- Biden gave his first solo news conference as president on Thursday.
- He fielded questions on issues ranging from voting rights, foreign policy, immigration, and his plans for 2024.
- Scroll down for 7 key takeaways from the presser.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Reporters on Thursday grilled President Joe Biden on a slew of issues when he gave his first solo news conference since taking office. He fielded questions on issues ranging from immigration, foreign policy, voting rights, the filibuster, and his plans for 2024.
He also gave updates on his administration’s COVID-19 response, vaccine distribution, and the economy.
Until Thursday, Biden had mainly interacted with the media by doing cable news interviews and briefly answering questions after public appearances.
Here are 7 key takeaways from Biden’s first news conference on Thursday.
Biden plans to run again in 2024
The president announced that he expects to run again in 2024 with Vice President Kamala Harris on the ticket.
“The answer is yes, my plan is to run for reelection. That’s my expectation,” Biden said, before adding that he cannot know for certain. “I’m a great respecter of fate.”
Biden also scoffed at the idea of facing Trump as his GOP challenger in 2024. “I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party,” he said.
Biden ups vaccine goal to 200 million vaccinations in first 100 days
At the top of the briefing, Biden set a new goal of the United States administering 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by his 100th day in office. Initially, the president planned to hit 100 million vaccine shots within that time frame, but the country surpassed that milestone last week.
The US has administered over 133 million vaccine doses as of Thursday, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 2.5 million doses are administered per day, The New York Times reported. At that pace, Biden is on track to fulfill his new objective by April 30, his 100th day in office.
More than 100 million stimulus checks have gone out and ‘millions more will be getting their money very soon’
Biden said that more than 100 million stimulus checks worth $1,400 have gone out so far. The checks were included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, known as the American Rescue Plan, that he signed into law earlier this month.
“Millions more will be getting their money very soon,” he added.
Biden reacts to surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border
The president faced several questionsabout the recent surge of unaccompanied children at the southern border. He claimed that the increase is not because he may be considered more welcoming to immigrants than former President Donald Trump, but due to the weather.
Biden also blamed the hardline immigration policies imposed by Trump and the dire living conditions of the home countries that people are fleeing from.
“I like to think it’s because I’m a nice guy, but it’s not, it’s happened every year,” Biden said. “The reason they’re coming is it’s the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying because of the heat in the desert.”
Biden skewers GOP-backed efforts to restrict voting registration as ‘sick’ and ‘un-American’
Biden called the dozens of Republican-led bills that would restrict voting currently circulating in state legislatures “despicable,” “sick” and “un-American.”
“This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,” Biden said. “This is gigantic, what they’re trying to do. It cannot be sustained.”
The president said his aim is for Congress to approve the For the People Act, a Democratic-sponsored bill dedicated to voting rights reform, which passed the House on March 3.
Biden agrees the filibuster is a ‘relic of the Jim Crow era’
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pointed out that former President Barack Obama said last year that the filibuster is a “relic of the Jim Crow era” and asked Biden if he agreed with the assessment.
“Yes,” Biden said.
“Why not abolish it, if it’s a relic of the Jim Crow era?” Collins pressed.
Biden replied, “Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible. Let’s figure out how we can get this done and move in the direction of significantly changing the abuse of even the filibuster rule first. It’s been abused from the time it came into being by an extreme way in the last 20 years. Let’s deal with the abuse first.”
“You’re moving closer to eliminating the filibuster. Is that correct?” Collins asked.
“I answered your question,” the president said.
Biden said he ‘can’t picture’ US troops being in Afghanistan next year
Reporters pressed the president on whether the administration would meet the May 1 deadline Biden had set as a candidate to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.
“We will leave,” Biden said. “The question is when we will leave.” Asked if he expected US troops to be in Afghanistan next year, he said, “I can’t picture that being the case.”