From: Mufson, Steven
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2016 12:32 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N. EOP/WHO
Subject: pool report #2
POTUS arrived in Jacksonville at 12:22 pm
Rep. Corinne Brown (D-Flor.) and Patrick Murphy (D-FLor.) are on the flight too.
Josh Earnest briefed on the plane
He said the president would continue to study candidates for the Supreme Court vacancy and said that at this time the list “is not closed.” Obama will meet Tuesday with McConnell, Grassley, Leahy and Reid to discuss the court vacancy and how to move ahead with a nominee. He said there would not be any choice made or announced before the Tuesday meeting. He once again urged McConnell to consider any nominee put forth and cited McConnell’s oped in the WSJ after the mid-term elections when the Senate Majority Leader said he would get Congress moving again. Earnest said “slamming on the brakes” over a court nominee “doesn’t fit anybody’s definition of getting Congress moving again.” He added that the administration hopes “cooler heads” prevail.
Earnest said he watched part of the debate last night He said it resembled a “Texas demolition derby.” He singled out the immigration issue and said he was surprised all Republican presidential hopefuls appeared to agree they oddly rescind permission to Dreamers to stay in the United States legally. He said that would push those people off the tax rolls and back into the "shadows."
“With all the shouting last night I’m surprised there was not more shouting about this.”
he also reiterated the administration’s position that Americans keep in mind the administration’s track record on the economy, highlighting the president’s visit today to a battery plant. Although the plant owner Saft is a substantial company, he said that in 2009 when credit markets were tight, the government’s willingness to provide Saft access to capital was important and made the construction of the battery plant possible. He said the federal money given to firms like Saft would have long-term benefits for innovation and job creation, noting that the plant in Jacksonville employs about 300 people.
On the cessation of hostilities agreement with Syria that goes into effect later today Earnest noted that Russia and the Assad regime are continuing to engage in military operations, raising the question of whether they will, in fact, abide by the understanding. “Those kinds of operations are in direct conflict with the commitments that they made” in the cessation agreement. “The world is watching,” he added, using the phrase President Obama did at the State Department yesterday, to see whether they cease when the agreement takes effect. But he also said the administration does not expect to be able to gauge immediately whether the understanding is working.
“it is unlikely that we’ll be able to judge the cessation of hostilities as a success or failure within the first couple of days or even within the first couple of weeks, because we do anticipate that we’re going to encounter some speed bumps along the way. There will be some potholes along the way. There will be violations along the way.”
Monday, Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers of the U.S. Navy, who was part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan in 2012.
Tuesday, he will host the SCOTUS meeting with McConnell, Grassley, Reid and Leahy.
Wednesday he will hold an ambassador credentialing ceremony and welcome the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, 2016 college football champions, to the White House.
Thursday Obama goes to Milwaukee, which won the healthy communities challenge.
Friday: Meetings at the White House.