President Joe Biden answered questions on COVID-19, infrastructure, his plans for the senate filibuster and more during his first official news conference since his inauguration. Journalists who have been patiently waiting for a formal question-and-answer session from the President were quick to draw comparisons to the last administration.
President Biden opened up his first press conference by touting the success of his COVID-19 response and doubling his promised number of vaccines by 100 days from 100 to 200 million vaccines. Biden also said he expects the majority of K-8 students will soon return to their classrooms and announced that more than a 100 million Americans have already cashed their $1,400 stimulus checks.
Biden then opened up the room to questions from reporters. Confronted about the migrant surge on the border Biden said, “Truth of the matter is nothing has changed.”
“As many people came, 28% increase in the children in the border in my administration, 31% in the last year in 2019 before the pandemic in the Trump administration. It happens every single solitary year,” Biden elaborated.
The president also added that the “vast majority” of migrants at the border are being sent back home. CNN’s Daniel Dale fact-checked this claim, saying “Biden made a more accurate claim about the overall group of migrants but for families in particular, for this particular claim, his claim is not true.” Dale pointed out that while 71% of single adults are being turned away, only 41% of migrants coming as a family were being sent back.
With big plans down the line, reporters were interested in how the President plans to work with Republicans moving forward. Biden’s response was that the filibuster was being “abused in a gigantic way” and said that Republicans will have to decide whether they want “to divide the country, [or] continue the politics of division.”
Though President Biden did acknowledge that the filibuster was a “relic of the Jim Crow era,” he did not show interest in abolishing the filibuster just yet. Though Biden did warn Republicans that, “If we have to, if there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.”
Biden talked about his big plans on infrastructure, teasing a major announcement on the topic in Pittsburgh next Wednesday, the 31st. Biden says he hopes to rebuild the “physical and technological infrastructure in this country so we can compete and create significant numbers of really good-paying jobs.”
President Biden also turned heads when he announced interest in running again in 2024: “Yes, my plan is to run for reelection,” he said. “That’s my expectation.”
In an ABC News article, AP Media Writer David Bauder pointed out that the press conference was most notable for what it was missing following the Presidency of Donald Trump. In particular, President Biden received no questions on COVID-19, or any questions from Fox News.
Not taking any questions from Fox News had been expected beforehand because of prior history between Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy and the President. Following the press conference, Doocy said he had a “binder full of questions” for the president, reports RealClearPolitics.
The lack of questions of COVID-19 left some reporters a little more surprised. The New York Times Washington Correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg said the questions “suggest that coronavirus is no longer Topic A.” White House Chief of Staff responded saying, “Pretty sure it is for the American people and the Biden White House.”