“I do believe when the president asks you directly to come serve, that you have a responsibility to serve, but this was not my intention to be at the White House full time for a longer stint,” she said.
Asked whether she’ll be stepping down in days or weeks, Dunn said she did not have a date to announce. “Stay tuned,” she said.
The interview also addressed Biden’s plans regarding infrastructure. The president was criticized last week after he said he wouldn’t be signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless it came to his desk in tandem with a reconciliation bill to address whatever didn’t make it in the first — a statement that many Republicans read as a veto threat, and one that resulted in a lengthy clarification from the White House. Still, the administration has stuck to its dual-track messaging, saying the president will “work like hell” to pass both.
Dunn doubled down on the president’s dedication to signing both bills on Friday, saying “we’ve always seen this as a dual-track process.”
Lizza also asked Dunn about the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s pay-fors, and what will happen if the Congressional Budget Office says they don’t add up. Dunn said the group of senators that put the pay-fors together is comfortable that they will be enough to fund the plan. She then emphasized that the plan includes long-term investments, “not stimulus.”
“In the context of the larger plan, I think the group of senators and the president felt comfortable that these were real pay-fors, and that we’re moving ahead on that assumption,” she said.
On reconciliation, as senators disagree on what the budget should be, Dunn did not give a dollar amount from the president. She said he’s been clear on his red lines and what he thinks should be in the budget resolution. She also mentioned the president’s long career in the Senate, which he’s often brought up as a point of privilege with regard to the infrastructure plan and his ability to work with Congress. “It’s a congressional process and a negotiation, so we understand that there will be a lot of back-and-forth between now and then,” Dunn said.
Asked about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) $6 trillion budget reconciliation proposal, which would expand Medicare, Dunn did not say such an expansion was a red line for Biden. Instead, she highlighted the president’s support for expanding Medicare benefits.
“We’ll all be talking about what priorities are and how we’ll pay for it,” she said.
Going into the Fourth of July weekend, the White House is bracing to miss its initial goal of vaccinating 70% of American adults by Sunday. Dunn reiterated the White House’s message that young people, who have been lagging behind in vaccination rates, need to get vaccinated as the delta variant spreads. She stuck to recent messaging that the specific July 4 deadline the White House set was not as important as simply getting more adults vaccinated.
“Nearly 70% of this country is going to be vaccinated within a couple of weeks,” Dunn said. “Certainly we didn’t quite make our goal, but we’re darn close to it.”