White House press secretary Jen Psaki discusses stimulus package, school reopening

The White House press secretary tells "The View" that the Biden administration is "confident" schools can reopen "safely" and "quickly," adding that vaccinations "should be prioritized for teachers."
6:06 | 02/25/21

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Transcript for White House press secretary Jen Psaki discusses stimulus package, school reopening
Before I send you off to everybody else, I just want to commend the president for the candlelight vigil that he held with the nation. A very emotional tribute to the 500,000 Americans we lost to covid, and I was moved by his compassion, his message, and his call for all Americans to unify. I think it's quite possible, and if we all do it together, it can and will happen. So I just wanted to get that in before everybody else did their thing. So Sara, you're up next. Yes. President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package is set for a full house vote this week with aid to struggling businesses. Now it's expected to pass the house. It has some hurdles in the senate. Republicans and some Democrats are balking at the price tag, and the proposed minimum wage hike to $15 an hour. Now if you know the holdup will be this $15 minimum wage, you and know Americans need money now, why not just take it out for now? Should there be some compromise just to get these checks and this money and this help on the way? It's a great question, Sara, and I will say. This is democracy in action. It'll work its way through the house, and then go to the senate. The president put the increase in the minimum wage in the bill, in his original proposal because he felt it's long overdue. The people who are working hard, you know, just trying to make ends meet, they shouldn't live at the poverty line, and that's why he proposed it, and he hopes it stays in the bill, but we've got a little bit more work to go here in congress, and we'll see where it ends up at the end of the day. So Jen, president Biden projected that the majority of schools would be reopened during his first 100 days, sometime in April. Now the goal is grades K through 8 five days a week. Some teachers' unions say their teachers will only return if they're vaccinated even though the CDC said there is strong evidence in-person school can be done safely. I want to understand. This seems like it's more about politics than science. This is a huge conversation that not only friends of mine, but people from all over political spectrums are talking about. Most western countries have their children back in school and have been able to, and I think there's a frustration about what long-term damage can do. When can we expect kids to be back in school? Well, I couldn't agree more. This is the question. I have two little kids, and they're 2 and 5. This is the question my friends ask, my neighbors ask, and my friends from college text me everybody wants their kids to be back in school, but everybody wants their kids to be back in school safely, and that's what our focus is on. You mentioned vaccinations and we have some guidelines from the we want to make science cool again. We want science to be the driver of the decision-making that we move forward on, but we are confident that we can reopen we can reopen them safely, and we can do it quickly. Vaccinations are -- we think they should be prioritized for teachers, and half the states in the country are actually doing that, but they shouldn't be a rerequisite. That masking and social distancing can be part of that, but what the president is focused on is getting money through this American rescue plan so that teachers, schools can have that money so they can put in place these steps. Hiring more bus drivers, hiring more schoolteachers, being able to implement these recommendations made by the CDC. Okay, Jen. So the presidents a attorney general pick, Merrick Garland, vowed to hold everyone behind the capitol riots responsible and didn't rule out trump. So I completely agree that he gave them the marching orders. It was so obvious, but during Tuesday's senate hearings, Republicans like Josh Hawley tried to blame Pelosi and Ron Johnson and was spinning tinfoil hat conspiracy theories about the nonexistent antifa. Will president trump be held accountable? We're going to do something new here and we're going to have an independent justice department, and you saw Merrick Garland. I know you guys have been talking about this on your show. He had an incredibly powerful testimony. He answered tons of questions that you just referenced, joy, and he'll have to decide whether there's an investigation moving forward, and how that will proceed, and that's going to be a decision that's up to him. President Biden has vowed for that to be an independent justice department. I don't think Merrick Garland would have taken the job or accepted the job if he couldn't run it independently. We'll have to see what he does. I watched in horror as I'm sure many of you did. I was in my slippers at home, but in horror watching what happened on January 6th, and certainly we need to make sure that never happens again. So there's lots of steps that can be taken, a decision by the department of justice, whether or not they're going to pursue an investigation would be part of that. You know, Merrick Garland is likely to be confirmed next week, but neera tanden may not be because -- because of past tweets. Some Republicans say those tweets prove she's divisive and lacks the temperament necessary for the job. Is it the height of hypocrisy to hear a lesson on responsible tweeting from Republicans still seemingly attached to the, you know, disgraced, twice impeached, one-term president trump? I mean, what is this really about? Look. We're fighting our hearts out for neera tanden. I know her personally, and she is somebody who not only is incredibly experienced. She's got decades of experience, but she has -- she grew up as someone who's benefitting from a lot of the programs that she would oversee, overseeing the budget department, and, you know, that's important. That's having kind of a different perspective, and different point of view at the table. The president is pretty proud that he has nominated, and many of them are confirmed, some historic nominees who are also qualified, and he is hopeful that the senate will continue to consider nominees for their qualifications for what they would bring to the job, and we're still fighting for neera tanden. So stay tuned. We're still working on it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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