American President Joe Biden has announced a new goal to provide 200 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine by April 30. Biden spoke Thursday from the White House in his first press conference as the country’s leader.
Biden spoke about other issues too, including immigration. He defended his administration’s actions to deal with migrants at the border of Mexico and the United States.
And, he called a Republican Party effort to change U.S. voting laws “un-American” and “sick.” He promised action on gun control as well. Two mass shootings took place in the country within the last ten days, leaving 18 people dead.
Biden said the Senate's filibuster rule has been abused. He said senators should have to continuously speak on the Senate floor in order to filibuster. And he suggested more action could be taken if the filibuster rule leads to a “complete lockdown and chaos.”
Afghanistan and North Korea
On Afghanistan, the president said he does not want U.S. forces to stay in the country for a long time. But he said it would be difficult to withdraw all U.S. forces there by a May 1 deadline.
The U.S., under the Trump administration, had agreed to the deadline as a condition for peace with the Taliban. Biden said, “If we leave, we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way.” He added that his administration is discussing the plan with allies and other partners.
Biden said he agreed with former President Barack Obama’s position that North Korea is the biggest foreign policy issue and threat facing the U.S.
The president said North Korea has violated United Nations resolutions by firing four missiles in the past week. Biden warned that the U.S. will answer such actions if they are threatening. He added, “I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.”
Biden said China’s goal is to become the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. He said that goal would not be reached while he is president.
His administration, Biden said, would “insist that China play by the international rules, fair competition, fair practices, fair trade.” And, he said, the U.S. would not put up with China’s human rights violations.
Biden said that he will look to block China’s rise by increasing American investment in science and research. It is an area, he said, where China is expanding while the U.S. is not.
Biden used China as the example to announce his administration’s next major effort: a $3 trillion program to provide jobs and rebuild the country.
The president said he plans to announce details of the program next week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The program, in his words, “is to rebuild the infrastructure, both physical and technological infrastructure of this country, so that we can compete and create significant numbers of really good paying jobs.”
Biden used most of the hour-long press conference to defend how his administration is dealing with migrants at the U.S. border with Mexico. He said the U.S. is sending most migrant families back
Reporters asked whether his administration’s policy had led to increased numbers of migrants at the border. Biden answered, "Tens of thousands of people who are over 18 years of age and single people, one at a time coming, have been sent back, sent home.” He added that a large majority of migrant families are also being expelled.
The U.S. does not expel child migrants traveling without an adult. Biden said when parents send their children alone across the border, it’s a “desperate act.” The U.S., he said, will change the severe conditions in Central American countries from which the migrants flee.
At the age of 78, Biden is the oldest person to hold the office of president. However, he told reporters Thursday that he plans to run for reelection in 2024 with Vice President Kamala Harris.
When asked who will be his Republican opponent, Biden joked, “I have no idea whether there will be a Republican Party, do you?”
I’m Caty Weaver.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
filibuster - n. an effort to prevent action in a legislature, like the U.S. Senate, by making speeches
chaos - n. complete confusion or disorder
insist - v. to demand that something happen
practice - n. something that is done often or regularly
infrastructure - n. basic equipment and structures such as roads and bridges
significant - adj. very important
desperate - adj. very sad and upset because of having little or no hope