From infrastructure to the Facebook ban, here’s what you need to know from today’s press briefing. Delaney Tarr reports on Friday in the White House.
1. Updates on the Infrastructure Bill
As Biden’s infrastructure bill moves through negotiations, Psaki spotlighted some features of the adjusted $1.7 trillion plan. Funding for the plan has continued to be the biggest barrier between Democrats and Republicans, each favoring different methods.
Psaki spotlighted the Book Line taxes, a proposal Biden has talked about since he was on the campaign trail. The proposal would force companies that currently pay no tax to pay a 15% tax.
The corporate tax increase has been a more public part of the discussion, but Psaki said that the book line taxes aren’t a replacement for a general tax hike. Psaki said Biden still believes corporations can pay more money as he has proposed on a corporate rate.
Psaki said the President has continued to have “good faith discussions” with GOP Senator Capito. The two have had conversations on the bill, but no conclusion has been reached yet. Biden will talk to Capito again this afternoon.
2. Gearing up for Vaccine Season
The White House has begun to roll out the “Month of Action,” a declared national effort to get the country more widely vaccinated by July 4th.
Psaki announced that today the White House had delivered 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson to the Republic of Korea. The doses are a part of the administration’s promise to deliver 80 million doses by the end of June to nations worldwide.
The administration upholds its previous statement that the vaccine will follow a 25%-75% model for global distribution. 75% of the first 25 million doses will be administrated through COVAX, an international initiative aimed at equitable vaccine access. The other 25% will be shared directly with countries in need.
3. Trump’s Facebook Ban
The social media platform Facebook has officially banned former President Donald Trump from the platform for two years. The company said they would reevaluate whether Trump’s account is a threat to public safety after the period.
The administration stressed that the decision is ultimately one for the platform to make but that they believe every platform that spreads information to millions of users has a responsibility to address misinformation.
Psaki was skeptical that the former president’s behavior would change during the ban. “It seems pretty unlikely the zebra is gonna change his stripes over the next two years,” said Psaki.
4. The US-Russia Summit
President Joe Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting comes amidst recent ransomware attacks on a US meat producer, likely done by Russian criminals.
Ahead of the summit, some have raised the question of retaliation against Russia. Psaki said that while Biden “doesn’t hold back”, the ultimate goal is to create a stable relationship with Russia.
The White Houe views the ransomware attacks as a national security concern but avoided using the word “threat.” Instead, Psaki emphasized the responsibility of Russia not to harbor ransomware criminals.
5. Unemployment Benefits Ending
The Biden administration stands by the plan to end the $300 federal unemployment benefits by early September. The benefits were set to be temporary as a boost for people who lost jobs to COVID-19.
Some governors have chosen to shut off unemployment benefits ahead of time. “Governors have every right to pull back or not accept benefits,” said Psaki. Twenty-five states have opted to end their benefits weeks earlier than the original deadline.
With 7 million people in the U.S out of work, Psaki stressed that the benefits don’t play a role in continued unemployment. Instead, she pointed out that the pullback of unemployment benefits state-to-state has yet to begin, and the country is still seeing historic rates of job creation in the past four months.