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American News Mar 25, 2021 6:33 PM EST

BREAKING: Biden holds first press conference, promises transparency at border but won't commit to when

"We haven't seen the facilities in which children are packed together," she asked. "Will you commit to transparency?" He said he would, but gave no timeline for guaranteeing press access to the border facilities.

BREAKING: Biden holds first press conference, promises transparency at border but won't commit to when
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

President Joe Biden spoke to press in a formal briefing for the first time in his 65 day presidency, and took questions from reporters.

Transparency

Kristen Welker of NBC asked if the administration could commit to giving press access to the border detainment facilities. "We haven't seen the facilities in which children are packed together," she asked. "Will you commit to transparency?"

He said he would, but gave no timeline for guaranteeing press access to the border facilities.

He said the reason he hasn't visited the border himself is because he didn't want to become the story. Welker asked if Biden rolled back Trump's policies too soon. He said he did not, that Trump's policies hadn't reduced the flood of illegal immigrants. He slammed Trump's policies and their impact "on human dignity."

Prior to Welker's questions, Biden addressed Yamiche Alcindor's question about the elimination of the filibuster, which he said has been poorly abused this year. He said "we have to get to the place where I get 50 votes so the Vice President can break the tie."

"The best way to get something done," he said, before losing his train of thought. He then said "we're going to get things done." It was about 20 minutes into the conference.

Filibuster

In answer to another question on the filibuster, he said "successful electoral politics is the art of the possible." He said it was a "Jim Crow filibuster," and said the abuse of the rule should be dealt with first.

Immigration

He continued down the list of reporters that he planned to call on, and called on Ms. Vega, who asked another question about immigration. A little boy, she said, who was nine, walked to the US from Honduras. His mom, who Vega spoke to on the phone, said that she sent her son because of Biden's welcoming border policies.

"Well look," he said, staring off into space, "the idea that I'm gonna say, which I would never do, that if an unaccompanied minors came to the border we're gonna let them stay and starve on the other side, I'm not gonna do that." He said that Trump did do this, and went on to say that "earthquakes, flood," food insecurity, and gang violence were reasons that people come north.

Biden said he would work with "heads of state of those communities," but that he would not give money to the heads of state "because so many fo them are corrupt." In the past, he said, he did not go through the government but installed infrastructure, and that the US hiring contractors to do the work in Central America.

"What a desperate act to take, circumstances must be horrible," he said, of parents who send their children north. When asked if the children should stay in the US or go home, he said that some children should probably be sent back to their parents at home.

Vega said of her experience during a border visit that some kids have not seen the sun in days. He said this was not acceptable to him, and that the administration is trying to find more housing for these children.

A reporter from Univision said that it was only because of reporters phoning a mom in the US that she even knew her kids had arrived. "We can get things done," he said, noting that they were going to be moving "over a thousand people out of the border control into safe beds and facilities."

Biden said that HHS were being moved into making those calls, and that they "were in the process of rearranging." He praised the reporter for making the call, but said that it needed to be verified as to whether the person called actually has jurisdiction and connection to the child.

"We want to do this as quickly as humanly possible and as safely as possible."

The reporter asked how to make sure to keep people home in their communities. "The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step," he said.

"People don't want to leave," he said, noting that immigrants feel they "have no choice."

"I can't guarantee we're gonna solve everything, but we're going to make it better."

He said the vast majority of the children were older teens, and mostly male, not mostly small children. "Focus on the most vulnerable immediately," were the instructions to his team, he said.

Afghanistan

Another reporter asked about the situation in Afghanistan, about which Biden said "it is past time to end these forever wars." He asked if Biden would confirm that there would be no more US troops in that country after May 1, and he said "it would be hard to meet the May 1 deadline."

"If we leave, it would be done in a safe an orderly way," he said, "But we are not staying a long time. We will leave, the question is when we'll leave." The US, he said, would not have troops in Afghanistan next year.

Reelection and Republicans

Biden said he has "electoral support from Republican voters, Republican voters agree with what I'm doing."

Biden was asked if he would run for reelection, and he said he would. During his campaign, he said he would be a "bridge" president, and did not intend to run again. In answer to another question regards that, he said "that is my expectation." when pressed, he said "I don't know where you people come from man." As to whether he thought he would be running against Trump, he said "I don't even know if there'll be a Republican party, do you?"

"Don't you find it interesting that my Republican friends" are more worried about taxes than putting money in people's pockets? He spoke against tax reductions, and said that middle income Americans pay higher taxes, at a higher rate, than wealthy Americans.

"To me, it's just about, getting out there, putting one foot in front of the other, making things better," he said.

He said that Republicans were "posturing for a while," but that he's wanting to "work with any Republicans who want to solve the problem."

Biden also referred to Republican voter integrity initiatives as making "Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle."

China

With regards to China, he touted his relationship with CCP President Xi Jingping. "I spent hours upon hours with him alone with an interpreter," he said, noting that he doesn't have a democratic small d bone in his body." The CCP are believers in autocracy, he said.

"The future lies in the fact of who can own the future of technology," he said. Biden said he would "make sure" we're going to invest more than 2 percent, and rattled off a list of things that the US will invest in.

"I wanna make sure that for example later today... I'm going to be speaking with 27 heads of state in Europe, I think in the next hour," he said. Our allies, he said, the "so-called quad," are working together to find ways to hold China accountable in the region.

"We are going to continue in an unrelenting way and call to the attention of the world and make it clear what is happening," he said, as regards China's human rights abuses.

"That's who we are," he said, saying that Trump walked away from that, costing the US its legitimacy around the world. "China has an overall goal... to become the leading country in the world," he said.

"This is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies," he said, saying that Russia and China are on the latter side. "We've got to prove that democracy works.

Gun control

Biden was asked about executive orders he might issue on gun control, and he said that this was part of his agenda. His concern, he said, is timing.

Infrastructure

"Decide and priorities what needs to be done. The next major initiative is... to rebuild the infrastructure both physical and technological infrastructure in this country so that we can compete and create really significant numbers in this country of really good paying jobs."

Ports, airports, highways, water resources, etc., are part of what he said would be on deck for infrastructure spending. "We rank 13th globally in infrastructure," he said. 231,000 bridges in the US need repairs, he said, noting that highways, 186,000 miles or so, need work.

"What are we doing? And by the way, we can put as many pipe fitters and miner to work capping those wells as they were paid to dig those wells."

"I just find it frustrating," he said, "the last point I'll make on the infrastructure... it's the place where we will be able to significantly" create productivity.

Climate change

He said "it will only get worse unless we stop it. There's so much we can do, look at all the schools... How many schools where the kids can't drink the water out of the fountain?" He spoke about inadequate ventilation and asbestos, as well.

"There's so much we can do that's good stuff," he said.

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