Aboard Air Force One
En Route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
11:39 A.M. EDT
MS. DALTON: So, as you know, we’re on our way to Philadelphia, where President Biden will deliver remarks on how Bidenomics is fueling America’s clean energy future. We’re creating American-made projects in American factories with American workers and attracting more than $500 billion in private-sector manufacturing and clean energy investments that will support good-paying jobs.
In Philadelphia, the President will visit the Philly Shipyard for a steel-cutting ceremony for the Acadia, a vessel that will be used to help build offshore wind farms. The Acadia and the offshore wind farms it will help build are expected to support hundreds of new union jobs. The company building the Acadia, called Great Lakes Dredge & Dock, has stated that it would not have entered the growing U.S. offshore wind market were it not for the Biden-Harris administration’s clean energy policies.
While in Philadelphia at the steel-cutting, the President will also announce the first-ever offshore wind sale in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Philadelphia, the President will be joined by Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, as well as Representatives Brendan Boyle, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Donald Norcross, and Joe Courtney.
With that, Darlene.
Q Two questions, two topics really quickly. Is the U.S. any closer to determining where Private King is being held in North Korea? And how does the U.S. expect to get him back to America if North Korea is not even willing to talk about it?
MS. DALTON: Here’s the latest I can tell you on Private King: As of this morning, the White House remains in close contact with DOD, with the Department of State, with the U.N., with our Swedish partners and our South Korean partners to ascertain the whereabouts and the well-being of Private King.
I can tell you: This morning, we’ve now reached out through multiple channels to the KPA to try to ascertain that information and get to — get closer to an answer. We’re still looking for more information about what has exactly occurred here at the moment.
We’ll continue to keep you all closely apprised, but, of course, our top goal remains to, you know, again, ascertain his well-being and whereabouts and get him home as quickly as possible.
Q And then, does the White House have any comment on the diplomatic situation involving Iraq expelling the ambassador from Sweden — the Swedish ambassador to Iraq over another Quran burning? And any concern that that might affect Sweden’s NATO bid?
MS. DALTON: Honestly, I haven’t seen that and those news reports yet this morning, so I’ll have to take that question and follow up with you.
Q The White House said last night — raised the possibility of Russia doing attacks on further grain shipments in the Black Sea. Are you concerned about those types of attacks drawing in other countries to this conflict?
MS. DALTON: Certainly, I wouldn’t want to get into any hypothetical situations. But we’re deeply concerned about what we’re seeing in the Black Sea right now.
We’ve now seen three straight days of Russian attacks — missile and drone attacks on port cities on the Black Sea that are part of a continued attack on — on Ukraine in an effort to essentially reinstate its blo- — its — its blockade of the Black — of Ukrainian Black Sea ports — ports with a deep impact to food insecurity not just in the region, but across the globe. And we’re deeply concerned about that.
I think, as you alluded to, we’ve also seen increased information coming from Russia and other sources that not only has Russia been attacking these, you know, port cities across the last few days, we’ve seen indications that they are essentially preparing to, as you — as you noted, atta- — potentially attack civilian vessels carrying grain through the Black Sea.
They alluded to the fact that they would consider any civilian vessel in the Black Sea a possible shipment containing military carg- — cargo. So, we can elucidate from that what they might intend to do.
We’re deeply concerned about that. We’ve already seen the impact, as I said, to food security, with 60,000 tons of grain already being destroyed this week. And again, yeah, we are deeply concerned.
We’ll — we’re going to continue to do everything that we can to shore up Ukraine and others across the globe as they continue to deal with the impact of that.
Q TSMC is delaying its Arizona manufacturing plant until 2025 because of worker shortages and higher prices. Is the President concerned that some of his priorities won’t be done until the end of his term?
MS. DALTON: So, TSMC is best to speak to their construction timelines. But what I can tell you is, obviously, we’ve seen, as a result of the CHIPS and Science Act and the President’s historic accomplishments in this — in this sector — we’ve seen historic manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, and the associated jobs and private investment coming back to our shores.
With respect to TSMC, this is a historic — historic investment. We believe strongly — we’re still confident that as a result of the provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act that provide for the workforce development, which I think is connected to what you’re alluding with TS- — TSMC announced today, the workforce provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act will enable us to ensure that we have the workforce we need, have the American sk- — skilled laborers that we need to help companies like TSMC follow through on their commitments, follow through their — on their investments in America, and maximize the economic potential of these projects going forward.
Q Olivia, a question about today’s trip. The President is going to be touting what he calls “Bidenomics.” It doesn’t seem to be resonating, based upon polls that I’ve seen, with the public. His numbers, as it relates to how he’s managing the economy, remain below water. Why do you suppose his economic message, what he’s done during the course of his time in office, has not resonated with the American public?
MS. DALTON: Look, when you look at the individual — when you look at things like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, when you think — look at the Inflation Reduction Act, when you think — look at the CHIPS and Science Act, these are all important accomplishments that have large majorities — large bipartisan majorities of support from the American people.
And part of what we’re doing today is getting out there and talking to American people about that.
We think that — you know, look, broadly speaking, over the last few years, you know, the President came into office on the heels — you know, at the tail end of a pandemic.
You know, obviously, we saw the global impact on inflation that Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine had. Certainly, the American people felt that. Right? They came through a rough period.
And even though we’ve seen tremendous economic gains across the last couple of years, you know, we — record low inflation, record low unemployment matched with rising wages — we see a lot of signs and resilience in our economy and we’re, of course, outpacing the world in terms of our — our economic recovery, we are still going to — it’s still going to take a minute for Americans to feel the full impact of that.
And so, part of what we’re doing today is going out to Philly and showing people how Bidenomics is delivering.
Q The South Korean presidential office said that President Biden would be meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Camp David in August. I’m want to give you guys a chance to confirm that news, comment on that news.
MS. DALTON: I don’t have anything to confirm for you today.
Q Shocked by that. (Laughs.)
One more question on Senator Tuberville. The latest currently is that he said a failed Senate vote won’t make him drop his hold. So, what are the next steps for the administration?
MS. DALTON: Look, we’re going to continue to call on Senator Tuberville to stop playing politics with our military, stop playing politics with the NDAA process, which has historically been a bipartisan effort. You’ve seen the consequences already to our military, with- — without a Marine Commandant for the first time in 100 years, the ripple effects to hundreds of military families across the — across the system already.
These are really deeply impactful, dangerous consequences that have been the result of one senator’s unfortunate hold on all of our nominees and, again, playing politics with the NDAA.
So, we’re going to continue to call on Senator Tuberville to stop playing politics with our military, stop interfering with our military readiness. And we’re going to continue to call on Republicans in the Senate and the House to do everything that they can to stand up to that kind of behavior too.
MS. DALTON: Sorry, we’re —
Q Can we get one more question?
MS. DALTON: One more.
Q It’s been a week since the White House suggested that both Manchin and Sinema were —
MS. DALTON: I’m so sorry. We’ve got to sit down.
AIR FORCE ONE FLIGHT CREW: I’m going to need all of you in your seats as well.
MS. DALTON: Thanks, guys.
11:47 A.M. EDT