Briefing in brief: WH on Biden-Harris 2024
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefed reporters for about an hour Thursday, fielding questions on 2024, the near-collapse of the administration’s Build Back Better agenda and where it stands on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Here’s the White House briefing – in brief.
Biden-Harris ticket in 2024
One of the first questions Jean-Pierre fielded was to address an interview Vice President Harris gave to The Wall Street Journal published Thursday in which she insisted she doesn’t even “think” about Biden running 2024, or talk to him about it.
“I can’t speak to the conversation that the vice president the president has, I could only say what and reiterate what Jen [Psaki] has said and what the president has said himself that he is planning to run for reelection in 2024,” Jean-Pierre told reporters in the briefing room.
When a reporter asked if Jean-Pierre could state unequivocally that Biden plans to put Harris on his ticket as vice president, she responded: “Yes, he does. There’s no change.”
The White House has repeatedly said Biden intends to run again but Harris has previously dismissed talk of the 2024 election. Biden’s plans for a potential second term have been a recurring source of uncertainty due to his age – he would be 81 on the next presidential Election Day.
White House mum on Build Back Better negotiations
Jean-Pierre didn’t offer much about the state of negotiations in the Senate over Biden’s $2 trillion climate and social spending bill, which appears to be in serious danger of falling apart.
When asked about talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), which reportedly soured this week, the deputy press secretary said she wouldn’t give an update or get ahead of the process.
“What I can reiterate is how important getting Build Back Better done is,” she said. “Clearly if the president has more to say, we will let you all know. But I don’t have anything.”
Jean-Pierre also did not directly answer if the White House would be open to removing the child tax credit, which Manchin opposes extending for one year. But, she did rule out Democrats trying to pass an extension of the provision in a standalone bill, saying they don’t have the votes to pass.
“In order to do that, we need the 60 votes in the Senate and we just don’t have that, so that is not an option here,” she said. “What we’re going to continue to do is move forward and have the conversation on Build Back Better and to get that done.”
White House still touts J&J vaccine
The White House expressed confidence in the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine despite a panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier Thursday recommending that health providers offer the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines instead of the single dose shot.
“What we know right now and can focus on is that the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted. As I just laid out, we have three effective vaccines available to people widely around the country and right now, what we know, it is critical to get vaccinated and boosted to protect yourself from omicron,” Jean-Pierre said when asked what their message would be to people who received the J&J vaccine.
The CDC panel’s reasoning to recommend against the J&J shot was due to an increased risk of blood clots in young and middle-aged women. A final decision will be made by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who is expected to adopt the recommendation.
“Can’t get ahead of what Dr. Walensky is going to say. We follow the science, we listen to the public health experts,” Jean-Pierre said of the CDC director’s plans.
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