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White House deputy press secretary on Biden's speech and plans for jobs and families

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White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" host Elaine Quijano ahead of President Biden's first address to Congress on Wednesday. They spoke about the plans for the speech as well as the president's efforts to sell lawmakers on his infrastructure and family spending plans.

Video Transcript

ELAINE QUIJANO: There are some historic firsts happening tonight. Vice President Kamala Harris will call the proceedings to order. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will formally introduce President Biden to Congress.

It's the first time two women will flank an American president, as he delivers an address to a joint session of Congress. Among the issues we expect to hear about tonight are police reform, immigration, guns, foreign policy, the pandemic, and as we mentioned, the president's new American Families Plan.

For more on that, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joins me now. Karine, welcome back to "Red & Blue." Thanks very much for being with us. President Biden has spent nearly the--


ELAINE QUIJANO: Thank you. Well, the president has spent nearly the past five decades attending events like the one tonight. Now, though, only a fraction of Congress will attend. So how is the White House working to make sure his message reaches those lawmakers whose votes are needed to pass the president's priorities?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me just first say, you know, tonight is going to be very different because clearly we're dealing with a pandemic. So visually, it will look like a very different joint session. It's also on the eve of his first 100 days.

And like you said, Elaine, he's going to talk about break down the elements of the American Families Plan which is a plan that's going to invest in people and kids and families. And the breakdown of those pieces are going to be education, health care, child care, which is incredibly important. This is all part of a bigger plan that he talked about during the campaign which is building back better.

We heard about a month ago about the American Jobs Plan which is an infrastructure plan that he put forth. And so, you know, he's going to continue to push that out there to talk directly to the American people. That's how he sees this evening.

And then he's going to go on tour to continue that conversation with the American people talking about the work that we've done this past 100 days when it comes to the pandemic, when it comes to passing American Rescue Plan. And to your question, he's been meeting with folks in a bipartisan way from the Hill. And he's going to continue to have those conversation in these next upcoming weeks as well.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Karine, as we've been speaking here, I'm seeing now that the White House has just released excerpts of the president's address tonight. And I just want to read for our viewers a bit of what he's going to say.

It looks like towards the top of the address, he will say, "As I stand here tonight, we are just one day shy of the 100th day of my administration, 100 days since I took the oath of office, lifted my hand off our family Bible, and inherited a nation in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War."

Karine, my question is for those who are still of the belief that the election was stolen, that, in fact, they look at President Biden. And in their eyes, they believe in a very deep and profound way that he is not a legitimate president. What is it that President Biden will say to address those people?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, you know, I'll say this, Elaine. The president, in part, was elected because people saw him unifying this country. And he says this all the time. And he says it most of the time almost behind-- any time he's behind a mic. And he'll say, I'm not just a Democratic president. I'm a president for everyone, whether you voted for me or you didn't. And I think that's what he's going to continue to convey.

And when you look at his policies-- when you look at the three big pieces of legislation that he put forth-- the American Rescue Plan which met the moment that we were going through with the pandemic and the economic crisis, which is actually working. We have evidence that that's doing well-- that had bipartisan support overwhelmingly.

You look at the American Jobs Plan. That has bipartisan support. Even on how to pay for it, people agree with the president on that plan. And now, you have the American Families Plan where there's many elements inside of that plan that has overwhelming support.

So we're just going to continue to have that conversation, again, directly with the American people. Something that we just announced right before I came on air, as well, we're going to-- the president's going to meet with the big four on May 12 in Congress. And that's a leadership from each chamber.

And he's going to sit down with them and continue to have that bipartisan support because he understands the importance of it. So if his plans has bipartisan support outside of Washington DC, he believes that the plan should have bipartisan support, as well, right here on the Hill right behind us on the Hill here.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Right, and so there's big four-- that meeting on May 12. That will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, as well as House Minority Leader McCarthy.

Just a bit more of the excerpts, Karine. And then I want to ask you a question. The president will say, according to these excerpts-- in speaking of his American Jobs Plan, he will say that nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan don't require a college degree. 75% don't require an associate's degree.

The American Jobs Plan is a blue collar blueprint to build America. Is that a tacit acknowledgment that there is some work that needs to be done for the Democratic party to get back some of that support from blue collar workers?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I'll tell you this, Elaine. You know, he talked about, as I mentioned, the build back better plan that he talked about during the campaign. And that is something that he truly believes that we need to build back our economy better than even before the pandemic because here's the thing.

If we're talking about economic growth, if we're talking about the GDP going up, unemployment going down, everyone should feel that. That is the blue collar. That is American families. That is working families, lower-income families. And right now, that is not happening.

And so this is what he believes and has talked about when he speaks about his economic policies, making sure that no one gets left behind, which is currently happening. And so we have to do this better than we've done this before. And so that's what the American Jobs Plan is about. That's what the American's Families Plan is about.

How do we bring everyone together in kind of one group and have equality, as well, in the middle of this? So that's what he's talking about in that speech when he's mentioning how it does it, including everyday people, if you will, who don't have college degrees-- who don't have what would you consider for people to be successful in this country to get their fair share here.

ELAINE QUIJANO: These proposals when you add up the price tag here are trillions of dollars. Is the president's goal to make big government more appealing to the country?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: You know, one of the things that you'll hear tonight, Elaine, is how government works and how democracy works. And it's important to send that message, because in this moment of crisis, we need to be able, as a government, as a federal government, to say that we are going to help American families. We're going to make their lives better. We're going to meet them where they are and also try to lift them up. And so that's what he's talking about is making sure that we continue to do the work to make lives better.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Karine Jean-Pierre from the White House. Karine, thank you very much for joining us on this very busy night. We appreciate it.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Elaine. Thank you.