President Biden conducted his first press conference since assuming office, one in which he doubled the nation's vaccination goal and said he expected to run for re-election in 2024. But Biden faced questions on a host of other issues, including immigration and the filibuster. Highlights:
- Immigration: He disputed the notion that migrants were surging to the border because he's a "nice guy," per Axios. He said part of the problem is that immigration agencies are "building back up the capacity that should have been maintained and built upon that (former President) Trump dismantled," adding, "It's going to take time."
- Immigration, II: Biden was pressed on whether his moves to relax Trump rules sent a message to migrant families that they should head to the border. Biden said he is not going to let kids "starve to death" and "stay on the other side." At another point: "Rolling back the policy of separating children from their mothers, I make no apologies for that."
- Filibuster: He said the current filibuster system is being "abused in a gigantic way" and suggested that he's open to changing it if Republicans block legislation on key issues, per the Hill. Biden has previously backed a return to the "talking filibuster." "I strongly support moving in that direction," he said Thursday, "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."
- Filibuster, II: "We’re going to get a lot done, and 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," he said. (Republicans have warned of strong repercussions if the filibuster is removed.)
- Voting rights: Biden criticized Republicans for pushing legislation that he says would make it more difficult to vote in some states. He called such efforts "sick" and "un-American," per the New York Times. “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle."
- Afghanistan: He cautioned that the US might not meet its May 1 deadline for withdrawing troops, reports the Wall Street Journal. "We will leave," he said. "The question is when we will leave."
- China: In his talk with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Biden said he “made it clear to him again, what I’ve told him on several occasions, that we’re not looking for confrontation, though we know there will be steep, steep competition.” He said the US would continue to hold Beijing accountable on human rights, adding that while China aims to become the richest and most powerful nation, "that's not going to happen on my watch."
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