tv White House Deputy Press Secretary Holds Briefing CSPAN July 30, 2021 7:58pm-8:48pm EDT
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midco support c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> at today's white house press briefing deputy press secretary , karine john pierre answered questions on covid-19 mandates and conflicting information from the white house and the cdc regarding the delta variant. she also addressed the united states policy toward cuba the , eviction moratorium and voting rights. this is about minutes. 45 karine: here is my mask from yesterday. wondering where that went. good afternoon, everybody. happy friday. i have a couple of things for all of you at the top. today, the president and the vice president met with governors to discuss the worsening 2021 wildfire season. and ongoing efforts to
strengthen prevention, preparedness and response activities. this was a followup to the meeting the president convened last month with cabinet officials. governors from western states and private sector partners. during today's event the president highlighted the heroism of our firefighters, who undertake dangerous work to keep americans safe. he discussed the actions his administration is taking to improve emergency preparedness and keep americans safe. the president and the vice president then received an update from governors about the situation on the ground. they discussed what their administration can do to support state and local response efforts and ensure the federal government's response is as quick and effective as possible. driven by extreme heat, prolonged drought and change in climate, as well as decades of forest management decisions, the 2021 wildfire season continues to outpace the devastating 2021
season in terms of large fires to date. already this year, fema has approved 20 fire management assistance grants to help states pay for the costs of fighting these fires. the president has been receiving regular reports on how wildfires are impacting communities across the country. and he will continue to closely monitor the severity of this situation. cuba. on cuba meeting today that the president is having. since the historic protests we witnessed in cuba on july 11, the president has been watching the events closely. as we have stated before, he's made clear that cuba is led by a failed and repressive regime, and that communism is a universally failed ideology. that's why from the the start, the president has said that addressing this moment was a priority for the administration. we have said many times that cuban americans are the best
ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in cuba. as part of that, today, the president will host cuban american leaders at the white house to discuss the demonstrations and the administration's response. in addition, we also announced yesterday, that the president is nominating cuban american frank mora to be the next u.s. ambassador to the organization of american states, (oas), a vital forum where we have and will continue to regularly urge the countries of the hemisphere to support the fundamental freedoms of the cuban people. and i know you love these, the vaccination update, they are so great, we are happen happy to share them with you. today we recorded over half a million new shots in arms, the highest number since the first of july. and the average number of people getting their first shots each day is up 30% over the past week alone.
this is the third week that states with states with the highest cases have the highest vaccination rates. every day, americans are making the choice to get vaccinated. this is an encouraging sign. but we need everyone across the country to have a conversation with someone they know who is unvaccinated about getting the shot. this is how we will stop the spread of the delta variant and as we all know, save lives. finally, i have a quick preview of the week ahead for all of you. the next week, this next coming week, the president will continue engaging with members of congress to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal which will deliver historic infrastructure investments that will drive economic growth and create good-paying middle class jobs. also next week, the president will meet with dr. eric lander, his science adviser and director of the office of science and
technology policy, about his plan for preparing for future pandemics. on tuesday, the president will deliver remarks on the administration's progress, delivering vaccines to the world to fight this pandemic globally. on friday, we will deliver remarks on the jobs report. as you all know, the first friday of the month. and lastly, president biden will then travel to delaware where he will remain over the weekend. alex, please take it away. >> quick questions on congress. first, the eviction moratorium. lawmakers are struggling to find a legislative solution, but they would like to see it extended. i know you all said congress
needs to deal with it. but why not just extend it, have that legal fight and give congress a little more room to work? karine: as we stated, alex, to your point about pelosi, the supreme court said it could only be extended with congressional authorization. that was their decision. that's how they were able to strike it down. and that's what they said needed to happen. this bill that pelosi is asking for, this would meet that requirement, if successful. this is important. it's incredibly important to move forward. so the administration is working, is going to work together with leaders in congress on potential avenues to extend the eviction moratorium to protect vulnerable renters and their families. we understand how critical that is, how important it is, it has been a lifeline to so many americans here. that is a public health concern as you can imagine that we think should be supported by both republicans and democrats. so we support the speaker's efforts and we will do everything we can to move this forward.
>> on voting rights, can you tell us any more information about the meeting with schumer? karine: so as stated, the president and vice president are hosting speaker pelosi and leader schumer at the white later this afternoon. house today later this afternoon. , doing this because they want they are to make sure they continue having the conversation on protecting the sacred right to vote, because it's such an incredible priority for them. the president and the speaker, the leader schumer, are regularly in touch about this . but they wanted to have this meeting in person to talk about the next step. this is both personal to the president, as we talked about many times, having fought for voting rights his entire life. he spoke about it in pennsylvania. at -- not too long ago, just a couple of weeks ago. he's going to just continue having those conversations. >> and one more on this cdc document.
the washington post obtained a powerpoint that suggested the delta variant is more dire. it said quote given higher transmissibility and current vaccine coverage, universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the delta variant. delta variant breakthroughs may quote be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases and risk of infection is reduced three-fold in the vaccinated population. president biden has repeated over and over that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. his comments yesterday was he was he being completely upfront , about the delta variant? the power point would suggest it's a little more dire than he laid it out to be. why wasn't that power point made public?
why did it have to be leaked to the public? and lastly -- why aren't we seeing universal recommendations for universal masking? why is it just in various situations? -- in areas of high transmission. karine: ok, alex, that was a lot. i appreciate the question. it's a very important question. i'm happy to address all of them. so, since may, i just wanted to step back a little bit. since may, the cdc and the administration have been crystal clear about the increased risk of the delta variant in our pandemic response. so, i just want to run through a couple of examples because this is such an important moment that we're in, fighting this pandemic. in may, out of the concern of the spread of delta, we restricted travel to india where it was growing. that is something we did in may. as you know, that was many months ago at this point or a couple of months ago at this point. in the month of june, doctors
from this administration blitzed local media and constituencies with a clear message, delta is a serious threat. and getting vaccinated is the clear solution. that was in the month of june, for the month of june. throughout june, the president just signed and our medical experts spoke dozens of times to the threat of delta, the threat that delta poses. on july 4, the president made clear that covid-19, quote, has not been vanquished and delta is a powerful variant. this is what the president said on july 4. in light of recent reporting it is worth noting that -- that this cdc director dr. walensky said the delta variant is the most infectious respiratory disease she's seen in the last 20 years of her career.
our message has always been clear throughout. we need more people to get vaccinated, to stop the spread of this variant. so we have to continue to make that effort. vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected with delta have higher viral loads, meaning more virus in their body than with previous variants. the last two did not have that. this is what we're seeing in the so delta. , high viral loads means you are more likely to spread it. so in the rare occasions that , vaccinated people get delta in a breakthrough infection, they may be contagious. this is what we heard from cdc this week. this week. so the most important takeaway, , and i want to be really clear about this, this is critical for all of you who report about this and those watching, we should have, the takeaway we should have from this guidance and any followup reporting is pretty simple. we need more people to get vaccinated. that's the answer. we need more people to get vaccinated. that's if we want to stop the spread of this variant and avoid mutations, we can. so we need to get more people
vaccinated. and the good news is that the vaccinations, the vaccines work. so we've got to get out there and make sure people get vaccinated. >> the president said those who are vaccinated and wearing masks could look for the fourth of july as an independence opportunity. we now know cdc is basing some of this new science on a fourth of july party that happened in massachusetts where the delta variant was predominant. we saw the vaccinated people passing it and so forth. does this give the president pause about making recommendations about what the public can do because he encouraged people who were vaccinated to gather on the fourth of july. a group that did so is now a sort of poster example for this cdc of what can happen with this variant. karine: the president has always said he's going to follow the science and listen to public health experts. that's what we do.
that's why we're -- we are all following this cdc guidance on masking. so that's our north star as we -- as jen has said earlier this week. look the job of all of us in , this room is to communicate the truth about where we are in the pandemic. this is something the president has said from day one. highlight how we can get out of and alsohighlight how we can get out of this pandemic. , so the vaccines work. that's the truth. we know masks work. that's the truth. they save lives and prevent spread of this dangerous delta variant. so we need to help in communicating the actions we are telling the american people to take. getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, if you're in an area where there's lots of virus circulate, it's more contagious, you have to wear a mask. i know i have one more question i didn't get to for alex and i want to make sure i answer. the cd released more data publicly or this data. so just wanted to say that
was priority is getting the , american people information as quickly as possible. so that is what they did tuesday, they got it as quickly as they can. they will be releasing this data today as you know. it was clear that vaccinated people have the ability to transmit and action needed to be taken quickly. that's why they did it ahead of releasing the data and they're going to do that today as i mentioned. >> in terms of getting information out why are the , doctors not here in the briefing room to take our questions? why have we not had a covid re-think? when we got an update from dr. wilensky it was a phone briefing to provide information but the public is eager to know more. karine: i would argue we had the president of the united states speak to us yesterday. he gave a more than 30 minute speech about where we are as a country. he is a trusted voice, he's the leader of our country. >> he's not a scientist. karine: no but we heard from him.
we heard if the president yesterday. we heard from him about the delta variant and vaccinations in general. the day before yesterday when he was in pennsylvania, when he was supposed to talk about buy american, which he did, but he led off talking about the vaccinations. we have had our doctors on your network, on many of the networks that are here, talking probably all of them talking about the delta variant, all throughout these last couple of days. so they have been out there, they have been talking about it. and yeah, we heard from directly from dr. wilensky herself. so this is something we will continue to do. we are going to continue to make sure we communicate directly with the american people and work hand in hand with local governments and state governments as well. >> to follow up on all of that , you mentioned that cdc data released on tuesday. i think the question is why , doesn't that guidance match the internal memo's guidance?
on tuesday they updated the mask guidance to say you only have to wear it in places in a high or moderate transmissibility. the internal memo that was leaked says, given higher transmissibility and current coverage, vaccine coverage, universal masking is essential to reduce transmission. so one, why don't we the recommendations match? and two, should the american public anticipate updated guidance that includes universal masking? and also new guidance about large gatherings and how many people should gather given what we are seeing from provincetown? karine: as you know, we do not make those types of decisions from here, when it comes to the science, when it comes to guidance. that comes from cdc. so the questions you just asked me, i would refer you to cdc about the slides and you saw in the slides specifically. that comes from them and they
will have that specific information for you that you're trying to get here. i will say, though, i think the most important thing, and i don't want to get away from this because this is what's the most , critical thing here, is that people need to get vaccinated. that's the answer. if we want to make sure that we curb this pandemic that we curb the covid-19, that we win this fight that we're in, we have to get people vaccinated. that is why the president calls this a pandemic for the unvaccinated. we have to make sure that we take care of each other and that they take -- not just take care of themselves but take care of each other. we are talking about our kids who are 12 and under who can't get vaccinated. we are talking about grandparents, right. we are talking about older people in our lives that we want to make sure are taken care of. so that is, if anything, that
should be one of the main reasons to make sure they take people get vaccinated to make sure they take care of their , families and communities. >> have you reviewed the c.d.c. internal memos? karine: i don't have anything to understand that. >> it would be helpful to understand why the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox pox or more contagious than the common cold or ebola. are these things they will present to the public? karine: it is being released today, right? so it will be available. it is being released today. reporter: one more just followup, of all the weeks not to have a covid briefing, why this week? karine: i know that's the question you all are asking me . but the doctors have been on national television all week speaking to this. answering the questions. on your networks. so they have been out there talking about, they're not hiding. they're actually having the conversations with anchors and hosts and answering the hard questions about the delta
variant, about that cdc masking. so they have been out there. they are not hiding. they are speaking to this almost every day. so you know, and we heard from the president of the united states yesterday for more than 30 minutes, a speech that many of you were in. reporter: thank you. reporter: building off your point, the vaccines work. then why is the president asking vaccinated people to mask up, if there have been just 0.0035% of the fully vaccinated americans have had breakthrough cases. karine: let me give you the facts about the delta variant. maybe this will help, peter. it spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another. is spreading rapidly. and itis spreading rapidly. really it is across the country. , and that is just the facts. two months ago, only 1% of covid in the u.s. were delta. now more than 80% are delta. so this is where we are today with this vaccine.
so, it is -- we are listening to the experts, cdc guidance and . and this is what they are telling us. if you live in an area that has -- that is highly contagious and that has high levels, they are saying, they are giving the guidance of wearing a mask to protect yourself, and to protect your community and your family. that is the guidance we're getting. reporter: some of the preliminary stuff we have seen from the cdc says the new , guidance for vaccinated people to mask up is based on data from people who got sick partying in provincetown, massachusetts. has the white house seen any proof that vaccinated people are spreading covid, who are not going to big parties? karine: here's what we know. i'm just going to repeat again. we need to get people vaccinated. that is really the answer here. that is what we are hearing from cdc. that is what we are seeing from these slides. people need to get vaccinated. that's how we fight the delta variant. that's how we fight covid.
reporter: the president said yesterday, it is still a question of whether the federal government can mandate the whole country to get vaccinated. he said, i don't know that yet. does that mean he's asked the justice department to see if it is legal? to make everybody get a vaccine? karine: when he said that, the mandate across the country, you know, i would encourage you to read his statement. and make sure you read the contents of his remarks. so a national vaccine , requirement is not under consideration at this time. that's where we are with that. reporter: but has he asked the justice department to see if it's even possible. karine: i don't have any more to add to that. reporter: i have a question about the super-spreader event and provincetown. 800 cases, 74% of people there were fully vaccinated. doesn't that suggest that maybe breakthrough cases are not rare? karine: that's not what the data
shows us. that is not what we have gotten from cdc. we do know the breakthroughs that do happen with vaccinated people are rare. right now, the cdc has told us because they do know that there , are some breakthrough case, we have to make sure we're masked. so again, we just have to continue to make sure people get vaccinated. that is the answer. that's how we got to move forward. that is what we are focused on here at the white house. reporter: so we're supposed to see it as more of a one-off event? an outlier? karine: what i'm saying is that what we're focused on, our messages very, very clear that , we want to make sure that people get vaccinated. yes, that is one event. but what the cdc guidance tells us, is that the breakthroughs have been rare. this is what the public health officials have said. let, yes there are breakthroughs , but they have been rare. but the problem is that they are -- it is now contagious. right? so that's why they're asking us
to wear masks. whereas, before, with the last variants we've seen, we weren't two seeing that. we weren't seeing vaccinated people pass that along. and so now, that has changed with the delta variant. that's how serious this variant is. that's why our message continues to be, please get vaccinated. >> on the eviction moratorium, the statement only $3 billion of the amount allocated has actually gone out the door. what is the administration doing to help get more money out the door faster? karine: so, that's a good question because that shouldn't be happening. we are aware that the moneys are taking some time to get -- some time, when they're out in the state, get to folks who need it, renters and lawmakers. so, what we have done these past couple of days is we made an , announcement last week that $1.5 billion of that e.r.a. went out in the month of june and that was the most that we saw in the last five months.
so we continue to work to make sure that people are being made aware that this is in existence. this shouldn't be happening. lookthis shouldn't be happening. states should be making sure , that these moneys are getting out as quickly as possible. and so we, just yesterday -- just this week we had a day of action to promote the availability of the rental assistance which reached tens of millions of americans. last week the treasury released new data which i just mentioned with the $1.5 billion. what we know is these funds can and then, so continue to be , disbursed to renters and landlords until 2025, so these emergency rental assistance are so critical. they are so important, so we're making sure we continue to work with local governments to get that out. >> these people are applying. we have heard tens of thousands of people applied but they're waiting for funds to be disbursed. karine: i hear you. that's why we're encouraging the states to get that out as soon as possible. they have it. they need to get that out.
reporter: given the seriousness of the delta variant, are there conversations in the white house or between the white house and scientists, advisers, about more lockdowns, partial lockdowns or anything along those lines? karine: that is something that, i know this was asked yesterday, the way we see this is that we have the tools in our tool belt to fight this variant. to fight with this vaccine. and we are not going to head toward a lockdown. we want to make sure that we're doing everything that we can because, after passing the historic rescue plan, we have the resources to make sure that doesn't happen. so our role, again, is to make sure that we get people vaccinated as quickly as possible. look, this vaccine, these vaccines are free. they're easy to get, never been easier to get vaccinated. so that is the number one thing that we're trying to do is making that happen. we have the resources to do that.
that's what we've been able to do this past six months. we've been able to get more than 160 million people fully vaccinated, 80% of that are -- are people who are over the age of 65. and so that's what we're going to continue to do and so our goal is to make sure that we are not headed toward that, that is not going to be the direction that we take because we have the tools to prevent that. >> you said yesterday requirements for federal workers could be an example for other employers. could you explain, will federal employees' data be collected when they submit their vaccination status? and will the federal government be paying for the tests they take, if they do not get vaccinated? karine: the agencies will pay for the costs of screening tests. so that's how that's going to move forward. the agencies will be
implementing this program themselves. so they will be in charge how that moves forward. and so that's kind of how that's going to be disbursed, the program. reporter: another topic last week. "the new york times" said president trump pressed the justice department last year to declare falsely that election was corrupt. do you have a reaction to that? the justice department, the biden justice department, what will they do? karine: so president biden believes that the justice department needs to be free of undo political influence and these revelations underscore why that's important. >> percentagewise, from the cdc, 74% fully vaccinated in the cluster. just to clarify, it's still the belief of the administration and the public health officials that breakthrough cases are rare? karine: so what we've been told and what we know from our public by cdc and what we know from our public health expert is they are , rare.
but here's the thing. this is what we keep trying to say. is that we got to get people vaccinated. that is what we have to focus on. that is why we're seeing the delta variant. and so that is what is working on as the administration. the president talked about incentives and ways to do it in incentives and ways to do it in. he talked about a robust way. this is the way we're going to be focused on, is making sure people got vaccinated. reporter: that's my follow-up. it is clear from hospitalizations there's no , question about it when you look at the data. how concerned are you guys that people see a headline like that about breakthrough cases or transmissibility and it transmissibility and it headline about undercuts your efforts to say vaccination is the answer? ,karine: i just talked about what we have seen the last couple of days. the rising numbers of people getting vaccinated. so if anything, we're seeing , people are out there who are unvaccinated clearly getting vaccinated.
critical. and so, that is that's important. the numbers and the data show that. that's what we'll continue to do is making sure people can continue to get vaccinated. reporter: we were all being tested every single day. i wonder what the current status of white house staff testing is and if there are plans to wrap , -- to ramp up that testing? karine: so we'll continue to follow the guidance that's been let out, that's been handed. our testing will be determined by the white house medical unit. we continue to get tested here, the staff does. so does the president. so that's how we'll continue to move forward. >> when you say guidance, i think the current guidance is only if there are symptoms if , you're vaccinated. karine: we've also stated in the past, when a staffer is around the president, they get tested.
if you are around the president of the united states, we get tested pretty regularly. that's something we shared in the past. nothing new there. we'll continue to follow what the white house medical unit entails for us to do as staff and for the president. >> on the eviction moratorium, why did the white house wait until yesterday to publicly inform congress we need to extend it legislatively? karine: well, let me say about the eviction moratorium because this is really important. we know this has a disproportionate effect on those americans most likely to face a vixens and lacking vaccination. president biden would have strongly supported a decision by cdc to extend the eviction moratorium to protect renters during this time of heightened vulnerability. unfortunately, the supreme court has made clear this option is no longer available. so the supreme court's ruling stated that clear and specific congressional authorization would be necessary for the cdc to extend the moratorium through july. so one of the things that i do
want to say that we have been doing, we have had this whole of government effect to get the word out about the availability of the rental assistance and to support grantees ramping up their efforts. so that is our focus because we know that getting that funding to renters and landlords is incredibly key and important. so we have been doing that since day one. and now what we're saying right now, what we have been saying is we're going to work with congress to make sure that we're able to extend it. we support speaker pelosi and her efforts. and what she's trying to do actually speaks to what the supreme court laid out in making sure there is a continuation of the eviction moratorium. reporter: you waited until this week to tell congress they needed to do it. you effectively jammed them. karine: we have been having conversations with congress for some time about this. this is something we have been working with them about how to move forward.
we will continue to do that. we appreciate speaker pelosi's efforts. we will work closely with her on getting that done. again, from day one, this administration has been working to make sure that we -- we really take care of the most vulnerable in this country who's been affected by covid-19. >> there was confusion over military service members being able to get the vaccine. -- yesterday, it was all about timing and recommended that dod study at. the dod later put a statement out. what does he mean it's all about timing when he said the numbers will get worse before it gets better? karine: i'll say this. the president is asking the department of defense to look into how and when they'll add covid to the list of mandatory vaccinations for our armed forces. anything else, i refer you to the dod. reporter: for civilian and military?
karine: i know it's the department of defense. that is who he has been talking to about getting that done. reporter: ok. on a separate note, it was reported this morning that senator sinema, a key swing vote, said she will not be putting off vacation plans to vote on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. what's your reaction? karine: i know this has come up and i want to be clear about this and what sinema actually , said. so i'm not going to clearly negotiate or anything like that at the podium. but it is important to be clear about what the senator said. she is going to vote to proceed with the debate on the budget resolution. she expressed reservations about the top line, which she's been clearly clear about, and other senators have said the same. but she is not standing in the way of moving this process forward. reporter: you've been clear about the position of the administration about the
-- around the importance of getting vaccinated. i have a follow-up. a lot of americans do not know if they are in an area where there is a substantial or high level of transmission. so, while you are trying to get vaccination rates up, is it the position of the administration that local officials should , in those affected areas bring , back mask mandates? karine: well, local officials are going to look at the vaccination rate in their area. and they have the flexibility to put that into place, to put mandates into place as we've seen across the country. that is not our role here as the federal government. we are not mandating mask wearing. we are following, again, cdc guidance. we encourage local governments and and states to adhere or take a look at the guidance and make sure they keep people safe, right? they keep their communities safe. and they keep people in their states safe. so that is what we encourage. and at the same time, i will be a broken record on this, because this is true. this is the case.
we have to make sure we continue to get people vaccinated. reporter: and a question with respect to cuba and the ongoing policy review. i know there is a meeting today. has there any movement on actionable steps, particularly, does the president plan to lift travel restrictions between the u.s. and cuba and make it easier for cuban americans to send money to their relatives on the island, both which are issues he campaigned on? karine: and both important issues, we understand, to those cuban people. so we'll not preview any specific actions here. that is not something i'm going to do from the podium. i will say on the remittance, this is a complex issue that requires coordination with experts that will help to inform the administration's policies. so at the president's direction, the department of treasury and state will form a remittance working group to review available options to establishing those channels. reporter: follow-up, please, on cuba, may i follow up on cuba, please?
thank you so much. you may have noticed the protests last week across the street from the white house. i don't know if you or anybody from the white house happened to speak to those protesters. but i did. and it is anecdotal of course. , they say they see no difference between the policy of president biden towards cuba and the policy of former president obama towards cuba. is the approach the same of those two presidents, of president biden currently and the former president, president obama? karine: i will be really clear here. since day one, we said many times, many, many times, the cuban americans are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in cuba. that is what i said at the beginning. today, the president will sit down and meet with cuban americans, leaders at the white house. that's what he's going to do in just a few hours, to discuss the demonstrations and the administration's response. so, including applying new
sanctions on cuba, on cuban leaders, and establishing internet access for the cuban people. we want to lift up the cuban people, and that's going to be our focus. on july 22, the treasury's office of foreign assistance controls sanctions of the one cuban individual and one entity for severe human rights abuses and repression of pro-democracy protests in cuba that began july 11. so we will continue to lift up the cuban american people -- the cuban people, and we'll have a conversation, as i mentioned. the president will have one today, and we'll probably have more to read out from that. go ahead. reporter: just following up on the question on the eviction moratorium. you said you've been working with congress for some time now. is there anything you can share in terms of who you've been talking with and when that started? democratic leaders seem pretty
surprised it's now their responsibility. obviously we know the supreme court decision has been out for a month. so what can you share in terms of - karine: i don't have specific meetings or conversations to share. look, what i want to be making really clear, we'll work with congress to get this done. we understand the importance of the eviction moratorium to everyday people, especially after what we have seen this past year with covid-19. that is a priority for us. and we work with congress on so many different issues and so many different conversations, and this is going to be a priority and so we support what speaker pelosi is trying to do now. reporter: do you have any response to congresswoman ocasio-cortez calling your handling on this reckless and irresponsible? the white house hasn't shown leadership? karine: i disagree with the congresswoman. as i stated and i have laid out from day one, we have been working on the emergency rental assistance. we have been making sure working with local governments to get
those funds out. just last month, we saw $1.5 billion -- in just one month -- in rental assistance which was more than the last five months. so we have been working very hard in a whole of government approach that we do here at this white house and administration and we'll continue to do that. reporter: thank you. back to senator sinema's comments. do the white house and the president support senate democrats scaling back the reconciliation deal? karine: this is a process we're going through. this is a negotiation process. we are going to continue to have to engage congressional members on the hill, when it comes to reconciliation, and also, clearly, the bipartisan infrastructure deal. so we're not going to -- i'm not going to stand here and try to negotiate from the podium. i'm going to let congressional members do that.
we will work closely with them. we understand how incredibly critical this is. this is part of the build back better plan that the president has put forward as his economic plan to put forward for this country. he's all in on this. he brought people here to work with both sides of the aisle to bring a bipartisan deal on the whole infrastructure. we will continue to work on the whole build back better plan. reporter: back to covid, i now he said it is and health up to cdc and health officials , to lead on new recommendations. has the white house or president asked them to look at new restrictions, possible restrictions surrounded large group gatherings given the delta variant transmission? karine: again, we follow the science and listen to health officials. that's how we move forward with that. reporter: hi. switching topics. the biden administration earlier this week laid out addressing root causes in central america, including combating corruption in the region. it comes days after guatemala's
special prosecutor against impunity was fired. the state department has suspended cooperation with guatemala's attorney general. how does this affect the work in the region and does this cause any setbacks? karine: thank you for the question. yes. this is something we are very aware of. so, the situation in guatemala -- look, it's important for us to make sure that corruption is, as we are dealing with the northern triangle, is dealt with. hold on, i do have something i wanted to share with all of you , if i can find it really quickly. give me a second. i don't have it with me.
but it is something we are aware of. as you can imagine, as we're dealing with the northern triangle, as you stated, it is critical and important when we are dealing with these countries and talking about how we are going to help them with root causes, that corruption, you know, is something that does not affect the process that we're trying to make. you know, when we do deal with the northern triangle countries, it's not giving money directly to the government. it's working as well with the organizations on the ground. so that is also critical and important. so we're going to keep an eye on that. we're going to stay focused on that as well. we should have more to share on the guatemala situation. oh, my gosh. i totally forgot. oh, my goodness. give me one second.
our fun friday. ok. for our last question for our fun friday zoom, reporter hailing from black information network, vanessa. hey, vanessa tyler, how are you? we cannot hear you. can't hear you, vanessa. >> we have questions. karine: there are questions in the room, for sure. reporter: karine, the delta variant -- [indiscernible] karine: i don't understand the question. reporter: [indiscernible] the dominant strain in the area. karine: we don't test it. we listen to the scientists and they tell us it's the delta variant.
reporter: there are processes for that? [indiscernible] karine: i do not even understand, why would they explain. i mean, that's what they are telling us. i laid out how contagious it was. i laid out why we needed to act andi laid out why we needed to act on the delta variant. reporter: they say so - karine: well, they're the experts. these are scientists. they are experts. hold on one second. i just said hold on one second. , i just say that dr. walensky said recently in her 20-year career, she had never seen a variant that was so contagious. so this is 20 years of her career. so this is absolutely, absolutely a major, major problem that we are trying to deal with. that's why we heard from the president yesterday. that's why we keep talking about people need to get vaccinated. so that is the way we're trying to move in this administration, making sure we are protecting
people here, making sure that we are dealing with this pandemic in a way that is effective and that's how we're going to move forward. i'll take another question. go ahead. [talking simultaneously] go ahead. [talking simultaneously] reporter: in april -- [indiscernible] that would be done in a matter of weeks or months. [indiscernible] karine: so this is the student - reporter: student debt. $2000 or $50,000. karine: i think the president supports congress providing $10,000 in student debt relief and he continues to look into what the debt relief actions can be taken administratively. i don't have an update on that at all right now at this moment. look, the department of education is working in partnership with colleagues at the department of justice and the white house to review
options with the respect to debt cancellation. again, i don't have any update. [talking simultaneously] we are going to have to wrap up. we'll have to wrap up, guys. thank you so much. thank you. thank you, everybody. oh, my gosh. can we hear you now? we still can't hear you. i'm so sorry. are you on mute? ok. so we're trying to -- we're trying to hear you and we cannot. vanessa, i am so sorry. i'm so sorry. do you want to write a note? [laughter] to write your question. all right. vanessa, we'll try next friday. i can't hear her, though.
[mic feedback] i can't hear her. all right, guys. vanessa, we'll try and do it next week. [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] >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more including charter communications. >> broadband is a force for empowerment. charter invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering communities big and small. tarter is connecting us. -- charter is connecting us. >> charter communications
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