Weekday White House: The National Security President

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have proven to be a juggernaut, moving quickly to respond to national and global crises with the leadership and vision it requires. But Joe Biden's first love was always foreign policy, and that came shining through at today's White House press conference. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan joined Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the podium today, and the majority of the presser was spent on national security and foreign policy.

Following Sullivan's remarks and Q&A, Psaki spoke mostly on coronavirus relief.


Among the important topics covered were the President's visit to the state department, a reorientation of American leadership, and what Sullivan called a "foreign policy for the middle class."

Coinciding with the President's visit to the State Department are the launch of five major planks in the president's effort in rejuvenating American foreign policy:

  1. Investments at home, including with the American Rescue Plan (the coronavirus relief package).
  2. Revitalizing America's alliances abroad
  3. Re-engaging key international agreements, such as a 5-year extension of renewal of the New START treaty with Russia to limit both countries' nuclear arsenal and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, affirms America's commitment to multilateralism.
  4. Re-asserting American values by repealing Trump's Muslim ban, welcoming Transgender Americans into the service of the country, and more.
    • The president will end all US support for offensive operations in Yemen.
  5. Ensuring America's global force posture is consistent with American priorities. To that end, a Defense Department review has paused further withdrawal of American forces from Germany.

Re-organization of the National Security Council:

  • The NSC now has a deputy director for cyber and emerging technologies.
  • The NSC has elevated defense of democracies as a key part of NSC's agenda.
  • Added a coordinator dedicated to the Indo-Pacific.
  • The national security community is undertaking a review on strategy and resources to combat domestic violent extremism.
"A foreign policy for the middle class"
  • Foreign policy decisions will be evaluated on the scale of whether they make life better, safer, and easier for working families.
  • A different approach in trade policy based not on access for multinational corporations but on opportunities and jobs trade would create for Americans.
  • National competitiveness will be a core part of national security.
  • National security policy will focus on global and economic issues like pandemic response and climate change.
President's Executive Actions: the orders the president is slated to sign today will:
  • Establish regular order in national security decision-making.
  • Revitalize the national security workforce to match POTUS's commitment to include diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Build up capacity to accept more refugees in America.
  • Possible Executive Orders being considered on Burma's military coup.
  • Appoint a new envoy for Yemen.

Psaki address why a big package is needed.

  • A CBO analysis noted that the economy - in terms of employed individuals - would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025 without additional aid from Congress.
  • Trump advisor Kevin Hassett, among other conservative economists, have backed the need for a large stimulus package.
  • Moody's analysis shows that the ARP will bring the economy to full employment a year faster than without aid.
  • Brookings analysis shows that the ARP will bring the economy back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.
  • 90% of economists surveyed by Reuters found substantial support for the Democratic plan.
Psaki also cited broad, bipartisan, public support in favor of the plan:


  • Student loan cancellation: The president is firm on his position to cancel up to $10,000 in federal student debt, and the White House's position is that it needs to be authorized by Congress.
  • CDC guidelines on school reopening will be issued soon.
  • Sen. Romney is introducing a bill to hugely expand the child tax credit, and the White House is closely looking at it. Romney's bill will substitute the refundable credit for certain other benefits.

Let's do this again tomorrow.

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