Biden Owns GOP At First Solo White House Press Conference

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At his first solo press conference since taking office, President Joe Biden systematically dismantled Republican talking points on issues from immigration to the federal budget, the latter of which has been a subject of recent GOP complaints about the recently enacted COVID-19 economic relief package known as the American Rescue Plan. As Biden memorably put it, discussing GOP complaints about the aid: “When the federal budget is saving people’s lives, they don’t think it’s such a good idea.”

As for immigration, Biden has faced complaints that his comparatively open approach to immigration has systematically encouraged migrants to trek to the U.S., but as he noted — migration also increased while Trump was in power, and Trump certainly wasn’t some kind of “nice guy”! Precarious conditions in Central American countries drive migrants to make the trek.

Biden also stated that he supports reforming the filibuster rule in the Senate, which currently demands the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving to a vote on most legislation. Biden suggested requiring members of the minority to talk in order to sustain their objection, also seemingly suggesting that he’d have an open mind towards exempting certain categories of legislation, like voting rights bills, from the filibuster rule altogether.

As he put it:

‘I strongly support moving [towards a talking filibuster] in addition to having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy, like the right to vote, like the basic right to vote. We’ve amended the filibuster in the past, but here’s the deal: As you’ve observed, I’m a fairly practical guy. I wanna get things done. I wanna get them done consistent with what we promised the American people… I have never been particularly poor at calculating how to get things done in the United States Senate.’

More broadly, Biden also pushed back against criticism of his administration’s choice to accept unaccompanied children into custody instead of sending them back. As he explained it:

‘The idea that I’m gonna say, which I would never do, that if an accompanied child ends up at the border we’re just gonna let him starve to death and stay on the other side — no previous administration did that either, except Trump. I’m not gonna do it.’

Biden also criticized certain initiatives from Republican state legislators around the country that would restrict voting rights, adding as follows:

‘What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick. Deciding in some states that you can not bring water to people standing in line waiting to vote; deciding that you’re gonna end voting at 5 o’clock, when working people are just getting off work? Deciding that there will be no absentee ballots [except] under the most rigid circumstances?’

And, among other comments, the president also pointed out Republican hypocrisy on the issue of the federal budget. Republicans glibly supported huge Trump era tax cuts for corporations, but more recently, they freaked out in response to COVID-19 aid measures.

As he explained the situation:

‘Didn’t you find it kind of interesting that my Republican friends were worried about the cost and the taxes that had to be had, if there is any tax to be had as they talk about it, in dealing with the Act that we just passed which puts money in people’s pockets? Ordinary people? Did you hear them complain when they passed a close to $2 trillion Trump tax cut?… I love the fact that they found this whole idea of concern about the federal budget. It’s kind of amazing. When the federal budget is saving people’s lives, they don’t think it’s such a good idea.’