tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC February 1, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PST
good day, i'm andrea mitchell in washington. president biden's promise of unity is getting its first big test today. this afternoon the president invited ten republican senators to the white house, including mitt romney, susan collins and rob portman, to explain their bare bones covid proposal, a fraction of the president's $1.9 trillion package. will he compromise for a bipartisan bill or try to get his full plan through congress with the democrats alone? the covid response team was just
briefed on new variants as the south african mutation appeared now in baltimore. leaving many health experts to fear the worst spite is yet to come. >> the fact is the surge that is likely to occur with this new variant from england is going to happen in the next 6 to 14 weeks. the when we see that happen, which my 45 years in the trenches tell us we will, we will see something like we've not seen yet in this country. >> and dr. osterholm is talking about the uk variant. now we've got the south african variant as well, which is even more dangerous. the already-challenged vaccine rollout now hitting another roadblock, snow. thousands of appointments are canceled for vaccinations because of the massive storm slamming the northeast. this hour i will have a lot more of the new secretary of state's first interview since being sworn in last week. tony blinken delivering a message for allies and the
workforce with complete coverage. but first joining me now, nbc geoff bennett, capitol hill correspondent kasie hunt, and deputy of chief of staff of president biden, as lanhee chen and mitt romney. these optics are good for the president, showing how he's reaching out for governments as they reach out for him. but he's also showing pressure from his own party as they meet? >> that's right, andrea. and i can tell you president biden is keen to prove his capacity to be able to make a divided and partisan washington work. but he risks fracturing support among democrats on capitol hill and those democrats who support him if he's seen as watering down or downsizing his covid proposal in order to pick up support from senate republicans. i can also tell you that they're top line $600 bm price tag is a
nonstarter. and there's a question as to whether or not those group of ten republicans you see there on the screen are really operating in good faith when they propose that number. think of it this way, if you're going to go buy a car let's say that cost $30,000 and you offer $9,500 for it, you would be laughed off the lot. that's not how negotiations operate in good faith. the biden team has already laid down a couple markers. they said they're not going to split up the bill to potentially pay for vaccine distribution in one proposal and handle everything else in another proposal. they've also said the risks, the real risk is in not doing enough, not in doing too much. they also said the $1.9 trillion number does not exist in a vacuum, it's not arbitrary. they looked at the scale and severity of the need, they proposed the solution and they priced it all out. if there's any wiggle room here, it might be in those proposed direct payments to americans. president biden wants $1,400
additional to go to the qualified americans on top of the $600 they already got, maybe $2,000 total. there might be a way to potentially wave payments for families who make above a certain amount, maybe $150,000. right now the republicans are suggesting capping that at $50,000. that's a nonstarter. so we'll see what happens after this meeting takes place but time is ticking. next week you've got an impeachment hearing. that's going to suck up a lot of time and oxygen, of course. after that, a few weeks after that in march, is when the extended up employment benefits run out. democrats and president biden are trying to get some points on the board this week, andrea. >> and kasie, the chuck schumer sort of go it alone, democrats can do it on their own with 51 votes with the vice president, that presumes all democrats are on board. then you have joe manchin from west virginia already out of sorts because the vice president
did interview in west virginia without checking in on him. can he count on all of the democrats? >> that's an important question, andrea. and i think that's part of why it is so important for the biden administration to demonstrate they're at least trying to push through on their commitment or his campaign promises to work in a bipartisan fashion. i think the white house recognizes that's part of what's necessary here. the incentives are a little different among democrats on capitol hill. there are some on the left for whom even demonstrating an interest in working on talks is perceived as weakness compared the way mitch mcconnell ran the senate. there are certainly people on the left who say look what mitch mcconnell did. we need to conduct ourselves with the same ruthlessness of getting our policy priorities moved forward. but i think they do know elizabeth warren's vote and joe manchin's vote are equally important in a 50/50 senate. obviously the rules of the chamber are such any one person
also has a lot of say here. if they do go forward with this, they demonstrate they cannot find a deal with republicans or it becomes clear or rather i should say the public believes republicans are not acting in good faith, then they open up political options for themselves there. this is not something moving forward with budget reconciliation and using these procedural moves to push something on a party line vote. that's not something mitch mcconnell ever hesitated to do. that's the calculation democrats have to grapple with right now. >> absolutely. jim messina, 12 years ago there's so much history here, 12 years ago president obama was trying to sell a handful of senators on stimulus and health care reform and regrets he didn't go bigger. now biden has ten senators willing to come to the table. how do you navigate all of this, be to say it's not only on party lines but i saw craig melvin interviewing jim justice, the republican governor of west virginia, a job that joe manchin
he used to have and he says go big. a lot of republicans are saying go big, including kevin hassett, former ceo chairman under donald trump. >> that's a good question, andrea. we're all a slave to our own history. in 2009 i helped enact the stimulus act in the white house and we bent over backwards for three republican votes. what history taught us is we didn't pass a big enough bill and we had slower growth coming out of that than needed. so the biden are all there looking at this saying, look, the number one thing we have to do is make sure we have enough in this package. the number two thing is make sure republicans are real and really want to negotiate. i quote mitch mcconnell in 2017 after trump won the white house when he said, look, winners get to make policy and losers go home. now, republicans, they're the minority in all three branches here, and now they're saying
take it or leave it, this is a bipartisan proposal. these are ten republicans who say this is what we can vote for. the question is whether they're going to move and whether they're willing to move. and that's what -- those are the two things that president biden has to decide, how big is absolutely have to have and, two, do i actually have a willing negotiating partner to move this forward? if he doesn't, to kasie's point, we can go right to reconciliation and get this thing done. >> lanhee chen, you know republicans and other lawmakers attending, is this take it or leave it or is this the opening bid? >> no, i don't think it's take it or leave it. i think there's a sense amongst these group of republicans that they are trying to take the president at his word. if the president is interested in sitting down for a bipartisan conversation about solving the nation's problems, this is a great place to start. look, this is going to be a back and forth. i think these republicans, many have a history and background of
working with democrats on legislation. i do think there's an opportunity here. look, if you're president biden, i would think this is the best of both worlds. he can take this opportunity to work with republicans on key issues like funding for covid vaccines and ppe and health care and education, and then he's going to have a second or perhaps third bite of the apple when he uses budget reconciliation once or twice this year to pass the other stuff he knows he can't get republican support for. i don't know why the biden team wouldn't be more forceful in saying, yeah, we're going to work with these republicans and do what we need to do on a bipartisan basis and then come back and, as jim says, use reconciliation to do whatever they need to do. they're going to have that opportunity if they want to do this or something more bold or ambitious, they'll have one, maybe two more bites at the apple. this to me is a no-brainer for the biden administration. work with these republicans, try to put something together, and move forward and be able to claim credit for the bipartisanship that president biden promised on the campaign trail last year.
>> and briefly, kasie, before we go on another subject, the democrats with a privilege resolution about to try to do something kevin mccarthy won't do, which is kick the congresswoman from georgia, marjorie taylor greene, off committees? >> looks like they're going to have to act on this, andrea. we're going to follow it to see exactly how the rules are going to play out but it looks like debbie wasserman schultz, democrat from florida, is pushing through with a privileged resolution to do just that. i think democrats are particularly focused on her seat on the education committee in no small part because of the way she's questioned the events, tragic events that unfolded at sandy hook and parkland. and you see a video of her going after one of the parkland survivors on the street. this is possibly a privileged resolution, which we expect. which means the house would have to take some sort of action,
likely hold a vote on it to try to impose some of these consequences. of course, we should point out we expect the minority leader, kevin mccarthy, to meet with her this week as well. so far no word if they're planning any actions against her, andrea. >> thank you very much, kasie, geoff bennett, jim messina, lanhee chen. and up next, my interview with secretary of state antony blinken. what he has to say about security and restoring security at the state department. and president biden foreign policy canceled because of the snow pounding the east coast. as much as 18 inches of snow expected in new york city in the next 24 hours. while d.c. didn't have much accumulation, some of the mows famous residents enjoyed their snow day. giant panda at the national zoo frolicking and loving it. i wish we were all having so much fun. by the way, that biden speech will be on wednesday.
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in russia vladimir putin's most brutal crackdown yet sunday on massive demonstrations across the country, cities across the country, in moscow, protesters tried to march to jail where opposition leader alexei navalny is being held since his arrest on returning to russia last week. the protest sparked by the charismatic navalny all involved with russians scrutinized by be russia's autocracy. as many as 5,000 people have been arrested. just one of the challenges for the new secretary of state, tony blinken, who sat down with us for his first exclusive interview on a wide range of topics, starting with russia. we see the russians are out protesting against vladimir putin. there have been many arrests, thousands braving these subfreezing temperatures.
alexei navalny's wife was detained, protesting his against arrest and previously his poisoning about russian authorities. the u.s. condemned this and the russians responding saying it was gross interference, suggesting we're behind it. can you respond to that? >> first of all, andrea, we're deeply disturbed by this violent crackdown against people exercising their rights to protest peacefully against their government's rights that are guaranteed to them in the russian constitution. the arrests, violence used by police, is deeply disturbing. and, of course, the arrest of mr. navalny itself, which apparently triggered this, is also profoundly disturbing to us. i think the russian government makes a big mistake if it believes that this is about us. it's not. it's about them. it's about the government. it's about the frustration that the russian people have with
corruption, with ought cracksy and i hope they look outward what they're hearing from their own people. mr. navalny is giving a voice to millions of russians and that's what this is about. >> should the u.s. sanction the backers of vladimir putin as punishment for what has already happened to navalny? >> andrea, we're reviewing that, actually we're reviewing a series of russian actions that are deeply, deeply disturbing. the actions taken including the apparent use of a chemical weapon against him but also interference in our elections, the use of cyber tools and so-called solarwinds attack that russia appears to be responsible for, getting into computer networks, both public and private, and finally, we have the reported bounties on american troops in afghanistan. we're looking into all of these things. all of them are under review and depending on the findings of those reviews, we will take steps to stand up for our
interest and stand against russia aggressive actions. >> those are all things president trump never raised with vladimir putin and president biden raised it in his very first telephone call. >> he did. >> to protesters in russia and the rest of the world and does vladimir putin most importantly know this is not just rhetoric from you and president biden, that there will be real action depending on what the evidence proves? >> andrea, the president could not have been clear in this conversation with vladimir putin. we have to do two things at the same time, advance our interests as we did in agreeing to russia to start the new arms control agreement, which profoundly confirms our he own interest keeping a cap on russia's issues including the right to inspect what they're doing but also stand up for our interests when we're being attacked or abused by russia. i think president biden was very
clear in his conversation with putin. >> you said china is the most significant threat. you've said that in your confirmation hearing against american national interests. would you take steps if there's any action by china against taiwan, do you see a military confrontation possibly in our future with china? >> there's no doubt that china poses the most significant challenge to us of any other country, but it's a complicated one. there are adversarial aspects of the relationship. there are certainly competitive ones and there are still cooperative ones too. but whether we're dealing with any of those aspects of the relationship, we have to be able to approach china from a position of strength, not weakness. and that strength, i think, comes from having strong alliances, something china does not have, actually engaging in the world and showing up in these international institutions because when we pull back, china fills in and they're the ones writing the rules and setting the norms of these institutions. standing up for our values when
china is challenging them including in shenz zing against the uighurs. making sure our military is ready to incur a chinese progression. and many of these are fully in our control. in many ways the challenge posed by china is as much about our self-imposed weaknesses as it is about china's strength. but we can address those weaknesses. we can actually build back better too when it comes to stronger alliances, standing up for our values, investing in our people and make sure the military is properly postured. >> with the economy weighing so many millions of americans, should we be lifting the tariffs imposed on china? >> we will make sure before we act, the first question we ask ourselves, is this advancing the interest of our own people? is it making them more prosperous? is it advancing their security? is it extending their values?
that's the first question we have to ask. when it comes to something like a tariff, is it doing more harm to us than it does the country they're being wielded against? that's the question we're asking. >> president trump and secretary of state pompeo referred to the coronavirus as the china virus, wuhan virus. do you think that china needs to be held accountable for not being open for covid-19 when it first hit? >> there's no doubt especially when covid-19 first hit but even today, china is falling far short of the mark when it comes to providing the information necessary to the international community, making sure experts have access to china. that lack of transparency, that lack of being forthcoming, is a profound problem and it's one that continues. as we're thinking about both dealing with this pandemic but also making sure we're in position to prevent the next one, china has to step up and make sure that it is being
transparent, that it is providing information and sharing information, that it's giving access to american inspectors. the failure to do that is a real problem we have to address. >> should they pay some price for that? >> i think the focus we have to have is getting full understanding and accountability for what happened and there's an investigation that's going on right now but especial making sure we're putting in place measures to prevent a recurrence. >> should the u.s. join britain in opening its doors to refugees fleeing the political repression in hong kong? >> i believe we should. we've seen china act egregiously to undermine the very commitments it made during the handover of hong kong from britain, and we see people who are again in hong kong, standing up for their own rights, the rights they felt were guaranteed to them. if they're the victims of
repression from chinese authorities, we should give them some sort of haven. >> adversaries around the world are using the attack against the capitol as a propaganda tool against us and for what democracy really stands for. what message do you send to the members of congress who are still denying the reality of president biden's election? >> i think there's no doubt the attack on our own democracy, on january 6th, creates an even greater challenge for us to be carrying the banner of democracy and freedom of human rights around the world, for sure, people in other countries are saying, why don't you look at yourselves first. i see this very much as a glass half full. because we are, of course, imperfect and indeed at the foundation of our own republican is the notion we would always be striving to form a more perfect union. we never attain that perfection. the difference though between us and so many other countries is when we are challenged, including when we challenge
ourselves, we're doing it in full daylight with full transparency. we're grappling with our problems in front of the entire world. the fact of the matter is, that sends a powerful message to countries that are trying to sweep everything under the rug. we don't do that. we take on these problems head on and when it comes to congress itself, what's so powerful is the members of congress came back. they came back to tho that terr and senseless aggression against them and against our democracy. they came back and showed the world our democracy is resilient. that is a powerful, positive message for the united states to carry forward. >> and ahead -- more of my exclusive interview with secretary of state tony blinken. what he says about a path forward with north korea, and how he plans on balancing being a dad to young children with his new job. stay with us. this is andrea mitchell.
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president trump was the first sitting american president to step in to north korea, but his historic summits with kim jong-un did not restore the buildup of his nuclear arsenal. now the new secretary of state has to deal with the fallout. here's the rest of my interview with tony blinken and his plan
to restore morale. >> now, is denuclearizing north korea beyond any aspiration at this stage, especially because they made so many advances in the last four years. they have what they're showing off to be a submarine-launched missile? >> andrea, this is a bad problem has gotten worse over time. i would be the first to acknowledge it would be a problem that's gotten worse across administrations. the first thing the president asked us to do is review the policy, to make sure we're using the most effective tools to advance the denuclearization of the korean peninsula and problem growing with north korea's arsenal. >> what does kim jong-un have to do to get a meeting with president biden? >> the first thing we're going to do is review the policy across the board, look at what tools we have, including additional sanctions, including
additional cooperation with allies and partners and also look at diplomatic incentives. one we do that, we'll be able to tell you how we plan to move forward. >> if you had to guess, would you be landing in a plane in iran or north korea in the next four years? >> i think i would first be landing in a plane probably europe and asia with our closest allies and partners and i hope that day comes soon. >> let me do a lightning round. mohammad bin salman has been judged by our intelligence agencies as having ordered the brutal murder of khashoggi. can relations with saudi arabia be predicated on some responsibility? how important is khashoggi's death? >> the murder of mr. khashoggi was an outrageous act against a journalist, against a resident in the united states. it was abhorrent and i think it shocked the conscience of the world. when it comes to saudi arabia,
saudi arabia's been an important partner for us in counterterrorism, trying to advance regional stability and deal with regional aggression. but we also have to make sure that that partnership is being conducted in a way that's consistent with our interests and also with our values so the president asked we review the relationship to make sure it is doing just that. that's exactly what's happening now. >> will you revoke the terror designation of cuba? >> there were a series of actions that the outgoing administration took, including that one, that it took in the very last days of the administration, steps it could have taken presumably over four years that it took basically in the last four weeks. we're looking at all of them. one of the ones we're looking at in saudi arabia is the definition of the hufies in yemen as a terrorist organization. i have deep concerns about that because one of the things we have to focus on in this terrorist war is the president said we will stop our support
for the terrorist-led campaign in yemen but we have to step up the ability to get humanitarian assistance to yemen, who are suffering terribly. 80% live under junta control. we want to make sure anything we do does not make it more difficult to get humanitarian assistance to the people of yemen. >> i know we're running out of time, but finally, you were the first secretary of state in decades, if not ever, to have young children. you have a family rooted in this department. your wife worked here. what is your vision for what you were hoping to accomplish? and how do you do that and be a father? >> well, having -- >> a family man. >> having two young children is an incredible source of inspiration because it really grounds what i'm trying to do and especially what i'm trying to help the president do in the reality we're all here to try to make sure that life is better every single day for our fellow citizens and especially that what we're doing is trying to leave a world that's just a little bit safer, little bit more prosperous, little
healthier to our kids and grandkids. so seeing that every day and also having in-laws at home to help makes a big difference. but also we have a couple of things we have to do here. the president said we're going to lead our foreign policy with diplomacy and that means we really have to divest in the institution, in the state department, in its men and women with the tools, with the training, with the support to put them first. they're an extraordinary group. i have had the privilege of working with them in one way or another the better part of almost 30 years now, since i have been in washington. but we have to do right by them. we're going to make sure we're investing in them. we have to make sure we have a department that actually looks like the country it represents. our greatest strength at home but also abroad is our diversity. we're dealing with an incredibly diverse world. we would be doing that with two hands tied hipped our back if we did not look like the country we represent. so i think you will see over the
next few years as well a real focus making sure we have a diverse workforce, we're going to recruit, we're going to retain and we're going to be held accountable for that. >> without political interference from the white house, and with more career foreign service diplomats than political appointees? >> absolutely, absolutely. i'm determined to put our career folks in positions of responsibility and leadership and i'm absolutely determined that politics are not going to come into this building. i have worked with -- as i said men and women of the foreign service, civil service for more than a couple decades. i couldn't begin to tell you who is a republican, who is a democrat, who is independent. they're here every day working for the american people pursuant to the constitution to advance our interest. that's the kind of department we want. >> on iran, the secretary of state said if tehran continues to lift the restraints imposed by the iran nuclear deal, it would then have enough nuclear fuel for a weapon in a matter of weeks, instead of what is
reported to be months. a lot more on that coming up on "nbc nightly news." >> first, the white house press briefing is under way. here's jen psaki talking about the covid relief package and what negotiations will take place. >> on the white house since, a couple people asked friday, our goal, the president and vice president's goal, is for the secret service to adjust the perimeter as soon as it makes sense from an overall security standpoint. we're working closely with them on that. they are, of course, in the lead on that front. in the last piece i just wanted to give a quick update on, there was a quick question about the white house's support of fila's request of troops. we of course support the whole of government pandemic response that is catering to the unique issues and needs of our states. fema is working in strong partnership with states to get a handle on the needs and have accordingly requested manpower in some cases for this
unprecedented pandemic response effort. i expect to have more on this as the days continue this week on how they will be utilized. with that, let's go. darlene, welcome to the briefing room. i know you have been here many times before but it's our first engagement. >> on the president's meeting with the senators, can you give us a sense of how he views that meeting? is he going to be negotiating? is he going to be prepared to counter anything the republicans might offer? or is it just a session where they ask to meet with the president and he simply is giving them an opportunity to voice their concerns? >> the president has been clear since long before he came into office that he's open to engaging with both democrats and republicans in congress about their ideas. and this is an example of doing exactly that. as we said in our statement last night, it's an exchange of ideas, an opportunity to do that. this group obviously sent a letter with some outlines, top lines of their concerns and priorities and he's happy to
have a conversation with them. what this meeting is not is a forum for the president to make or accept an offer. so i think that's an important thing to convey to all of you. his view, it remains what was stated in the statement last night but also what he said on friday, which is the risk is not that it is too big, this package, the risk is that it's too small. and that remains his view and one he will certainly express today. go ahead, darlene. >> what would you think is more important to the president at this point, is it going bill or going bipartisan? it seems like you can't have both. >> i think the president believes we can and there is historic evidence that it is possible to take a number of paths, including through reconciliation if that's the path that is pursued and for the vote to be bipartisan. but it's important to him that he hears this group out on their concerns, on their ideas. he's always open to making this
package stronger. and he also as was noted in our statement last night, remains in close touch with speaker pelosi, leader schumer, and he will continue that engagement throughout the day and in the days ahead. >> you mentioned that president biden's proposed covid relief package is designed to be commensurate with the crises. this group of republicans, what they're offering, as you know, is more than a third less. the top line number is more than a third less of the $1.9 trillion president biden says he wants. given that, do you see that as a serious attempt to copromise on their part? >> i appreciate the opportunity to give more comment on their proposal. put the idea forward, that's how the president sees it. he felt it was an effort to engage on a bipartisan basis and that's why he invited them to the white house today. his view is that the size of the package needs to be commensurate
with the crises we're facing, dual crisis we're facing, hence while he proposed a package that's $1.9 trillion. >> does the president plan to invite democrats into the oval to have these similar conversations? >> i promise you, we're less than two weeks in, there will be many democrats in the oval office and i'm sure this is part of our ongoing effort to engage directly. >> well, asking that again in a slightly different way, there are democrats who see the first meeting the president is having face to face with lawmakers is with republicans, not democrats. why is the white house doing that? >> are there any specific democrats you want to call out? >> no, there's been talk, concern -- >> just people talking about it in hallways? okay. i can assure you speaker pelosi and senator and leader schumer, they have been in very close touch with the president directly and members of the senior team. he's been in touch, but also members of our senior team have been in touch with democrats across the political spectrum, and that will continue. and there will be definitely democrats who will be part of
conversations here at the white house. >> you said in your statement the scale of what must be done is large. the bottom line, is $618 billion considered large for the white house? >> i think our statement last night made clear that the president believes the risk is not being -- going too small but going not big enough. and that his view is that the size of the package needs to be commensurate with the crises we're facing. that's why he proposed $1.9 trillion. there's a big gap between $600 billion and $1.9 trillion. i don't think any of us are mathematicians here, but he thinks the package size needs to be closer to what he proposed than smaller. >> and you called the $1,400 relief chaef important to fighting covid, help for small businesses and open schools.
a lot of that isn't even in the proposal. why have this meeting at all if he isn't going to consider what they're proposing? >> again, this is an opportunity to exchange ideas, have a conversation. that's why he invited them over here to the white house. he outlined the specifics of what he would like to see in the package and his speech -- in his primetime speech a few weeks ago. and there are some realities as we look at what the american people are going through. one in seven american families do not have enough food to eat. we're not going to have enough funding to reopen schools. we don't have enough money to ensure we can get the vaccine in the arms of americans. so there's some real impacts, which he will certainly reiterate as he has publicly and privately in many conversations but they've put forward some ideas. he's happy to hear from them. but he also feels strongly about the need to make sure the size of the package meets this moment and the american people expect that of their elected officials as well. >> can i ask you --
>> sure. >> the united states is taking note of people of burma at this critical hour. is that a message to china? >> i think it's a question to all countries in the region and countries who will be asked to respond or to consider what the appropriate response will be in reaction to the events that have happened over the past couple of days. >> on friday we heard the president come out and say they want to pass this bill with support from republicans, if we can get it. it has to pass with no ifs, ands, or buts. the if we can get it part, do we take that as a sign he may have to abandon bipartisanship? >> i think it's hardly an abandoning of bipartisan. the house is still working, as you know, in congress, what the process would look like on the budgetary front this week.
senator schumer and leader pelosi both said they would like it to be bipartisan. we'll see what comes out of this meeting today and if there are good ideas to put forward, we'll put forward them. there's still time to do exactly that. even if through the parliamentary process the congress will decide, it moves towards reconciliation, republicans can still vote for that. there's certainly of precedent of that in the past. >> you mention republicans can still vote for the bill even if it's done through reconciliation but some republicans say that is not really bipartisanship, it doesn't satisfy that promise because it's not true compromise. >> i think the one in seven american families who can't put food on the table and be teachers who are waiting to ensure their schools have the ventilation, ppe, the testing they need, those -- they will tell you they expect their members to meet this moment. we saw this as a good-faith proposal they put forward, good-faith effort to have a discussion. the president is inviting them here in good faith, and we will
see where it goes from here. >> what does the president's message to senators like portman who will be here today who seem to warn if you can't get unity on this issue, it's going to be much harder to achieve down the road on other issues? >> the president is confident issues like reopening schools, getting shots in the arms of americans, ensuring people have enough food to eat are not just democratic issues. he takes his former republican colleagues at their word, of course, they're committed to these issues too. that's why he wants to have a conversation. >> i wanted to ask you about gamestop. some lawmakers have proposed legislative reforms like restrictions on short selling and financial transaction stacks, the ladder of which president biden supported during the 2020 campaign. so i want to ask you now if the white house would support actions like those to address the situation? >> well, as we noted in here several times before, but i just want to reiterate, obviously, this is under the per view of the sec in terms of their review and monitoring.
but this is -- there is an important set of policy issues that have been raised as a result of market volatility in recent days. and we think congressional attention to these issues is appropriate and would welcome working with congress moving forward as we dig into these further policy issues. but i don't have anything further to predict for you other than we certainly welcome the opportunity to work with members who have proposed ideas. >> have there been any direct communication with those members on what was proposed? >> i don't have anything to read out for you. we're engaged at a variety of levels every day from range of offices on a number of issues but i don't have anything more on that. >> i have one more on this, sorry. theres no confirm numbers on the financialingability oversight council and does the white house view that lack of officials in place is affecting your administration's approach to this situation? >> again, the sec is looking carefully at recent activities and if they're consistent with
investor protection in fair and efficient markets, that where we think the purview is and focus is at this point in time. >> if i can follow up on the meeting with republicans, what is the timeline of the president for these negotiations to end? how urgent is this if these benefits are going to end in the middle of march, how much time is there to have these type of meetings with democrats and others to take part? >> it is incredibly urgent. as you noted, there are -- there are timelines coming up i should say in terms of when the americans who are applying for unemployment insurance will no longer be able to get access. i noted earlier one in seven american families can't put food on the table. we need to plan for how we're going to get more vaccines in the arms of americans. we need to have funding to help public schools have the preparations needed to reopen. there's urgency.
this is what the president is spending his time on, as evidenced by the meeting later today and what the majority of our senior team is focused on at this moment. but there's still time to make changes and continue to have a discussion. and that's why we're kind of escalating the number of meetings and engagements we're having through the course of this week. >> on burma if i can, on the president's statement he put out the reversal of progress says a immediate review of our sanctions and authorities followed by appropriate action. is the appropriate action related solely to sanctions what other half of the response may be on the table >>. >> i think that is why that was called out and the president's comments, as you know, the united states removed sanctions over burma in the past over progress of democracy. the reversal of that progress will necessitate immediate review of our sanctions, laws and authorities followed by appropriate actions. that's why he called it out. i don't have any additional steps beyond that to predict for you at this point in time.
>> some democrats are looking at the repeal of $10,000 cap on the covid bill. does the president support those assertions and more broadly does he support the general repeal of the reduction? >> the president supports democrats and republicans putting good ideas forward. having a discussion about them and determining how we move forward with urgency to get this plan passed. but i'm not going to negotiate from here. >> senator manchin was a little upset with some comments the vice president made on a local television show. has the white house reached out to him in any way to kind of clean the air. >> we've been in touch with senator manchin, as we have been for many weeks and will continue to be moving forward. not only is he a key partner to the president and to the white house on this package, but on his agenda. we will remain in close touch with him. >> last question, in regards to myanmar, what, if any, efforts are being made to coordinate a
response with allies such as japan, eu and britain? and has there been any contact with china to discuss the situation? >> well, we have had intensive consultations at multiple levels with allies and partners in the region and around the world. i would allies and partners in region and around the world. i would expect many of those would come through the state department. i would defer to them for more specifics. >> in your statement last night when you said you might take action, you referred it to as burma and myanmar. in the president's statement now, he only uses burma. is that indicative of a formal shift of the united states how we are to refer to that country? >> our policy is we say burma. for example, the embassy website refers to myanmar because they are dealing with officials and the public. the state department website
uses myanmar in some place and burma in others. >> was he meaning to be discourteous? >> i don't think that's the conclusion you should draw. he is watching this closely as is evident by his statement. go ahead. >> you said there's still time for negotiation. can you be a little more specific? is the president going to give this one week, two weeks to try to come up with a bipartisan solution. secondly cbo said the economy should return to pre-pandemic level even if there's not additional legislation. how does that assessment affect what your negotiations? >> on the first. i'm not going to give a deadline here other than to say it's urgent we move forward for the reasons we already been discussing, including the need to ensure families can put food on the table. the need to ensure we have time to plan. the need to ensure we can get
vaccines in the arms of americans. as many of you know who cover congress, there's a process that's going on this week. there's still time as the process works its way through. that's what i was referring to. on the second question -- can you repeat the second question. >> the economy will return to pre-pandemic side and that's would you tell us any additional stimulus. >> the president's plan, as we have been discussing was designed to achieve certain basic goals. helping family who is are going hungry and the nearly 7 million americans facing pandemic. it's not a measure of how each american family is doing and whether the american people are getting the assistance they need or whether we're able to get vaccines in the shots of people. we have -- it answers a
different question, i should say. our focus is on what the american people need to get through this crisis which is why we are pushing for this piece of legislation. go ahead. >> thank, jen. on school reopening, the democrat mayor of chicago said it's safe to reopen schools. they have invested 100 million safety measures but the teachers remain on the verge of striking. does the white house agree if enough funding has been put into place and safety measures have been taken that kids should return to school? >> you know his wife is a teacher. he trusts the mayor and the unions to work this out. they are both prioritizing the right things which is ensuring the health and safety of the kids and teachers and working to make sure that children in chicago are getting the education they deserve. he's hopeful. we're hopeful.
we remain in touch with range of parties. we hope that they can come to common ground soon. >> just lastly, on the overall covid relief package. in terms of understanding what the white house means by bipartisan, would you consider a bill bipartisan if it doesn't have any republican support in congress but has support among republican voters? >> i think you touched on an interesting point which is 74% of the public, accord to recent poll supports this package and the key components. democrats and republicans. we saw the republican governor of west virginia come out earlier today and advocate for a big package. when the president talks about unifying the country and bringing the country together, he's not suggesting he is going to make one party out of the
democratic and republican party in congress. he is meeting with republicans today, ten republican who is have sent this letter because he feels they made a good faith effort to put the top lines of a proposal for it and he wants to have that engagement and encourages the sharing of ideas. i don't think it's an either or but i think it's a both. we feel that the components that are in this package are the basis of what should garner bipartisan support. >> based on the polling you sited, if there's not enough public support in congress, would that be considered bipartisan based on the measures he's setting for himself? >> i will let you be the judge of that. go ahead. >> thank you very much. i have a question for one reporter who couldn't be here. it's a question from the washington post. what kind of preparations went into vice president harris interviews and the west virginia stations last week? >> i'm not sure what your
question is. >> what preparations went into vice harris interviews with local stations? >> how did her team prepare her? >> was it part of larger white house strategy to put pressure on politicians in west virginia? >> our focus is communicating with the american people about how the american rescue plan can help put food on the table, can help ensure we can get vaccines in the arms of americans and help send kids back to school. that's our overarching objective. >> after senator manchin's criticism, did president biden speak with senator manchin? >> we're in touch with senator manchin and his team as we have been for some time. he's an important partner as we look to move forward on this package and all of the president's agenda. >> i have a question about the meeting with republican senators. the proposal that they put forward would take the over 300
billion in aid to states and local governments that biden has put forward and zero this out. there would be no aid in the proposal to state and local governments. is that a non-starter for president biden. can he move forward with a proposal like that? >> there was a reason that funding was in the initial proposal. the definition of calling it state and local means people don't know what it means. i'm not suggesting you're doing that. we probably shorthanded it too. that's funding for firefighters, for local communities, for enabling them to help get through this period of time. i'm not going to outline for you what the red lines are from the podium when there's discussions ongoing. the reason each component was put in the package is because economist, health experts, many that the president and others consulted with felt there were essential components to help get the american people through this
period of time. >> can i follow up on that state and local? >> sure. >> republicans are pointing revenues. state and local relief isn't needed in this latest relief. >> i think our objective is focus not on jpmorgan reports but what state and local are telling us what people need in their districts. go ahead. >> how are you? >> two questions. the first does the president support house democrats moving forward with the process of reconciliation. there's reporting they are waiting for guidance from the white house. >> the president was noted in the statement last night is grateful for the urgency and the pace at which they are moving. as you know, this process can
take a little bit of time. he supports them moving forward to move a package ahead. again, the process through, the mechanics through which they move is up to them. he's leaving it up to them. he believes there's still room for bipartisan support for this package which is why he's having this meeting and why he will remain engaged himself and will ask the senior team to remain engaged. >> follow up to that, is there a timeline this white house is looking at we have to move forward. you keep talk about how urgent it is. i'm wondering if there's a deadline to say we have to move forward? >> urgent means urgent. this will be the focus of the president, the vice president, his senior team. he's having a group of republican senators here later today. he will continue to be closely engaged with not just speaker pelosi and leader schumer but a range of democrats, as will
members of our team. the fact he's spending so much time on it and our team is, shows you how much of a priority is it. >> can i ask you about covid? sure. >> sure. >> there's there's a briefing today. about 47% of vaccination is coming with racialwondering if has a fix for that. i'm wondering how you ensure the vaccine is given equitiablely if you don't know who is getting it. >> first, the racial disparities and the impact of this pandemic are not lost on the president. that's one of the reasons he asked dr. smith who was part of be briefing to lead this task force and why he campaigned on the need for response needed and addressing the disproportionate impact on communities of color. there's a couple of steps we're taking