White House confident as multiple crises converge on Biden: 'That's what we're made for’
Fox News' Trey Yingst reports on the escalating violence in the Middle East live from the Israel-Gaza border.
The White House maintained confidence Wednesday, as multiple challenges hit the Biden administration, with press secretary Jen Psaki saying "that's what we're made for."
As the administration grapples with surging inflation, lower jobs numbers than expected, the attack of a critical pipeline, a mounting gas shortage, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the crisis in Israel, the White House is seeking to preserve confidence in President Biden's leadership.
"The president knew from having served as vice president for eight years that when you walk in, and you’re the leader of the free world, and you're overseeing a country that is still working its way through a pandemic and an economic recovery, that you have to prepare – be prepared – to juggle multiple challenges, multiple crises at one time," Psaki said during the White House press briefing Wednesday.
"And that’s exactly what we're doing at this moment," she said.
The White House’s comments come as Palestinians have begun violently clashing with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, an escalation of tensions that had been simmering and occasionally boiling over for weeks. Hamas began launching rocket attacks into Israel, which responded by bombing Gaza.
In Washington, Republicans began accusing Biden of tilting too far toward the Palestinians. From the other side, some leftists hit the White House for supposedly coddling Israel, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., accusing Biden of "enabling" Israel with foreign aid.
By Tuesday, an echo of the violence had spread to the streets of New York, where there were dustups between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian supporters in front of the Israeli consulate.
Also Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed that migrant encounters jumped yet again this past April: over 178,000 in all, nearly a tenfold increase from 2020 and still above levels seen in the 2019 surge at the Mexico border.
This, all after the Colonial Pipeline, on Saturday, which transports nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supplies up from Texas, had been turned off, after falling victim to a ransomware cyberattack by "DarkSide."
By late Monday, more than one in 20 gas stations in Virginia were out of fuel. Tuesday, governors throughout the Southeast were declaring states of emergency.
Also last week, the April jobs report was released, showing the U.S. economy heavily missed Wall Street’s expectations, adding a measly 266,000 new jobs as the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unemployment rate also unexpectedly rose to 6.1%. While it's still well below the April 2020 peak of 14.7%, it's about twice the pre-crisis level, the Labor Department announced in its monthly payroll report, released last Friday.
The president, though, said the country is "still digging out of an economic collapse" amid the coronavirus pandemic, but maintained that the U.S. is on the "right track."
Biden, speaking from the White House, said he took office during a "once-in-a-century pandemic and a once-in-a-generation economic crisis."
He continued, "We knew this wouldn’t be a sprint – it would be a marathon."
"You might think we should be disappointed," Biden said of the numbers, but claimed the "American Rescue Plan," which passed in late March, "was designed to help us over the course of a year – not 60 days."
"There is more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction," Biden said, while acknowledging, however, that "it is clear we have a long way to go."
Biden, though, touted his administration, saying 1.5 million jobs have been created since he took office.
"This is progress. This is a testament to our new strategy," Biden said. "We’ve got work to do, to state the obvious, we have work to do."
He added: "Let’s keep our eye on the ball."
As for the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came under fire from congressional Republicans, like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, this week, slamming the agency for issuing "conflicting" guidance related to school reopenings, wearing masks outside, and summer camps.
"I used to have the utmost respect for the guidance from the CDC. I always considered the CDC to be the gold standard. I don’t anymore," Collins said, giving examples where she said she thinks "the conflicting, confusing guidance from your agency has undermined public confidence and contradicts the scientific guidance of many experts."
"Unnecessary barriers to reopening schools, exaggerating the risk of outdoor transmission and unworkable restrictions on summer camps," Collins continued. "Why does this matter?
"It matters because it undermines public confidence in your recommendations, in the recommendations that do make sense, in the recommendations that Americans should be following."
And by Tuesday, Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox said he "could use some help from the White House and others" in "modeling what a fully vaccinated person can do."
"That's a good point," Biden replied.
Fox News' Keith Koffler contributed to this report.