tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN February 23, 2021 1:10pm-2:00pm EST
press secretary. she addressed the vaccine. president biden's conversations with foreign leaders. and our things facing the administration. jen: ok. i have a few updates for all of you at the top. today, president biden will meet with canadian prime minister justin trudeau. his first phone call was to the prime minister and it's a fitting testament that this is his first bilateral meeting, the president will highlight the strong and deep partnership between the united states and canada as neighbors, friends, and nato allies. both leaders will review joint efforts in areas of mutual interest. and establish a road map for an ambitious and whole of government approach on issues such as recovery from covid-19, a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, tackling the
climate crisis, advancing diversity and inclusion, bolstering security and defense, and strengthening global alliances. vice president harris, along with the secretaries of state, defense, treasury, transportation, and homeland security and the special presidential envoy for climate will also be participating in the bilateral session with their canadian counterparts. today, the president will also meet virtually with a group of black essential workers to thank them for their critical roles during the pandemic and discuss how to encourage vaccinations. the covid-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis are devastating black communities. while black communities comprise 13% of the u.s. population, they represent merely 24% of age adjusted deaths from covid-19. the president also looks forward to discussing how his american rescue plan will deliver immediate relief to the participants, their communities, and the american people. by keeping frontline workers on the job with $350 billion in emergency funding for state and
local governments, providing $1,400 per person checks to working families, and investing $160 billion in supplies, testing, vaccinations, and public health workforce to defeat the virus. today, on his weekly governors' call with america's governors, our covid coordinator announced the fifth consecutive week of supply increases. states will now receive 14.5 million doses this week, up from 8.6 million doses per week when the president took office. that's an increase in vaccine allocations of nearly 70% during the biden-harris administration. the retail pharmacy program has also performed well. despite the winter storm. we announced last week an increase of one million to two million doses. our covid coordinate osh conveyed to the governors we should increase that allocation by 100,000 doses this week. thanks to the president's efforts, we are also on track to have enough vaccines for 300
million americans by the end of july. we continue to encourage americans to mask up, respect social distancing and abide by the public health guidelines. one more update from here -- actually, sorry, two more updates on the winter storm. yesterday, fema announced that texas homeowners and renters in 31 additional counties who suffered damage from the winter storm may now apply for individual disaster assistance. the 31 additional counties join the 77 counties previously approved for individual disaster assistance. in texas, louisiana, and oklahoma, sheltering operations continue to decrease, power and transportation are back to normal, and water restoration continues. however, 9.8 million people are affected by water system outages and remain under boil water notices. over nine million leerts of water have been delivered or on route. there are 200 locally managed water distribution sites.
finally, the -- i have one travel announcement which you all have been asking about. we, of course, remain in close touch with close state and local officials. the president and the first lady will travel to houston. the president will meet with local leaders to discuss the winter storm, relief efforts, recovery, and incredible resilience shown by the people of houston and texas. while in texas, the president will also visit a covid health center where vaccines are being distributed. clearly, there are still more details of the trip coming together. and as we have those, we will make those available to all of you. go ahead. reporter: thanks, jen. quick question. homes are up 10% over the past year. you've seen inventory of homes at record lows. first-time buyers are -- what is this administration doing on housing affordability?
what do you do? jen: well, the president is committed to ensuring homeownership is something that more americans can participate in. he knows owning a home is a key measure of building generational wealth. and he's already taken steps through executive actions to help provide some security to americans struggling to keep their homes in the midst of this crisis by extending foreclosure and forebarans moratorium. the american rescue plan would also provide $10 billion for the homeowners assistance fund to help struggling homeowners keep up. as part of the broader build back agenda, which you are eager to hear about, one of the tenets he's of course interested looking in at increasing the supply of affordable housing, making it easier for people to buy homes. reporter: and then you have been asked repeatedly, how properly memorialized -- has this administration given more thoughts in terms of how to
honor the deaths? jen: well, first, i don't know. i watched last night and i'm pretty -- i've seen a lot of presidential events and i found myself getting choked up when i watched the events happening on the television screen in my house last night. and the president and vice president will continue to look for ways to memorialize the lives that have been lost and remember the families. but our view here is that the best memorial we could offer to those who have lost their lives to covid is to end this pandemic. and reduce the numbers. the number of others who would otherwise perish and the number of families who will be impacted. that's their focus now. when we have this crisis behind us, we are at a war, as we said many times, we'll mark this horrible loss to life. we are open to that. at this time our focus is ending the pandemic and saving more lives. go ahead. reporter: thank you. does the white house have a plan b if -- could you give us a sense what that looks like?
jen: well, the white house is focused, the president's focus is working toward the confirmation of tandem to be the o.m.b. director. that's our focus. reporter: gene or -- jen: there's one candidate. i can give you a brief update, though, on the outreach that's happened. i know there's been a couple of questions along those lines. she's had 44 meetings with senators of both parents. she has spoken with 15 senators. some of those were repeats with those she had spoken recently. as i noted yesterday, she's committed to rolling up her sleeves, having those conversations, answering questions as they come up, reiterating her commitment to working with people across the aisle. and also sharing some of her own experience working with people of different viewpoints. reporter: quickly, on the supreme court decision to allow
president trump's tax returns to be shared with new york prosecutors, i wonder if you have reaction. jen: sure. there have been reporting through many sources of multiple ongoing investigations so we're not going to comment on the specific ruling. the president did make clear on the campaign trail that the american people expect and deserve transparency from their president. that's why he released over two decades of his own tax returns. go ahead. reporter: canada meeting, i just wanted to see if you could say a little bit more what biden's plan to bring up with trudeau and also what his view of this decision by canada recently to make facebook pay for news content? jen: well, the president's focus of the meeting will be to continue to discuss ways for them to work together on multiple levels, on the crises that are facing both countries, whether it's covid-19 or getting our economy back.
there's obviously a long bilateral relationship and an important one. hence, the first bilateral meeting. i am not sure -- i don't have anything on that particular -- i don't have any reaction in particular on can da's announcement -- canada's announcement. i can talk to our team. go ahead. reporter: on the outreach to senators by neera tanden, do you know if that includes senators manchin, collins, portman who said they have not heard from her? jen: it includes a number of republicans. obviously, republicans or any members, i should say, can -- are free to share whether they communicated with her or other nominees or not. but we're not going to read out specific names from here. reporter: has the president made any calls for senators? jen: he's in touch with a members of congress ranging from the american rescue plan.
i don't have any calls. i don't have any more calls to read out. reporter: on keystone-x.l., obviously the canadian prime minister feels differently about this than the president does. administration officials say this decision, which was a day one decision, essentially used the obama administration's assessment as the reason to go back, i believe is what they said. there was no other reason. there is an economic effect, though. 11,000 people had jobs connected to this in the united states, at least. what does the white house say to those people, to the canadian workers who are now going to be out of a job if this pipeline is indeed shut down? jen: it was the obama-biden administration when the assessment was done. the president was consistent through the campaign and before then about his views, that it should be revoked. and he had conversations, of course, with the prime minister about it. the prime minister raised his
concerns directly with the president. has previously. he's of course welcome to today. but the president made clear this is a commitment he's made in the past. that it's not in the interest of the united states. and that we want to try to address our climate crisis while also creating good-paying union jobs. and he has a plan. he has talked about his plan, i should say, on the campaign trail, to create millions of clean energy jobs and he's eager to continue to work with the policy team and outside stakeholders and experts on delivering on that in the months ahead. but he believes he can do both. he has been consistent about his opposition to the keystone pipeline. reporter: and the senate wants the inquiry on the capitol assault on january 6. you know that the house is going back and forth on the composition of a potential commission. that will look into this further. there are proposals that includes the president appointing some of those positions to the commission.
does the white house have any opinion on that, are they weighing in the a -- with lawmakers? jen: it's up to them to make that determination. we've been in touch with them about a range of options, but i don't think there's anything final at this point. so i don't have anything more to read out on that particular view on which proposal. reporter: is there concern there could be overlap or conflict whatever the justice department is doing in terms of investigations? and prosecuting some of these people? jen: sure. i certainly would venture to avoid that. of course, any investigation, any process of moving forward toward a prosecution would be done independently by the justice department. not a commitment that the president is firm on. reporter: and conversations with lawmakers, have there been any conversations addressed to congress? you were asked about this recently. if not in person, would he be willing to do it virtually?
jen: clearly. he's been willing to hold events virtually. we're open to range of formats. i'm not opened on a timing of a joint address. reporter: a report that's out that the biden administration will sanction russia and other malign acts. can you confirm the sanctions are coming down? jen: first, we announced our ongoing review and the president spoke about it in his conversation with president putin just a few weeks ago. we have asked the intelligence community to do further work to sharpen the attributation that the administration made about how the hack occurred, the extent of the damages and the scope and scale of the intrusion is and we're still in the process of working through that now. it will be weeks, not months, before we respond. but i'm not going to get ahead of the conclusion of that process. reporter: any more specific on
timeline as far as by the end of this month or -- jen: the end of this month is a couple days away. that would be a very short timeline. i was thinking, is it march yet? weeks, not months, is the best definition i can give for you. of course, we want to focus giving our team the time they need to take additional steps, to fine tune the attributation and we deserve the -- a -- attribution. reporter: and on the tanden, senator murkowski said there was no conversation from the white house. did she reach out to you? jen: well, again, you kno -- neera tanden is working the phones. we won't provide a day-day-day -- day-by-day
conversation. they can say what communication they had. reporter: you said the other day, which is on the buy america provision. you said there are essentially no changes on the committees that raised concerns whether they could have waivers like the obama administration. when you said you didn't anticipate any changes to that policy, did you mean to suggest that the companies will not be able to obtain waivers under this policy? jen: no. i appreciate that. i appreciate the ask for clarification, i should say. of course, the president signed and made -- signed a made in america executive order in the first week, i believe, of the administration, and we're still evaluating the application of that and how it will apply. i don't expect him to make any commitments during the meeting today. reporter: ok. one more thing. usually during these foreign leader visits, obviously, as you know, there is a two in two element. what will we --
jen: i don't expect that to be part of the program today. i noted a smaller meeting, an expanded meeting and some comments at the end. that's the program at this point in time. reporter: would you commit for further foreign leaders? -- further foreign leaders? jen: i can assure there will be one and one and two and two and opportunities for questions even when foreign leaders are not visiting. reporter: garland was asked if illegal entry at the border should be a crime, he said i have not thought about that. should illegal entry at the border remain a crime moving forward? jen: i think he was asking the future attorney general, he's looking to be confirmed, and if he wants to make considerations independently he can certainly do that. the president has spoken to this. we believe in abiding by our laws. as you know, there are courses of process under way, the
department of homeland security, to re -- to take a fresh look at prioritization and who is detained and who is sent back home. so that is something happening from the department of homeland security. but, again, if he's going to lead an independent justice department and it's his prerogative to take a look at any policies under that purview. reporter: why is the biden administration reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in texas? jen: well, first, the policy of this administration -- as you all but just for others -- is not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at the border. and the process, how it works, is that customs and border control continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the h.h.s. of refugee resettlement. that can take a couple of days. i just want to get this context so you understand the process. but because of covid-19 protocols, the -- like social
distancing requirements, the capacity existing, office of resettlement has been significantly reduced. you can't have a child in every bed. there needs to be spacing. we abide by the spacing to protect the kids who are living in those facilities for a short period of time. and to ensure the health and safety of these kids, h.h.s. took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these children can be provided the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors. so it's a temporary reopening during covid-19. our intention is very much to close it. but we want to ensure we can follow covid protocols as we -- as unaccompanied minors come into the united states. reporter: but the same facility that was opened for months in the trump administration, says when joe biden said, under trump, there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages. and kamala harris said basically, babies in cages is a human rights abuse being
committed by the united states government. so how is this any different than that? jen: we very much feel that way. these are facilities -- let me be clear here. one, there is a pandemic going on. i'm sure you're not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not covid safe, are you? reporter: i am suggesting that kamala harris said that this facility, putting people in this facility was a human rights abuse committed by the united states government and joe biden said, under trump, there have been horrifying scenes of border -- at the border of kids being kept in cages. now it's not under trump. it's under biden. jen: kids being kept in cages, this is a facility that was opened that's going to follow the same standards as other h.h.s. facilities. it is not a replication. certainly not. that is never our intention of replication the immigration policies of the past administration. but we are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border.
that would be inhumane. that is not what we are going to do here as an administration. we need to find places that are safe, under covid protocols for kids to be, where they can have access to education, health and mental services, consistent with their best interests. our goal is for them to then be transferred to families or sponsors. so this is our effort to ensure that kids are treated -- are not in close proximity and that we are abiding by the health and safety standards that the government has been set out. go ahead. reporter: quickly on climate. last week the climate envoy, john kerry, said there are nine years left to save the world from the climate change. does president biden share that assessment, nine years? jen: i don't have a new timeline to give you from here. i can confirm for you, though, the president agrees with former secretary kerry that it's a crisis. that time is of the essence. we need to act quickly and that's why climate is a key part of his agenda. go ahead. reporter: well, follow-up on
immigration. -- sorry. go ahead, caitlyn. picking up on h.h.s. facility versus customs and border protection facility. there is a law that says the kids needs to get out of that facility for three days. jen: yes. reporter: they released 179 kids had spent more than three days in the facilities in january, despiting the law dictating all minors should get out within three days. the attorney general is working with the kids saying it's not much better than what was going on before. in regards to the h.h.s. -- the use of the h.h.s. facilities, it's a step backwards. the criticism that was made by candidates biden and harris, the concern with the attorneys who work and represent these children saying, this is not different than what the trump administration was doing. jen: well, let me first say that you're right. that kids -- there's about a 72-hour time frame where kids
should be transferred from c.b.p. facilities to h.h.s. sponsored facilities. and that is certainly our objective. in terms of the specific kids that you mentioned, i would send you to d.h.s. to give you more information on that. but that is not -- that is not what we are hoping to achieve. we want these kids to be in facilities where they are getting access to health and medical assistance, to education. as you know, there are a number who have come into the country and we're trying to manage that as well and ensure that we are able to transfer them as quickly as possible. not just to stay in h.h.s. facilities either. to get them into families and sponsored homes. that is our human and moral objective from this administration. but i would send you to d.h.s. for any specifics on those kids. it's a fair question. reporter: i asked you a few weeks ago when you guys outlined the immigration in the executive order. what's the message to those in central america who are thinking of making this trip?
you gave an answer then -- i guess i ask you, is the administration -- is the u.s. government doing enough to make clear to that part of the world, it's not worth making this kind of a trip? jen: well, we can always do more. the challenge here, as you know, people are fleeing prosecution. they're fleeing very difficult economic circumstances and hardship. and there hasn't been enough time to do enough to impact the circumstances in the ground. in a number of these communities. and obviously, as these unaccompanied kids come to the border, it's completely heartbreaking. we're not going to expel these kids. we want to process and get them into facilities as quickly as possible. but certainly we're always looking for ways to do more, to communicate more effectively and clearly with communities in the region about why this is not the time to come. we need more time to put in place a humane and moral immigration system. reporter: parents should not be sending their kids north? jen: absolutely not.
this is not the time to come. we have not had the time to put in place an immigration system, an immigration policy. we don't have the processing we need at the border. obviously, we're continuing to struggle with facilities to ensure we're abiding by covid protocols so this is definitely not the time to come. go ahead. reporter: ok. tanden, part of the committee is scheduled to vote on her. does the white house expect that she will be president biden's nominee to run the budget office? jen: that's our expectation. neera has rolled up her sleeves. she's getting to work. we're getting to work, and we understand that we need to continue to engage with a range of members from democrats and republicans to continue to do that. she's the president's choice because she's experienced and qualified. we continue to stand there. reporter: what we're seeing this being derailed as how one senator can derail potentially
the president's staff picks or his policy potentially with the minimum wage, maybe not making it in the coronavirus relief bill. is he frustrated by that and how does he handle -- plan to handle that going forward? jen: the president has come into this role with 36 years being in the senate. he knows the power of one individual senator or one individual member. he certainly respects that. we disagree, as we talked a little bit yesterday, with the senators who have come out in opposition to neera tanden. but we will look for ways to work with them on the president's agenda. and that's the experience he takes and the perspective he takes to this office. reporter: senator manchin has proposed -- says he will propose an amendment that would make the minimum wage increase $11, not the $15 that president biden has proposed. will he sign a coronavirus bill that will have a $11 minimum wage in there? jen: the president proposed $15
because he feels that's best for the american workers working hard trying to make ends meet and that's why that number was in his package. it hasn't even passed the house yet. we expect that this weekend. they'll look forward proposals and ideas and we'll see where that process lands. but he pros posed the $15 -- proposed the $15 increase for a reason and he stands by it. reporter: he said he would be open to compromise so is $11 something you will be willing to compromise with manchin on? jen: there is a process that works its way through the senate. we don't know where it will end up when it works its way through the bird bath. i will keep using that phrase. we expect that to happen within the next couple of days and we'll go from there. reporter: and the meeting with prime minister trudeau. canada wants to get vaccines from the u.s. from the michigan plant. the first 100 million doses will go to the u.s. and they expect
that, according to the advisors, by the end of june. should canada not expect to get vaccines from the u.s. until at least this summer, until at least june? jen: well, the president's first priority is ensuring every american is vaccinated. our focus right now is getting shots in arms at home. he will, of course, he looks forward to engaging with the prime minister, as you have already discussed. there are multiple ways we can work together on a covid response. all options are on the table. down the road. but i don't have anything to update you on about pfizer providing vaccinations other than we remain committed to getting americans vaccinated. reporter: so you don't expect to give prime minister trudeau to expect vaccines from the u.s. into canada? jen: no. go ahead. reporter: two questions, if i might. first of all, 3/4 or so of republicans apparently believe
the election was stolen. this is what the president called the big lie. obviously that's being investigated -- it's a serious issue. how does the president feel about former president trump going this weekend who had a huge audience, a platform, does the president think that's a problem, a threat, in his view? jen: well, the president's view is we spent a whole lot of time -- not we, but in this briefing room talking about president trump over the last few years. for good reason, he was president. and his view is we'll spend the time focusing on the american people and our objective to help them and our commitment to helping them. so i wouldn't say he's thought a lot about the president -- former president's visit to, you know -- i will say performance -- at cpac. reporter: the former strategy -- former president trump isn't
just sitting -- going to sit on his hands. he has his message to get out. the point of his message, according to biden, is literally dangerous. so does he have a problem with such a high-profile person giving out what he thinks is a dangerous message? jen: well, we haven't seen the former president speak at cpac. obviously, president biden has spoken to his concerns about the rhetoric of the former president. how he was unfit for office. that's why he ran against him and why he defeated him. but we're not going to spend too much time here focused on or talking about president trump. reporter: afghanistan -- given the concerns about the timeline of this withdrawal, is the president worried in the longer term, bigger picture, is he worried the taliban will take over afghanistan? once the u.s. pulls out? jen: well, obviously, there's a timeline for a decision on the next steps here. i don't have any update on that. once that's made, we can certainly have that
conversation. reporter: ok. what about the taliban ruling afghanistan? jen: i wouldn't say he would be ok with that. there is a ongoing process considering the steps in afghanistan. i won't get ahead of that. go ahead. reporter: first, we're approaching tax season. by some estimates, the unemployment assistance, states have paid out more than half of it americans have not withheld taxes on. is the administration concerned there may be millions of americans who are going to pay such a surprise tax bill, some of whom are unemployed? has the administration considered changing how the i.r.s. looks at the pandemic related unemployment assistance, treating it as a disaster aid? jen: that's an interesting question. i will send you to the --
reporter: does the administration have a response to the raid in georgia where the top opposition leader was arrested by government forces yesterday? is there consideration of sanctions or pressure on the government of country of georgia? jen: i certainly saw the reports this morning. i didn't have a chance to talk to our national security team. we'll venture to get you answers to that after the briefing today. go ahead. reporter: thanks. a few points. i want to take up what sebastian was talking about former president trump. it sound like he planned to ignore him and decry his message of -- but do you plan or does the white house plan to engage him in any way particularly if -- on the policies? jen: in what way engage with him? reporter: push back. again, as you said, you don't know what former president trump will say at cpac. he'll talk about the sitting president and this administration. do you plan to engage with him
on those things or -- jen: we'll have to watch and see. our overarching objective is to keep the focus on not any one individual, whether it's the current president or former president but on the american people. and what we're doing to help bring them relief, to get the pandemic under control. and certainly there's been more than enough time spent on former president trump. and so if there's not a reason to do it, we're probably not going to be adding more commentary on it. reporter: ok. on the topic of immigration. the biden administration is reopening detention center in florida, formerly known as the homestead detention facility. the administration plans to home teens in that facility. is that a temporary emergency center? jen: i'd have to talk to the department of homeland security about that. reporter: it was privately run before which is part of the
question here. whether or not the biden administration plans to have a privately managed again given the -- [indiscernible] jen: i know you asked this question before. i'd happy connect you someone to the department of homeland security. they oversee those facilities. they're best prepared to answer any questions. that's ok. reporter: there are reports that president biden is considering former florida senator bill nelson to be his nasa administrator. are those reports accurate? is he under consideration? when we will expect an announcement? jen: i don't have any personnel announcements or an expectation on a nasa administrator or list of potential people. but that's an interesting one. go ahead. reporter: thanks, jen. couple questions. one for another colleague who couldn't be here today. wanted to start with one more on neera tanden nomination.
republicans and perhaps democrats, the second tweet is the reason to oppose her nomination and they have not held certain men to the same standard? jen: well, the president was proud to nominate a historic set of nominees who not only were many of them were barrier breaking, including neera tanden but definitely qualified and experienced. he certainly believed that members of the senate are going to consider them and will continue to consider them with the best of intention. so from here, we're going to keep our eyes focused on outreach to democrats and republicans and working toward getting neera tanden confirmed so we can get the budget process moving. reporter: and postmaster general dejoy and his absence before the house oversight committee tomorrow and proposed changes
he's put forth that some people are concerned will slow down mail further, raise -- the question is, is there any indication when president biden will appoint members to the three vakansies to the -- vacancies to the board of governors to the postal facility? jen: the president will appoint -- to announce an appointment of additional members of the board of governors. as you're familiar, others may not be. it's really up to the board of governors to determine the future leadership of the postal service and we certainly recognize filling those vacancies is an important step in that process. so it's a priority. i don't have a timeline for you when this will be announced. go ahead. reporter: [indiscernible] is a road map for renewing u.s.-canada relationships -- the white house -- how does the
relationship need mending? jen: how did it need mending? well, i think that the objective for the president is to look forward and to take, you know, continue to build the relationship with prime minister trudeau. obviously whom he knew previously, had engaged previously when he was vice president. and to work together on addressing the many of the shared crises we're facing, from economic downturn to covid-19 to issues in the global community and i don't know they're going to provide a lot of -- spend a lot of time analyzing the past. they'll look to the future. reporter: the relationship was in bad shape -- [indiscernible] when he got into the white house? jen: the president views his role in the global community is one who needs to rebuild relationships, rebuild trust with a range of partners, including the canadians. that's why this meeting today will be forward-looking and focused on a range of topics. reporter: [indiscernible]
jen: we'll leave that to the prime minister to speak to. we're eager to continue building the relationships moving forward. reporter: another question, jen, thank you. another question, we're talking a lot about the relationship and restarting the north american economy. would the reopening of the border be discussed? because this is a major point, like stopping, blocking [indiscernible] jen: the canadian border? reporter: yes, the u.s.-canadian border being closed for a year now. will that be discussed? jen: related to covid-19 or related to -- reporter: in the road map, the discussion of restarting the north american economy, we have the covid crisis at the moment, but the closing of the border and further possibility improving the economies, the
north american economy at large, do you think they'll be discussing the reopening of the border faster? jen: i'm sure there will be a range of topics discussed and obviously they'll both bring up issues. i can only speak about what president biden will be discussing. we'll have a read-out after the meeting. go ahead. reporter: i have a question about homeownership. question from the top, the president on the campaign trail had a provision in there with a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit. can you expect the president to push for that? not the american rescue plan but the recovery plan that will come shortly afterwards? jen: well, our focus is getting the american rescue plan to pass. it will be passed this weekend. there will be a robust discussion about members' views on different components of it. i don't expect we'll preview or make -- even make necessarily
final decisions on what comes after. but as you noted, there are a number of components of the build back better agenda that the president talked on the campaign trail. obviously, homeownership, caregiving, infrastructure, strengthening access to affordable health care, those are all components that are under discussion. the order, the size, the timeline, that's what has not been determined at this point. reporter: now, on covid, jake sullivan expressing concerns about the world health organization's latest assessment. specifically, since china has really not handed over this data literally for months. when do you expect some traction on a u.s.-led assessment that he's suggesting or perhaps some detail how we can force the world community to force china to open up the -- jen: you're right, one of the concerns is the lack of data sharing. we have not seen the initial
data or the base of data that the report has been based on. and we have concerns and questions about the process used to reach the final conclusion. what we've been calling for and we'll continue to advocate for is an open, transparent, international organization, led by the -- investigation, led by the world health organization, and certainly getting to the bottom of what happened here, preventing it from happening in the future is a topic of conversation and a range of conversations the president has with the secretary of state, our national security advisor, jake sullivan, has and i expect those will continue. reporter: and the report, former secretary of state mike pompeo -- have both come out and said they believe the coronavirus somehow originated from a research facility in wuhan. do you know if president biden has made a determination on whether or not data -- research
facilities, like wuhan, should be eligible for u.s. funding? they currently are even though they're not slated to receive any money in the near future. jen: again, we support a robust international investigation. we also have taken steps under the state department to ensure we have full staffing in our beijing -- our beijing embassy to be sure we have eyes and ears on the ground. as you noted, there's no funding anticipated or planned to go to that facility at this point in time. so i don't have any additional updates. reporter: last one. sorry. on coronavirus. johnson & johnson c.e.o. suggested that people will need a yearly coronavirus vaccine booster. do you know if dr. fauci or others agreed with that assessment? if that's the case, would the government shift the purposing responsibility to american citizens after this first round this summer or is there a timeline on that? jen: well, the f.d.a. has talked
about research and work they're doing on boosters. some of that comes -- is related to variants and addressing variants and needs they may have in the future. but in terms of what is next, i think we're focused now on first getting 300 million americans vaccinated. and then any guidelines on whether a booster will be needed, the timeline of it, we'll defer to health and medical experts. reporter: thank you for taking so many questions. i'd like to quickly take out three points. yesterday, the white house confirmed that president biden had full visibility on potential drone strikes overseas. this sounds like a potential -- it sounds like the obama era -- i was hoping you could tell us what president biden sees as his guiding principles on deciding whether to allow a strike or not. jen: i don't think i have anything more for you at the podium. reporter: and i would like to
confirm that president biden will intend to do all four nominees and -- jen: that he intends to nominate? reporter: for each of the four u.s. attorney slots in new york. jen: i don't have anything for you on upcoming personnel appointments. there was an announcement about u.s. attorneys and that went through a normal process. but i can certainly talk to our personnel team and see if there's more on that front. reporter: another one -- one of the focus today on the hill is the capitol riots. there has been a special need for surveillance, domestic threats. after 9/11, of course, the government reinterpreted the patriot act, allowing the collection of phone records. is the biden administration committed to not secretly reinterpreting laws to expand domestic surveillance? jen: i think the president has spoken to this in the past, including when he was vice
president. our focus right now is on, of course, supporting the hearings that are happening on the hill and we'll remain engaged with members of congress how we can work together to address gaps, to prevent it from happening in the future. we also have a process that's under way and review from our national security team on domestic violent extremism. when that process is concluded, i'm sure there will be recommendations made on policies that should be put into place. reporter: without sacrificing transparency, there will be transparency on additional surveillance, domestic threats that will not be secretly interpreted? jen: i think that's fair to say. go ahead in the back. reporter: thank you so much. i have a couple of questions. the first is -- over the last few months, we've seen reports that say that people outside of black and hispanic and vulnerable communities have been able to access the vaccines in those communities. in california, there are wealthy residents that have access codes. in new york we're seeing that happening. what is the white house plan for stopping this and why is it
still happening, at least over two months? jen: you're right. i've seen those reports as well. i think one of the reports i saw was around some of the mass vaccination sites in oakland and the concerns about whether people in the community were actually getting access to the vaccines as planned. i don't have specific data and numbers. i can certainly talk to the covid team or you can of course ask them during their one of three briefings about the actual data beyond it beyond the antidotal stories which alone are certainly concerning. one of the pieces the president has been talking about and our team has been focused on is the fact that if you don't have internet access, right, if you don't have, you know, access to ways to easily sign up to get your vaccine, we need to continue to look for ways to get deep into communities. that's one of the reasons that the president has been so supportive of community health centers that are embedded in communities, know the people in the communities, can make phone calls and do outreach to people
they know will need the vaccine. but we also need to continue to find ways to reach people who don't have internet access, who may not have the -- you know, the ability to sign up in a way that others are and address some of those discrepancies. it continues to be a big focus. as you know, we have an entire task force focusing on addressing inequities in how beaddress covid and they're looking for ways to creatively do that and address problems as we see. reporter: on that point, there is a team that's working specifically on stopping wealthy residents or -- jen: i'm conveying, as you know, there is an equity task force that's part of the covid team like by dr. nunez smith. and obviously reports that individuals who are not from the community, intended to, you know, be the primary recipients of the vaccines, that is
certainly something they would focus on and work on issues to address. i would encourage you to ask them at the next covid briefing. reporter: you stopped short saying president biden would sign h.r. 40, the bill that studies reparations. after the hearing, is there any update on that, given that the president said he would have a study on reparations? jen: i don't think anything has changed from what i conveyed a couple days ago. i said he would support a study and he certainly would. we'll take a look if there's legislation that's passed by congress. reporter: at the joint hearing, on the capitol, there was an officer, captain mendoza, that said she has accountable burns on her face and hasn't fully healed from that attack. i'm wondering if the white house will consider any effort or --
help to offer those recovering from their injuries? jen: yeah, that's certainly we would have a discussion with members of congress on. i know they have also expressed gratitude, as did the president, for the work of the members of the capitol police and the sacrifices, of course, some made, but also those who have been injured in the events of january 6. we're certainly open to having that discussion. reporter: one more. sexual assault. the pentagon says this week they'll announce the naming of a commission on sexual assault in the military. senator gillibrand and others have written to the president saying that this seems to be -- needs to be an independent commission that's outside of the d.o.d. i'm wondering if the president is planning on appointing anyone to that commission, briefed on this issue, and thought of being set up outside the defense department? jen: it's an issue he talked about, engaged with policy experts internally on, and
including with secretary austin. i know during the transition and probably since then. but i don't have anything more for you on the format of that. i think the -- hence why they discussed the issue. thanks, everyone. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you're watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. c-span was created by america's cable television companies in 1979. today, we're brought to you by these television companies who provide c-span to viewers as a public service. >> and live here on c-span we take you to the u.s. house meeting now to