WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden Wednesday delivered his first news conference of 2022, highlighting his plans to combat rising costs, manage COVID-19 fears and respond to a possible Russian invasion in Ukraine.
“I didn’t overpromise” what could be accomplished in the first year of his administration, Biden said during the news conference. “You have to acknowledge we made enormous progress.”
Biden hosted the news conference on the heels of a poll by NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ of 1,000 registered voters found that nearly 55 percent of respondents disapprove of the president’s handling of the pandemic.
A separate Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that the president’s approval rating dropped to 33 percent, his lowest mark to date.
Throughout the afternoon, Biden fielded questions from the news media, touching on topics including jobs, COVID in schools and his Build Back Better package.
Here are key takeaways from Wednesday’s briefing:
Biden called on the Federal Reserve to do more to fight inflation by pulling back on its monetary boosting of the U.S. economy.
Inflation has been running at nearly a 40-year high, which has dogged the Biden administration and caused his public support to tumble even as economic growth and hiring has surged.
“Given the strength of our economy, and the pace of recent price increases, it’s important to recalibrate the support that is now necessary,” the president said in his opening remarks.
Biden also said he has a three-part plan to combat inflation, including:
- Fixing supply chain issues
- Passing the Build Back Better plan so costs for families, including child care, decrease
- Creating competition, including signing an executive order to tackle unfair competition
Biden conceded Wednesday that the U.S. should have done more earlier to boost COVID-19 testing while he pledged not to return to lockdowns and said the omicron variant was not a cause for panic.
“Should we have done more testing earlier? Yes, but we’re doing more now ” Biden told reporters at the White House. He said there are currently 20,000 sites where people can be tested for free.
Biden also said “we’re not going back to closing schools.”
NewsNation’s Allison Harris asked the president about what he would say to officials at the schools that have chosen not to have in-person classes due to the omicron variant.
Biden responded by saying that “very few schools are closing.” He said more than 95% were open. NewsNation has not confirmed that claim.
As for getting back to normal, Biden said we are not there yet.
“Some people may call what’s happening now the new normal, I call it a job that has not yet finished,” Biden said.
BREAKING UP BUILD BACK BETTER
Biden on Wednesday confirmed he will break up his signature $1.7 trillion Build Back Better legislation to get support from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.).
“I am confident we can get pieces, big chunks of Build Back Better signed into law,” Biden said.
Biden said he felt confident about passing the funding for energy and the environment. He also said he believes Manchin supports funding for early education.
There are two big components the president says he is worried about getting passed: the child tax credit and funding to help with the cost of community college.
“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” Biden said at the news conference.
REPONSE TO RUSSIA
Biden predicted that Russian President Vladimir Putin will make a move into Ukraine and said Russia would pay a “dear price” for a full-scale invasion, with its businesses possibly losing access to the U.S. dollar.
“My guess is he will move in,” Biden told a news conference. “He has to do something.”
Biden said he believes Putin doesn’t want full blown war in Ukraine. He suggested that he would limit Russia’s access to the international banking system if it did further invade Ukraine.
Biden said a summit with Putin is a possibility.
You can watch the full press conference below.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.