Nov 6, 2021
Infrastructure Bill Passed: Joe Biden Press Conference Transcript
President Joe Biden took questions about the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed on November 6, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Speaker 1: (00:02)
To what extent did the election results help propel this bill to the finish line? How were you able to bridge the gap last night between moderates and progressives?
President Joe Biden: (00:12)
Well, I’m not being facetious with the answer I’m about to give you, but I’m not going to be a prognosticator and make a judgment on how the election could or would’ve been different. Each state is different and I don’t know. But I think the one message that came across was get something done. It’s time to get something done. Y’all, stop talking, get something done. And so I think, again, that’s what the American people are looking for, and I think it’s a legitimate… And when you ask how we were able to bring things together? Well… Look, all kidding aside, I believe everybody in the process is entitled to be treated with respect, and I’ve been doing this kind of thing… It’s not all me, but I’ve been doing this thing my whole life.
President Joe Biden: (01:14)
I’ve been able in the Senate to put things together when people said they couldn’t be put together just by making the overwhelming point that you can’t have all you want. It’s a process. There’s no one piece of legislation that’s going to solve everybody’s problems. So I spent a lot of time, as you probably heard, with a lot of people, both political parties and within my party, saying, “Look, if we move on what’s here in this bill, that is the infrastructure bill, it is a game changer in a half a dozen ways. The fact that it has too much where you don’t want and not enough where you don’t want, let’s be reasonable. Let’s take a look at this. Let’s do what we all agree at a minimum is in the interest to the American people. And if you want to add more, we can fight about it later, or you want to subtract some of it.”
President Joe Biden: (02:11)
I’ve never voted for a major piece of legislation, an omnibus bill, that I was for every piece of it. People say, “Well, how do I explain this?” I said, “Well, you explain to your constituency, and I’m not telling you how to do it, but you go home and say, this is what it did. It had one piece in here. There’s not enough money for this, or there’s too much money for that. But overall, this has been a gigantic benefit to my congressional district.” And so I spent a lot of time taking questions from both. And by the way, everybody, at the end of the day, I have to admit, dealt with me fairly.
President Joe Biden: (02:49)
And part of the process, and it’s probably more than need to know, but part of the process is getting to know all the people personally again. I’ve been out of government for four years. I used to do this every day. I used to know about everybody’s district I was working with when I was vice president. I’d know them and call up and say, “Hey, Charlie or Harry or Mary.” And so it’s getting to know a lot of these people, to build trust, because everything I say, “I’m going to try to do,” I will try to do. And I think that’s also part of the process.
Speaker 3: (03:34)
[inaudible 00:03:34] experienced president we have ever seen, but to get this first agenda item over the finish line, you need Republican votes. You are not going to have Republican votes though, for your Build Back Better agenda. Isn’t it doomed? And then my second question, Mr. President, OPEC Plus has snubbed your call to pump more oil. When will you respond with an SPR release?
President Joe Biden: (03:54)
Well, first of all, I’m not anticipating that OPEC respond, that Russia and or Saudi Arabia wouldn’t respond. They’re going to pump some more oil. Whether they pump enough oil is a different thing. There are other tools in the arsenal that we have to deal, and I’m dealing with other countries at an appropriate time. I will talk about it, that we can get more energy in the pipeline, figuratively and literally speaking. I don’t start off with any assumption that I can’t get anybody to vote for anything. I’m [inaudible 00:04:34]. I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to see what happens in the Senate and whether or not I need only democratic votes, which is likely, which is the likely outcome. And the question is, can I get all of those votes? This is a process. And all along, you told me I can’t do any of it anyway from the very beginning.
President Joe Biden: (04:51)
No, no, be honest. Okay? You didn’t think we could do any of it. And I don’t blame you. Because you look at the facts, you wonder, how’s this going to get done? But I think there’s a dawning on the part of a lot of people, a whole elective office, that if you get some of this done, things are better for them as well as everybody else. And I’m sure some calculation’s saying, “Well, Biden gets this other bill and he’s going to be moving too fast and it’s going to hurt. The Democrats are going to be doing too well.” That’s why I think we have to try to figure out how to make the case across the board as to… There’s a lot of things we have to tackle yet.
Speaker 4: (05:37)
Have you gotten assurances from moderate Democrats in the house and Senate that they are going to vote for your Build Back Better plan, now that what they really wanted, the infrastructure bill, has passed?
President Joe Biden: (05:54)
I’m not going to answer that question for you, because I’m not going to get into who made what commitments to me. I don’t negotiate in public. But I feel confident, I feel confident that we will have enough votes to pass the Build Back Better plan.
Speaker 4: (06:07)
What gives you that confidence?
President Joe Biden: (06:10)
Speaker 5: (06:11)
Mr. President, you were forced to scrub paid family leave from your framework a couple of weeks ago.
President Joe Biden: (06:19)
Speaker 5: (06:20)
You were forced to pull paid family leave from the framework you released a couple of weeks ago. The House is putting it back in. Can you keep it in this bill when it makes its way to the Senate?
President Joe Biden: (06:30)
Time will tell.
Speaker 6: (06:34)
I’d like to ask you real quick, sir. Where do you stand? You said last week that this report about migrant families at the border getting payments was garbage.
President Joe Biden: (06:43)
No, I didn’t say that. Let’s get it straight. You said, “Everybody coming across the border gets $450,000.”
Speaker 6: (06:51)
So the number was what you had a problem-
President Joe Biden: (06:52)
The number I was referring do.
Speaker 6: (06:53)
President Joe Biden: (06:54)
Now, here’s the thing.
Speaker 6: (06:55)
President Joe Biden: (06:55)
If in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border, whether it was legal or illegal, and you lost your child, you lost your child, it’s gone, you deserve some kind of compensation no matter what the circumstance. What that will be, I have no idea. I have no idea. Yes.
Speaker 6: (07:18)
[inaudible 00:07:18] DOJ negotiating a settlement.
Speaker 7: (07:20)
Mr. President, two questions. You referred to China twice in your comments, and yet we haven’t heard anything about the China bill, which is really the third element of what you’re hoping to do here. It’s been through the Senate, has not yet come up to the House. And it would seem that that is the one that is more key to our competitiveness. So I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about that and then also tell us how you’re feeling right now about the Iran deal, since it looks like you’re going to go back to discussion at the end of the month. But the Iranians have made it pretty clear at this point, they plan to rip up most of what was done so far. So are you into your plan B at this point?
President Joe Biden: (08:10)
I’m not going to comment on Iran now. And the China bill you’re referring to, everything in good time. We got to get this through. We got to get this through. Next thing is Build Back Better.
Speaker 7: (08:23)
So when do you plan to do that?
President Joe Biden: (08:24)
Well, in order. I’m going to take one more question and then-
Speaker 8: (08:27)
Mr. President, can I follow up on paid leave, Mr. President? Sir, may I follow up on paid leave?
Speaker 9: (08:35)
Mr. President, Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said of your presidency this week, “Nobody elected him to be FDR. They elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.” How do you view your mandate after Tuesday’s election losses for Democrats? And is she wrong?
President Joe Biden: (08:52)
Well, Abigail’s a friend. We had a long talk. She joked and said, “I have a picture of Roosevelt hanging in my office,” her office, okay? I don’t intend to be anybody but Joe Biden. That’s who I am. And what I’m trying to do is do the things that I ran on to do. And look, people out there are ordinary, hard working Americans, are really, really been put through the ringer the last couple years, starting with COVID. COVID has disrupted almost every family one way or another, whether it’s wearing a mask or losing a family member. With 750,000 plus Americans dead? 750,000. And so people are worried. People are also worried about coming up [inaudible 00:09:42] they don’t, understandably. Why is the price of agricultural products, when I go to the store, why is it higher?
President Joe Biden: (09:50)
For example, if we were all going out and having lunch together and I said, “Let’s ask whoever’s on the next table, no matter what restaurant we’re in, have them explain the supply chain to us,” think they’d understand what we’re talking about? They’re smart people, but supply chain. Well, why is everything backed up? Well, it’s backed up because the people that supply the materials that end up being on our kitchen table or in our life, guess what? They’re closed those plants because they have COVID. And so it’s a complicated world that people are facing. We’ve never faced anything like this before. I’m not saying it’s the worst of every time in American history, but we never faced anything this defiant of understanding of what’s going on. And you can understand why people are upset.
President Joe Biden: (10:47)
Whether you have a PhD or you’re working in a restaurant, it’s confusing. And so people are understandably worried. They’re worried. And so all I can say is what I’m going to try to do is explain to the American people as best I can. And by the way, you all write for a living. I haven’t seen any one of you explain supply chain very well. No, no, I’m not being critical. I’m being deadly earnest. When your editor says, “Explain the supply chain.” Lots of luck in your senior years, my [inaudible 00:11:25]. But I sincerely mean it. This is a confusing time, confusing time. Think of all those children, all those children who may have lost more than a year of education by only being out one semester. Think of all that’s going on in terms of access to everything from when you go back to college, if you’re in college, do you have to wear your mask? Who’s your roommate? This is a confusing moment.
President Joe Biden: (11:54)
And it seems to me that my job as the President of the United States is to try to figure out, myself as well, what is most needed to put people at ease and let them know there’s a way through this? There’s a way through this. The world there’s never been here before. That sounds like hyperbole, but think about it. Think about it. This truly is one of those inflection points in history. All the pieces on the board are moving, both in terms of the relationships among and between nations, as well as the pieces of what employment future people have. How do we do this? And so this is a confusing time, but I promise, I promise the American people, I have one focus. How do we give you some breathing room?
President Joe Biden: (12:51)
How do we get you to the point where we take pressure off you so you can begin to get back to a degree of normality and we move to a different place? And this time when we move, and by the way, everybody internationally uses the Build Back Better now. When I used the phrase initially, people looked at me like, “Build Back Better. What it means?” We’re the only country in the world gone through a crisis, that goes through a crisis, and come out better than we were brought before the crisis occurred. That’s building back better than it was before. And so this is a process. We’re going to see, take it every day, every moment, one moment at a time. I’m going to get in real trouble. This is the last question I’m taking. You can decide who I’m pointing to.
Speaker 10: (13:44)
When can Americans expect to see the impact of the infrastructure bill? And when do you think the Build Back Better bill will be passed? By Thanksgiving? Christmas?
President Joe Biden: (13:49)
I don’t want to make your job easier. I know the answer exactly when it’s going to be passed, and I know exactly how it’s going to…
Speaker 4: (13:57)
[inaudible 00:13:57] the impact from this bill.
President Joe Biden: (14:00)
Well, they’ll see the effects of the bill, this bill, probably starting within the next two to three months, as we get things, shovels into the ground, and people being told are going to be working in the following things and things are going to move. It is a bill that’s paid out over a number of years. The biggest thing it does is you’re going to have people going, “Oh, okay. Oh, I guess I’m going to be able to keep my job, or I’m going to be able to get a job doing that, or I’m moving.” So I can’t tell you any of that with precision. If anybody can, then they ought to go into fortune telling, but it’s going to be a provision, a bill that is going to have a profound impact over time.
President Joe Biden: (14:51)
It’s a little like, and I’ll end with this, a little like when we first came to office. And a lot of this has to do with this lady right here, the vice president. Not all me. I used to stand there and have to listen to the president. She’s got to stand and listen to the president. But she deserves an enormous amount of the credit. But here’s what the deal. When we came to office, we were told virtually by everybody, “You can’t get this economy moving.” Remember when they told me, there’s no way I could get 2 million shots a day into people’s arms in the beginning? There’s no way to get 200 million so nobody could get the vaccine. There’s no way, no way, no way. It’s understandable. I’m not criticizing people who said that, because these things have never been done before. It’s never happened before. And so we got to work.
President Joe Biden: (15:49)
I agree, I am a congenital optimist, but it’s because I really mean this. I have enormous faith in the ingenuity and the integrity of the American people. I’m not joking. I have enormous faith in them, because I’m convinced we’re the most unique country in the world, not because we’re also smart and the rest, but because we’re the only country that’s organized based on an idea. We really mean it. We haven’t lived up to it, but we hold these truths to be self evident, all men and women are created equal. Basically, give everybody a shot. And I really have faith in the American people. I know we’re divided. I know how mean it can get. And I know there are extremes on both ends that make it more difficult than its been in a long, long time. But I’m convinced, let the American people know that we’re committed to enhancing their ability to make their way, we’ll all do better. Thank you all so very much.