Psaki Bristles at Kristen Welker’s Unconstructive Questions


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki bristled at Kristen Welker’s repeated attempts to extract a “red line” on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, calling it an “unconstructive line of questioning.”

Psaki has spent several months telling reporters she won’t negotiate the multi-trillion-dollar duo of bills from the podium, but on Wednesday, reporters were still at it. NBC News’ Welker asked about the wrangling over paid leave.

Welker told Psaki that there has been “reporting that a compromise is coming together around paid leave. It would not include benefits for sick leave but would include benefits for new parents.”

“Is that consistent with your understanding of the latest version of what the paid leave benefits would look like?” she asked.

Psaki told Welker that “paid leave is personal to the President,” and that Biden’s “preference would be for it to be 12 weeks and expansive, but that “there’s not enough votes for that in Congress.”

“So, right now, we’re fighting to keep it included, but I don’t have a specific update on what it looks like in this moment,” Psaki said.

WELKER: Would he support a final piece of legislation that did not include paid leave in full — benefits for sick leave and new parents?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Kristen, what is important for people to understand here and know is: From the beginning, we have said the President was open to compromise. He has said that. He knew, and he knows from legislating for 36 years, you’re never going to get every single thing you want in a package. We know that.

WELKER: So, is that a yes?

MS. PSAKI: What — I think, Kristen, this is kind of not — an unconstructive, I would say, line of questioning in the sense that what we’re talking about here is getting a package that would make a historic investment in childcare, in eldercare — we’re fighting to have paid leave included in that; address the climate crisis — five times larger than anything that’s ever been done before in history; and expands access to healthcare.

There will be things that may not be in the package he wants to see. But what any president and any legislator looks at is the totality of the overarching impact. And this has — is on track to be enormous, impactful, historic.

WELKER: But — and I’m just trying to be clear, though: He’s not drawing a red line around this issue (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: I’m not drawing new red lines today.

But according to reporting later on Thursday, Democrats have dropped paid leave from the Build Back Better package because they were unable to get the support of Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin or a single Republican.

Watch above via C-Span.

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