'Use your soapbox': Activists urge Biden to step up voting rights push as latest bill fails in Senate
Biden has resisted calls to 'use the bully pulpit' to push Senate Democrats to nuke the filibuster, even as Trump allies push false election claims.But nine months into his presidency, Biden and Democrats have made no headway to overcome Republican opposition to reform voting, failing to override voting restrictions that several GOP-led state legislatures adopted after the 2020 election.
President Joe Biden said police officers and emergency workers who refuse COVID-19 vaccination should stay home or be fired, as he answered questions during a CNN town hall on Thursday evening.
'Yes and yes,' he said to a thunderous round of applause.
'By the way, I waited until July, to talk about mandating, because I tried everything else possible.
'Mandates are working.'
The U.S. has lagged behind other wealthy nations in vaccinating people against COVID-19.
A series of mandates for federal workers and for companies with more than 100 staff triggered angry protests and reports of people being fired or resigning in protest.
Bay Area county fines burger chain over vaccine verification
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's popular In-N-Out hamburger chain is in trouble with yet another San Francisco Bay Area county over its failure to verify the vaccination cards of people choosing to dine-in with their double-doubles, shakes and fries. A spokesperson for Contra Costa County's environmental health division said that the department received repeated complaints from residents saying that workers at the Pleasant Hill location were not verifying vaccine cards as required for in-person dining.
Hours before the town hall, Republican senators wrote to the White House demanding that Biden back down.
But Biden delivered a furious riposte, ridiculing those who argued the mandates were an infringement of their freedom and condemning misinformation.
Protests against COVID-19 vaccination mandates have spread around the country. Pictured here are protesters marching through New York City as a mandate went into effect for public school employees at the start of the month
'Two things that concern me: One, are those who just try to make this a political issue - freedom. "I have the freedom to kill you with my COVID."
Big changes in White House ideas to pay for $2 trillion plan
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — In an abrupt change, the White House is floating new plans to pay for parts of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social services and climate change package, shelving a proposed big increase in corporate tax rates though also adding a new billionaires' tax on the investment gains of the very richest Americans. The reversal Wednesday came as Biden returned to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to highlight the middle class values he says are at the heart of the package that Democrats are racing to finish. Biden faces resistance from key holdouts, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
'Come on,' he said.
Then he criticized what he called 'misinformation' about the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell that focused on the fact he was fully vaccination.
'Well he knew he had serious underlying conditions, and it would be difficult,' said Biden.
'He clearly would have been gone earlier had he not gotten the vaccine.'
Earlier he was quizzed on his plans for a multi trillion dollar social spending plan, which is currently deadlocked in Washington.
Progressives want to push through a massive overhaul of social spending while centrists - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin - are pushing to reduce the price of the bill from its original $3.4 trillion.
Biden offered the centrists a concession, backing away from a corporate tax hike to pay for his Build Back Better agenda.
The event, in front of an invited audience in Baltimore, was a chance to deliver his message directly to the public while his own party remains split.
Firing Dr. Fauci Now May Help Joe Biden Manage the Next COVID Wave, and His Poll Numbers
The disclosure that U.S. funds supported controversial research—and the failure to acknowledge that—deepened distrust of Fauci and the Biden administration.In a testy exchange with Senator Rand Paul last July, Dr. Fauci asserted flatly, "The NIH [National Institute of Health] has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Host Anderson Cooper pressed him on whether he would be able to push through a proposed increase in corporate take to help fund trillions of dollars in new spending.
'No, I don't think we're going to be able to get the votes,' he said.
His plan called for an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent for the biggest companies, triggering warnings that it could hamper growth and that the costs would be passed on to workers and consumers.
'I'm prepared to do the things that we can get done now, that can begin to change the lives of ordinary Americans to give them a fighting chance and come back and try to get others later,' he said.
As Biden seeks a final agreement in coming days, questions have emerged about whether some of his most oft-cited promises, like raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans might have to be dropped to ensure passage of the spending bill
Biden also explained that he had reduced his vision for paid parental leave.
'It is down to four weeks,' he said. 'I can't get 12 weeks.'
The president has conducted only 10 interviews during his time in office, far fewer than his immediate predecessors.
Biden to meet Pope Francis amid some rifts with US bishops
There’s an intriguing subplot to President Joe Biden’s upcoming meeting with Pope Francis. The world’s two most prominent Roman Catholics will be celebrating a shared outlook on church teaching and vital social issues even as Biden faces unwavering opposition from many U.S. Catholic bishops over his stances on abortion and LGBTQ rights. Less than three weeks after Biden’s visit to the Vatican on Friday, the American bishops will convene in Baltimore, with one of the agenda items inspired in part by conservatives who contend that Biden’s support for abortion rights should disqualify him from receiving Communion.
Video: White House pressed on Biden’s recent mixed messaging (FOX News)
Thursday marked the third time he has appeared at a CNN town hall since taking office, with members of the public asking questions rather than the intensive grilling of a one-on-on interview.
His social spending plan remains deadlocked between progressives who want to push through a huge overhaul of social spending and centrists - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin - who want to reduce the price of the bill from its original $3.4 trillion.
Biden immediately faced questions about whether he could bring around the holdouts in his own party, particularly Manchin.
'Joe's not a bad guy,' said Biden. 'He's a friend and he's always the end of the day come around.'
At the start of the evening he also said he believed he was close to a deal pass infrastructure and massive social spending plans after weeks of intraparty bickering.
'I think so, you know, look ... I was a senator for 370 years,' he said triggering laughter.
'I was relatively good at putting together deals.'
But he pushed back at proposals that parents and other caregivers meet a work requirement before receiving a child tax credit.
'No, here's the deal. All these people are working anyway,' he said, as he signaled that he wanted to target the wealthy.
Number of joint Biden-Harris appearances plummets: Report
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris appeared together publicly 18 times in February after rising to the White House on a promise to be a partnership. But in October they only had one joint press event.When Biden picked Harris to be the first female and woman of color to be vice president he strongly indicated she would be an equal partner in his administration.
'And by the way, you know, why should somebody who is not working, and has, you know, makes has a million dollar trust fund, why should they get the benefit?'
Biden has given just 10 interviews in his first nine months in office, falling well short of his two immediate predecessors Donald Trump and Barack Obama who had done 57 and 131, according to Mark Knoller, a former CBS News White House correspondent who maintains a tally.
And the pace of those interviews has slowed - five came in Biden's first two months in office.
President Biden left the White House with the first lady for the short trip to Baltimore on Thursday evening for a CNN town hall. It is his third appearance at such an event since taking office but he trails his predecessors for number of interviews
This will be Biden's third CNN town hall since taking office
Critics within his own party see a siege mentality in a president even as he reaches a crucial moment in steering his massive spending plans through Congress.
'The guy has always been a gaffe machine. He loves talking but the people around him want to keep him under wraps,' said a Democratic strategist who asked speak on background in order to freely discuss White House strategy.
'This is one way to do it but you lose a bit of what makes Joe tick.'
Biden found himself in familiar territory on Thursday.
Presidents and popes over the years: Gifts, gaffes, grief
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden meets with Pope Francis on Friday, he won’t kiss the ring. Biden, who has met with Francis three times and with two previous popes, has said he eschews the traditional sign of respect because his mother told him not to — that no one is “better” than him. In their meeting, the two are expected to discuss issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change as equals. Biden, only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, often speaks publicly about his faith and attends Mass every weekend.
The town hall was compered by Cooper who was also master of ceremonies in February for his first town hall as president.
His last one-to-one interview was more than two months ago, with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News - an alumnus of the Clinton White House.
But it was followed by days of fact checking misleading claims, from the number of Afghan troops to whether or not there were U.S. troops in Syria.
White House officials play down the significance of interviews, pointing out that the president has frequently taken a handful of questions from reporters attending events.
But that gives him the ability to pick and choose what he answers, say presidential observers, and allow him to simply walk away when he wants to.
Thursday's town hall will be held before an invited audience.
'Joe Biden can sometimes get off message so putting him in unscripted environments might not be the best way of Joe Biden communicating,' Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons told The Hill.
Even so Biden himself has joked about the way his aides prefer him not to get chatty.
'I'm not suppose to take any questions,' he said, during a visit to FEMA headquarters in August, 'but go ahead.'
On that occasion he quickly brushed off a question about trouble in Afghanistan and walked away from reporters.
In May, he took a couple of questions after a COVID-19 update but said: 'I’m not supposed to be answering all these questions.'
White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted that was how officials wanted him to play it.
'This is not something we recommend,' she told David Axelrod, the former Obama adviser, during an interview for his podcast.
'In fact, a lot of times we say, "Don't take questions."'
Republicans have used Biden's lack of interviews against him, saying the president lacks stamina or mental energy to fulfil the duties of the office. Some have dubbed him 'Sleepy Joe.'
COVID-19, corporate taxes, Iran nuclear deal on Biden's agenda for Day One of G-20 summit .
The G-20 summit that opened Saturday in Rome will mark the first time in two years that some of the world's most powerful leaders have met in person.Biden arrived at the modernist, cloud-shaped convention center in Rome where the Group of 20, or G-20, is meeting and was welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A few minutes later, he joined other leaders for a traditional "family photo.