Analysis: What’s next for Biden after his voting bill failed?


WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden held his first press conference of 2022 Wednesday, highlighting the peaks and the valleys of his first year in office. NewsNation’s Allison Harris was inside the briefing where she asked Biden about coronavirus in schools and the hotly contested voting legislation.

Democrats and civil rights leaders have pushed for the passage of voting legislation throughout Biden’s first year, saying the bill is vital for protecting democracy.

Harris asked Biden if he thought the upcoming midterm elections would be fairly conducted if his voting legislation failed.

“It all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election,” Biden said.

The question asked by Harris came hours before the voting legislation collapsed Wednesday when two Democratic senators refused to join their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster after a raw, emotional debate. However, Harris thinks there is a chance Biden could wade into the voting legislation debate, especially after Republicans’ repeated filibustering of the bill.

“The American people did not hear him say outright, the election will be fairly conducted and it will be legitimate. You heard him later clarify what he means is that, without the chances of this being an illegitimate election in the midterms, go up if voting rights legislation does not pass,” Harris said on “Morning in America.” “We didn’t see it passed last night. But the president also hinted at some executive action that he could take in the future to strengthen voting rights.”

Harris said that both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are warning that the distrust and unfounded claims the 2020 election was stolen still have repercussions to this day.

“You’re not hearing the vice president or the president giving a full-throated endorsement that yes, we’re doing everything we can to make sure this will be a legitimate election,” Harris said. “What they’re essentially saying is that they want to make sure the American people are aware of the seeds that have been sown by their predecessor, by former President Donald Trump, when he made continued claims that the election was stolen and that the election was fraudulent, claims that have not been supported with any evidence to this date.”

Another issue of contention at the press conference: the pandemic. Biden conceded 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.

Harris also asked Biden what he would say to officials at the schools that have chosen not to have in-person classes due to the omicron variant.

“Parents are at odds over closing schools and remote learning,” Harris asked Biden at the press conference. “You say we’re not going to go back to closing schools … yet, they’re closing in some areas. What do you say to those teachers and principals and parents about school closings?”

“First of all, I put in perspective the question you asked. Very few schools are closing. Over 95% are still open,” Biden said. “So you all phrase the questions, I don’t think it’s deliberate on your part … What are we going to do? 95% are still open.”

NewsNation has not confirmed that claim.

As for getting back to a pre-pandemic 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.

A poll by NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ of 1,000 registered voters released last week found that nearly 55 percent of respondents disapprove of the president’s handling of the pandemic.

More Americans disapprove than approve of how Biden is handling his job as president, 56% to 43%, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Thursday. As of now, just 28% of Americans say they want Biden to run for reelection in 2024, including only 48% of Democrats.

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