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White Press Office Feed

Saturday, February 1, 2014



Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 1/31/14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:43 P.M. EST
MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon. Thanks for being here on Friday. It’s always a good day. It’s a little warmer I noticed. I have no announcements at the top except to say that I hope you were able to cover the President’s remarks at the long-term unemployment event today and recognize, as he does, that it’s vitally important that we come together to address this challenge. The long-term unemployed represent a significant problem within the issue of reducing the overall unemployment rate. And today’s action, I think, demonstrates the President’s desire to use every tool in his toolbox to expand opportunity, bring people together, and put more people back to work.
I’ll do the week ahead at the end, so I’ll go to questions now.
Q On immigration, in the interview the President gave to CNN he said he’s not going to prejudge what gets to his desk. And I was wondering if that is in some way him signaling that he is now open to possibly signing an immigration bill that does not have a pathway to citizenship in it, as he has insisted in the past that it needed to be approved.
MR. CARNEY: It means that he won’t prejudge what he hopes will be a bill that reaches his desk when, at this point, that bill, at least in the House, does not yet even exist. What the President said and others have noted is that we have seen significant and important progress, first in the Senate with a bipartisan bill that embodies the principles the President laid out, and now in the House, where it’s fair to say that the operating position a year or so ago was self-deportation; now there is movement. And that’s a good thing.
But we’re still early in this process and we are mindful of the fact that the House needs to take action, and we look forward to a debate being engaged in the country about why it’s so important to have comprehensive immigration reform, why it is so beneficial to the middle class, to the economy. There’s a reason why such a diverse coalition in support of legislation like this exists -- business and labor and pastors and police officers. It’s because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s so good for the economy and the country, for our security, and for the capacity for this nation to continue to be the home of innovation and entrepreneurship.
So I think the fact that the House leadership is now talking about its principles is a good thing. That’s what happened in the Senate. They started with principles and then they moved forward -- the Gang of Eight did -- with legislation. It certainly is where the President began when he put forward his principles.
So we remain, as the President noted yesterday and in previous days, very hopeful that 2014 will be the year that we get this done.
Q But when someone says they won’t prejudge something, it seems to me that it means they’re open to something else, or something different from what they wanted before.
MR. CARNEY: But the President’s position is well known. He said it on multiple occasions. It’s in black and white on the website in his statement of principles. It’s embodied in the legislation passed by the Senate. And the important thing is this is not about his view versus the view that may be embraced by some members of the House of Representatives. His view is the view of so many different people and constituencies across the country on the matter of citizenship and creating a pathway to it; on the general principle that we shouldn’t have a two-tiered society. But this is the beginning of a process in the House, not the end, and what he is saying is that he’s not going to prejudge that process when at this point, we have a single sheet of paper.
Q Can I ask one question quickly on the long-term unemployed event? What is the accountability piece of that? In other words, how will you know that these companies are not discriminating against long-term unemployed people?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think a far greater expert on this than I, our Director of the National Economic Council, spoke at length with folks about this broader issue and the initiative, and what it means, what the commitments represent. And I think it reflects the fact that there are ways that a President, and in this case this President, can use the unique powers of the office to bring enormously important stakeholders to the table, or to the room, to address a challenge like this.
Now, all of the companies that have made commitments, some of them the biggest brand names in the world, have made clear that they’re going to move forward on this and they obviously have a lot at stake in fulfilling that obligation that they’re making. And that’s a good thing, and they should be commended for it. And that’s what the President did today.
Q Jay, has the President called Harry Reid to discuss his opposition to the fast track authority?
MR. CARNEY: Steve, as I said yesterday, Leader Reid’s position on this issue is well known. It was known prior to what he said earlier this week. We’re focused on, as the President has made clear, moving forward on trade agreements that expand opportunity for American workers, expand American exports and therefore growth, and that include protections on the environment and for American workers. And that’s what we’re going to continue to focus on doing. But again, as I can’t really go -- be more direct than I was yesterday, that the Leader’s position on this was known prior to this week.
Q But I guess, is the President going to actively seek to change Senator Reid’s mind?
MR. CARNEY: Again, what I can tell you is that the President is going to make clear in the days and weeks ahead why he supports expanding American exports, why trade agreements with Asia and Europe are good for American workers, good for the United States, good for our economy. And he is going to, and we are going to, the administration is going to, and others involved are going to engage Democrats and Republicans and other stakeholders in that discussion.
Q It’s being widely reported that the State Department will soon release its report on the Keystone Pipeline. What will the President’s or the White House involvement be in the next phase of this process?
MR. CARNEY: As the State Department has said, it will, the State Department, release its final environmental impact statement soon, and I would direct you to them for any further details. As a reminder, I would note that when that document is released, it does not or will not represent a decision, but rather another step in the process.
To go to your question about that process, there will be an opportunity after the release of the EIS for both the public and other government agencies to comment before the State Department makes its final national interest determination.
And again, for more details on the process, which is run at the State Department, I would refer you to the State Department.
Q One last thing -- will the President weigh in with the State Department?
MR. CARNEY: There’s a longstanding process, Steve, in place to determine whether projects like this are in the national interest. The President last year in a speech at Georgetown spoke very clearly about the national interest component of this project in particular. So I would refer to what he said.
And at this point the process is now at the State Department, and we’re going to let that run its course, as is in keeping with past practice of previous administrations.
Q Getting back to this question about path to legalization, you said that the President doesn't want a two-tiered society. But if you only grant the millions of undocumented people in this country a pathway to legalization and not citizenship, and those people are in this country, they're playing by the rules, they're working hard, they're paying their taxes, but they have no hope of obtaining citizenship, doesn't that, in fact, create a two-tiered type of society?
MR. CARNEY: Jim, I think the President’s position on this is crystal-clear. He’s said it in his own words more times than I can remember. It’s reflected in the principles he laid out, which were the foundation for the legislation that was crafted by the Gang of Eight in the Senate, passed by the Senate with a strong bipartisan majority. His principles are embraced. They're not just his principles, but the principles he laid out that reflect the consensus out there are widely embraced. And what’s important to note now is that the process is moving forward. There is progress.
The fact, as I noted before, that the House leadership has demonstrated and made clear -- Speaker Boehner, Chairman Ryan and others made clear that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, that Congress needs to act on, that's obviously progress. And I don't think it would be a surprise that their principles might differ to some degree from the President’s, but the fact is what those principles represent is a significant evolution in the positive direction from where they were.
Q The President’s principles on a pathway to citizenship have not changed.
MR. CARNEY: Have not changed.
Q Okay. And, Jay, on Syria, I know you were asked about this during the gaggle, yesterday I believe, on -- I guess there are some reports that it appears Syria is dragging its feet a little bit on chemical weapons. Any update on that?
MR. CARNEY: I can say a little bit more about that. The international community is poised and ready to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons as soon as the chemicals have reached the Syrian Port of Latakia. It is the Assad regime’s responsibility to transport the chemicals to Latakia safely to facilitate their removal. And we expect them to meet their obligation to do so.
Syria must immediately take the necessary actions to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118, and ensure that the removal effort is conducted with regularity rather than after long intervals. We all know the Syrian regime has the capability to move these weapons. We know that because they’ve been moved multiple times before, during the conflict. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has officially noted this capability in his report.
So let me quote him here. As Secretary General Ban said, “The Syrian Arab Republic has sufficient material and equipment necessary to carry out multiple ground movements to ensure the expeditious removal of chemical weapons material, and that it is imperative that Syria intensifies its efforts to expedite in-country movements of chemical weapons and continues to meet its obligations” under Security Council Resolution 2118 and OPCW Executive Council decision.
So we’re going to continue to work with our partners on this to keep up the pressure on the Assad regime and to support the OPCW-U.N. joint mission’s operations.
Q And what are the consequences if Syria does not follow through, if they continue to drag their feet on this?
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, they have obligation here. They have committed to doing this. This is a regime that refused to acknowledge that it possessed chemical weapons until a very short time ago and has now committed to not only acknowledging that it possesses the weapons, but moving them so they can be destroyed. And the United States and our partners in this effort will insist that Syria meet its commitments.
Let me go up and back here. Jared.
Q Thanks. I know Steve asked this question, but I’m still kind of confused related to Keystone. I know that the potential announcement today is just another step in the process, but is there going to be a time after the agencies and after the public has a time -- or has a time to comment that the President will weigh in? I mean, basically, this seems like such an important issue that it would be hard for me to conceive that the President wouldn’t be the person making the final decision after all the various steps are taken -- the environmental impact review, the public gets to comment. I mean, how could he not be the person making the final decision? Or would it be Secretary Kerry?
MR. CARNEY: The President has been, as I said earlier, clear about his views on what factor should play a role in determining whether this project fits that definition in terms of our national interest -- is it in our national interest. He spoke about this explicitly last year at his speech in Georgetown, so I would refer you to that as a clear exposition of the President’s views, not just generally, but on this specific project.
Now we can move forward, and there is a process that is in place and that must be honored, and that process goes through a series of steps; one, as the State Department has indicated, will take place soon with the release of an environmental impact statement. Then there is comment by the public and agencies, and the process moves forward from there. So I’m not going to predict how that works. For questions about how the process works or how it ends, I’d refer you to the State Department -- because that’s the way that you do these things, by the book.
The President’s views on the general matter and on this issue have been expressed.
Q And I understand you don’t want to lay out how the State Department is going to take its own steps, but why are you hesitant to say what he’s going to do after the State Department has taken all of its steps?
MR. CARNEY: Because I’m not going to make a statement about what the President is going to do based on something that hasn’t happened yet.
Q But is he going to do something --
MR. CARNEY: I have nothing -- I’m not going to predict the future, Jared. I think that’s he’s expressed his views on this matter and there’s a process underway at the State Department.
Q Jay, can I follow on that?
MR. CARNEY: Certainly.
Q I’m not sure he has expressed his views on that matter -- on this matter.
MR. CARNEY: Let me quote, if I may.
Q Please.
MR. CARNEY: “Allowing the Keystone Pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem with carbon pollution.”
Q That’s exactly what I want to ask you about.
MR. CARNEY: “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.” That’s a quote from the President’s speech at Georgetown University.
Q Does that mean that cheaper crude oil would exacerbate carbon pollution?
MR. CARNEY: It means what it says. There’s an environmental impact statement that’s being done in keeping with past practice. And for assessments related to the EIS I would refer you to the State Department.
Q But the President’s own worry -- his own question about whether it would exacerbate carbon pollution, is that a suggestion that --
MR. CARNEY: I think it’s pretty clear here. He says, “Only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution, the net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”
Q Let me then ask you about the 18 environmental organizations that wrote the President earlier this month saying his all-of-the-above energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with cutting carbon pollution; that the energy policy goals of the administration make addressing climate change more difficult. I presume you do not agree with that. Why?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not sure which statement you’re talking about. We have reduced carbon pollution in this country under the President through the historic emissions standards that have been set and other steps that have been taken and will be taken.
We have pursued an all-of-the-above energy strategy, which has had -- or has contributed to a situation for the first time in 20 years where we are producing more oil at home than we’re importing from abroad, which enhances our national security and our energy independence. So absolutely, we strongly support an all-of-the-above energy approach. And all-of-the-above means -- includes natural gas, and the fact that it is a cleaner burning fuel is a positive thing for our environment. It includes wind and solar and biofuel technologies. You’ve heard it all before so I won’t delve into the details, but that's the right approach for the country, and it’s an approach that's paying dividends.
Q Jay, following up on that --
Q -- is the Keystone issue a headache for the President?
MR. CARNEY: Have you sent any emails today?
Q Not today. (Laughter.) Is the Keystone issue a headache for the President?
MR. CARNEY: Nobody followed that. You don't have enough followers. Okay, go ahead.
Q (Laughter.) Oooh --
MR. CARNEY: Or maybe I don't. But Reed inadvertently sent me an email meant for his editor, but it was all good. (Laughter.)
Q It could have been --
MR. CARNEY: No, he was completely fine. It could have been so much worse. (Laughter.) Go ahead. Sorry. Reid, I’m sorry. I thought -- you know, that's the funny thing about it, like you just think everybody sees what you see on Twitter, and they don't. But go ahead.
Q Is the Keystone issue a headache for the President or for the White House to have to be sort of torn between his environmental allies and sort of this idea of having to wait for the State Department process to play out?
MR. CARNEY: No. Obviously, these issues are complex. They require the sort of rigorous approach and assessments that are being undertaken by the State Department. And that is what it is. And the process is underway. A stage in that process is going to be reached, and soon. And the process will continue after that.
Q On the topic, isn’t the President a little bit frustrated? It’s been five years. I know in Ottawa, they are frustrated that it’s been taking so long. Isn’t the President a little bit frustrated that nothing is coming fast? I understand the process, but five years is a long process.
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I would say that the State Department has said it will release its final environmental impact statement soon, and that’s a development in the process towards the direction of conclusion. So there’s that. And I won’t bore you with the history of why the process has taken as long as it has, but a significant reason for that has been the decision by -- was the decision by Republicans in Congress to make an ideological issue out of this, which set the process back.
Q If I can go back to immigration for a moment, it did seem as though the President was saying that there was little difference between what the Republican principles were suggesting on pathway and what his principles were. And that little difference is what I’m interested in. The Republican principles call for legalization, and then going -- still being able to apply for citizenship, as I understand it, but just like everybody else does, without having to go back to your home country. So why wouldn’t that be acceptable to the President since his principle and what the Senate has already passed means something similar, where they would remain in this country and then get in a line that takes 12 to 15 years? So what is the difference?
MR. CARNEY: Again, here is a significant difference. There’s a significantly comprehensive bill that was developed and written, debated and passed in the Senate, and there’s a single piece of paper in the House. The details matter, and they matter a lot to millions of people across the country. So the President’s principles are very clear. His view that --
Q But he seemed to muddle just a little bit with this interview.
MR. CARNEY: No, no, he didn’t. What he is noting is that there is significant progress here, and that’s a positive development. It is in keeping with our view that there’s an opportunity in 2014 for comprehensive immigration reform to become a reality, to reach his desk in a form that he could sign it. Nobody is suggesting we’re there yet. I don’t think House Republicans would suggest we’re there yet. They have simply taken a step forward in that process, in many ways a beginning step -- the same beginning step that the President took, that the Senate took through the Gang of Eight, and now the House is taking. And that’s a positive thing.
But to say that we know what that process looks like at the end and we’re going to judge it now based on what it looks like at the beginning, I think is a mistake. And so that’s why the President is saying he’s not going to prejudge an outcome when we’re only at the beginning of a process in the House.
Q But if I could just point on that a little bit -- but the principle that the President has expressed and that was turned into legislation in the Senate versus the principle that the GOP has talked about in their one-pager that you’re talking about, if that resulted in legislation which reflected that principle, it sounds like the President is saying, “It’s that far apart, not much of a difference.” Am I reading too much into what he said?
MR. CARNEY: There’s a key word, only two letters, in your question: “If.” And you say a lot of things about what the final product might look like that is something that can’t be described in a single sentence because it’s going to have to be the result of a lot of debate and discussion and expert development, as was the case in the Senate, and we will see where that process leads.
The President’s principles, what the President supports, are very clear. And I would remind you, that’s not just the President’s view. This is not really about him at all, because what the Senate bill represents is not only a bipartisan piece of legislation, but the views and the will of an enormously diverse coalition across the country that understands, together, that comprehensive immigration reform delivers enormous benefits to the nation, to the middle class; to economic growth, as the CBO has noted in scoring the Senate bill; to border security. We’ve made enormous strides in border security over the last five years. The Senate bill, if implemented, would significantly enhance and build upon our security.
And then when it comes to making sure that everybody plays by the same set of rules, employers all play by the same rules, and making sure that we have a process in place that allows for exceptional students from abroad who come here and study and want to start businesses here to do that -- I mean, this is a big piece of business with enormous benefits. And you don’t often see coalitions like this come together -- a bunch of groups that don’t often see eye to eye on major issues, and they all agree on this, and they all agree on the principles that the President also shares.
So it’s not a question of his principles versus somebody else’s principles. There’s a big chunk of the country that shares the same view.
Q Jay, as it relates to Amanda Knox, can you see any circumstance under which the U.S. would not grant an extradition request?
MR. CARNEY: This is a matter, as I understand it from my reading of the press, that’s still in a legal proceeding. And for questions about that issue I would refer you to the -- as a broad principle as opposed to a matter that’s still in a legal process, I would refer you to the State Department and the Department of Justice.
Q Broadly, has the President paid any attention to this given the fact that it’s got -- American interest?
MR. CARNEY: I have not had a discussion with him about the issue.
Q Okay. I want to ask you a little bit about what happened today, the remarks that the President made and what you said earlier in your conversation with reporters here about what the President’s desire is to have these best practices in terms of people’s consideration of those who have been unemployed for long periods of time. Can you articulate the frustration that exists for the President in the fact that the best he can do is have the use of the phone, as he describes it, but these conversations with these businesses where basically they come to an agreement that they’ll consider these people, but it remains that 1.6 million Americans since the start of this month have now lost their long-term unemployment benefits?
MR. CARNEY: Oh, I see where you’re headed. He’s enormously frustrated that the Senate -- that the Congress, rather, has refused to act on extending emergency unemployment benefits. I think that this is -- your question perfectly encapsulates what the President was describing at his State of the Union address, which is he wants to work with Congress on all of these issues. And when it comes to aiding the long-term unemployed by extending emergency assistance, the way that he has been able to in the past with Congress’s agreement and that President George W. Bush did on numerous occasions, would be an enormously great, beneficial thing for those families and for our economy, but Congress has thus far refused to act. But he will also take every step available to him using his office, the pen and the phone, to aid the cause. And this is something he can do.
There aren’t too many people in the world who can bring all of these stakeholders into one room, and the even longer list of stakeholders, companies, into an agreement to a set of principles and practices besides the President of the United States.
Q The gist is the impact is minimal by comparison to what Congress would do.
MR. CARNEY: No, they’re separate things. You’re talking about providing assistance to people who are looking for work. You’re also talking about -- I mean, look at the list of companies. If you would --
Q Which directly correlates, because those people who don’t receive unemployment benefits are less inclined. They say they need that money to actively search.
MR. CARNEY: Peter, you’re absolutely right. Both need to be done. But what the President can do and has demonstrated today using the power of his office and his executive authority is make progress on an issue that will address a significant challenge to our economy, which is this challenge of the long-term unemployed. And to say it’s minimal when you’re talking about 20 of the largest 50 companies in the nation, names that everybody in this room is familiar with and everybody in the country is -- enormously large employers in this country -- that’s a big deal; 300 companies overall, over 80 of the nation’s top public and private businesses -- Walmart, Apple, AT&T, Ford, and CVS.
This is important, and it demonstrates that you don’t make progress only by signing a bill into law. You can do it that way and we are pursuing that in every way we can. But to limit yourself on behalf of the American people to working just for the passage of legislation is to forgo an opportunity to do some very good things for the economy and the middle class.
Q I think this is what Reid’s email whose editor was about, but I’ll ask the question publicly -- (laughter) -- which is: The White House petition that says that Americans would like to see Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked -- (laughter) -- has now reached 222,000.
MR. CARNEY: I just want to note that people go back and look at the questions NBC is asking here -- I’m going to follow the coverage.
Q Jay, that was not what my email was about. (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: Reid is right. Yes.
Q But obviously after 100,000, the White House, the administration is supposed to have a prompt reply, so we request yours.
MR. CARNEY: Well, that process will occur. As is our commitment, there will be a response when the threshold is crossed. That response will come, I’m sure, relatively soon. I don’t have one now. On matters related to visas, I refer you to DHS.
Q Throughout the briefing, on the question of immigration, you’ve referred to the President’s principles, his view. But like him, you haven’t said out loud what that view is. Would you care to put it on the record?
MR. CARNEY: Like him?
Q On the path to citizenship. Like the President --
MR. CARNEY:, it is am official document, a statement of the President’s principles --
Q I’d like to hear you say it.
MR. CARNEY: -- and a path to --
Q Out loud.
MR. CARNEY: The President believes that there ought to be a path to citizenship, as I’ve said numerous times on camera, and that is a centerpiece. It is one of the four central principles that he put forward that. But nobody expects citizenship, and the legislation passed by the Senate does not envision citizenship to be automatic.
The Senate bill creates a long road and asks a lot from people. They pay a fine. They have to pay back taxes, learn English, and stay on the right side of the law. It takes more than a decade. But in the end, people can earn citizenship. That's not automatic. That requires a lot of the individuals who seek to travel that path.
But there is a clear path, and that's what the President views is the right way to go.
And more importantly, it’s not just his view. It’s the view of a bipartisan significant majority in the Senate. It’s the view of businesses large and small across the country. It’s the view of labor and law enforcement communities and religious communities because it’s the right thing to do. It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our security. It’s good for innovation. So we got to get it done, and we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen.
Q But both you and he decline to say it out loud.
MR. CARNEY: Say what? We’ve said it so many times, Bill.
Q I know, but now there’s a new development. There’s an aspirational bill from the House.
MR. CARNEY: I don't know -- I must be missing something because I just said it. We’ve said it a bunch of times. It’s on our website. It’s enshrined in a major piece of legislation the President embraces that the Senate passed.
Q Thank you. Back to Keystone for just a couple more. Would that be on the agenda for the “Three Amigos” summit in Mexico between the President and Harper?
MR. CARNEY: Does everybody know what he’s talking about? The North American Leaders Summit? I don't have a schedule or an agenda for that meeting.
Q Wouldn’t it reasonably -- wouldn’t you reasonably conclude that would be on an agenda, at least between those two people?
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I don't know have an agenda for you. I don't have a guess to make about the topics that will be discussed. What I think everyone knows in this room, around the city, around the country, and around the hemisphere is that there is a process underway at the State Department that is moving forward. As the State Department has said there will be an environmental impact statement released soon, and then the process continues to move forward with public comment and agency review. And for more details on that I’d point you to the State Department.
Q The President expressed concern about the carbon pollution. Are there things that Canada or Keystone could do to ease that concern?
MR. CARNEY: Roger, I am certainly not going to negotiate economic matters with other countries from here. This is an issue that is obviously housed under the State Department for a reason, because it crossed an international border. And I’ll refer to them for the process.
Q Thanks, Jay. The Washington Blade reported this week that Speaker Boehner told the LGBT Equality Caucus there’s no way the Employment Non-Discrimination Act can get done this session. Given that forecast from the Speaker, is it time for the President to sign an executive order to protect LGBT workers from discrimination?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would simply say that that is the wrong approach, and the President strongly supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He believes strongly and knows that it’s the right thing to do. I would suggest that there have been occasions when leaders in the House have declared something won’t happen and it happens anyway. And we certainly hope that's the case here.
Q But even if the President is saying he strongly supports legislation, and the Speaker is saying there is no way that bill is going to coming up, so what will it take for the President to sign that executive order?
MR. CARNEY: Chris, we’ve talked about this a lot. The President believes that an Employment Non-Discrimination Act signed into law is the right way to go here, and we strongly support and put a lot of energy behind that effort.
I don't think a lot of people predicted it would pass the Senate, but it did. And one person’s opposition to it in the House does not dissuade us from pressing for its passage and its arriving on the President’s desk so we can sign it into law. And we’re going to keep pushing on it.
Q Other key advocates who are pushing for that executive order say it’s a campaign promise from the President. Is that a view the President shares?
MR. CARNEY: I can simply tell you, Chris, I don't have any updates for you on the issue of a hypothetical executive order for LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors. We’re focused right now on the legislation, which again has made progress in Congress. And we’re going to keep pushing on it.
Q In an apparent 2007 questionnaire --
MR. CARNEY: Chris, I want to give others a chance after this one.
Q I want -- it’s one last question then.
Q Okay. In an apparent 2007 questionnaire to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus signed by then-candidate Obama, the President was asked if he supports a formal written policy against LGBT discriminations for federal contractors. The response was simply “yes.” How is that not a campaign promise?
MR. CARNEY: Chris, I’ve answered this question. We believe the right way to go is to pass legislation that applies to everyone, that enshrines in law the equal rights that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act spells out. So I don't have an update for you on the other issue. But we are --
Q Thank you. Will the President be talking next week about his ConnectED program, the wiring of schools to the Internet? And can you preview any of that?
MR. CARNEY: I don't have a preview for next week beyond what I will provide to you at the end. So for more details on what he’s going to be talking about next week you’ll have to wait until they're ready.
Q Jay, could you talk to me about any of the conversations that are going around in the White House about the upset with some of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus in reference to the President’s appointments, specifically in Georgia for some of these federal judges?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I can tell you, April, that the President has had more African American women confirmed to the federal courts than any President in history. He has also tied President Carter for the most African American circuit court judges in history, and we have three years left to go.
Given the focus of the CBC on the 11th Circuit, it’s worth looking at the three states in the 11th Circuit -- Georgia, Alabama and Florida. President Obama has had nine district court nominees in Georgia; four have been African American. President Obama has had two district court nominees in Alabama; one of the two has been African American. President Obama has had nine district court nominees in Florida, and three of the nine have been African American.
This is all to say that the bottom line is that the President believes the third branch of government should look like America. He has changed the face of the judiciary more than any of his predecessors.
Q But, Jay, that's not in question about the numbers the President has nominated. The issue is appointments -- “appointments do not reflect the diversity of that area.” So that is the question, and you have people --
MR. CARNEY: I think these appointments do reflect the diversity of the area.
Q Congressman John Lewis, a man who has received one of the highest honors that a person can get from this White House, who is a civil rights icon, is willing to testify about this judgeship, this nomination.
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I would simply point you to the facts that I just laid out in terms of the President’s commitment to making sure that our third branch of government looks like America, and the strides that he’s made towards achieving that.
Q And would you say that this deal that was made with Republicans laid out this controversy? Because they're saying that this deal of “blue slip” had something to do with this.
MR. CARNEY: Again, April, I don't know about that. I can just tell you that the President’s commitment here and the approach he takes is fairly clear from the appointments he’s made.
Q Thanks. Back on Syria, you talked about the chemical weapons yesterday and again just now. Looks like -- sounds like Brahimi is trying to claw some good news into that first round. He said, “The gaps between the sides remain wide. There’s no use pretending otherwise.” He’s talked about a little bit of common ground. But there’s clearly no progress on the humanitarian aid issue, and of course, the overall issue of ending the fighting. So I’m wondering, is this about where the administration thought it would be after this first round?
MR. CARNEY: The administration believes that it was important to get to Geneva and to begin a process. And I think as you heard me say and others say, no one expected that process or expects that process to be anything but complicated and difficult. What it has going for it is that it is the only possible way to resolve this conflict. A negotiated political settlement is the only way forward for Syria. And we remain committed to that process, and our partners in the effort remain committed to that process and we look forward to more progress. There’s no question it’s going to be difficult.
Q The Syrian government side is still saying the opposition side is not representative. Looking ahead to February 10th, would there be any change in the composition of the opposition representation?
MR. CARNEY: We think it’s representative. We think it was very important that the opposition participated, and I don't have any update on what the next round will look like.
Q Jay, can I follow up?
Q Does the President agree with the assessment of DNI James Clapper that the sectarian war in Syria poses a growing threat for radical extremism, including al Qaeda not only in Syria but in the region?
MR. CARNEY: Absolutely.
Q Thank you, Jay. When people look at the recent events in Ukraine, one argument that you often hear is go try attack a policeman -- a police officer in New York or in D.C. and see what happens to you after that. And I know that you keep calling for the protests to be peaceful, but we all know that in reality they are anything but peaceful most of the time. So my question to you -- and I think I know your answer, but again I want to hear it -- what is the difference between attacking a policeman in New York and attacking a policeman in Kiev?
MR. CARNEY: Andrei, we, as a principle, oppose violence by any side in a situation like this, and we’ve made that clear. But since you raised it, I would note that we were appalled by obvious signs of torture -- torture -- inflicted on protest leader Dmytro Bulatov, who was found yesterday after having been missing for a week. We are deeply concerned by increasing reports of protestors disappearing and being beaten and tortured, as well as by attacks on journalists.
It is especially concerning that some of these reports have suggested the involvement of security forces. It is urgent that the government use all available resources to investigate these horrific crimes and hold accountable those responsible.
As we have said repeatedly, a political solution is the only way to resolve this crisis, and we urge the government and President Yanukovych to continue to work with the opposition to find the compromises that are so critical to achieving this. A political solution must respect the right of all people to express themselves freely and peacefully.
It would also include a new government that can bring political unity, win the confidence of the Ukrainian people, and give the people a voice in the future of their country by strengthening democratic institutions and making the reforms necessary to achieve economic prosperity.
It is critical that the government take immediate steps to build confidence with the people of Ukraine, including by pulling back riot police and releasing those protesters who have been detained.
Q So basically, you have repeated again that you lay all the blame with the government, and none of the blame with the protestors who, again, may have a legitimate grievance, but they do use violent tactics, including torching police officers, torching police vehicles. That seems to be --
MR. CARNEY: Our position all along -- Andrei, I think you’re misstating our position, which is for peaceful protest and free expression to be allowed to take place. And we have been entirely consistent in that view and in expressing that view.
Q Thanks, Jay.
MR. CARNEY: All the way in the back, yes, sir.
Q This week in Havana, major countries of Latin America, like Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico went to meet the President of Cuba. In the case of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto says we have to open a new chapter in the relationship between Mexico and Cuba. My question to you is, is there any concern by the White House that some of the major countries in Latin America are trying to establish a new chapter in their relationship with Cuba, and saying -- because the U.S. is not paying more attention to Latin America. I know you’re going to say the Summit of the North American Leaders is something, but in the State of the Union address of the President, he only mentioned the Americas in one line and a half of his speech.
MR. CARNEY: Rather than go into our engagement with Latin America, which is deep and strong, I will simply refer you to the State Department in relation to this particular issue with other countries and their engagement with Cuba. They would be the best place to take that question.
Q Jay, actually today, Senator McConnell had a call on the Senate floor for the new IRS commissioner to oppose the pending rules dealing with 501(c)(4) organizations. And McConnell and a lot of other people believe that these rules would codify -- point some of the mischief that the IRS had been involved in previous years.
MR. CARNEY: I didn't see that, Fred, so I’ll have to refer you to the IRS. Sorry.
Thanks very much.
Q Week ahead.
MR. CARNEY: Oh, the week ahead. The schedule for the week of February 3, 2014:
On Monday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks on education. In the evening, the President will host the House Democratic Caucus for a roundtable and reception here at the White House. The Vice President will also attend.
On Wednesday, the President will deliver remarks at the Senate Democratic Issues Conference.
On Thursday, the President will deliver remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. The Vice President and the First Lady will also attend. Later, the President will meet with President Martelly of Haiti at the White House.
Details about Friday’s schedule will be released as soon as they become available. Thanks.
Q Any Super Bowl plans?
MR. CARNEY: I think he’s going to watch. Very confident.
Q Hosting anybody?
MR. CARNEY: Again, as I think I said the other day if it was on the plane or here, I don't have any updates on the President’s private schedule. I know he’ll watch the game. I think as has been announced, he’s giving an interview to Bill O’Reilly as part of the pregame show, in keeping with tradition. And that's all I know.
Q Who do you like, Jay?
MR. CARNEY: It’s hard because -- who asked me that? Ah, Jon-Christopher. I kind of like both teams and I like both cities, and I don't have a -- my team is a long way from being in the Super Bowl. (Laughter.)
Q We should call the State Department. (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: No, no, I just -- Department of the Interior. I don't know.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be disappointed if either team won. As a man of a certain age, I like to see somebody like Peyton Manning doing well in the NFL. It’s pretty amazing, right, the year he had at his ripe old age.
Q He set the --
MR. CARNEY: That's right. There you go. Okay, thanks very much, everybody.
END 1:31 P.M. EST


GSA Announces New Lease for Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Deal saves $29 million taxpayer dollars in lease payments  

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced a new lease agreement for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland. The deal saves taxpayers approximately $29 million over the 15-year term of the lease, while providing space that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to fight disease and provide health information that protects our nation against health threats.

The new lease deal will keep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at its Hyattsville location. The building will be renovated to accommodate additional personnel allowing the CDC to reduce its need for other leases and shrink its footprint by more than 70,000 square feet. The reduced space accounts for the savings over the course of the lease. Additionally, the lease incorporates many sustainable upgrades, resulting in a building that is expected to be Energy Star certified and the tenant space will be certified under the LEED-Commercial Interiors rating system.

The lease award is the result of an open and competitive procurement. The selected offer met all the minimum requirements of the April 2013 Request for Lease Proposals and was the lowest priced offer providing the best value to the taxpayers.


Remarks at Munich Security Conference
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Bayerischer Hof Hotel
Munich, Germany
February 1, 2014

MBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thanks very much. I think now we can continue. It’s my great pleasure now to open our second panel this morning. We have two longtime friends of the Munich Security Conference. Both of our panelists have been with the Munich Security Conference when they served in the U.S. Senate for many years. So let me welcome both Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Chuck Hagel, both now no longer in the Senate but both now for a year, for practically a year, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. Welcome, Mr. Secretaries. (Applause.)

I think the way we want to use these 45 minutes or so is that both Secretaries will offer introductory comments; and if you have a question to ask, please put it on one of the slips of paper and hand it to the staff, and then we’ll use whatever time we have to have a discussion, a Q&A session, in just a few minutes.

John, would you like to start? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Ambassador Ischinger. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here. (In German.) Nice to be with everybody. And I am – I want to remark that Ambassador Ischinger had the pleasure of going to the renowned Fletcher School at Tufts University, but it sounds to me like he lost his Boston accent. I don’t know what happened to him along the way. (Laughter.)

This is a very real and special pleasure for Chuck and me to be here at this conference. We do know this conference well. And as Walter said, we are not just friends from the Senate but we’re friends from a common experience of a long period of time. So it’s a pleasure for us now to be working together as partners with respect to the national security issues that challenge all of us.

So the fact is also that both Chuck and I feel this Atlantic relationship very much in our bones. Both of our families emigrated to the United States from Europe, and both of our fathers signed up to fight tyranny and totalitarianism in World War II. And we both watched the Berlin Wall go up as we grew up, and we grew up as Cold War kids.

So we come to these discussions – both of us – with part of our formative years planted in the post-Cold War/post-World War period, and certainly deeply in the Cold War period. As a kid who grew up in school doing drills to get under my desk in the event of nuclear war, this is something that still conditions my thinking.

It was during that period of time that I first encountered what I came to understand as one of the unmistakable symbols of the enduring American-European partnership. I was a young kid who served – who was with my father in Berlin when he served as the legal advisor to the then High Commissioner to Germany, James Conant. And I spent a piece of my childhood getting on trains in Frankfurt and going through the dead of night to arrive in Berlin and be greeted by the American military man, and move between a British sector, a French sector, an American sector, and a Russian sector. So I can remember cold signs warning you about where you were leaving, and I can remember guns rapping on the windows of my train when I dared to lift the blinds and try to look out and see what was on the other side.

I’ll also never forget walking into a building – I used to ride my bicycle down to Kurfurstendamm when it was still rubble. We’re talking about the early 1950s, just to date myself. And you could see a plaque on a building that said: “This was rebuilt with help from the Marshall Plan.” But the truth is today, as we gather in Munich in 2014, George Marshall’s courageous vision – resisting the calls of isolationism and investing in this partnership – requires all of us to think about more than just buildings. That period of time saw the Marshall Plan lead America’s support for the rebuilding of a continent. But it was more than just the rebuilding of a continent; it was the rebuilding of an idea, it was the rebuilding of a vision that was built on a set of principles, and it built alliances that were just unthinkable only a few years before that.

And I say all of this to try to put this meeting and the challenges that we face in a context. So long as I can remember, I have understood that the United States and Europe are strongest when we stand united together for peace and prosperity, when we stand in strong defense of our common security, and when we stand up for freedom and for common values. And everything I see in the world today tells me that this is a moment where it’s going to take more than words to fulfill this commitment. All of us need to think harder and act more in order to meet this challenge.

With no disrespect whatsoever – in fact, only with the purest of admiration to the strategic and extraordinary vision of Brent Scowcroft sitting over here, Henry Kissinger, Zbig Brzezinski, who I don’t see but I know is here somewhere. There he is. These are men who helped to shape and guide us through the Cold War and the tense moments and the real dangers that it presented. But the fact is that this generation of confluence of challenges that we’re confronting together are in many ways more complex and more vexing than those of the last century. The largely bipolar world of the Cold War, East-West, was relatively straightforward compared to the forces that have been released with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of sectarianism, the rise of religious extremism, and the failure of governance in many places. In fact, we should none of us be surprised that it is the wisdom and vision of Henry Kissinger in his brilliant book Diplomacy – which, if you’ve read it, reread it; if you haven’t, read it for the first time – lays all of this out in his first chapter as he talks about the balance – the old game of balance of power and interests. And as he predicts that this is more convoluted because of the absence of a structure to really manage and cope with this new order that we face. Those were his words.

So today we are witnessing youth populations, huge youth populations: 65 percent of a country under the age of 30, under the age of 25 in some places; 50 percent under the age of 21; 40 percent under the age of 18 – unemployed, disenfranchised, except for what globalization has brought them in their capacity to be able to reach out and see what the rest of the world is doing even as they are denied the opportunity to do it too – an enormous, desperate yearning for education, for jobs, for opportunity. That’s what drove Tahrir Square, not the Muslim Brotherhood, not any religious extremism, but young kids with dreams. That’s what led that fruit vendor in Tunisia to self-immolate after he grew too tired of being slapped around by a police officer, denied his opportunity just to sell his fruit wares where he wanted to.

We are facing threats of terrorism and untamed growth in radical sectarianism and religious extremism, which increases the challenge of failed and failing governments and the vacuums that they leave behind. And all of this is agitated by a voracious globalized appetite and competition for resources and markets that do not always sufficiently share the benefits of wealth and improved quality of life with all citizens.

And this is all before you get to the challenge of global food security, water availability, and global climate change. These are the great tests of our time. Now, even as our economies in the United States and Europe begin to emerge from the economic trials of the last years, we are not immune to extremism or to the natural difficulties of nurturing democracy, and particularly as we measure what is happening with the number of jihadists who are attracted by the magnet of the Assad regime to Syria, where from Europe and from America and from Australia and from Great Britain and from many other places they now flock to learn the trade of terror, and then perhaps to return to their home shores.

The task of building a Europe that is whole and free and at peace is not complete. And in order to meet today’s challenges both near and far, America needs a strong Europe, and Europe needs a committed and engaged America. And that means turning inward is not an option for any of us. When we lead together, others will join us. But when we don’t, the simple fact is that few are prepared or willing to step up. That’s just a fact. And leading, I say respectfully, does not mean meeting in Munich for good discussions. It means committing resources even in a difficult time to make certain that we are helping countries to fight back against the complex, vexing challenges of our day.

I’ll tell you, I was recently in Korea and reminded that 10 of the 15 countries that used to receive aid from the United States of America as recently as in the last 10 years are today donor countries. Think about that: 10 of the 15 and the others are on their way to being donor countries. Now let me be fair. We need to have this debate in America too right now. The small fraction of our budget that we invest in our diplomacy and in foreign assistance is a miniscule investment compared to the cost of the crises that we fail to avoid.

So as a transatlantic community, we cannot retreat and we must do more than just recover – all of us. What we need in 2014 is a transatlantic renaissance, a new burst of energy and commitment and investment in the three roots of our strength: our economic prosperity, our shared security, and the common values that sustain us.

Now first, our shared prosperity: Who would have imagined at the first Munich conference in 1963 that $2.6 billion in goods and services would flow between us every day? That didn’t happen by accident, nor did the 4 trillion that we invest in each other’s economies every single year, or the more than 13 million jobs that we support mutually because of it. The depth and breadth of our economic position and partnership was a conscious choice of the men I described and other men and women during that period of time who had a vision, and they need to be a conscious reflection of our vision today.

Today, as our economies recover, we also have to do more to put this indispensable partnership to work, a shared prosperity that benefits us all. And we can start, frankly, by harnessing the energy and the talents of our people, which is what the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is all about. T-TIP is about more than growing our economies. It will promote trade, investment, innovation. It will bring our economies closer together while maintaining high standards in order to ensure that we create good jobs for these young people who are screaming about the future. And it will cement our way of doing business as the world’s gold standard. Imagine what happens when you take the world’s largest market and the world’s largest single economy and you marry them together with the principles and the values that come with it. It will – if we’re ambitious enough, T-TIP will do for our shared prosperity what NATO has done for our shared security, recognizing that our security has always been built on the notion of our shared prosperity.

We are the most innovative economies in the world, the United States and Europe, and as such we have a major responsibility to deal with this growing potential catastrophe of climate change. I urge you, read the latest IPCC report. It’s really chilling. And what’s chilling is not rhetoric; it’s the scientific facts, scientific facts. And our history is filled with struggles through the Age of Reason and the Renaissance and the Enlightenment for all of us to earn some respect for science. The fact is that there is no doubt about the real day-to-day impact of the human contribution to the change in climate.

Next year, the United States will assume responsibility for the Arctic Council, and I can tell you just looking at what’s happening in the Arctic – and there are others here who are deeply invested in that – we have enormous challenges. None of them are unsolvable. That’s the agony of this moment for all of us. There are answers to all of these things, but there seems to be an absence of will, an absence of collective leadership that’s ready to come together and tell our people not what they’re necessarily telling us through this crazy social media, incredible confluence of information that they’re sort of told they’re interested in, but for us as leaders to suggest to them this is what you ought to be interested in because it actually affects your life and your livelihood and your future.

President Obama is implementing an ambitious plan that sees climate change not only as a challenge, but as an incredible set of opportunities for all of us, and I believe that. The marketplace that created the great wealth in our country in the 1990s which saw every single quintile of our income earners see their income go up, every quintile saw their income go up, and we created the greatest wealth the world has seen during the 1990s, greater even in America than the period of the Pierponts and the Morgans and the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Mellons, much greater. You know what it was? It was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users. It was the high-tech market, the personal computer mostly, communications.

The energy market that we are staring at – that is the solution to the climate change. Energy policy is the solution to climate change. That market, my friends, is a $6 trillion market today with 4 to 5 billion users today, and it will grow to some 9 billion users over the course of the next 20 to 30 years. It is the mother of all markets, and only a few visionaries are doing what is necessary to reach out and touch it and grab it and command its future.

I spoke last week at Davos about the diplomatic work that the United States is engaged in, that I am engaged in, at the direction of President Obama, who believes in this vision and in all of these issues, and our European partners are jointly with us undertaking on three of the most important initiatives right now to make the Middle East and the world more secure.

With the help of countries like Germany, the U.K., Italy, Denmark, Norway, Russia, we reached an agreement, ratified by the United Nations, to remove chemical weapons from Syria. Obviously, I’m sure there’ll be some questions about that, and there ought to be, but together, we need to all keep the pressure on the Assad regime to stop making excuses and fulfill Syria’s promises and obligations and meet the UN deadlines.

With the help of the EU, Germany, U.K., France, and Russia – as well as China – Iran agreed to freeze and roll back its nuclear weapons program for the first time in a decade. And in the coming months, we will remain unified – or I hope we will – to guarantee Iran’s willingness to reach a comprehensive agreement that resolves the world’s concerns about its nuclear program, hopefully through diplomacy backed up by the potential of force.

With the help of the EU and the Quartet, we are pursuing a long-sought and much-needed peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I have to tell you, the alternatives to successfully concluding the conflict, when you stop and list them, are or ought to be unacceptable to anybody. If you look at it hard, you ought to come out and say failure is not an option, though regrettably the dynamics always present the possibility.

And so together we need to help the parties break through the skepticism, which is half the challenge, and begin to believe in the possibilities that are within their grasp. As President Obama said on Tuesday, “In a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depend on all the elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy.” And it depends on harnessing the power of our strongest alliances, too. No one country can possibly hope to solve any of the challenges that I have listed on its own.

That’s why this kind of meeting and the alliance that it represents, more importantly, and the work that we do out of here after these meetings – that’s why it’s so important that the United States and Europe stick together, that we continue to understand the importance of the strength of our unity and unity in action, whether we’re working on Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the challenge of the Maghreb, the Levant, the DPRK, global challenges like cyber security, infectious disease, or the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons. Plain and simply, our shared prosperity and security are absolutely indivisible. And in a shrinking world where our fundamental interests are inseparable, a transatlantic renaissance requires that we defend our democratic values and freedoms. Don’t for an instant underestimate how important that it is or that the difference that it makes to courageous people like those in the Ukraine, in Ukraine who are standing up today for their ability to have a choice about their future.

As I say all of this, the United States is the first to admit that our democracy too has always been a work in progress. We know that. We’re proud that we work at it openly, transparently, accountably to reform it, to fix it, and to strengthen it when needed. President Obama’s review and revision of our signals intelligence practices is a case in point. So I assure you we come to this conversation with humility. But humility is not a reason to avoid calling it the way you see it. And the fact is that we see a disturbing trend in too many parts of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The aspirations of citizens are once again being trampled beneath corrupt, oligarchic interests, interests that use money to stifle political opposition and dissent, to buy politicians and media outlets, and to weaken judicial independence and the rights of nongovernmental organizations.

Nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important today than in Ukraine. While there are unsavory elements in the streets in any chaotic situation, the vast majority of Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe and a prosperous country, and they are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations. And they have decided that that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced. The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight. Russia and other countries should not view the European integration of their neighbors as a zero-sum game. In fact, the lessons of the last half century are that we can accomplish much more when the United States, Russia, and Europe work together. But make no mistake, we will continue to speak out when our values and our interests are undercut by any country in the region. President Obama leaves no doubt about America’s commitment to this relationship, and he will come to Europe three times already scheduled this year to reinforce the investment in our shared future.

For more than 70 years – this year we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day – the United States and Europe have fought side by side for freedom, and that is what binds us. Those ties have grown stronger in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the 15 years since our post-Cold War NATO enlargements began, in the 10 years since the EU began expanding again. It is important to understand this is more than just a measure of years; it is a measure of the most productive partnership in the history of international affairs, nothing less.

Our challenge today is to ensure opportunity, security, and liberty for Americans and Europeans, but also for people all over the world who look to us for that possibility. Our challenge is to renew this partnership and to live up to the legacy of the world’s strongest alliance. The 21st century will demand these commitments from all of us, and I believe we have to rise to this occasion as Americans and Europeans always have, and that’s the only thing that will give meaning to this kind of a meeting and meaning to the legacy that we need to honor in our generation. Thank you. (Applause.)

My pleasure to introduce to you my friend from the Senate. We are both in different parties, but believe me, we share a vision and we are really enjoying working together these days. Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense. (Applause.)

SECRETARY HAGEL: John, thank you. Thank you very much, and to Ambassador Ischinger, thank you for once again hosting this conference, an important conference. It’s good to be back in Munich. As you noted, I have been here many times, and I especially appreciate being here with my friend and former colleague and now cabinet partner John Kerry.

I want to also recognize our United States congressional delegation, which I have been part of a number of times, led by an unfamiliar face here, John McCain. John, I see you. Thank you. Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator, thank you for your leadership. And many of the delegation are individuals who have led on this issue for many years, and you are all quite familiar with most of the U.S. congressional delegation. So thank you for your continued leadership and involvement.

I also want to recognize our American Ambassador to Germany John Emerson, who is here somewhere, for his work and his efforts. And it is not easy, as we all know, for an ambassador in any country at any time, but Ambassador Emerson has done a tremendous job and we very much appreciate his good work and his leadership as well. (Applause.)

In preparing for these remarks, I was looking through the memoirs of Henry Stimson, who over a long and distinguished career held both my job – actually, he held my job when it was Secretary of War, and he held it twice. He also held John Kerry’s job, Secretary of State. The book I thumbed through contained a handwritten letter from McGeorge Bundy. Many of you know – knew McGeorge Bundy, worked with McGeorge Bundy, and certainly, everyone knows who he was. He helped in this particular case Henry Stimson write his memoirs, and that book was published in 1952.

In Bundy’s letter to an admirer, Bundy described Stimson’s recollections of life as a picture of history worth going on with, whatever the ups and downs. I recall these words here in Munich this morning because this conference is itself a picture of history, the history of the transatlantic partnership. And that history is very much worth going on with. That’s why we’re celebrating this gathering’s 50th anniversary.

The transatlantic partnership has been successful because of the judicious use of diplomacy and defense. Over the last year, John and I have both worked to restore balance, balance to the relationship between American defense and diplomacy. With the United States moving off a 13-year war footing, it’s clear to us, it’s very clear to President Obama that our future requires a renewed and enhanced era of partnership with our friends and allies, especially here in Europe.

As this panel acknowledges, we need what John just described and as Ambassador Ischinger has noted, a transatlantic renaissance. The foundation of our collective security relationship with Europe has always been cooperation against common threats. Throughout most of the 20th century, these common threats were concentrated in and around Europe, but today the most persistent and pressing security challenges to Europe and the United States are global. They emanate from political instability and violent extremism in the Middle East and North Africa, dangerous non-state actors, rogue nations such as North Korea, cyber warfare, demographic changes, economic disparity, poverty, and hunger.

And as we confront these threats, nations such as China and Russia are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries, challenging our technological edge in defense partnerships around the world. The world will continue to grow more complicated, interconnected, and in many cases more combustible. The challenges and choices before us will demand leadership that reaches into the future without stumbling over the present. Meeting this challenge of change will not be easy, but we must do so and we must do so together. As our strategy in defense investments will make clear, the U.S. sees Europe as its indispensable partner in addressing these threats and challenges, as well as addressing new opportunities.

The centerpiece of our transatlantic defense partnership will continue to be NATO, the military alliance that has been called the greatest peace movement in history. In Afghanistan, NATO-led forces are doing extraordinary work to help the Afghan people by strengthening the Afghan army and police so that they can assume responsibility for their nation’s security. European nations have maintained remarkable cohesion and commitment in the face of sacrifice, uncertainty, and challenges in Afghanistan.

As we bring our combat mission to a conclusion after 13 years, we should all be very proud of what our alliance has accomplished. Members of the International Security Assistance Force, especially smaller nations, have greatly benefited from the experience of training and working alongside other partners in Afghanistan. We must continue to hone the capabilities we’ve fielded and sustain these deep and effective defense relationships. And NATO must continue to develop innovative ways to maintain alliance readiness as we apply our hard-earned skills to new security challenges.

In reviewing U.S. defense priorities tempered by our fiscal realities, it’s clear that our military must place an even greater strategic emphasis on working with our allies and partners around the world. That will be a key theme of the Department of Defense’s upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review which will articulate our defense strategy in a changing security and fiscal environment.

The United States will engage European allies to collaborate more closely, especially in helping build the capabilities of other global partners. We’re developing strategies to address global threats as we build more joint capacity – joint capacity with European militaries. In the face of budget constraints here on this continent as well as in the United States, we must all invest more strategically to protect military capability and readiness.

The question is not just how much we spend, but how we spend together. It’s not just burdens we share, but opportunities as well. The Department of Defense will work closely with our allies’ different and individual strengths and capabilities, from the training of indigenous forces to more advanced combat missions. We’re looking at promising new initiatives, including Germany’s framework nations concept, which could help NATO plan and invest more efficiently and more effectively.

In Africa, the U.S. military and our European allies are already partners in combating violent extremism and working alongside our diplomats to avert humanitarian catastrophes. In Mali, in the Central African Republic, the U.S. and European partners are providing specialized enablers such as air transport and refueling. We’re there to support a leading operational role for French forces. The U.S. has supported France’s leadership and efforts. And we also welcome the German Defense Minister von der Leyen’s recent proposal to increase German participation in both countries.

All of us must work closely together with African nations in helping them build their security forces and institutions. A more collaborative approach to global security challenges will require more defense establishments to cooperate not just on the operational level, but on the strategic level as well. We are working with two allies – the U.S., UK, and Australia, building the three of us closer collaboration between our militaries across a broad range of areas from force development to force posture.

For example, the United States is helping the UK regenerate its aircraft carrier capability, which will enable more integrated operation of our advanced F-35 fighters and more broadly enhance our shared ability to project power. And last year, an Australian army officer became the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific. This is helping connect our forces more strategically with our allies and partners in the regions.

We believe this collaboration offers a model – a model for closer integration with other allies and partners, including NATO as a whole, and it’ll influence U.S. strategic planning and future investments. Sustaining and enhancing these cooperative efforts will require shared commitment and shared investment on both sides of the Atlantic. That includes United States commitments to a strong military posture in Europe.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has continuously adjusted its defense posture to new strategic realities around the world. As our force structure draws down following the end of our longest war, there will be, there must be, adjustments in our posture to meet new challenges. For example, to respond to elevated threats to our diplomatic facilities in North Africa and the Middle East, we have partnered with Spain to position U.S. Marines in Moron, and we have put other forces throughout the region on heightened alert status. These forces not only enable us to respond to crises or support ongoing operations, but they also expand our diplomatic options amid the recent violence in South Sudan. The rapid availability of nearby forces allowed American diplomats to remain on the ground and help broker a ceasefire.

An important posture enhancement is European missile defense in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran. Over the last two days, I’ve been in Poland, where I reaffirmed the United States commitment to deploying missile defense architecture there. As you all know, that’s part of Phase 3 of our European Phased Adaptive Approach. Yesterday afternoon, the USS Donald Cook departed the United States for Rota, Spain, where over the next two years she will be joined by three additional missile defense-capable destroyers.

Despite fiscal constraints, the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in European missile defense. Our commitment to Europe is unwavering. Our values and our interests remain aligned. Both principle and pragmatism secure our transatlantic bonds.

In 1947, a time of widespread doubt about the continued value of the transatlantic partnership, Henry Stimson argued that America could, in his words, no sooner stand apart from Europe than desert every principle by which we claim to live. He helped persuade Americans that, in his words, our policy toward the world – in that policy, “There is no place for grudging or limited participation… Foreign affairs are now our most intimate domestic concern.” Americans know well the wisdom in Stimson’s warning. We also know well the responsibilities we shoulder in partnership with all of you.

As President Obama told the American people in his State of the Union Address this week, our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. I have every confidence that our successors will be there 50 years hence to again celebrate the most successful and effective collective security alliance in history. But as we all know, it will require continued strong and visionary leadership, attention, resources, and strong commitment.

In 2064, there will still be a Wehrkunde, and there will still be a strong and enduring transatlantic alliance. Thank you. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We have not a lot of time, so we’ll call on a few questions. I have a huge number of cards, and I apologize – I have to apologize to most of those who have written down their questions. We can literally take two or three or maximum of four depending on the length of the answers.

Let me start with a question of my own, which I’d like to address – (laughter) – to Secretary Kerry. We had the very interesting panel discussion yesterday between Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, who were both sitting right here in the first row with Martin Indyk, on the situation as where we are right now. How optimistic are you that you can actually nail this down? Question one.

And if I may add one to you, Mr. Secretary of Defense, a couple years ago, one of your predecessors, Bob Gates, gave a pretty strong valedictorian speech admonishing us, European allies, to do more, because if we didn’t do more, we would be not as useful as your allies as we should be. Now, are you today as unhappy as Bob Gates was with us?

Maybe we start with the Secretary of State.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Mr. Ambassador, I am willing to take risks, but I’m not willing to hang myself here. (Laughter.) So I’m not going to tell you how optimistic I am. I’m going to tell you that I’m hopeful. I believe in the possibility or I wouldn’t pursue this. President Obama believes in the possibility. I don’t think we’re being quixotic and un – I’m a little surprised by some of the articles that tend to write about an obsession or a fanatical effort to try to achieve this, et cetera. We’re just working hard. We’re working hard because the consequences of failure are unacceptable.

I mean, I want you all to think about it. Ask yourselves a simple question: What happens if we can’t find a way forward? Is Fatah going to be stronger? Will Abu Mazen be strengthened? Will this man who has been committed to a peaceful process for these last years be able to hold on if it fails? What is the argument for holding on? Are we going to then see militancy? Will we then see violence? Will we then see transformation? What comes afterwards? Nobody can answer that question with any kind of comfort.

By the same token, for our friends, I see good Minister Tzipi Livni here, who has been absolutely spectacular in this process, committed to it. Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken very tough decisions to move this down the road, very tough decisions, as has President Abbas, who had the right to go to the United Nations and has foresworn it in an effort to try to keep at the table and keep the process moving.

For Israel, the stakes are also enormously high. Do they want a failure that then begs whatever may come in the form of a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community? What happens to the Arab Peace Initiative if this fails? Does it disappear? What happens for Israel’s capacity to be the Israel it is today – a democratic state with the particular special Jewish character that is a central part of the narrative and of the future? What happens to that when you have a bi-national structure and people demanding rights on different terms?

So I think if you – and I’m only just scratching the surface in talking about the possibilities, and I’ve learned not to go too deep in them because it gets misinterpreted that I’m somehow suggesting, “Do this or else,” or something. I’m not. We all have a powerful, powerful interest in resolving this conflict. Everywhere I go in the world, wherever I go – I promise you, no exaggeration, the Far East, Africa, Latin America – one of the first questions out of the mouths of a foreign minister or a prime minister or a president is, “Can’t you guys do something to help bring an end to this conflict between Palestinians and Israelis?” Indonesia – people care about it because it’s become either in some places an excuse or in other places an organizing principle for efforts that can be very troubling in certain places. I believe that – and you see for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?

So I am not going to sit here and give you a measure of optimism, but I will give you a full measure of commitment. President Obama and I and our Administration are as committed to this as anything we’re engaged in because we think it can be a game-changer for the region. And as Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed said – he’s here somewhere – to a Paris meeting of the Arab League the other day, spontaneously he said, “You know, if peace is made, Israel will do more business with the Gulf states and the Middle East than it does with Europe today.”

This is the difference of 6 percent GDP per year to Israel, not to mention that today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace. Last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank. This year, unfortunately, there’s been an uptick in some violence. But the fact is the status quo will change if there is failure. So everybody has a stake in trying to find the pathway to success.

The final comment I would say, Mr. Ambassador, is after all of these years, after Wye, after Madrid, after Oslo, after Taba, after Camp David, after everything that has gone on, I doubt there’s anyone sitting here who doesn’t actually know pretty much what a final status agreement actually looks like. The question is: How do you get there? That’s political courage, political strength, and that’s what we have to try to summon in the next days. And I’ll just tell you I am hopeful and we will keep working at it. And we have great partners of good faith to work with, and I’m appreciative for that.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

SECRETARY HAGEL: Ambassador, thank you. Let me just add a couple of sentences to what Secretary Kerry said. First, I enthusiastically support what Secretary Kerry is doing. We all know there is risk in everything. There is risk in status quo. The risk is always there in anything in complicated areas of the world. But I believe there is far more risk in letting this slide.

I noted in my comments that – not in the context of this particular issue but overall on security issues, it’s going to continue to take – as the world is very instructive on this point and the history has been particularly instructive – committed leadership and vision to address any big challenge. And as much risk and uncertainty that is in this one, I do strongly applaud and support what John’s doing here. It’s clearly in everyone’s interest.

As to your question, Secretary Gates may have said it a little differently than I did, but essentially, I said the same thing as Secretary Gates did. This is a partnership. Partnerships mean partnership. Everybody has to participate. Everyone has to contribute. Everybody has a role to play. Because not only is something new today with restrained resources in everyone’s budgets. I get that, the realities of what we’re each dealing with in our own respective countries, own respective political dynamics and dimensions – but if your nation’s security is not worth an investment, is not worth leadership in fighting for that investment, then you’ve got the wrong leadership or – again, history’s been instructive on this point – then the future of that country is in some peril. It’s going to take some courage and vision and strong leadership to make this point clear to all of our constituents. And the Europeans must play their role as well. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you very much. Among the many questions that were handed to me, there are two that are almost identical, and I’m going to take these two together.

The first one is from Lord Powell from the UK, and they’re both on the T-TIP. Now, they’re both addressed to both of you as former senators, and I read the first question from Charles Powell: “T-TIP is indeed vital, as Secretary Kerry says. Is it achievable now that the Senate majority leader intends to deny the President fast-track trade promotion authority?”

And the other question is from an American, Charles Kupchan from Georgetown University. Professor Kupchan raises the following question: “T-TIP is ‘the next big thing’ for the Atlantic relationship. As former senators, please discuss the prospects for congressional support, especially in light of Senator Reid’s recent comments.”

This is exactly the same question. I don't know which one of you wants to take that one.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I don’t – look, I respect Harry Reid. I’ve worked with him for a long time, obviously. Our colleagues are here – Lindsey Graham and John McCain and former Senator Joe Lieberman. And I think all of us have learned to interpret a comment on one day in the United States Senate as not necessarily what might be the situation in a matter of months or in some period of time.

Let’s get T-TIP done, put it in its context, then we wage the fight. And I’m not at all convinced that what we’ve heard is going to – I just think that there’s a lot of room here still, so I wouldn’t let it deter us one iota, not one iota. I’ve heard plenty of statements in the Senate on one day that are categorical, and we’ve wound up finding accommodation and a way to find our way forward. So this should not be a deterrent, and I hope nobody will let it stand in the way.

On the merits, this is a major initiative for us, for Europe, for the relationship, for the world. And when you combine it with the TPP, it really has a capacity to achieve what the WTO has not been able to succeed in, and it could have a profound impact on jumpstarting the economies for all of us. It’s worth millions of jobs, and in the end, jobs are a very powerful political persuasion.

SECRETARY HAGEL: This TPP is clearly in the self-interest of both sides of the Atlantic, clearly. And I would suspect that our senators here this morning would have a better sense of this than two former senators, but this is a good example of what I was referring to in my remarks about let’s be smart and let’s be wise and let’s be collaborative and use all of the opportunities and mechanisms that we have to enhance each other – culturally, trade, commerce, exchanges.

We all know that a secure economic base – a dynamic, strong economy – is the anchor of any nation’s freedom. Without the money, without the resources, your options become very limited very quickly. So I would hope that this would get done by the United States Senate. It’s clearly in everyone’s interest. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you very much. I have one concluding question because we have already run out of time for a while. This is from Jo Joffe, whom both of you know. His question is the following, and I read it: “The U.S. keeps going through cycles of withdrawal. Is this another one? And if so, who is going to mind the store?”

A question addressed, again, to both of you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I think – look, I think everything I said in my comments make it clear – and I said it at Davos – we’re not withdrawing from anything, folks, except we’re drawing down our troops in Afghanistan because that’s an agreed-upon approach with ISAF, some 50 nations, and because it is time for the full transition to the Afghan Armed Forces and the Afghan people. So that’s a planned process, but it is also contemplating maintaining a presence for the purpose of continuing to train, equip, and advise the Afghan Armed Forces and to maintain a platform to do counterterrorism. So we’re hardly withdrawing; we’re transitioning.

Even as we do that, right now we have just finished helping to conclude a ceasefire in the Sudan. I spent most of the Christmas break on the phone with President Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, with the foreign minister and prime minister of Ethiopia, the president of Uganda. That’s not disengagement. In the Great Lakes, we have a special envoy who has just succeeded in working with Mary Robinson of the UN and with President Kabila and Paul Kagame. And we have succeeded in disarming the M23, creating a structure by which we will now be able to begin doing development and helping those nations to stabilize.

We’re working in the Central African Republic and we’re working to help the French in Mali. We are deeply engaged in Iran negotiations for some two years. We have been working – I began that work as a United States senator to begin to open up that opportunity of a dialogue. We have an interim first-step agreement – not an interim agreement – a first step to lead to final conclusion. We are working with Geneva II, with Russia. That came from diplomacy and cooperation. And we are trying to press for transition. I think we need to do more. John McCain, Senator Graham and I are talking. There are powerful feelings for why we believe Assad needs to feel even more sense of urgency to come to the table. We’re deeply involved there.

We’re deeply involved in the Middle East peace process. We’re involved with the Emirates, with the Saudi Arabians, and others working with respect to Egypt and Egypt’s transition. We’re rebalancing with Asia. We’re working on North Korea. I will be in China in two weeks working on the North Korean issue, working with Korea, Japan, reunification – you name the issue – South China Sea.

I can’t think of a place in the world that we are retreating, not one. And I believe we are engaged in a profoundly proactive and visionary way to try to give life to this partnership in ways that make a difference. We’re working in Libya. We’re working together with our friends from Italy, Great Britain, and France to stabilize and work with President – with Prime Minister Zaydan to build a legitimate security force. We’re deeply engaged in that training and otherwise.

So as I think – I mean, there isn’t a part of the world that I can think of. We’re working on Cyprus quietly. You’re not hearing about it. We’re working on Nagorno-Karabakh, the Caucasus. We have an extraordinary amount of diplomatic reach at this particular moment, including in Latin America. And most recently, I just concluded a summit with the foreign minister of Mexico and the foreign minister of Canada leading up to a summit between the president and the prime minister which will further cement the North American hemispheric interests and our work on the TPP and the T-TIP.

So I think this narrative, which has, frankly, been pushed by some people who have an interest in trying to suggest that the United States is somehow on a different track, I would tell you it is flat wrong and it is belied by every single fact of what we are doing everywhere in the world.

SECRETARY HAGEL: I would just add, Ambassador – (applause) – that we have just heard the Secretary of State of the United States inventory some of the things we’re doing, some of the places we’ve been. I have never seen a full inventory of exactly what we’re doing everywhere, but I would venture to say the United States is more present doing more things in more places today than maybe ever before. How we’re doing it is differently, and it’s what I talked about, what John talked about – capacity-building for our partners, working closer with our partners, being able to do more as we are more creative with these initiatives.

So we’re not going anywhere, and I would just add this as I end my comment. I’ve been Secretary of Defense almost a year. I have had three major trips to the Asia Pacific. I have had countless trips to Europe. I’ve had a number of trips to the Middle East, Afghanistan. He’s the traveler. I’m not. But when you have a Secretary of Defense dealing with the things that we’re dealing with in the Pentagon, with budget restraints and force posture reductions and so on, and still we in DOD are doing the kinds of things we’re doing with our combatant commanders to assist our diplomatic effort, which I talked about, we’re doing a lot of things all over the world. And if that narrative is not getting out there, then maybe that’s our fault, but I hope no one will leave here with any kind of misunderstanding that somehow we’re withdrawing from the world or we’re doing limited work. It’s just the opposite.

SECRETARY KERRY: Mr. Ambassador, can I just add to that important areas? We just concluded a security – a High-Level Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan. And I’ve just concluded, as you know, some two months ago a negotiation with President Karzai for a bilateral security agreement, which we are waiting for a signature for. But we continue our anti-terror initiatives not just there, but in Yemen, in many other parts of the world, and particularly now, we are focusing in on Syria where there are increasing numbers of extremists. And so I think you’ll be hearing and seeing more of this over the course of the next weeks and months. But I think Chuck may be right; I think we need to be more assertive about what we are doing.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you very much. Thank you also, both of you, for deciding to show up here jointly together. I can’t think of a better demonstration of the commitment of the Obama Administration to keep the transatlantic link, keep the transatlantic relationship strong and alive. So thank you for that strong message here today. Let’s give these two gentlemen a hand. Thank you very much. (Applause.)