President Biden addressed topics ranging from COVID-19 to the Jan. 6 insurrection on Wednesday night in Cincinnati. Photo of Biden courtesy of Flickr.
Lauren Durham | Print Editor-in-Chief
President Joe Biden held a CNN town hall on the evening Wednesday, July 21 at Mount Saint Joseph University in Cincinnati.
After six months of his presidency, Biden addressed imminent topics including COVID-19 vaccinations, infrastructure, voting rights, immigration and the Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection.
The town hall took place after a day of touring IBEW-NECA Electrical Training Center, a trade training center in Westwood, Ohio, in an effort to promote trade and union labor. Cincinnati natives both welcomed and protested Biden’s visit.
Below are some of the key takeaways from the town hall:
“We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten the vaccination — it’s that basic, that simple,” Biden said during the town hall on Wednesday.
After missing the administration’s goal of 70% of Americans being at least partially vaccinated by July 4, Biden expressed frustration at the slowing COVID-19 vaccination rates and recent national surges.
“If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die,” Biden said. “So it’s gigantically important that … we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.”
Experts did, however, point out false claims from Biden’s discussion of the virus on Wednesday night. Of note, according to CNN medical analyst Leana Wen, Biden falsely claimed that vaccinated individuals cannot contract COVID-19 or the Delta variant.
“We actually don’t know how well you’re protected from mild illness, and whether with the Delta variant, if you’re vaccinated, could you still be contagious to other people. We do not know the answer to that, and I actually thought it was irresponsible,” Wen said.
Vaccine developments are ongoing. Children under 12 will likely be approved for the vaccine in the coming months, according to Biden during the town hall.
He indirectly noted that even his critics, notably a handful of Fox News personalities, have begun to change course about the efficacy and importance of the vaccine. Biden said he was “glad they had the courage to say what they’ve said” while boarding Air Force One, according to CNN.
Biden’s key message was simple: ignore the conspiracy theories and get vaccinated.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans rejected a $1 trillion infrastructure blueprint, and a bipartisan group of senators asked for a delay until Monday as they are still coming to an agreement.
When asked about the rejection of the proposal during the town hall, Biden said, “It’s a good thing and I think we’re going to get it done.”
Biden has argued that nearly $4 trillion will be necessary in order to rebuild the middle class and continue the momentum of economic growth that has occurred since he took office.
During the town hall, he referenced the Brent Space Bridge — a Cincinnati bridge he passed during his visit and a structure that two presidents vowed to repair. Biden said that it’s time to “fix that damn bridge of yours” to members in the audience.
Since the 2020 election, nearly 30 state legislatures have enacted laws that restrict voting rights.
On the heels of an ongoing federal legislative filibuster regarding access to ballots, Biden stated the importance of bipartisan efforts but did not express plans to intervene or disrupt the filibuster.
“I want to make sure we bring along, not just all the Democrats, we bring along Republicans who I know know better,” Biden said. “And what I don’t want to do is get wrapped up right now, and the argument was that this is all about the filibuster, or look, the American public, you can’t stop them from voting.”
He called out Republican lawmakers working to restrict voting rights saying that the efforts are “Jim Crow on steroids.”
Biden was asked multiple questions about immigration during the town hall.
When asked about the July 16 federal ruling in Texas that deemed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA) illegal, Biden expressed his disappointment and said that the US Department of Justice intends to appeal the decision.
Biden also explained his administration’s policy for asylum seekers. He recommended that those seeking asylum in the United States should do so from their home countries through American embassies.
He highlighted efforts to increase access to citizenship that include increasing the number of officers who can hear immigration cases.
Hours prior to the CNN town hall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two Republicans who were chosen to participate in the House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6. In response, Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled the rest of his members from the panel.
Biden was asked to share his thoughts regarding the recent congressional fighting and the aftermath of Jan. 6 as a whole.
“The idea that the Democrats or Biden are hiding people and sucking the blood of children… we’ve got to get beyond this,” Biden said, referencing the beliefs of QAnon members. “I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnate, the fact is you can’t look at that television and say, nothing happened on the 6th.”
Although bipartisan discrepancies are delaying a formal congressional investigation, Biden said that he still has “faith in the American people.”