7 key takeaways from Biden’s first news conference as president

joe biden
President Joe Biden answers questions during the first news conference of his presidency in the East Room of the White House on March 25, 2021.

  • 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.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Arizona Republican introduced a bill to let state legislature overturn results in a presidential election

GettyImages 1229483334
A man holds a sign reading “Q Sent me” as supporters of Donald Trump gather to protest outside the Maricopa County Election Department as counting continues after the US presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 5, 2020.

  • An Arizona Republican introduced a bill that would let the state legislature decide presidential elections.
  • Rep. Shawnna Bolick’s legislation would allow lawmakers to overturn the secretary of state’s certification of an election result.
  • Bolick, who was reelected in November, promoted false claims about the 2020 election.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A top Arizona Republican who promoted a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2020 election has introduced a bill that would allow legislators override the certification of the state’s top elections official and effectively overturn the results of a future presidential election.

Rep. Shawnna Bolick, a Phoenix-area Republican, does not dispute her own reelection in November. But after Donald Trump lost his bid for another term, she sought to block electors from casting their votes for the winner, President Joe Biden, despite the election having already been certified by Arizona’s Secretary of State.

Bolick also promotedSharpiegate,” the false conspiracy theory that ballots were invalidated because poll workers gave Republican voters permanent markers instead of ballpoint pens.

Now the lawmaker, who chairs the Ways & Means Committee in the state house, is seeking to provide the legislature – narrowly controlled by Republicans – the formal power to revoke the certified results of a presidential election.

In particular, HB 2720 states that the legislature “may revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election.” Notably, the bill would not grant the lawmakers the power to overturn the result of elections for the legislature itself.

Laurie Roberts, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, noted the bill would “allow the legislature to ignore the state’s presidential election results and choose its own winner right up until the moment a president-elect steps up to the podium and puts his hand on the Bible.”

Ironically, the sponsor of the legislation is not herself known for strict adherence to electoral regulations.

In 2020, Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that Bolick herself violated state law when she failed to disclose her actual home address in a filing with election officials.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

One in 10 Americans say they believe the Capitol siege was justified in some way, according to a new Insider poll

Capitol police vs Trump rioter
Capitol Police stand guard outside of Congress as pro-Trump rioters challenging the election results storm the building.

  • A new Insider poll found that a vast majority of the American public believes the Capitol Siege was uncalled for, with 66% saying it was “completely unjustified.”
  • However, 11% of nearly 1,060 respondents, polled online between January 13 and January 14, said they could justify it in some way.
  • Of them, almost 6% said the deadly insurrection was “completely justified,” while 5.6% said it was “somewhat justified.”
  • Respondents who think the president’s allegations of voter fraud are credible were much more likely to justify the assault. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A significant majority of the American public says the deadly attempted coup on Capitol Hill last week was not justified, but roughly 11% of respondents they can justify it in some way, according to a new Insider poll.

Conducted with SurveyMonkey Audience, the poll was conducted online between January 13 and January 14 among 1,059 respondents, with a margin of error of 3%.

We asked: “Do you think the storming of the US Capitol was justified or unjustified?”

  • 5.7% said it was “completely justified.”
  • 5.6% said it was “somewhat justified.”
  • 11% said it was “neither justified nor unjustified.”
  • 7% said it was “somewhat unjustified.”
  • 65% said it was “completely unjustified.”
  • The rest, around 5%, said they “don’t know.”

The results mirror widespread condemnations of the attack from public officials, but also reveal a sizable minority of Americans who sympathize with the insurrectionists.

Read more: ‘It was degrading’: Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

Subsequent questions unearthed at least some plausible contributing reasons for a respondent to be able to justify the attack, which is being investigated by federal law enforcement and has led to a significant number of charges for those involved.

Specifically, respondents were asked “President Trump has made a number of allegations about the voting process in the 2020 election. Do you think his accusations are credible?” Among those respondents who assign the spurious allegations high credibility, close to 20% think the storming of the capitol was completely justified, and another 8% somewhat agree. 

Once considered to be reserved for developing countries, political sectarianism is on the rise in the US along with the threat of violent right-wing and white supremacist groups.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected 1,059 respondents January 13-14, 2021. All polls carried approximately a 3 percentage point margin of error individually.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden warns Georgia voters that $2,000 stimulus checks will never arrive if Republicans win Senate run-offs

President-elect Joe Biden addresses a campaign rally with Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock the day before their runoff election in the parking lot of Center Parc Stadium January 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Biden's trip comes a day after the release of a recording of an hourlong call where President Donald Trump seems to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes he would need to reverse the presidential election outcome in the state.
President-elect Joe Biden addresses a campaign rally with Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock the day before their runoff election in the parking lot of Center Parc Stadium January 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • President-elect Joe Biden said Monday that Americans would receive $2,000 stimulus checks “immediately” if Georgia votes for Democrats in the Senate run-offs.
  • He warned Georgians “those checks will never get there” if Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican incumbents, win.
  • The pair are running against Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The polls in Georgia close at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
  • The Senate has so far rejected $2,000 checks — but a Democratic win in the run-offs would see the Senate split 50-50, with Vice-president elect Kamala Harris holding a tie-breaking vote.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden told Georgia voters on Monday that $2,000 stimulus checks would be sent out to struggling Americans right away if the state votes for Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in US senate run-offs.

More than three million people have voted early in-person or by mail in the Georgia run-offs, according to the US Elections Project. The polls in Georgia close at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

During his speech in Atlanta, Georgia, Biden promised that if Warnock and Ossoff won the run-offs, “that money will go out the door immediately to help people who are in real trouble.”

Biden, who is due to take office on January 20, warned that if Georgians voted for Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican incumbents, “those checks will never get there.” 

Direct payments of $2,000, backed by President Donald Trump and both Perdue and Loeffler, have been blocked four times by the Republican-controlled Senate, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling them “socialism for the rich.”

If Warnock and Ossoff won in the run-offs, the Senate would be split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans – and Vice-president elect Kamala Harris would have a tie-breaking vote.

Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus bill on December 22 containing $600 stimulus checks. In a speech on December 22, Biden called the legislation “a down payment,” and Democrats have said they will push for more federal aid when Biden takes office January 20.

Trump signed the relief package on December 28, but is urging lawmakers to reach a deal on larger $2,000 checks.

Read more: Inside the Democrats’ plan for handling Donald Trump as Joe Biden’s biggest critic and Twitter troll during the next 4 years

Biden told Georgians that the debate over stimulus checks isn’t an “abstract debate,” it’s about “real lives.”

His trip came a day after the Washington Post released a recording in which Trump appeared to plead with Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” additional votes to win the state during the 2020 presidential election.

Georgia voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in the November election for the first time since 1992. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Georgia’s Senate races became the most expensive ever

  • The 2020 Georgia Senate races are the most expensive in US history.
  • More than $480 million has been spent on ad placement in the runoff elections, and that’s just since Election Day.
  • The cost of running a political campaign in the US has been growing steadily over the past decade due to the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Just since Election Day, Georgia Senate candidates and outside groups have spent $480 million on advertising, according to AdImpact. That’s more than the Trump campaign spent on the entire 2016 presidential run, according to OpenSecrets. 

“The Senate majority is hanging in the balance, and every outside group worth its salt is going to want to get in on that action and try to make a dent with ad spending,” BI politics reporter Jake Lahut said. 

 

Campaign spending in the US has skyrocketed during the last decade. And it continued to break records in 2020, with nine of the 10 most expensive Senate races of all time, according to OpenSecrets. 

 

A tight election in November forced a runoff for both of Georgia’s Senate seats. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are the Republican incumbents, up against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in races that have major national implications. If both Democrats win, it will flip the Senate to blue and give Democrats control of the executive and legislative branches of government. 

 

The $480 million spent on ad placement since Election Day doesn’t even factor in the other costs that go into a political campaign.

 

“You’ve got polling, you’ve got lawyers’ fees, you’ve got compliance,” said Will Ritter, cofounder and CEO of Poolhouse, an advertising firm that works with Repulican campaigns and outside groups. “And then an ad itself has a lot of professionals that work on it as well.”

 

These numbers dwarf what’s spent on politics in other democracies. Political parties in Canada were capped at spending $29 million last year, according to CBC.

 

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that political spending was protected as a form of free speech. That meant corporations and other outside groups could spend as much money as they wanted, as long as they didn’t coordinate with campaigns.

In Georgia, only about half of the spending on ads is coming from the candidates themselves. The rest of the money is pouring in from groups across the country.

 

“Everybody who is interested in the control of the US government is going to be putting their money and their effort into Georgia,” Ritter said, “because it all comes down to this.”

 

Even with the rise in digital media, TV is still the best way to reach voters. And in 2020, Facebook and Google banned political ads on their platforms from Election Day through mid-December. That made TV even more crucial in the Georgia runoffs.

 

In the 2020 elections, TV had more influence on voters than all other media combined. That includes radio, social media, mail, and 20 other categories.

 

“If you think of the last TV ad you saw that you liked, now tell me the last banner ad online that you saw,” Ritter said. “Right? I mean, there’s just less of an impact.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The US Postal Service is pulling out all the stops to rush mail-in ballots for the Georgia runoff election

Georgia mail-in ballots election voting
Officials work on ballots at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Headquarters, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Lawrenceville, near Atlanta.

  • The USPS has agreed to take several measures to ensure mail-in ballots arrive on time ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff election, The Washington Post reported. 
  • As part of the agreement between the agency and civil rights groups, the US Postal Service will treat ballots as express mail if they are in a processing plant within three days of the January 5 election. 
  • The postal service has been struggling to keep up with massive volumes of mail this year. 
  • The agency said delays are due to the pandemic, with almost a quarter of its employees out sick or in quarantine. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Postal Service agreed to adopt measures to speed up ballot processing and delivery ahead of the Georgia runoff elections after discussions with civil rights groups, The Washington Post reported. 

The organization agreed to treat ballots as express mail if they were still in a processing plant in the three days before the election. That means mail-in ballots would be delivered the next day. Additionally, ballots being sent from a New York printer to the state would be fast-tracked, and the postal service will sweep facilities to ensure no ballots are misplaced. 

In Atlanta, the USPS agreed to skip the processing plants and directly send the ballots to vote-counting centers. 

The new policy is a result of challenges from groups like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Vote Forward.

The Atlanta voting district has seen a low rate of ballots arriving on time to mail processing centers, The Post reported. Only 80.4% of the over 150,000 mail ballots in that district that have already been processed were on time, but experts told the newspaper that the rate should be closer to 97%. 

Across the country, a record number of mail-in-ballots was recorded during the November general election, and civil rights groups expect Georgia, and especially the Atlanta area, which is the most populous and diverse, to also surpass its own records during the runoffs. 

Two Democrats, Raphael Warnock, and Jon Ossoff are working to unseat Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

This also comes amid high scrutiny of the US Postal Service, after it determined it would have a hard time delivering an avalanche of packages by Christmas. In some cases, mail parcels are stacked so high that it’s difficult for employees to walk around, packages are sitting on trucks for several days waiting to be sorted, and employees are working as many as 80 hours per week. 

The agency has said the delays are due to the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 25% or 19,000 of the agency’s 644,000 workers are sick or in isolation due to COVID-19. 

“Amid the historic volume, the Postal Service continues to flex its network, including making sure the right equipment is available to sort, process, and deliver a historic volume of mail and packages this holiday season,” Kim Frum, a spokesperson for the Postal Service told Insider.

“Our entire Operations team, from collections to processing to delivery, worked throughout this past weekend and continues to work around the clock to address the historic volume.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Our bad’: A Florida newspaper apologized for its endorsement of congressional candidate who supported Texas’ lawsuit to overturn election results

GettyImages 1228563713
Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., walks down the House steps after a vote in the Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.

  • The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board on Friday issued an apology for previously endorsing Rep. Michael Waltz, an incumbent of Florida’s 6th congressional district who was reelected to maintain his seat in the 2020 general election.
  • Waltz was among the many House Republicans who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn the outcome of the election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia. The US Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit on Friday.
  • Apologizing to readers, The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board added, “we had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Florida newspaper issued an apology for endorsing a congressional candidate who voiced support for Texas’ lawsuit contesting the election results in four key swing states. 

The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board on Friday issued an apology for previously endorsing Rep. Michael Waltz, an incumbent of Florida’s 6th congressional district who was reelected to maintain his seat in the 2020 general election. Waltz was among the many House Republicans who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn the outcome of the election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia. 

Apologizing to readers, The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board added, “we had no idea, had no way of knowing at the time, that Waltz was not committed to democracy.”

“Our bad,” the editorial board wrote.

The US Supreme Court announced Friday it would not hear the lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton contesting the election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, citing that “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” 

This lawsuit was one of President Donald Trump and his allies’ many lawsuits alleging baseless claims of voter fraud and contesting the results of the election after his loss to President-elect Joe Briden. To date, Trump and his allies have not won any of these lawsuits, Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth and Jacob Shamsian reported.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Waltz responded to the Sentinel’s criticism and added that while the high court’s decision was “disappointing,” he accepted their decision. 

Read the original article on Business Insider