President Joe Biden attended a town hall meeting Wednesday (July 21) as he marks half a year in office. The meeting was hosted by CNN’s Don Lemon and held in Cincinnati, Ohio at Mount St. Joseph University.
The event comes as cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 spike across the country, and economic recovery ebbs and flows following a year of lockdown and ongoing fears of variants spreading. The president also continued to champion bipartisanship as Congress attempts to investigate the January 6 insurrection and advance federal voting rights.
President Biden covered a range of topics during the event and addressed some hot button issues that have real-life implications for millions.
Here are four major takeaways from the meeting that might have implications for your wallet and ballot.
Children Under 12 Can ‘Soon’ Be Vaccinated
Biden said that a COVID-19 vaccine would “soon” be available for children under 12.
“I do not tell any scientist what they should do. I do not interfere,” he said while discussing a potential timeline for when the children’s vaccines would be ready.
“What they’re telling me, is let us decide based on scientific data and how we proceed. Do it the way we would ordinarily.”
Scientists, Biden said, aren’t “promising me any specific date” for the vaccine to be ready as millions prepare to go back to in-person learning for the upcoming school year. Though, the president did say he expects that the CDC will recommend that children wear masks at school.
Biden’s Take On The Filibuster
During an impassioned speech on voting rights last week, Biden said that legislation restricting access to the ballot is the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.”
A town hall participant asked Biden that if he believes that, why has he not moved to end the filibuster that would allow federal voting rights protections legislation to pass.
“I stand by what I said,” Biden replied. “Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. This is Jim Crow on steroids.”
He even acknowledged that “the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming” but continued to defend its presence while saying that the filibuster isn’t more important than voting rights protections for Americans.
Lemon noted that former President Barack Obama –– Biden’s ex-boss –– called the filibuster a “relic of Jim Crow,” to which Biden agreed but said if it was done away with, nothing would get solved in Congress.
“There’s no reason to protect it,” Biden said. “Other than, you’re going to throw the entire Congress in the chaos. Nothing will get done, nothing at all will get done, and there’s a lot at stake.”
Advocates have long called for an end to the filibuster, agreeing with Obama's sentiment due to the history of how it's been used.
Biden said that the chances Americans will see long-term inflation is “highly unlikely.”
“The vast majority of the experts, including Wall Street, are suggesting that it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be long-term inflation that’s going to get out of hand,” Biden said.
He continued later stating, “There will be near-term inflation because everything is now trying to be picked up.”
In his remarks, Biden said businesses like restaurants might continue to have a hard time as people switch careers or don’t get paid enough to survive on minimum wage.
He told one meeting participant who co-owns a restaurant, "I think your business and the tourist business is really going to be in a bind for a little while."
Biden also doubled down on Vice President Kamala Harris' "do not come" message to people immigrating to the US.
"They should not come," Biden said, while also noting that this administration is currently working on setting up pathways to asylum seekers from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
He also noted his support for Dreamers –– people who don't have citizenship after being brought to the US as children, calling them "good, good people."