From Covid to Infrastructure, everything you need to know about Jen Psaki’s press briefing on May 24, 2021
1. American Jobs Plan
On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that they have awarded $200 million from the American Rescue Plan to support services for survivors of domestic violence.
“As we all know, the pandemic and its economic impact significantly increased the risks of abuse for victims of domestic violence, and made it much harder for them to seek safety and support,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
The White House confirmed the money will provide support through the family violence prevention and Services Act program.
The money will provide 296 supplemental grant awards that will be used to fund domestic violence services, in every state and territory, as well as supplementary funding, for tribes, state domestic violence coalitions, national resource centers, specialized services for abused parents and children grantees, and National Domestic Violence hotlines.
2. Alaska Tourism Restoration Act
The President is to sign the HR 1318 Alaska Tourism Restoration Act into law and will be joined by Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Congressman Young.
This legislation will allow large cruise ships to visit Alaska this year, which is a critical step toward returning to normal in a state where one in 10 jobs is in the tourism industry.
“This bill is an example of credit with the critical bipartisan work that can be done in Congress,” said Psaki.
The President is grateful to Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young for their leadership with this bill.
Psaki confirmed the U.S has gone from 6% of U.S. adults with one shot on the day the President took office to more than 60%.
“In just four months, we’re averaging about 24,000 cases per day down from nearly 184,000 cases per day, when we took office, and daily death rates have dropped nearly 85% since January 20. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely.”
The American Rescue Plan helped accelerate and improve the United State’s COVID-19 response. School districts across the country have been able to leverage the resources needed to safely reopen small and medium-sized businesses are able to pay their employees for the time needed to take off work to get the shot and recover from it.
Billions of dollars have gone to states and local organizations for vaccine outreach. The HHS is leading regular engagement with the core leaders in the Covid community, to discuss best practices.
The President hosted a YouTube town hall with a range of influencers, primarily young people, to encourage younger Americans to get vaccinated.
The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the Institute of Neurology were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illness in November of 2019.
The Biden administration has called for the WHO to support an expert-driven evaluation of the origins of the pandemic, that is free from interference or politicization.
As of right now, “We don’t have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion at this point in time” said Psaki.
The White House released its infrastructure counteroffer plan on Friday to Senate Republicans, cutting the bill by $550 billion. “The ball is in the Republicans’ court,” Psaki stated. The most recent counteroffer from Republicans increased by $50 billion. She expressed, “It doesn’t take anything more than simple math to know that if we came down by 550 billion, and they came up by 50 billion, they have ways more to go. The White House is awaiting the Republican’s counter-proposal, and is “eager to engage and even have them down here to the White House.”
The President is open to a range of mechanisms for paying for these proposals, including lowering the corporate tax rate to a lesser percentage.
Biden wants to see progress in the infrastructure plan by Memorial Day.
5. George Floyd
President Biden is inviting the Floyd family to the White House tomorrow, in the wake of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.
Those who will be in attendance are, Giana Floyd, his daughter, Roxy Washington, her mother, Bridget Floyd, his sister, his brothers Rodney Floyd, Terrence Floyd, Fellinis Floyd, his brother’s wife, Kita Floyd, and Brandon Williams, George Floyd’s nephew.
President Biden hopes that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act into law.
“We are of course, very closely engaged with a range with the negotiators, while also leaving them room to work. And just on Friday, the President spoke with Senator Booker,” said Psaki.
Senator Booker, Senator Scott, and Congressman Bass have all expressed progress is being made for police reform.
6. Journalist Arrest
Sunday, a Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania, was forced to land in Minsk, to arrest Belarusian journalist, Raman Protasevich, former editor of Telegram channels Nexta and Nexta Live.
The Biden administration “Condemns the Lukashenka regime’s ongoing harassment and arbitrary detention of journalists simply for doing their job.” The White House demanded an immediate international transparent and credible investigation of this incident.
The White House is in touch with a range of partners bilaterally and through multilateral channels from NATO, the OSC, the EU, and others.