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News > U.S.

Biden Faces Pressing Issues During First Press Conference

  • At Biden’s first presidential news conference not a single reporter asked about the pandemic that is ravaging the world for a year, affecting over 30 million Americans and killed over half a million.

    At Biden’s first presidential news conference not a single reporter asked about the pandemic that is ravaging the world for a year, affecting over 30 million Americans and killed over half a million. | Photo: Twitter @EarlOfEnough

Published 26 March 2021

Convening his first press conference as U.S. president on Thursday, Joe Biden touched upon a spate of issues that have emerged during his two-month presidency so far such as immigration, gun control, and voting rights, while reporters steered clear of a pandemic that changed the lives of 30 million Americans, killing half a million of them.

Standing alone in the East Room inside the White House, Biden opened the press conference by touting his administration's achievements in combating the coronavirus pandemic, including achieving 100 million vaccinations well ahead of schedule, speeding up school reopenings, as well as passing the American Rescue Plan that has injected fresh impetus into the battered economy.


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However, the first question Biden received challenged him on whether he could deliver on his promise made to Americans on issues like immigration reform, voting rights, and gun control.

In response, Biden said that compared to "the most urgent problem" of COVID-19 and the economic dislocation for the American people, those issues are long-term ones that his administration is now able to tackle "one at a time."

The ongoing surge of migrant border-crossings took center stage during the hour-long session, with discussions sometimes getting heated, forcing the president to defend his administration's response while shifting the blame to his predecessor's hardline policies President Donald Trump.

Biden rejected the notion that his "nice guy" approach to immigration has led to the excessive influx, arguing instead that Central American migrants are coming to the United States mainly because they want to escape economic and social hardships in their home countries.

The President described conditions at the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities holding 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children as "totally unacceptable" and blamed the Trump administration for dismantling the migration processing system. 

The president vowed to expand his administration's capacity to care for migrant children so that they can quickly leave the jail-like CBP facilities. But the agency in charge, the Department of Health and Human Services, has already accommodated over 11,000 such children and is scrambling to find additional shelters.

Admitting that he cannot guarantee a solution to the border problem completely, Biden pledged that the situation would "get a whole hell of a lot better real quick."

Biden answered questions about advancing his legislative agenda in an evenly divided Senate that increasingly abuses a parliamentary maneuver known as a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation. 

Biden, whose career in public service includes 36 years in the Senate, has opposed ending the filibuster outright, suggested on Thursday that he was open to making further changes to -- or even totally getting rid of -- the filibuster.

The president's agitation became particularly visible when he assailed the attempts by Republican-controlled state legislatures nationwide to pass voting-restriction measures. He denounced the efforts as "sick" and "un-American" while citing GOP impediment to passing a voting rights reform in Congress as something that could encourage him on the issue of the filibuster.

On the mass shootings taking place days apart over the past two weeks that killed altogether 18 people, Biden, who has urged Congress to pass gun reform bills, played down the urgency of the legislative actions at this time.


Joe Biden
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