President Biden held his first formal news conference as president on Thursday, addressing the filibuster and facing questions about topics including gun control, border policy, spending and the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden called efforts to limit voting rights “sick” and “un-American,” saying that even Republican voters view actions that make it harder for people to cast ballots as “despicable” attempts to undermine democracy.
Speaking to reporters, Biden also said the filibuster — which requires 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate — was being “abused in a gigantic way” and signaled that he would be open to more aggressive steps to limit or abolish it, starting with a proposal that would require senators to keep talking in order to block legislation.
During a question-and-answer session that lasted more than an hour, Biden said that it was his “expectation” that he will run for re-election in 2024, with Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate. He reiterated that it will be hard to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by May 1. And he touted his administration’s progress in fighting the pandemic, vowing to deliver 200 million vaccinations by the end of April — twice his previous pledge.
But even as he promised that “hope is on the way,” Biden was barraged with questions about his handling of the migrant surge at the U.S. border with Mexico. He insisted that officials are doing everything they can to treat migrant children humanely and repeatedly blamed former President Donald Trump for the overcrowding in facilities at the border.
The president insisted that his administration will accelerate efforts to move migrant children out of crowded conditions on the border, saying that he had directed his top immigration officials this week to accelerate the pace at which migrant children are placed with relatives already living in the United States.
“It’s going to get a whole hell of a lot better real quick or we’re going to hear some people leaving,” he said. “We can get this done. We’re going to get it done.”