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President Biden will mark his 100th day in office this week and will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. Ahead of the milestone, a CBS News poll found that 58% of Americans approve of the job Mr. Biden is doing so far. CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe joins CBSN to discuss what people think the president is doing well and outlines what the next priorities are for the Biden administration.
ELAINE QUIJANO: President Biden will mark his 100th day in office this week and will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. According to a CBS News poll, the president currently has a 58% approval rating. During his address to Congress Wednesday night, the White House says the president will speak directly to Americans about the progress that's been made so far.
He's also expected to unveil his next legislative priority, the American Families Plan. The $1.5 trillion bill will focus on families, child care, and education. But it faces an uphill battle to win approval in Congress. For more, I'm joined by CBS News senior White House and political correspondent, Ed O'Keefe. Hi there, Ed. So we mentioned President Biden's 58% approval rating. What do Americans think the president is doing well? And what issues do people think the Biden administration could be handling better?
ED O'KEEFE: Good to see you, Elaine. He is graded most strongly in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic-- and not only the pandemic overall, but especially the execution of the vaccination program across the country. Also high marks for things like his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan later this year, and a belief that the American Rescue Plan-- the massive trillion dollars infrastructure and rescue proposal that was passed earlier this year by Congress, is helping the economy.
But he struggles to find majority support, especially on the issue of immigration. Most believe he's not handling that one well. And he's only got 16% support, or approval, from Republican voters. That's about half of what President Obama enjoyed about 12 years ago at this time. Part of the reason, it looks like-- not the entire reason, but one other notable factoid there among Republicans, more than half of them still cannot say that President Biden legitimately won last November's election.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Well on the immigration front, Vice President Harris met virtually with the president of Guatemala Monday to discuss the root causes of migration from Central America to the US. What was the White House hoping to accomplish in that meeting?
ED O'KEEFE: Well, they're continuing to show that, at least the vice president and by extension, the administration is continuing to address what they believe to be the root causes of the immigration issue-- meeting with the Central American leader, at least, that they believe now is the strongest, and most reputable, most reliable partner in the region, after not having necessarily as much of a go of it, so far at least, with the Salvadoran and Honduran governments.
The vice president acknowledged again she is set to visit Guatemala herself in-person in June. And notably, her discussion with the president of Guatemala came on the same day that the Treasury Department sanctioned two Guatemalan government officials on corruption issues-- one a former chief of staff to a former president, another a sitting member of their parliament. The issue of corruption in Guatemalan governance and public society is a big concern for the United States and one of the leading reasons why the United States is so eager to engage Central America-- on a belief that these governments are not only corrupt, but therefore, unable to fully address the economic issues that are facing those countries.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Meantime, Ed, a majority of Americans say that they support President Biden's infrastructure plan. And later this week, he'll formally introduce the American Families Plan. But these bills would require tax hikes, something, of course, Republicans likely will not get behind. So where is the White House prepared to negotiate? And what's their backup plan if the president can't get these bills through Congress?
ED O'KEEFE: No backup plan just yet. They believe that something will eventually get through. What they did today was trot out the president's top economic advisor, Brian Deese, to talk to reporters and point out that this proposed increase in the capital gains tax would affect just a fraction of a fraction of Americans-- that most wouldn't see anything of a tax increase related to this decision. The reason being that, of course, the majority of Americans, most Americans, overwhelmingly, draw their income from wages earned, not necessarily from stock investments or from the sale of expensive real estate, or yachts, or things like that-- a very small percentage of high income Americans do.
So that'll be one element of the how to pay for it plan. Of course, as you said, Republicans don't like the idea of tax increases. So they're going to have to continue negotiating. There is, of course, a Republican plan to deal with infrastructure spending that's far more modest than what the president has proposed. All we know for certain is that the White House plans to hold more bipartisan talks with lawmakers next week.
ELAINE QUIJANO: It's interesting-- the president and other members of the administration are planning a new cross-country tour to tout the new infrastructure initiatives. What more can you tell us about the tour, Ed? And what is the White House hoping to accomplish with it?
ED O'KEEFE: Yeah, they're calling it the Getting America Back on Track tour. And it doesn't-- it shouldn't escape us that one of the stops the president's going to make on Friday is in Philadelphia to mark the 50th anniversary of Amtrak, his favorite mode of interstate travel. They continue to push both the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan that have a combination of physical infrastructure and what the White House calls human infrastructure-- the idea that you would pay for community college, expanded child care access, prekindergarten classes, and potentially community college for all or for at least a certain segment of eligible Americans.
These are expensive proposals, but in a vacuum, poll very well among a majority of Americans who like the concept or the idea of it. The push here will be to get the president, the vice president, their spouses, top cabinet secretaries out on the road going to key states to talk up these issues, try to build public support, as they did with the American Rescue Plan, in hopes of forcing Congress to act.
The president goes first on Thursday to Atlanta for what is going to look like a campaign rally to mark his 100th day in office. He'll be joined by Georgia Democrats who, of course, were key to his victory in November. And the two special elections that were held there in January, of course, key to getting Senate control for the Democratic party and getting these proposals through. Friday it's to Philadelphia.
The vice president goes to Baltimore Thursday, then to Ohio on Friday, her husband to North Carolina. What do North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Ohio all have in common? Well, a few things-- for one, open or competitive Senate races in 2022, and they're generally seen, usually, historically, as presidential battleground states. There will be more travel like that to other states of a similar variety next week.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Always a strategy, right, involved.
ED O'KEEFE: There sure is.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Finally on the pandemic, the White House-- the White House said Monday that it will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries. Last month, the administration said it would share only 4 million doses with Canada and Mexico. So, Ed what prompted this shift?
ED O'KEEFE: A few things. First off, it's going to be as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. The White House saying today they expect that to happen in the next two months, and that once all those doses are available, they're prepared to share them with the world.
The reason is that they now believe they will have sufficient supply from the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and therefore don't need to sit on the AZ variety that is now available and that the country-- sorry, that the world is asking for. The most acute case, the most urgent one, perhaps, India-- where over the weekend we've seen a huge spike in COVID-19 deaths. Today, President Biden held a phone call with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to talk about this.
The US now committing to send oxygen supplies, personal protective equipment, vaccine materials to help depleted overrun hospitals in that country. It's the least the United States can do. And again, remember, most of those doses-- as many as 60 million-- won't even be available for another two months because they're still being produced or awaiting regulatory approval.
ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, Ed O'Keefe keeping track of it all. Ed, I have a feeling it's going to be a very busy week ahead for you, sir. Thank you very much, Ed.
ED O'KEEFE: Let's do it. Take care.