to turn to Iran, and that is what we’re seeing for support.  And so, it’s another sign of how brutal Putin is willing to be and how isolated he is, along with Iran.

The President spoke to this.  One of your colleagues asked him a question about the martial law and he talked about the brutality that Russia is trying to — is trying to, you know, put onto Ukrainian — the Ukrainians.

And what we’re continuing to see is how bravely the Ukrainians are fighting — are fighting for their freedom and fighting against the Russian’s aggresi- — aggression.  But it’s not going to change the course of the war.  We’re going to continue to support Ukraine and continue to provide them with security assistance, as long as it takes because we understand how important it is for them to fight for their sovereignty, how important it is for them to fight for their democracy.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The U.S. Census Bureau said recently that adults in roughly one-third of households with infants and children that use formula had trouble finding it.  Obviously, the administration has taken a number of steps over the last several months to try to address the shortage.  Why is the shortage still ongoing after so much time, and what can be done?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President and his administration has — has taken actions, as you know, through the last several months to make sure that we have progress to address this current — this issue — this issue that is currently happening right now, and also to avoid any future issues.

As you know, we’ve ramped up the domestic production, which — including invoking the Domestic Production Act, which has allowed companies to increase production.  And as a result, U.S.  infant formula production year-to-date has outpaced the 2020 level. 

So, we have seen some improvement. We understand that there’s more work to be done.  And — and so we’re going to continue to work on that as well.

Q    Thanks.  A couple questions on gas prices.  The first is: When the President announced his initial round of actions back in March he said that that directly would contribute to a 10 to 35 cents per gallon decrease in gas prices.  Can you give the same or similar quantification here?  And if not, what’s the difference?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’m not going to give a quantification here at this time.

Look, what — the difference now is — is that — and the reason that the President made this announcement is Russia continues its aggression.  It’s continuing its war.  And so, the President took extra action to deal with gas prices.  Even though that they have been going down, they’re still too high.

And so, the President, again, is going to continue to keep his promise to the American people to lower costs at the pump, and not just that — lower healthcare costs, lower energy costs.

We talked — we’ve talked about the Inflation Reduction Act and what it’s going to deliver and do for the American people.

And so, look, this is something that the President takes very seriously when we talk about inflation, when we talk about costs.  He has made this a priority when we talk about his economic policy.  And so, that’s what you heard from the President today.

Q    And secondly, you know, earnings seasons is coming up. You’re going to have a lot of these companies reporting their earnings.  Most likely, you know, potentially announcing more buybacks.  If that happens, again, another quarter, what’s the consequence here?  I mean, what more can the White House do here to prevent oil companies from just continuing to, you know, funnel profits to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we’re going to continue to have those conversations.  As I mentioned, Department of Energy has been in touch with oil companies on a — on a pretty regular basis — that they’ve had that open door of communication.  So, that will continue.  And you’re going to continue to hear from — from the President.

I don’t want to get ahead of what might or might not happen — we have seen the oil companies actually act before, very early on, to bring their prices down to make sure that, you know, that the American — the American people are paying what they should be paying at the — at the pump — right? — to make sure that the American people are not — are — are being given a little bit more of a breathing room.

And so, the President’s going to continue to speak out and we’re going to continue to do the work.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, everybody.

3:00 P.M. EDT

Source: White House