Biden grabs NBC reporter's hands to answer question on end of COVID emergency trends now
President Joe Biden answered a question on ending the three-year COVID emergencies by grabbing a reporter's hand and squeezing himself underneath her umbrella on Tuesday.
Before boarding a flight to New York, the 80-year-old walked over to NBC News' Chief White House Correspondent Kristen Welker when she asked: 'What's behind your decision to end the COVID emergency?'
She was referring to the move announced Monday night to draw down two COVID national emergencies by May 11, more than three years after they were first announced under Donald Trump.
In the bizarre encounter, a smiling Biden moved underneath the umbrella and told her: 'The COVID emergency ends when the Supreme Court ends it'.
It was a gesture once unthinkable during the height of the pandemic at the White House when social distancing and mask-wearing were strictly enforced.
Two policies enacted under COVID emergencies are in limbo as they are considered by the Supreme Court.
Title 42, which lets border officials turn migrants away, will be considered in the coming months and the Biden's massive student loan forgiveness plan is also in flux.
President Joe Biden answered a question on ending the three-year COVID emergencies by grabbing a reporter's hand and squeezing himself underneath her umbrella on Tuesday
Before boarding his flight to New York, the 80-year-old walked over to NBC News' Chief White House Correspondent Kristen Walker when she asked: 'What's behind your decision to end the COVID emergency?'
The smiling Biden moved underneath the umbrella and told her: 'The COVID emergency ends when the Supreme Court ends it'
Republicans are calling for an end to the restrictions now, but the White House wants the emergencies to wind down so plans can be put in place.
After the encounter with the press, Biden flew to the Big Apple to tout a $292 million mega grant that will be used to help build a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, but didn't find the time to drive-by or acknowledge NYC's burgeoning migrant housing crisis in midtown Manhattan - a mere 10-minute car ride away.
With temperatures near freezing, scores of migrants have set up pop-up tents on the sidewalk outside the Watson Hotel in midtown Manhattan to protest being relocated to a Brooklyn shelter - a symptom of a much bigger problem facing NYC as the flow of migrants overwhelms city resources.
Biden was joined by the state's Democratic political powerhouse consortium: Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Kathy Hochul, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, amongst others,
The money is part of $1.2 billion in mega grants being awarded under the 2021 infrastructure law. The yearslong modernization of the Hudson project started in 2013 but stalled as Trump all but blocked Schumer over funding for the project in exchange for his support for his wall at the southern border - something that Schumer refused to do.
President Joe Biden speaks about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide funding for the Hudson River Tunnel project, at the West Side Rail Yard in New York City on January 31, 2023.
Only a 10-minute car ride away from Hudson Yards, President Biden did not take the opportunity to drive past the Watson Hotel in midtown Manhattan where a migrant crisis is unfolding
Biden is greeted by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., as he arrives to speak at the construction site of the Hudson Tunnel Project in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023