Can We Get a Fact Check?

From the Washington Wire…

Another busy week in the nation’s capital. President Joe Biden delivered a primetime address to Americans vowing to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1 and expressing his hope to “mark our independence from this virus” by … the Fourth of July. But his speech included numerous falsehoods the went unchecked by the U.S. media. Biden also warned Americans that there will still be things people “cannot do once fully vaccinated.” After months of bickering and politicking, Congress finally passed a nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill, which Biden signed into law this week — meaning Americans who qualify will soon get $1,400 checks. Meanwhile, the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border continued to worsen, with new reports that the Biden administration is detaining migrant children. While the White House denies there’s a “crisis,” former President Donald Trump weighed in, saying “our country is being destroyed at the Southern border.” And Trump also blasted RINOs and demanded that the Republican National Committee stop using his name and likeness to raise cash. Here’s your latest installment of Washington Wire.
1. Can We Get A Fact Check?
MANDEL NGANAFP via Getty Images, Biden
President Joe Biden on Thursday made numerous false and misleading claims during his first primetime address in which he repeatedly failed to give credit to the Trump administration for the work it did to get COVID-19 vaccines developed in record time.
“We’ve been working with the vaccine manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson — to manufacture and purchase hundreds of millions of doses of these three safe, effective vaccines,” said Biden. “And now, at the direction and with the assistance of my administration, Johnson & Johnson is working together with a competitor, Merck, to speed up and increase the capacity to manufacture new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one shot. In fact, just yesterday, I announced — and I met with the CEOs of both companies — I announced our plan to buy an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines. These two companies — competitors — have come together for the good of the nation, and they should be applauded for it.” But as the left-leaning Washington Post acknowledged, “the breakthrough touted by Biden was first conceived by Trump officials last year, culminating in a Jan. 4 conference call arranged between Merck and Johnson & Johnson’s senior leaders.”
2. Things You “Cannot Do Once Fully Vaccinated”
Alex WongGetty Images, vaccinations
Despite Biden’s pledge that vaccines will be available to all Americans by May 1, the president threatened to reinstate lockdown measures if people “don’t stay vigilant,” and warned that there will be things that people “cannot do once fully vaccinated.” “Even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity. And national unity isn’t just how … politicians vote in Washington, what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans,” Biden said in his Thursday address. “Because if we don’t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track, please, we don’t want to do that again. We’ve made so much progress.” “This is not the time to let up,” he said. “Just as we were emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules.” “In the coming weeks, we will issue further guidance on what you can and cannot do once fully vaccinated to lessen the confusion, to keep people safe, and encourage more people to get vaccinated,” Biden later added. “And, finally, fifth, and maybe most importantly, I promise I will do everything in my power. I will not relent until we beat this virus.”
3. Free Money For Everyone
Doug MillsThe New York Times, stimulus
Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law on Thursday, marking the official enactment of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress without a single Republican vote. The bill, Biden’s first major legislative initiative, provides hundreds of billions of dollars for states and local governments, sends individual $1,400 relief checks to the majority of Americans, and extends a $300 boost to unemployment benefits until early September. The plan also provides $28.6 billion for restaurants, $50 billion for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and $15 billion for vaccine distribution, reports the Associated Press. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the checks should go out within days and some Americans will get their money even sooner. “This is, of course, just the first wave. But some people in the country will start seeing those direct deposits in their bank accounts this weekend, and payments to eligible Americans will continue throughout the course of the next several weeks,” Psaki said. Individuals will qualify for the full $1,400 if they have an adjusted gross income below $75,000. Married couples will qualify for $2,800 if they made less than $150,000 combined based on either 2019 or 2020 income, depending on if they have already filed their 2020 tax returns. While Democrats are touting the bill as a massive boon to the economy, Republicans are sounding the alarm over the two trillion-dollar bill’s massive long-term economic implications.
4. The Biden Border Crisis
FREDERIC J. BROWNAFP via Getty Images, Biden
The situation at the U.S.-Mexico border continues to grow more dire, and reports emerged Wednesday that the Biden administration is putting migrant children in detention facilities that resemble prisons and is separating the children for weeks on end — both issues that Democrats and the media used to attack former President Donald Trump during his presidency. “The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, filling facilities akin to jails as the Biden administration struggles to find room for them in shelters,” The New York Times reported. “The children are being held in facilities, managed by the Customs and Border Protection agency, that were built for adults. The border agency has been the subject of widespread criticism for the horrific conditions in its federal detention facilities, in which children are exposed to disease, hunger and overcrowding.” USA Today reported over the weekend that Biden was “still sheltering children separated from close family members in federal facilities for weeks on end — something immigrant advocates and attorneys had hoped the new administration would resolve by now.” The report noted in its headline that children were “being separated from relatives for weeks” under Biden. “The migrant children often arrive with a grandparent, older sibling or other relative but are separated until federal officials can confirm the accompanying adult is their relative, as required under U.S. law,” the report stated.
5. What Crisis?
GUILLERMO ARIASAFP via Getty Images, migrant crisis
Psaki On Tuesday refused to call the situation at the border a “crisis” or confirm the number of children currently being housed in border detention facilities. “White House press secretary Jen Psaki was grilled on the situation at the U.S.-Mexican border, as the number of unaccompanied migrant children trying to enter the country has surged,” The Guardian noted following Tuesday’s press conference. “Psaki refused to confirm reports that more than 3,000 migrant children are being detained along the southern border.” Psaki did finally say, however, that more minors are coming across the border than the Biden administration currently has room for, implicitly confirming reports that the Biden administration has been informed that the surge will quickly overwhelm existing facilities. Psaki said they are working on other ways to address the migrant influx, beyond reopening detention centers. “We’re also looking for ways we can expedite the way we vet and process families and sponsor-host families – where these kids can go,” she said
6. Trump Weighs In On Border
PEDRO PARDOAFP via Getty Images, border
Former President Donald Trump blasted Biden and the Democrats for the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and said America is being “destroyed.” In some of his first actions in office, Biden did away with the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which kept foreigners who tried to enter the U.S. illegally in Mexico to await hearings. Instead, Biden has returned to a “catch-and-release” policy in which illegal aliens are allowed to enter the U.S. “Our country is being destroyed at the Southern border, a terrible thing to see!” Trump said in a Tuesday statement. “We ended Catch-and-Release, shut down asylum fraud and crippled the vicious smugglers, drug dealers and human traffickers,” wrote the former president. “The Wall, despite horrendous Democratic delays, would have easily been finished by now, and is working magnificently.” Trump also said he had major achievements with his border policy, saying that the border was “in great shape” and “stronger, safer and more secure than ever before.”
7. Trump Targets “RINOs”
Chip SomodevillaGetty Images, Trump pointing
The former president has had it with Republicans In Name Only (RINOs). “No more money for RINOS,” Trump said in a statement released Monday by his Save America political action committee. “They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base — they will never lead us to Greatness.” Trump even pledged to travel nearly 5,000 miles from his home in Florida to Alaska to campaign against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2022, when she seeks reelection. Murkowski, who has been in the Senate for nearly two decades, was one of seven Senate Republicans to vote last month to convict Trump in his impeachment trial. “I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be — in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator,” Trump said in a statement to The Hill.
8. Don’t Use MY Name!
Drew AngererGetty Images, Trump
Trump lawyers this week sent letters to the Republican National Committee (RNC) and its congressional campaign wings, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, demanding that they stop using the former president’s name and likeness in their fundraising efforts.
The Trump team’s letters requested that the GOP “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.”
But RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer responded in a letter that the Republican Party “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”
9. Meme Of The Week
Meme of the week, March 12, 2021
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