As Biden marks 1 year in office, he'll hold a news conference
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
For the first time in a while, President Biden holds a formal news conference today. It comes at the one-year mark of Biden's presidency and as Democrats in the Senate appear all but certain to hit a dead end trying to pass voting rights legislation, a key priority of the president's.
We're joined now by NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. We're going to get to Biden's presser in a minute, Domenico. I want to ask about something that crossed overnight - New York state Attorney General Letitia James accusing Donald Trump's family business of inflating property values. So what can that accusation mean for Donald Trump?
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, in court filings late Tuesday night, the New York Attorney General's office says it's requiring Trump's testimony and the testimony of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. The reason, they say, is because in order to get loans, The Trump Organization made, quote, "pervasive and repeated" misstatements and omissions related to Trump's net worth and other assets.
Investigators say basically they need to resolve who's responsible for that - and that Trump's other child, Eric, and the former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, testified last year, but they asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and that, quote, "certain others have professed faulty memories or asserted that they were following instructions from more senior employees." So they're essentially saying that they - everyone either doesn't remember or they're not talking about it, and they need to get to the bottom of it.
MARTINEZ: All right, back to D.C. now. Let's start with the efforts of Senate Democrats. So what are they attempting on voting rights?
MONTANARO: Well, as soon as today, Senate Democrats plan to bring voting rights legislation to the floor. That's expected to fail, though, with all Republicans lined up against it. The next step is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer planning to bring up changes to the filibuster on this issue, where senators actually would need to hold the floor - what's known as the talking filibuster. Here's what he said about this last night.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
CHUCK SCHUMER: On something as important as voting rights, if Senate Republicans are going to oppose it, they should not be allowed to sit in their office. They got to come down on the floor and defend their opposition to voting rights, the wellspring of our democracy.
MONTANARO: The problem for him is he still doesn't have the votes. You know, senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia last week reiterated their opposition to changing Senate rules with just 50 votes when it comes to the filibuster. They want to preserve that 60-vote threshold, A.
MARTINEZ: If Manchin and Sinema stay dug in, then what does that mean for Biden's agenda? I mean, aren't we back right where everything started?
MONTANARO: Yeah. And, you know, he's essentially going to be asked about that today and asked about his struggles, what he thinks he can do to turn it around. You know, and I'm going to do something here I don't normally like doing - making a bold prediction (laughter), and that's that we're going to hear a lot more about infrastructure and how great it'll be to have new bridges, roads, all of that. Because, look, it's no small thing that this got passed - hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending from the new infrastructure law - on something that's eluded multiple past presidents. Biden also got the American Rescue Plan through - put thousands of dollars in people's pockets.
But the challenges have been really significant for this president. He's definitely going to be asked about that - most notably, the coronavirus pandemic continuing because of the new omicron variant. Biden had almost declared independence from it last July, but that clearly didn't happen. And inflation is at a multi-decade high, and he's facing pressure to do something about that with really limited tools at his disposal. You know, and on the world stage, there was the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, now a Russia that is saber-rattling against Ukraine, and that's led to his standing at a low for his presidency. His approval rating's in the low 40s. He's facing a 2022 where his legislative agenda, like you said, is at a dead end, and Republicans are favored to take back the House.
MARTINEZ: I've got my Biden presser scorecard out, Domenico, and I'm going to be grading you on your bold predictions. That's NPR's Domenico...
MONTANARO: Yeah, we'll have bingo or Biden, maybe it'll add up to.
MARTINEZ: ...(Laughter) Montanaro. Thanks a lot, Domenico.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
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