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Press secretary on new CDC mask guidance, President Biden's address to joint session of Congress

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the CDC's new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans.

Video Transcript

- White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki joins us to bring us up to date on the latest what they're talking about in the Biden White House. Listen, Jen, I know this is going to be a very long day for you, but something tells me you like long days. So we thank you for taking the time.

JEN PSAKI: I do, Gayle. And a little secret is I'm wearing comfortable shoes right now. You can't see them. But it's a big day here at the White House, no question.

- I know, big night for team Biden. But let's start with raising the taxes on the wealthy. I can envision a lot of wealthy people, Jen right now going, huh, come again. What did you say?

On paper you don't appear to have GOP support for that. So how will you guys pull that off? You need the GOP support.

JEN PSAKI: Sure, Gayle, we do. But first the most important thing here is this is a really bold proposal, the American families plan. The American families plan is going to ensure that kids across the country, families across the country, get four years of additional education, universal pre-K. That's not a partisan proposal. That's something people across the country really could benefit from.

But the president believes we should propose a way to pay for it. So what you're talking about is raising the top rates, the top tax rates, for 1% of Americans. 1%, the top rate. Going back to what the rates were during former President George W Bush's presidency to help pay for that. And we think they can afford to do that.

- We keep hearing that there are meetings behind the scenes between Republicans and Democrats. Joe Biden said he wanted to be a unifier. So far people say that's not working out so well. Are there any Republicans you can single out who you say behind the scenes are really being very helpful in this?

JEN PSAKI: Well, I don't think it would be helpful to them if I called them out. But I will say, Gayle that the way the president looks at bipartisanship and bring the country together, is how the American people are receiving and digesting things. And the American Rescue Plan, the majority of the public supported that. The majority of the public wants to have lower and middle income families to have access to universal pre-K.

These are things the American people need, they want, they deserve. So we're talking about here is bringing together members in Washington. That's also important. There was a proposal, a counterproposal, just last week presented from some Republicans and we're looking forward to having a discussion about where we can find agreement moving forward. And I expect the president will invite members down to the White House next week.

- Jen, I want to shift gears to the fight against the coronavirus. The rate of daily vaccinations in America has fallen in recent days, down to about 2.7 million from a high of 3.4. Are we falling off track? In other words, are we still on track for a July 4 return to normalcy as the White House would hope?

JEN PSAKI: We absolutely are, Tony. And this is a really important point because we've shifted, about last week, we shifted from a place of being concerned about supply to really being focused on meeting people where they are. We know at this point that all of our energies and our efforts from the White House, from the government, from the COVID team, in partnership with governors and public health officials, is to really meet people where they are.

Get to those communities where people are concerned, where they're worried about taking a day off of work, where they don't know how to get the vaccine. We've massively expanded the number of pharmacies, now 40,000. We're partnering as of last week with local doctors.

And we're really working to get to people and let them know this is effective. It's going to help you not wear a mask outside, as we just announced yesterday. And you know, this is the stage we always expected we'd be in at this point in time.

- Jen, we and other networks keep talking about how there is a core group of people who are not intending to get vaccinated and disproportionately, those are Republicans. In our poll it was about 30% of Republicans say they do not intend to get vaccinated. Is there a plan to bring them on board? Or when you look at the numbers, is the mathematical reality, you just don't need them?

JEN PSAKI: Well, we always need, want to get as many people vaccinated as we can and that's not a political question. But I would say, Tony that we've seen some, the encouraging news I should say, is that we've seen some improvements, some increased levels of confidence among more conservative White Republicans. We've also seen an increase in confidence among Black and Brown communities as more of their friends and neighbors get vaccinated.

And the way that we're investing the $3 billion that we're doing through health and Human Services, getting out to communities across the country, is we're really empowering and helping to fund local doctors, civic leaders, clergy. It's not going to be me or even President Biden telling people get the vaccine who doesn't agree with them. It's going to be people they trust in their community. And that's really where our focus is at this point.

- Yeah. Hey, Jen, when it comes to money, right now the federal government is footing the bill for every single vaccine for every American, but we keep hearing about booster shots in years to come. Is the government going to pay indefinitely or is there going to be a point at which it stops?

JEN PSAKI: Well, first the FDA's still reviewing the need for a booster shot. And obviously, we are overpreparers, over suppliers, that's our job in the federal government. So we're going to order enough supply to ensure that we have that should we need it.

But we're not quite at that point yet. And we'll have to determine how widely it's needed, how frequently it's needed, and we'll make an assessment about how we can ensure the vast majority of the public can get access.

- Jen, 100 days, big, big speech tonight. I'm sure you guys are still dotting the I's and crossing the T's. What grade are you giving yourselves? I know it's early. What grade are you giving yourselves first 100 days?

JEN PSAKI: On the first 100 days, look, Gayle I will let others grade. But I will tell you that, I will tell you that the president's focus coming in, all of our focuses, was on getting the pandemic under control, putting people back to work. We passed a historic plan, the American Rescue Plan, that's going to help people with that bridge. But also more than 200 million shots have been put into arms.

So we feel pretty good about that.

- OK, then give yourself a grade, Jen. Give yourself a grade.

JEN PSAKI: Well, I'm not here to give grades. I'll let other guys give us grades, Gayle. But you guys can give us grades. But I will say what people will hear from him tonight is not just how far we've come, but the fact that government can work. Democracy can work.

Now's the time to be bold. The American Families Plan is part of that plan. But he is also going to talk about police reforms we needed, the need to put gun safety measures in place, immigration. That's all going to be in his speech tonight, too.

- Police reforms, very important right now, the country's--

JEN PSAKI: No question.

- Yeah. The country's not in a good place on that issue right now. Thank you, Jen Psaki, really good to see you.

JEN PSAKI: Thank you. Great to see you.

- Bye, bye. And we will bring you a special report on the president's address to Congress tonight at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CBS. Norah O'Donnell will be leading that coverage.