tv White House Press Secretary Infrastructure Coordinator Hold Briefing CSPAN January 18, 2022 3:41pm-4:32pm EST
time -- pivotal moment in time. thank you. god bless new mexico. and now let's get ready to work. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] >> wednesday morning, the u.s. supreme court hears orel arguments in -- oral arguments in federal election commissions, a case on whether the senator's campaign can sue to challenge federal restrictions on repayment of personal loans. and whether these federal restrictions violate the first amendment. watch live beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3, online at c-span.org, or watch full coverage in our new video app, c-span now. >> down load c-span's new mobile app. from live streements of the house and senate floor and key congressional hearings to white house events and supreme court oral arguments. even our live interactive morning program, "washington
journal," where we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered. download the app for free today. >> at today's white house briefing, genaro psaki was joined by the infrastructure coordinator. they answered questions about a bipartisan infrastructure bill that president biden signed into law. jen: hello, everyone. take your time. we're good. ok. good afternoon. masks are a little difficult with earrings, i'm learning right now. ok. well, ok. happy day 364 of this administration. i'm excited to welcome the president's infrastructure implementation coordinator to the briefing room. as you know, mitch served as the
61st mayor of new orleans. under his leadership new orleans is widely recognized as one of the nation's greatest comeback story, recovering from hurricane kat and the b.p. oil spill. he was named public official the year in 2015 and was voted america's top turn-around mayor in 2016. prior to serving as mayor, he served two terms as lieutenant governor of louisiana and in the louisiana house of representatives for 16 years. as the president's infrastructure coordinator, mitch oversees the largest long-term investment in american infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a sench rivment -- century. i wanted to have him speak to you following our announcement on friday about the money to fix an estimated 15,000 bridges across the country. ahead of the president's meeting later this week with the infrastructure implementation task force, which he co-chairs.
he's agreed to take a few questions before he has to go build some more bridges. >> good morning, everybody. so this is what this room looks like. i've wondered for a while. nice to see you. happy new year to you. my name's mitch. the president asked me to help him build a better america. i said yes. i hope the people of america agree too because it's going take all of us to get this done. when president biden came into office just one year ago, he pledged to use the power of the presidency to help everyday americans, to bring people together and to rebuild our country. for decades we just talked about infrastructure week, but president biden reached across the aisle and in a bipartisan way actually got it done. promises made, promises kept. let me tell you, every week now is going to be infrastructure week except the difference is we're actually going to build stuff.
with the bipartisan infrastructure law, bried is -- president biden is ordering the largest infrastructure program in most of our lives. a little more than 60 days ago our team hit the ground running to deliver results. we have now convened the task force made up of cabinet members a total of six times. this thursday will be our seventh and the president will be with us. we're discussing hard questions, seeking to flesh out the tough stuff first. we're running to the fire, not away from it. we're breaking down silos across agencies, on guidelines, on permitting, on hiring. this is a one team-one fight mission and we're going to operate in that way. we also need good partners. the fact of the matter is that most of the building will be done by states, by the the city cities and counties and tribal leaders. that's why our team and me personally have been reaching out extensively to state and local officials. at this point we have reached out to all 50 governors and their key staff.
i have spoken to elected officials and we have got an fantastic response from them all. as you know by now, we have asked states to appoint infrastructure coordinators which we think will help foster cross-agency collaboration and make it easier for them to get problems solved very quickly. already states like delaware and new mexico have appointed coordinators in states like arkansas and michigan are setting up interagency task forces. our team is here to be problem solvers, to deliver, to build a team, and to help tell the story. ultimately we want to help people take advantage of this great opportunity to build a better america. now, as a country we haven't spent this amount of money on infrastructure in generations. so we're talking about how to do it with accountability and transparency, on time, on task, on budget, spending taxpayer dollars both wisely and well. earlier today i convened the inspectors general of federal agencies involved in the
implementation of the law, letting them know we want to do this in a partnership just like the president did when he was the vice president and he led the recovery act process. atz the president has expected from his team since day one, including the implementation of a.r.p. as the president has made clear, results and accountability go hand in hand. to deliver results now and in the years to come, the federal government must undertake this work in a manner that is deserving of the public's trust. so we'll go forward, stewardship of public dollars is a high priority. but i want a level set. this infrastructure work in general is not a one-time economic stimulus. it's not a race to see how many ribbons we can cut before the end of the year. doing this is going require balance. it's going to require order. we are definitely going to go fast but we are not going hurry and we are going to get it right. on the nuts and bolts we're on the right track. as the president laid out last week, we've made real progress. you've seen the announcement. rebuild roads, ports and
airports. we're making progress on delivering high-speed internet turnover american. we're making progress on ensuring water systems deliver clean water, by replacing lead pipes. and of course on friday the president rolled out the massive allocation to states to fix the largest big program in american history. you see, bridges connect us. they connect people, the movement of goods, they connect communities. they connect the country. with this investment, president biden is creating a race to the future -- a bridge to the future, a pathway to win, a pathway for all of to us win. and today we have another great announcement. the department of interior is announcing a new interagency program for cleaning up orphaned wells, a key initiative of the bipartisan infrastructure law. the law includes $4.7 billion to clean up well sites, plugging remediation and restoration activities. so what does this mean for the people of america? millions of us, millions, live
within a mile of hundreds of thousands of orphaned and abandoned wells that leak and spew. these wells jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating ground water, seeping toxic chemicals, omitting harmful pollutants, including methane. this well capping program also creates jobs, will revitalize rural economies in places where people are directly affected by a transitioning economy. like so many of these issues we face, cleaning it up will take an all of government approach. interior secretary is leading this effort in close partnership with the department of agriculture, e.p.a. and the department of energy and already 26 states have asked for fundings to take advantage of this opportunity to clean up this mesothelioma. the secretary told me the other day a story -- mess. the secretary told me the other day a story about a school she went to where kids had constant
nosebleeds. can you imagine our children having to learn in that kind of environment? it's gone on for quite a long time. that's why we're doing this. results where people live and where it really matters. cleaning up communities, fighting climate change. creating new and better jobs and building a bridge to a future economy. it's a really consequential effort. later this week there will be more announcements to come. in closing, let me just say, the president has been clear in his charge to me. build a better america. without unnecessary bureaucracy and delay. while at the same time doing what is difficult for the sake of what is right. and so as we have said many times, creating good middle class jobs. investing in american manufacturing and building capacity right here at home. supporting disadvantaged and underserved communities so that no one and no community is left behind. advancing climate resilience and sustainability so we can be better prepared and ready for whatever is coming our way.
all of this will make us stronger and better. reduce costs for the middle class families and help us compete. this is what building a better america looks like for all of us. thank you. jen, back to you. jen: all right. reporter: i was wondering if you could tell us what the response from some states -- [indiscernible] -- has been. we've seen many federal programs -- [indiscernible] -- some red state governors have been resistant. are you seeing a different kind of response on things like infrastructure -- [indiscernible] -- programs are popular but the administration isn't necessarily. and give us a time frame of when you think some of these ribbon cuttings, i know that's not the metric, but when will they be happening? anything this year? >> thank you for that. a wise person said even if they vote no, they want the d.o.e. -- dough. that's absolutely true. especially on infrastructure. as i said, i have personally
spoke to over 40 governors. three, their chiefs of staff. the others we've contacted through staff. i've talked to a number of republican governors, all of whom, in the reddest of red states, were very welcoming. they were very freshtive that the president had asked to call. we clearly acknowledged with each other that we may have differences of opinion on other issues but on building roads and bridges and ports and airport, clean water and broadband, 80% of americans want this to happen. the governors have agreed to work with us to get this done. you mentioned in my neck of the woods, i'm from louisiana, we have gotten beaten to death by katrina, rita, ike, gus staff and a bucket load of other stuff. we have had interaction, as i was lieutenant governor, with a republican governor and a democratic governor. in both of those instances bipartisanship really is at the forefront of these initiatives. they're going to be -- there are going to be some differences but
at the end of the day there really is common ground and i feel very good about the willingness to lean forward and to do the things that all of our constituents need irrespective what have party they're in. in terms of turning, can you hurry up, when's the money going to get into the ground, when are the first ribbon cuttings? this is very different from the american recovery program. this is a long-term investment in rebuilding america better. and so there are a lot of these programs that are actually new. many of them are not. this happens in two ways. some of this is through formula funning that has been set. every governor has received an indication of what the state is going to receive for the next five years and that's across whoever is sitting in the governorship so they can start planning today and actually start breaking ground as soon as they're ready to do that. the other part of this is bill, competitive grants. some of those are going to take a little bit of time to set up. my expectation is there's some projects that you'll see people turn the dirt on in the spring
or faw. which ones they are, i can't point to you right now. there's no reason that shouldn't happen. especially if some of the projects have been if line for some period of time. reporter: [indiscernible] -- identify if i which of those projects might be getting under way soon, when will we get a better sense of which projects are coming? >> i can't give you an exact date. as i said to you, with the announcements that have happened in the first 60 days, you have that list, you remember the investments that we made in ports. the investment we just made in bridges and the ones that we sent out, the ones that michael regan certainty out on clean water and air. the governors now have this money. some of this money is fungible from the american recovery plan as well. so as soon as the governors and legislatures decide where this money is going to go and they do it with appropriate attention to equity, climate, using american products and other things of that nature, those projects
shouldn't take long. however, it takes a long time to build a bridge. you don't build a bridge in a day. sometimes people in this town know that you can tear down things a lot quicker than you can build them. and they work hard to do that. in this instance we're going to take time and do it right but we're going to do it as quickly as we possibly can. reporter: i'm curious about the money for amtrak. what is the process looking like in terms of spending those funds, the timeline when do you think -- [indiscernible] -- and is it going to be, in terms of figuring out which project, i know they have planning that amtrak does and a lot of it is focused on that northeast corridor, the travel up the northeast coast, is that going to be a process that amtrak itself figures out what they're going to spend or if there's going to be input from the administration, the white house? how does that work? >> we're going to all figure it out together. you can count on that. secondly, to make you aware of the scope of this project, $1.2
trillion, 14 agencies, plus some that have some level of involvement in many of these plans and programs it takes three or four agencies to coordinate. and then there are some independent agencies and amtrak is one of those. as you noticed, they have 66 -- $66 billion to do a really big job. and of course you won't be surprised to know the president has a special interest in trains. he'll talk to you about it for a very long time. he knows more about it than many engineers in an unbelievable way. we started those conversations with amtrak. you have rightly noted that the northeastern corridor is the one that needs the immediate attention. the president has indicated he's really interested in trying to make sure that we look at where the connections are that connect moving people that's cheaper, faster, and is also climate-friendly. we're in the process of kind of putting that together and we'll have a plan in the not too distant future. reporter: it could be started this year or more likely something -- >> i don't want to speak
specifically for amtrak. it's an independent agency. there are many things that can be started right now. as i have said to you, in some of these models that we have in some form laxer that money is actually out the door. that's going to be a matter of administrative work that we have to do. reporter: based on what you've seen so far, how many state governments have the capacity already to evaluate this huge number of projects and determine which ones are most worthy of the funding? as we saw from the american rescue plan, you might be very organized here at federal level, but if they don't have the staffing and the know-how at the state level, -- [indiscernible] -- >> that is a fantastic question. thank you for asking. it's all going to be about balance. how do you go fast and get it right? how do you try to do the right thing but at the same time not go too slow? how do you deal with making sure
people have the capacity to use it? let me say this again to all of us. w.h.o. are younger than d -- us who are younger than 80 years old. you haven't seen this in your lifetime. when we have tried to do this in the past, because we haven't spent a lot of time building up what i call down line logistics, you'll hear me say this many times, sometimes up here in washington, they want to create a cow and when it gets down to the ground it looks like a pig. the point is to make sure we work with the people from the ground up knowing it, understanding it, analyzing and working in partnership with then. one thing that should be obvious to nerve this country is we have a capacity problem on the ground. notwithstanding the current circumstance that we're in. even if the world were perfect, are we ready to build this much stuff this fast? the answer is if you triage it appropriately, if you plan appropriately, if you run to the fire and one of the fires is do we have enough people and materials and if we don't, how do we create work force training programs, how do we manufacture products here and you understand this is a five to 10-year cycle, you can move into, if you do it
intentionally, and with thought. so to answer your very specific question, there are some states that have been in this business for quite a long time. and they're obviously more prepared than others. one of the great challenges and missions the president gave us and it falls under the umbrella of equity and climate, what about these small indeng news to communities -- indigenous communities that don't have the capacity to apply for grant? what happens if they get a grant do theft ability to spend the money? our team has raised up that by ahl agencies that says, we have to run to that fire and start building capacity on ground level and then how actually are we going to do that? what does the partnership with a community and technical colleges look like? how is labor going to build apprenticeship programs to lift up people of color and how do you create this virtuous cycle of success and moving in one direction? this is why back to the question early inquiry, if -- earlier, if everybody cooperates and everybody saves the fire for all of these hot button issues that
we tend to disagree with and don't focus on infrastructure because it's not a republican or a democratic way to fill a pot hole, then we ought to be able to get this done more quickly and better. that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a better america looks like for president biden. thank you all very much. i appreciate it. jen: ok. invited back any time. i have a bit of a hard out at quarter of oor 10 of, we'll get to as many people as possible. i no many of you are tracking that we're about to reach our one-year mark in the administration and we wanted to note a couple of the points of progress that have been made. you'll hear the president talk more about and members of our administration also talk more about over the coming days. you know how we love charts around here so we have some charts that lay out a pretty stark contrast between where we
started and where we are now. so just to highlight a couple of pieces. during the president's first year, we saw the most dramatic change in our my of anywhere in the world. it was the biggest year of job growth in american history and it was the direct result of action taken by president biden and democrats in congress, including the american rescue plan. the vaccination effort, it helped fund and now the bipartisan infrastructure. you can see the economic data there kuwait starkly. look at the initial unemployment claims. they are on average -- they were at 812,000 a year ago. they're now at 210,000. the unemployment rate and job creation the year before the president took office and the last year. as it relates to covid if we look to a year ago, only 1% of adults were fully vaccinated. 74% of adults are fully vaccinated now. in terms of at-home test thoaps market, zero on the market a year ago. now we have 375 million people
per -- tests i should say, kis distributed per month. 46% of schools were open a year ago, now over 95 mct. this is progress that's been made. there's more that is going to be done, that needs to be dope they have job is not done yet but we have a plan to address the challenges we're facing and we're going to stay at it. with that, coleen, why don't you kick us off. reporter: i want to ask what you guys are discussing this week and then what's plan b if things go south, you know, to ensure voting access if the bills don't pass? jen: as you all know, the negotiation, or debate is starting in the senate. the president's view is that the american people deserve to see where their leaders stand on protecting their fundamental rights. that's ran to move forward with this debate and this vote this week.
he is also -- says those supporting -- opposing a rule change to support voting rights is opposing voting rights. we will continue to, and you've heard the president say and i'm sure he'll reiterate to you, that until his last breath he'll be fighting for the protection of voting rights. that means conversations and fighting to get legislation at the federal level through is going to continue. those conversations will continue. i will note that in addition, we have also been working with organizations all across this country who are building diverse coalitions to pass voter laws and push back against those that make it harder to vote and threaten free and fair administration of elections. in addition to doing the krit ka call work to educate voters. these organizations have built grass roots leadership at the state level, they are directing or nicing to register voters in states rolling back voter
protection. the vice president knows americans at every level are focused on this fight and she will continue to lead this effort with activist policy leaders around the country. right now we focus on the debate that's going to be happening and the fact that it will highlight clearly for the american people who stands with them in protecting voting rights and who stands against them. >> what do you hope to achieve -- [inaudible] heading to geneva to meet and what's going on right now. jen: let me give you and update on where things stand. this morning, secretary blinken spoke with russian foreign minister labruv and they agreed to meet in geneva. secretary blinken will urge russia to take immediate steps to de-escalate. he will also fly to kiev to meet
with ukrainian leaders and to germany. there's also a congressional delegation on their way there. i would note that that just indicates that support for ukraine has always been a bipartisan issue and we welcome that. where things stand right now, president putin has created this crisis by amassing 100,000 troops along the russian borders, including moving troop into belarus for exercises and conducting exercises on ukraine's eastern border. our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation, we are now safe but at any point russia called launch an attack on ukraine. what secretary blinken is going to do is highlight clearly there's a diplomatic path forward and it's up to president putin and the russian whether they're going to do that. reporter: when you're talk about kind of this meeting that the secretary of state is going to
have with labruv, what is -- is there an expectation he's going to provide some sort of response to issues raised in the january 10 meeting? jen: i don't have anything for you to specifically preview on the behind the scenes ghoarks and discussions but our position has been crystal clear from the beginning. the position of the president and the secretary of state. dollar two paths. last diplomatic path forward. we hope they take that path. there's the orr path. it is up to the russians to determine which path they're going to take and the consequences will be severe if they don't cake the diplomatic path. >> there's been reporting out of europe that essentially this idea that's been floated about taking russia out of the swift financial payment system is basically off the table at this point. is that accurate? yoip no option is off the -- jen: no option is off the table. we continue to discuss with our counterparts further action if
russia invades ukraine. reporter: and what about ending the nord stream ii pipeline? jen: it is not functioning. germany's federal network agency suspended the certification prosoafsz nord stream ii and our view continues to be that stopping the pipeline is a credible piece we hold over russia at this point in time. especially since it's not functioning. if sanctions are imposed right now which some are proposing and russia views the sanctions as a sunk cost. we are consulting closely with our partners and allies in this. i would note the pipeline is not operational, germany's federal network agency suspended the certification process. reporter: on ukraine and russia, what does the white house make of the evacuation of russian diplomatic staff from their embassy? and deupg the threat of invasion is higher or lower?
jen: i think as i noted a few moments ago we pleve we're now at a state where russia could at any point launch an attack on ukraine. i would say that's more stark than we have ever. in terms of the decision to movr embassy or move personnel out of their embassy, we have information that indicates the russian government was preparing to evacuate family member in late december and early january. we certainly refer you to them for more specifics about what their decision. is but we don't have an assessment on why. reporter: another one on reports that the white house is in talks with the f.a.a. and wireless provide thoarns 5g rollout and the potential disruption to airline travel. is there anything else you can tell us about the agreement and are you trying to prevent flight cancellations? jen: we are -- those conversations are ongoing. i don't have an update at this miami but they're ongoing right
now. i would say. so we have the safest air space in the world. we're committed to reaching a solution around 5g deployment that maintains the highest level of safety while maintaining -- minimizing disruptions to passenger travellering cargo operations and our comuk recovery. we understand what's at stake for both industries. we are actively engaged, as you said work the f.a.a., f.t.c., wire lescareier, airlines and equipment manufacturers to reach a solution. we believe with continued cooperation we can chart a path forward. certainly minimizing flight disruptions, ensuring safety in travel is a top priority. reporter: and one more. microsoft buying activision blizzard will create this third biggest video game company. does the white house have competition concerns with this acquisition? jen: i would just note that today there's an announcement by the f.t.c. and justice department that's probably
happening now. broadly speaking this is not about the specific case. which is in our view a critical step toward delivering on one of the key priorities of the executive order the president sieped, strengthening enforcement against illegal mergers and it kick office the technical process to review merger guidelines. as it relates to this specific case you mentioned, i don't have a comment on the specific merger but i wanted to point you to your announcement, their press conference that may be going on right now. reporter: bipartisan supply chain legislation in the house, the u.s. competition act is the white house engaged in getting lawmakers on board with this? jen: very closely enengaged. we are advocates for manufacturing here in the united states including investment in chips manufacturing capacity but we're closely engaged in these discussions. >> what kind of discussions you're having and --
>> we been engaged from the beginning. the president has long been an advocate for increasing investment in our manufacturing capacity at home and we are looking forward to it moving forward. reporter: does the president think members of congress should be prohibited from trading stocks. and should their spouses be too? jen: the president didn't trade individual stocks when he was a senator. thos that's how he approached things he believes everyone should be held to the highest standard but he'll let leadership and members of congress determine what the reuls should be. reporter: a couple of questions, how is that an individual known to mi-5 in britain who was on the watch list ended up in a sin tbog this texas? how did that happen? jen: our understanding and obviously we're still looking into this, is that he was checked against u.s. government databases, multiple times, prior
to entering the country and the u.s. government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry. we are certainly looking back as i referenced at what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future. beyond that i refer you to the department of homeland security. reporter: obviously it was an act of terror, what is the significance of referring to the individual as a terrorist or referring to it as a terrorist incident? jen: i talked to the president about this that day as well. there's no question that when somebody go into a house of worship and threatens and holds hostage individuals who are there, that that is an act of terror. that's terrorism. that's why he called it that. we don't need to be -- it's very clear that's what it is. go ahead. reporter: back to voting rights for a minute. you mentioned that the white house is going to push back
against state ledge legislatures. can we expect to see more litigation from the department of justice around this? if you look at cases that have already been filed under section 2 we know historically that takes a long time, years, to resolve are. you confidence there's any action you could take that would result in any outcome before the mid terms? >> i refer you to the department of justice. as you know they have doubled their funding for voting rights protes but in terms of individual cases or legal intentions or actions i would point you to them. >> and health care and the affordable care act that was something president biden ran on, expanding the a.c.a. he was able to do that through the plan, but some of those -- is there a plan b, a considering of what steps could be taken if build back better doesn't pass? jen: here's the good news. there's a lot of interest, excitement and engagement with a
broad range of members of congress about the shared desire to get something done and to lower costs for health care for elder care, for child care. and those, there are a range of conversations ongoing of lots of ideas that we are discussing and engaged with. that is status. the president proposed this as part of his package because he, as you said, advocated for, ran on, fought for an expansion of access to health care, lower cost for health care. he also feels very strongly about lowering the cost of prescription drug, something he thinks shouldn't be controversial in this country. if you're not for lowering the cost of prescription drugs what are you for, republicans in congress is basic fundamental question. this is something we'll continue to discuss. we're continuing to fight for and work for but i know there have been a range of reports out there and i would just make very clear there's no specific proposal. we are we are just engaged in a rain mg of conversations with
members of congress abwhat to do next. reporter: can you provide an update on covid testing, has the hotline number been create? and resiliency tbebs crashes? that type of thing. jen: covidtest. gov is in beta phase which is standard, we didn't start from scratch here, the postal service already runs a website that sells goods to the public. every website launch in our view comes with risk. we can't guarantee there won't be a bug or two but the best tech teams across the administration and postal service are working hard to make this a success. it will officially launch tomorrow morning. it's in the beta testing phase right now. and i would also note that the u.s. digital service which was an organization founded after healthcare.gov, after the healthcare.gov rescue, has been supporting the postal service to ensure they have what they need to be successful in this critical moment.
looking tbar to an official launch tomorrow morning and right now it's in the beta phase. >> on ukraine and russia. you said the united states is ready for russia to engage at any time. i wanted to ask you about the immediate y narrative of the falsifying or alleging that russia is going to say that ukraine is going to attack russia. have you seen any indications of that? has that narrative been put into work yet? jen: we talked about this a fair amount of friday because we've seen efforts to push that narrative in the media and in the public. i think one of the key roles we can play here is making very clear that there is a long history of propaganda from russian leadership. that they use it as a tool to spread misinformation. as a means of gaining ground. and we should be very clear about what's accurate and inaccurate. that's an inaccurate narrative.
>> thank you. since there are so few reporters here, i'd like to ask about three transparency issues. the first one i'm kind of amazed hasn't been brought up more in this room. that is that "vanity fair" reported recently that on october 22 a group of health experts from harvard, rockefeller foundation and other groups proposed on a zoom meeting with administration, a plan to mass distribute coronavirus tests to homes before christmas but they were told three days after the meeting that that idea was dead. so i emailed you about this yesterday and again this morning so that you'd be able to track down a firm answer on two details here. the first detail is which administration officials attended that october # 2 meeting, for example, did doctors fauci and walensky participate? and was president biden personally breefned that recommendation before it was passed over.
jen: people haven't asked about it because we've done a lot of stuff that was discussed in that meeting including massively expanding the testing program and capacity. the issue at the time which was a very small part of the conversation was that the market had not expanded enough to at that moment in time be able to launch the website we're launching tomorrow. and the president, you know used the defense production act, invested $3 billion to expand it, quadrupled the size of testing capacity and now we've ordered one billion doses. we see that as our covid team, the members who participated thought it was a constructive meeting, a good meeting, a lot of which we worked to implement. >> the idea to mass distribute tests to homes before christmas, that idea was not adopted. how can president biden shut down the virus if he's not being briefed on these ideas. i mean that's my question. i'm wondering who were the advisers and was president biden briefed on this idea at the
time? jen: i think i just answered your question which you may not have been listen, maybe you were waiting to read your next question which is fine but i just answered your question -- let me finish, steven, i'm finishing. what i said to you just a minute ago is that we did not have the capacity at the moment. we had a very constructive meeting with this group. we agreed in the need to expand our testing capacity. that's why we quadrupled the size of testing capacity and why the president has already used the defense production act to invest $3 billion but the market didn't have the capacity at that moment to do what we are doing tomorrow. reporter: i hear what you're saying but that's not the question i asked. was president biden briefed at the time. jen: i answered your questions, if you have another one i'm happy to answer it. reporter: i didn't get answers there but i'll move on to another one. the second question is in light of president biden's first year coming to a close, the data indicates he spent a quarter of his days at least partially in
delaware. in light of that will the white house be reconsidering the decision not to release visitor log information from his delaware residences. jen: the president goes to delaware, because it's his home. it's where his son and former wife are buried and it's a place that's obviously close to his heart. a lot of presidents go visit their home when they are president. we also have begun a step further than the prior administration and many administrations in releasing visitor logs of people who visit the white house and will continue to do that. go ahead in the back. i think we're done and we're going to move on. in the back. reporter: it was reported this morning the biden administration is reviewing e-commerce ali baba's business for u.s. national security reasons. can you confirm? jen: i really have to check with our national security team on that. i'm happy to do that and will get back to you after the briefing. in the back.
>> i want to bring it become to voting rights. particularly the president's speech last week. i wonder if you can talk a little bit about how it came together and i wonder if you'll respond to criticism about it that it was too aggressive or divisive and that some of the rhetoric that he used wasn't, you know, conducive to getting folks who are opposed on board. jen: which piece do you want me to start with? reporter: whichever is best for you. jen: i would say first that, you know, the president delivered a power. speech about the protection of people's fundamental rights in this country which is their right to vote. their right to vote for anyone they choose. whether it is him or someone else. it was not a partisan speech. it was intended to lay out for the public exactly what is at stake and lay out for elected officials what's at stake. and he stands by everything he said in that speech. reporter: can you talk about how it came together? who did he or the white house
consult with? how did he land at this point? i'm trying to get to the genesis of it. jen: there have been discussions for months on voting rights on the hill with democrats, certainly an open door to republicans to have a discussion. among members and among staff about a path forward. something that 16 republicans who are serving today have supported in the past. and also he consulted a lot with civil rights leaders. we consulted with civil rights leaders. with voting rights activists and others who have been working around the clock to advocate for voting rights. ok. go ahead. reporter: first, what is the administration or white house doing today on the 5g controversy if anything in the remaining hours before the midnight deadline. jen: there are ongoing discussions right now with members of our economic team who are closely engaged with -- at the f.a.a., f.t.c., wire lescareier, aviation and airline
equipment and manufacturers to reach a solution. as you noted, tomorrow is the deadline. our objective is of course to reach a solution around 5g deployment that maintains the highest level of safety while minimizing disruptions to passenger travel. that's what we're working toward. everyone from secretary buttigieg to members of the economic team are closely engaged in these discussions. reporter: heading into the president's press conference tomorrow on the eve of his one-year anniversary he long said that he would talk straight from the shoulder, i think is his words, and to give an honest assessment of things. what is your honest assessment of the last year of the biden administration and how can the voting rights failure not be seen as some type of metaphor for these challenges? jen: i would say in terms of voting rights his view is that it's never a good idea not to shoot for the moon with what your proposals are and what you're fighting for. the alternative is to fight for nothing and to fight for nothing hard.
and sometimes, often time, as you know, you covered a couple of administration you don't get everything done in the first year. what we feel good about, and this is why i brought some of these chars to show the contrast is that coming into an incredible difficult circumstance, fighting a pandemic, and economic -- massive economic downturn as a result, an administration that was prior to us that did not effectively deal with a lot of these crises, that there's been a lot of progress made. we need to build on that. the work is not done. the job is not done. and we are certainly not conveying it is. so our objective and i think what you'll hear the president talk about tomorrow is how to build on the foundation we laid in the first year. >> on 5g the f.a.a. has had two years to come up with a plan to deal with this implementation. did the f.a.a. drop the ball
here? jen: there'll be lots of time to look back and see how we got here but right now over the next less than 24 hours what we're focused on is trying to come to a solution that will minimize travel -- travel disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations and our economic recovery. that is why it is so important to come to an agreement and ensure more planes are flying. reporter: ongoing right now, unless something dramatically changed which doesn't seem likely this is going to fail. you made clear the president is going to keep up this fight, with every last breath he has. does that mean that this is the top priority going forward legislatively? where is the putting his energy? jen: we can and will advocate for both. that is reflective of what's happening now too. of course voting rights is right frau being debated. it's going to be on the floor. the president was out last week
as you know giving a power. speech about why this is so important to move forward. at the same time we were having a range of conversations on build back better because we want to get that done. so we're going to keep fighting for both. reporter: the airlines are using dire language to describe what's going to happen tomorrow if the president doesn't step in and take action, they're saying the nation's commerce will grind to a halt, that the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will be grounded. does the president share the view that the airlines have about how bad this is going to be if the white house doesn't step in? jen: i think what we're trying to do now is come to a solution to avoid exactly that. it is true that if there are hundreds or thousands of flights that are grounded, that means not just restrictions to passenger travel, that also means cargo operations. it means that goods aren't moving around. as quickly and effectively as they need to in order to not have supply chain disruptions.
so this is something that we are very focused on. we've been closely engaged on. we want to avoid that and prevent it. reporter: can you explain why the f.a.a. and f.t.c. views are different. the f.a.a. shares some concerns the airlines have about the possible implications of implementing 5g wrz whereas the f.t.c. says -- f.c.c. doesn't see that. jen: part of this is having a negotiation and find a solution. i'm not going to speak to the f.t.c. our job is to prevent this becoming the economic disruption you referenced in your question. go ahead, joey. reporter: you mentioned the testing is already under way in regards to the covid-19 testing website. bhoiive colleagues discovered you are already able to purchast order them for free online. so you know, for people who are purchasing them today, are these
orders being registered? are they going to -- jen: yes. that's beta testing. we're going to launch it formally tomorrow morning. this is how we did vaccines. gov as well. it's part of the process. reporter: do you have an official rollout, what time in the morning? jen: i don't have the exact time for you at this moment but it's going to be out tomorrow morning. mid morning tomorrow. and we're looking forward to getting free tests out to the public. reporter: and the maryland governor yesterday said the federal government has fallen short in a couple of ways recently in regards to its covid-19 response. he pointed to the 500 million rapid testing the federal government has purchased tests. his state had already contracted rather than purchase new tests. he said we're high abing the tests we already have plans for and we're now getting some of those providers to tell us they no longer have them. what is the white house's response to that criticism that
the federal government is purchasing the same allotment of tests and hamstringing some state efforts here. jen: i'd have to check into that, on the accuracy of that with our covid team. i'm happy to do that. thanks so much, everyone. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy visit ncicap.org] >> c-spanshop.org is our online store. browse the latest collection of c spap product, apparel, books, home decor and accessories. something for every c-span fan and every purchase helps support our nonprofit organization. shop now or any time at c-spanshop.org. >> wednesday the head of the national guard testifies on prosecuting sexual misconduct within the military reserve.
watch that house armed services committee exphe hearing live at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. online at c-span.org. or full coverage on our free video app c-span now. >> american history tv, saturdays on c-span2. ex-plerring the people and events that tell the american story. at 10:00 a.m. eastern watch an event marking the 30th anniversary of justice thomas' confirmation to the u.s. supreme court. justice thomas is joined by senate minority leader mitch mcconnell reflecting on his time on the court. at 2:00 p.m. eastern, a look at the herbert hoover presidential library and museum with allen hoover iii, great grandson of herbert hoover. he talks about how the presidential library will revolve -- evolve in coming years. watch american history tv on saturday on c-span2 and find a full dise jewel on your program guide or watch online any time at c-span.org/history.
>> the indian prime minister delivered remarks in a virtual session of the world economic forum. he spoke about the pandemic, economic reforms in india and clie hat change. forum. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: on behalf of 130 crore indians, i convey my greetings to the dignitaries from all over the world gathered at the world economic forum. today when i am talking to you, as i speak to you today in the inciting cautiously and resolutely a new wave of the covid pandemic. at the same time on the economic front as well, india is moving forward with many results that give us