WASHINGTON — Joe Biden is holding his first solo press conference as president Thursday afternoon – his 64th full day in the White House – as new challenges on gun control and an influx of migrants at the southern U.S. border add to an already busy agenda.
Biden has taken longer than his predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, to formally address the White House press corps, fueling extra intrigue and turning the outing into a highly anticipated event.
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Biden: Increase in migrants is cyclical
President Joe Biden said he should be flattered that people think there’s an increase in immigrants coming to the border because “they know Biden is a good guy.”
But that’s not what’s happening, he said.
Instead, Biden said the recent surge is cycle. There was a similar surge between January and March last year because that’s when it’s safer to travel through the desert heat, he said.
“I’d like to think it’s because I’m a nice guy, but it’s not,” Biden said. “It happens every year.”
— Maureen Groppe
Biden cautions Republicans against ‘politics of division’ in first press conference
President Joe Biden addressed questions of his policy priorities during his presidential press briefing, noting that the administration would soon pivot from the its focus on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout to other aspects of his agenda.
“The most urgent problem I stated for the American people was COVID-19 and the economic dislocation,” many have experienced during the pandemic, Biden said. The president, however, noted that with its desired stimulus package enacted and being deployed, the administration will now turn to “long term problems” like immigration reform, gun control and infrastructure.
“My Republican colleagues are going to have to determine whether we can work together or whether they will decide to … divide the country and only pursue the politics of division,” Biden cautioned about passing legislation in Congress.
The president said that the administration would “move on these one at a time and we’re going to get to as many of these as we can,” but did not specify any policy prioritization.
— Matthew Brown
Biden sets new COVID vaccine goal: 200 million shots in 100 days
Biden opened his first formal news conference by setting a new goal of administering 200 million COVID vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office.
“I know it’s ambitious, twice our original goal,” he said. “But no other country in the world has even come close. Not even close to what we’re doing. I believe we can do it.”
Biden’s original goal was to administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The U.S. passed that goal last week and is already on track to reach 200 million shots by the president’s first 100 days.
— Michael Collins
Biden holds first press conference as president
Over his long political career, Biden has made his fair share of gaffes. But he’s stayed largely on script during his young presidency with a focus on leading the nation out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That discipline will be tested Thursday as reporters, for the first time besides brief interactions with the president, have an open arena to question Biden.
In the wake of two deadly mass shootings in the last week, in Georgia and Colorado, Biden has said “we have to act” to pass gun background checks and ban assault weapons. That agenda is already facing resistance from Republicans.
Biden is also facing increasing heat over the increase of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans have called the situation a “crisis” of Biden’s doing while the White House has resisted that term.
Both issues are likely to come up Thursday.
— Joey Garrison