Washington [US], January 20 (ANI): US President Joie Biden on Wednesday (local time) commemorated his first year in office and said "it's been a year "of challenges" but also of considerable strides."He talked about issues like inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic and voting rights.
Talking about vaccinations, he said that millions of Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Tomorrow will mark one year since I took office. It's been a year of challenges, but it's also been a year of enormous progress. We went from 2 million people being vaccinated at the moment I was sworn into 210 million Americans being fully vaccinated today," Biden said at the formal news conference held in White House.
The US government launched a website for Americans to sign up for free COVID-19 tests as the country continues to battle the Omicron variant -- which caused 99.5 per cent of new coronavirus cases in the US last week, according to CDC estimates.
Biden discussed the challenges his administration and the country has faced because of the coronavirus pandemic during his first year in office.
"I know there's a lot of frustration and fatigue in this country. And we know why, COVID-19. Omicron has now been challenging us in a way that it's the new enemy," Biden said.
Biden also highlighted how the country is now better positioned to tackle the pandemic, citing vaccination efforts, testing tools and new medications now available.
"We're in a very different place now, though. We have the tools. Vaccines. boosters, masks, tests, pills to save lives and keep businesses and schools open. Seventy-five per cent of adults are fully vaccinated. We've gone from 90 million adults with no shots in arms last summer and down to 35 million with no shots as of today. And we're adding about 9 million more vaccinations each week. We're going to stick with our vaccination efforts because vaccinations work. So get vaccinated, please. And get your booster," the President said.
Talking about inflation, Biden said one of the keys to facing down inflation in the US is to promote healthy competition within various industries.
"A handful of giant companies dominate the market in sectors like meat processing, railroads, shipping, and other areas... Over time, it has reduced competition, squeezed out small businesses and farmers, ranchers and increased the price for consumers," said Biden.
President Biden acknowledged Americans are struggling with the high cost of living and threw his weight behind the Federal Reserve's efforts to fight inflation"We need to get inflation under control," Biden said during his opening remarks Wednesday.
Biden pointed out that price stability is the responsibility of the Fed.
"The critical job of making sure elevated prices don't become entrenched rests with the Federal Reserve, which has a dual mandate- full employment and stable prices," Biden said.
Biden noted that Americans are seeing rapid price increases at grocery stores, at the gas pumps and elsewhere.
"Given the strength of our economy and pace of recent price increases, it's appropriate...as Fed Chairman Powell has indicated, to recalibrate the support that is now necessary."Biden added that he respects the independence of the Fed.
Biden also detailed his administration's efforts to fight inflation, including by unclogging supply chains and cracking down on unfair market competition.
Biden also used his opening remarks to highlight the number of jobs created under his watch.
"We created 6 million new jobs. More jobs in one year than any time before. Unemployment dropped. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 per cent. Child poverty dropped by nearly 40 per cent," the President added.
Regarding voting rights legislation Biden said that the party faces an uphill battle to pass the bills in Congress.
Asked if he thinks the upcoming elections will be fairly conducted and legitimate if voting rights legislation doesn't pass, Biden said "it all depends on whether or not we're able to make a case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election.""Well, I think, if, in fact, no matter how hard they make it for minorities to vote, I think you'll see them willing to stand in line and defy the attempt to keep them from being able to vote. I think you're going to see that people will try to keep from being able to show up, showing up and making the sacrifice need to make in order to change the law back to what it should be," he continued. "But it's going to be difficult. I make no bones about that, it's going to be difficult, but we're not there yet. We've not run out of options yet and we'll see how this goes."President Biden defended his record on voting rights amid criticism that he did not prioritize election reform earlier in his administration.
"I started on the voting right issues long, long ago," Biden said at a news conference at the White House to mark his first year in office. "That's what got me involved with politics in the first place.""I am sure there are those who are saying that, why didn't Biden push [the] John Lewis bill as hard as he pushed it the last month," Biden said. "Why didn't he push it six months ago as hard as he did now? The fact is that there is - there's a timing that is not of one's own choice. It's dictated by events happening in the country and around the world as to what the focus is," he added. (ANI)