President Joe Biden has now gone longer than his last 15 predecessors in holding a solo press conference and there’s still no date for his first State of the Union address, though the president will deliver his first primetime address Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced the address on Monday, but did not share a time or say where the president will deliver his remarks.
One year ago Thursday, March 11, 2020, former President Donald Trump addressed the American people from the Oval Office about the pandemic and announced a ban on travel from Europe, and the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
“[President Biden] will discuss the many sacrifices that the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered,” Psaki said. “The president will look forward, highlighting the role that Americans will play in beating the virus and moving the country to getting back to normal.”
White House Press Sec. Jen Psaki: "The president will deliver his first primetime address to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown on Thursday." pic.twitter.com/hvXlRZqM6W
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 8, 2021
With the House expected to take up and pass the Senate-revised $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Tuesday, which the White House is billing as “the most progressive piece of legislation in history, the convenient timing allows Biden to take a victory lap before the American people.
The speech may be as notable by the things the president is not expected to discuss.
Since taking office, Biden has signed over 50 executive actions, an unprecedented pace not seen before, has bombed Syria and faces an exploding illegal immigration crisis on the southern border. And then there are the steadily rising gas prices.
The president touted the progress on vaccinations on Monday, noting that the U.S. is closing in on his goal of 100 million, a goal the nation was already on track to achieve before any efforts on his part.
“We’re doing pretty good across the country,” Biden said. “We’re going to reach 100 million doses pretty soon. But we have to focus more on getting to the neighborhoods that are at-risk neighborhoods.”
The White House has downplayed Biden’s lack of a press conference, claiming he has taken questions from reporters in informal settings.
Psaki says he is laser-focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“His focus day in and day out is on getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work. That’s what people elected him to do,” she claimed.
As for the State of the Union, which takes place before a joint session of Congress, the press secretary falls back on the pandemic — which has proven to be fortuitous for the Democratic Party in more ways than one — to say it could look different this year.
“We certainly intend on the president delivering a joint session speech, not a State of the Union, in the first year that they are in office,” Psaki said on Friday. “But we don’t have a date for that or a timeline at this point in time.”
Meanwhile, Biden had another one of his “senior moments” on Monday.
While announcing the nominations of two female generals for promotion to four-star combatant commands, he appeared to forget the name of the Pentagon and Defense Department Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Social media users are skeptical of whether Biden can pull the feat off — here’s a sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
Bet he can’t make it through it without the teleprompter!!
— onekeenshot (@onekeenshot) March 8, 2021
Happy Birthday to “2 weeks to flatten the curve”
— Sickoh (@Sickoh) March 8, 2021
Can @POTUS do it? Will he do it? Or will he turn it over to @VP Kamala “let’s be clear” Harris so that she can say she spoke to the people when old Joe goes to sleep. At this time, we’re just waiting for him to take an actual Q&A session from reporters that don’t hold back.
— ElleArr (@InspireMePhoto) March 8, 2021
Pre-recorded with a teleprompter. He will be in bed sleeping when it airs.
— People Suck (@peoples85875860) March 8, 2021
Biden to read teleprompter
— David Sides (@DWS1402) March 8, 2021
Thousands, maybe tens of thousands of untested or COVID-infected Central American immigrants are coming into the country either legally or illegally because of the actions of @POTUS.
At some point this dumbbell will have to explain why he intentionally exposed us to that.
— Webb (@DCWebb93) March 8, 2021
What’s Biden going to do about the rising petroleum costs? Or is he just going to keep celebrating Covid milestones?
— Lake Erie Monster (@monster_erie) March 8, 2021
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