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Biden calls masks a ‘patriotic responsibility’ and says border is under control

President Joe Biden explained he’ll wear a face mask outdoors out of precaution, agreed America is not racist and defended his policy on the border. 

In a wide-ranging interview on NBC’s ‘Today Show,’ conducted for his 100th day in office, Biden talked about why he would still wear a face mask outside despite the new CDC lines, continued to blame the Trump administration for the problem at the Southern border – which he refused to call a crisis, and explained his view of the role of government in the lives of Americans.

The president said he wears a mask – even though new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say vaccinated people can remove them outdoors – because people come up to chat with him. 

‘The likelihood of my being outside and people not coming up to me, is not very, very high,’ he told NBC’s Craig Melvin, in an interview that was taped Thursday at the White House and aired Friday on the ‘Today Show.’

On the first day the new guidelines went into affect, Biden deliberately wore his mask to make remarks at an outdoor event at the White House that had limited attendance and was socially distanced.  

‘It’s a small precaution to take that has a profound impact. It’s a patriotic responsibility for God’s sake,’ Biden said, adding it would help prevent people from getting the coronavirus. 

President Joe Biden explained he’ll wear a face mask outdoors out of precaution, agreed America is not racist and defended his policy on the border in a wide-ranging interview on NBC’s ‘Today Show’ for his 100th day in office

President Biden said he'll wear a face mask outside - despite new CDC guidelines - because people come up to chat with him' - above he and first lady Jill Biden mask up at an outdoor rally in Duluth, Georgia, on Thursday

President Biden said he’ll wear a face mask outside – despite new CDC guidelines – because people come up to chat with him’ – above he and first lady Jill Biden mask up at an outdoor rally in Duluth, Georgia, on Thursday

The president, who has urged all Americans to get vaccinated, declined to say whether or not he would order service members who are reluctant to do so.

‘I’m going to leave that to the military,’ he said.  

In the interview, Biden agreed America is not racist but said after years of Jim Crow law, communities of color have been left ‘far behind’ in comments that addressed the race struggle in country, which was reignited after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

‘No, I don’t think the American people are racist,’ Biden said.

But, he noted, decades of Jim Crow laws – state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation – had left black Americans behind. 

‘I think after 400 years, after communities have been left in a position where they’re so far behind in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunity, I don’t think America’s racist but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow, and before that slavery has had a cost that we have to deal with,’ he said. 

Biden was responding to Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who, in his GOP response to the president’s address to Congress Wednesday night warned about fighting discrimination with discrimination and talked about his personal experience with racism.

‘Hear me clearly: America is not a racist county,’ said Scott, the only black Republican senator.

‘It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present,’ he added. 

In the 'Today Show' interview, President Biden agreed America is not racist but said after years of Jim Crow law, communities of color have been left 'far behind'

In the ‘Today Show’ interview, President Biden agreed America is not racist but said after years of Jim Crow law, communities of color have been left ‘far behind’

Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Sen. Tim Scott walk together at the Senate subway after their bipartisan meeting on police reform as negotiations continue on Capitol Hill

Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Sen. Tim Scott walk together at the Senate subway after their bipartisan meeting on police reform as negotiations continue on Capitol Hill

In his address Wednesday night, Biden called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by May 25th, the one year anniversary of Floyd’s death.

The legislation looks to end racial and religious profiling, bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants, requires deadly force be used only as a last resort after officers have employed de-escalation techniques first, limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to law enforcement agencies and would make it easier to hold officers accountable in court by limiting qualified immunity. 

It was named for Floyd, the black man who was killed by white police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020 – Memorial Day weekend of last year. Chauvin was convicted on murder and manslaughter charges. 

The Floyd act has passed the Democratic-controlled House but is stalled in the Senate where it needs the support of at least 10 Republicans to move forward.

Scott, the only black Republican senator, has taken the lead on negotiations for the GOP and proposed legislation of his own.

But his legislation doesn’t include the qualified immunity provision that Democrats want. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers met on Capitol Hill Thursday to talk about a compromise bill. Afterward the lawmakers said ‘progress’ had been made but offered no specifics.

Biden said he will let the lawmakers work it out in negotiations. 

In the ‘Today Show’ interview, Biden continued to blame the rise in migrants at the border on President Donald Trump and said his administration had actually brought the number down.

‘It’s way down now. We’ve now got control,’ Biden said. 

He said because the Trump administration waited so long to cooperate with the presidential transition – due to Trump contesting the election results – his transition team was unable to get information it needed from the relevant government agencies.

‘We didn’t find out they had fire a whole lot of people that they were understaffed considerably,’ Biden said. 

He also said the Trump administration failed to plan for the seasonal upsurge that comes every spring.

‘They didn’t have beds that were available. They didn’t plan for the overflow,’ he said, arguing conditions for the kids, who have been put into overcrowded shelters with some sleeping on the floor, are better now.

‘There’s a significant change right now, significant change in circumstance for children coming to and at the border,’ he said.

President Biden continued to blame the Trump administration for the situation at the border; above immigrant families wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande into South Texas

President Biden continued to blame the Trump administration for the situation at the border; above immigrant families wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande into South Texas

New CDC guidelines say vaccinated Americans can take off their face masks outdoors

New CDC guidelines say vaccinated Americans can take off their face masks outdoors

According to Customs and Border Patrol data, the number of immigrants apprehended along the southern border jumped from 96,974 in February to 168,195 in March. 

The last time single-month apprehensions were that high was in March of 2001. Additionally in March, CBP  apprehended 18,656 unaccompanied minors at the southern border, a record since at least October 2009 and double February’s numbers.

Republicans see the issue as one they can use to make in roads with voters in the 2022 midterms and have criticized Biden heavily on it, particularly for refusing to call the situation a ‘crisis.’ Biden used that word earlier this month when talking about the border but the White House quickly walked it back. 

Biden, who’s proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and $1.8 trillion program of social policies, said he didn’t have extra faith in the government but argued there were some things only the government can do. 

‘I don’t have any inordinate faith in government. But there’s certain things only the government,’ he said.

Republicans have criticized his plans as being too big and over reaching.  In his address to Congress, Biden touted his American Families Plan that includes expanded family leave, child care, health care, and free preschool and college education.


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