That is no doubt the message the White House hopes Americans will take away from the news conference Thursday afternoon. But the 78-year-old commander-in-chief can expect a grilling on a fast-expanding front of tough issues coming at his administration on all sides, which shows how quickly unforeseen events can challenge a president.
The President has maintained approval ratings above 50% in his early months in office because he arrived with a mandate to tackle the pandemic head on and executed his agenda with a steady approach that was the antithesis of the erratic, combative presidency of Donald Trump. Though he was unable to win bipartisan congressional support for his American Rescue Plan, Biden had the backing of the American people to get it passed — and could argue he was acting with bipartisan support nationally if not in Washington.
Battling to get a crisis under control
Two years ago, Democrats excoriated Trump administration officials for its handling of the crisis at the border. Now the problem is squarely within Biden’s domain and government resources are once again strained to the brink as more than 600 unaccompanied children cross the Mexico border each day.
“We’re not seeing any action. Our experience has taught us that now is the time to act. We need Congress to get on board. We need a recognition of the fact that there’s a crisis on the Southwest border,” Roy Villareal, who served as chief patrol agent in the Tucson sector from 2018 to 2020, told CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez.
“This is just the first step in a process of providing greater access to the media,” Psaki said during a news briefing.
“We all agree that the Border Patrol facilities are not places where children should be. They are, children should be moving more quickly through those facilities. That is what our policy central focus is right now,” Psaki said.
The lack of broad press access so far has called into question the administration’s commitment to transparency, especially after the Trump administration’s assaults on the press and Biden’s repeated pledges to tell the American people the whole truth, no matter how bad a situation gets.
“It’s a huge problem. I’m not going to pretend that it’s not. It’s a huge problem,” Harris said in remarks that appeared to be somewhat of a do-over of the administration’s initial downplaying of the situation.
“Are we looking at overcrowding at the border, in particular these kids? Yes. Should these kids be in the custody of HHS, the Health and Human Services, instead of the Border Patrol? Yes. Should we be processing these cases faster? Yes.”
“This is, however, not going to be solved overnight,” the vice president said.
The appointment of Harris is one of the most high profile efforts that Biden could make to stress the seriousness with which his administration is now taking the border crisis — and offers a chance for the vice president to burnish her own political and foreign policy skills as she contemplates a possible run for the top job in future.
“I asked her, the VP today, because she’s the most qualified person to do it, to lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle, and the countries that can help, need help in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border,” Biden said on Wednesday.
But beyond Harris’ new oversight role, Biden will face many more questions about how his administration can actually stop that movement across the southern border and create long-term solutions in partnership with Congress. As with so many of the intractable problems he is now facing, there aren’t likely to be easy answers at his news conference Thursday.