US President Joe Biden has announced that his administration will aim to have 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered by his 100th day in office.
Addressing the media in his first official press conference at the White House, he took questions on a range of topics from overcoming Republican opposition in an evenly divided Senate in order to get his legislative agenda passed to questions around immigration, gun control and relations with China.
Biden’s earlier goal of 100 million vaccine shots administered in his first 100 days was surpassed on day 59 as daily vaccinations now average around 2.5 million per day; with deals secured with three FDA approved drug-makers totaling 800 million doses for the country.
“We will be my 100th day in office have administered 200 million shots in people’s arms, that’s right 200 million shots in 100 days and I know its ambitious, twice our original goal but no other country in the world has come close.”
He was asked about the lack of bipartisan support for his agenda after not a single Republican vote backed his 1.9 trillion dollar COVID relief package earlier this year – from sweeping immigration reform, to infrastructure investment, greater gun control and climate change.
“My Republican colleagues are gonna have to determine whether or not we want to work together or they decide that they way they want to proceed is to just to divide the country, continue to politics of division. But I’m not going to do that, I’m just going to move forward and take these things as they come.”
With a 50-50 split in the Senate, the current filibuster rule requires 60 votes to move forward with legislation; a yardstick that could derail hopes of moving his agenda forward; as a push from the left to eliminate the filibuster gains momentum while infuriating the right.
“I strongly support moving in that direction. We’re ready 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.”
Biden took aim at Republican state legislatures changing election laws that will scale back ballot eligibility and access to voting at a level not seen since the late 1800s; a move based on the myth that large-scale fraud occurred in the 2020 poll that former President Donald Trump lost handily.
“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is, it’s sick, it’s sick. The Republican voters I know find this despicable, Republican voters, folks outside this White House, I’m not talking about elected officials, I’m talking about voters, so I’m convinced we’ll be able to stop this because it is the most pernicious thing, this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.”
On Foreign policy, a question on North Korea after the reclusive state launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan this week in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
“We are consulting with our allies and partners and there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly but I’m also prepared for some sort of diplomacy but it has to be conditioned on the end result of denuclearisation.”
The US President also addressed tensions with China and how he planned to address Beijing’s growing status as a global economic powerhouse.
Biden had this to say about his counterpart Xi Jinping: “Doesn’t have a democratic bone in his body but he’s a smart guy, he’s one of the guys like Vladimir Putin who thinks that autocracy is the way of the future, democracy can’t function in an ever complex world. I made it clear to him again, that I’ve told him in person on several occasions that we’re not looking for confrontation although we know there will be steep, steep competition.”
The President, who has been in office for two months, was asked if he would run for re-election in 2024…. his response was that he expected to do so but wasn’t sure there would be a Republican Party to run against.