Battered and bruised by 24 hours of rising inflation numbers, a Supreme Court block on vaccine mandates for private companies and all-but-certain defeat for a voting rights push, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki reached for a favorite tool: Snark.
‘We could certainly propose legislation to see if people support bunny rabbits and ice cream but that wouldn’t be very rewarding to the American people,’ she said, when asked whether it was time for a reset.
‘So the president’s view is we’re going to keep pushing for hard things.
‘And we’re going to keep pushing the boulder up the hill to get it done.’
Psaki arrived at the briefing room podium on one of the administration’s worst days so far.
Minutes earlier, the Supreme Court halted one of its key measures to tackle the pandemic, throwing out President Joe Biden’s plans to impose vaccines on staff at companies with more than 100 workers.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back at the idea of an administration in need of a reset on Thursday, as she said President Biden remained focused on tough measures. ‘We could certainly propose legislation to see if people support bunny rabbits and ice cream but that wouldn’t be very rewarding to the American people,’ she said
Psaki appeared after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema all but killed off Biden’s hopes of pushing through voting rights legislation when she said she could not support changes to the filibuster
And on Thursday the Supreme Court delivered a blow to Biden’s vaccine plans, striking down his mandate on staff at companies with more than 100 employees
At the same time, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema rejected Biden’s plea to jettison the Senate’s filibuster rule – effectively sinking his hopes of passing voting rights legislation.
That was even after Biden travelled to Capitol Hill, deploying his own time and political capital to try to persuade Democratic senators to help him out.
Meanwhile Russian forces remain camped out on the border with Ukraine, despite U.S. threats of sanctions.
A day earlier, the Labor Department said the consumer price index hit seven percent at the end of last year – its highest mark in almost 40 years.
And Biden’s massive Build Back Better spending plans remain stalled because of opposition within his own party.
Against that backdrop, Biden’s press secretary was asked repeatedly what had gone wrong.
Was it outreach to Congress, leadership inside the White House or something?
Psaki said she had a different take.
‘More than 200 million people are vaccinated. We’ve had record job growth, record low unemployment rates in this country over the last year, we’ve rebuilt our alliances and our relationships around the world,’ she said.
She added that the president had signed an infrastructure bill and continued to work with members of Congress on his Build Back Better plans.
‘Our effort is to do hard things, try hard things and keep at it,’ she said.
‘So we just don’t see it through the same prism.’
Even so, Biden’s approval ratings are firmly in negative territory. On Wednesday a Quinnipiac University poll revealed that only 33 percent thought he was doing a good job.
And this week he signaled a major push on voting rights, traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, as his administration unveiled a new priority after its spending plans stalled.
But by Thursday it was dead, killed in the Senate by Sinema.
She blasted a wave of new laws restricting ballot access in Republican-led states as undemocratic, but said she could not agree to change the Senate’s rules to pass a federal law countering them.
‘I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division in our country, said Sinema, who knows her voters lie well to the right of mainstream Democrats.
Some have given up on the goal of easing our divisions and uniting Americans. I have not.’
It marked simply the latest setback to an administration that has endured a difficult start to the year.
For his part, Biden said it was vital to protect the right to vote as he all but conceded defeat.
‘I hope we can get this done,’ he told reporters.
‘The honest to God answer is: I don’t know whether we can get this done.’