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Biden will likely face these questions at his first conference

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President Joe Biden will deliver his first solo press conference Thursday afternoon, finally granting reporters their request for more — or any — access to directly question the commander-in-chief.

The presser, set for 1:15 p.m. ET in the East Room of the White House, will be “open to pre-credentialed media,” meaning the reporters of their choosing will be allowed in.

It is not clear whether Biden will call from a prepared list of journalists, but he likely won’t be able to dodge questions on some of the crises his administration is facing.

The 46th president is probably eager to take questions on the American Rescue Plan, his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package signed into law earlier this month, as well as the administration’s vaccination push.

Both topics, however, are expected to take a back seat at Thursday’s presser.

COVID-19 related topics might take a back seat to other issues, such as the migrant crisis.
COVID-19 related topics might take a back seat to other issues, such as the migrant crisis.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Instead, reporters will likely be focused on the migrant crisis at the southern border and Biden’s call this week to ban assault weapons — moving drastically further than any gun legislation being seriously considered in the Senate.

The two issues are sure to be top-of-mind to the press corps, amid outrage over the administration’s media blackout at migrant facilities and the two mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., which sparked Biden’s gun reform call.

Biden will likely be focusing on the migrant crisis in his presser scheduled for March 25, 2021.
Biden will likely be focusing on the migrant crisis in his presser scheduled for March 25, 2021.
VIA REUTERS

The president is also almost certain to face questions on the administration’s $3 trillion infrastructure package, which would likely require tax increases to finance.

Depending on how long Biden agrees to engage with the press corps for, questions could also come up on the explosive summit last week between US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and China.

The topic of assault weapons is also set to be a key talking point this afternoon.
The topic of assault weapons is also set to be a key talking point this afternoon.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Biden told reporters on the White House lawn last week that he was “very proud” of his top diplomat’s handling of the meeting, during which he sat through an anti-American tirade from top Chinese officials.

The commander-in-chief could also face queries about the legislative filibuster, the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.

Signs and flowers are seen in front of the Gold Spa, where multiple people were killed in last week's shooting.
Signs and flowers are seen in front of the Gold Spa, where multiple people were killed in last week’s shooting.
John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

In recent months, Democrats have faced growing pressure from inside the party to abolish the filibuster in order to push the party’s more ambitious legislative efforts through, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) coming out in favor of “reforms” on Monday last week.

Biden followed suit on Tuesday, and Vice President Harris joined the powerful group in voicing her support on Wednesday.

Mourners walk the temporary fence lined with floral bouquets and tributes around a King Soopers grocery store, where 10 victims died in a mass shooting.
Mourners walk the temporary fence lined with floral bouquets and tributes around a King Soopers grocery store, where 10 victims died in a mass shooting.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

There has been much buildup to this press conference, as Biden went longer than his 15 most recent predecessors — stretching back at least 100 years — without taking questions from journalists at an extended official forum.

All 15 prior presidents held a solo press conference within 33 days of taking office, according to a CNN analysis of data from the American Presidency Project.

Migrants stand in line inside a temporary processing facility in Texas on March 17, 2021.
Migrants stand in line inside a temporary processing facility in Texas on March 17, 2021.
VIA REUTERS

Former President Donald Trump held his first solo press conference 27 days after taking office. Former President Barack Obama held one 20 days into the job.

In his first 64 days in office, Biden had answered reporter questions in passing during brief encounters, generally before boarding presidential aircraft or after concluding official events.

10 Killed As Gunman Opens Fires At Grocery Store In Boulder, Colorado

FBI agents and law enforcement officers stand outside the entrance to a King Soopers grocery store on March 24, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado after the mass shooting.

Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Temporary processing facilities constructed in Donna, Texas

Migrants sit inside a temporary processing facility in Texas.

VIA REUTERS

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He had not, however, faced reporters alone in an extended presser since becoming leader of the free world.​

During press conferences he held during the 2020 campaign, the president was regularly peppered with softball questions from mainstream media outlets, and will likely face a few grapefruits on Thursday too.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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NYC school leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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The leaders of the city’s public schools and largest charter network both weighed in on the Derek Chauvin verdict with passionate statements about how there is still a long way to go to reach systemic equality.

Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter issued a personal commentary Tuesday night after the murder conviction of former Minnesota cop Chauvin.

“I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones,” she said of her initial reaction to George Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.”

Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would be issuing guidance for teachers and families to help them process the verdict.

Eva Moskowitz with two students, the CEO and Founder of the Success Academy
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz issued a statement on the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Brigitte Stelzer

“For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important,” she stated. “In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.”

Several teachers told The Post on Wednesday morning that they planned to broach the topic with their students to allow them to discuss Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Mark Lennihan/AP

“Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day,” Ross-Porter said. “We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.”

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who oversees the city’s largest charter school network, also issued a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We are grateful that justice has been served and that the judicial process has worked as intended,” she wrote. “We recognize, however, that this verdict does not resolve the systemic inequities that led to Floyd’s death; nor does it heal the anguish we feel witnessing our fellow citizens die at the hands of the public servants tasked with protecting us.”

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