20th January, 2022
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday admitted his signature economic and social spending legislation, Build Back Better, was all but dead in its old form.
Instead, he said, he expected that he could get “big chunks” of that bill passed, if not the full package.
Marking the the first anniversary of his presidency, Biden, a Democrat, faced a flurry questions on the country’s bumpy COVID-19 response, relations with Russia and the future of American democracy during a rare formal news conference.
He said he had underestimated the extent of Republican opposition to his programmes.
He also acknowledged Americans’ frustration at the slow pace of COVID-19 testing, but said the United States was on track to meet considerable challenges from the pandemic and inflation.
Promising to confront what he called the unexpectedly “stalwart” opposition of Republicans, Biden promised to take his case for action directly to voters as Democrats seek to defend their congressional majorities in a Nov. 8 election.
“Our work’s not done,” said Biden, whose approval ratings have sagged in recent months with COVID-19 hospitalisations at a record. “Should we have done more testing earlier? Yes,” Biden said.
Asked whether he had promised more than he could deliver, Biden was adamant: “I didn’t over-promise.”
With much of his domestic agenda stalled, Biden also faced questions on rising tensions with Russia over a military build-up in and around Ukraine. Biden vowed unprecedented sanctions if Russia invades its European neighbor.
“Russia will be held accountable if it invades,” Biden said. “They’ll pay a stiff price.”