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Biden to hold 2nd White House presser to kick off his 2nd year in office

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President Biden will come out of hiding and meet the press for just his second solo White House news conference next week as he begins his second full year in office amid a series of political setbacks.

"Next Wednesday, the president will hold a formal press conference at 4 p.m. in the afternoon. So we look forward to seeing you there," press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday during her regular briefing.

Biden faces slouching support in polls amid the highest inflation in 40 years and the highest-ever rates of COVID-19 infections.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down Biden's mandate that private employers adopt a coronavirus vaccine-or-test policy and Senate centrists blocked his push for election reform legislation after recently sinking his $2 trillion Build Back Better Act.

The White House is citing the Omicron variant of COVID-19 to allow just 42 journalists, including 30 seated reporters, at the news conference, which is likely to be held in the nearly 3,000-square-foot East Room.

Most seats will go to news outlets that are in the daily press pool or that are scheduled to attend the White House briefing that day pursuant to a recently adopted reduced-capacity rotation. 

Twelve of the 30 seats will be selected through a White House Correspondents' Association-administered lottery of news outlets that have permanent briefing room seats.

Seven photographers and five off-camera TV crew employees are among the 42 journalists allowed in the room.

Biden's first year in office featured fewer than half as many press conferences as those hosted by former President Donald Trump during the same period of time.

As of Dec. 31, Biden had held nine press conferences, including forums with visiting world leaders and events during his travels overseas, versus 22 by Trump.

Barack Obama hosted 27 in the same timeframe, George W. Bush did 19 and Bill Clinton did 38, according to records kept by political scientist Martha Kumar, who leads the White House Transition Project.

Biden's relatively few interviews, particularly with print publications, is even more noticeable.

The upcoming press conference was announced by Jen Psaki.AP

As of Dec. 31, Biden sat for just 22 interviews, nearly all of them with TV outlets. Trump gave 92 interviews during the same period of time, Barack Obama did 156 and George W. Bush, whose first year was upended by the 9/11 terror attacks, gave 49.

Biden does outdo recent predecessors in one category, doing 216 informal Q&As in 2021 as opposed to 120 by Trump in 2017 and 46 by Obama in 2009. But those are generally quick exchanges as Biden prepares to board aircraft or exit a venue after speaking and they usually are much briefer than Trump's free-wheeling "chopper talk" that could touch on a broad array of topics.

Next week's press conference was booked after criticism from press advocates.

"Eisenhower — who championed democracy versus totalitarian communism, built the interstates, and sent troops to integrate schools — made a point of holding news conferences 2x a month," White House Correspondents' Association President Steven Portnoy tweeted last week.

"The historical record of a presidency requires more than fleeting Q&A," added Portnoy, a reporter for CBS News Radio.

On Thursday, WHCA President-elect Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News, whose one-year term begins in 2023, personally urged Biden to host a press conference as reporters were hustled out of an event on COVID-19, where Biden took no questions.

"Maybe a press conference soon, Mr. President? We'd look forward to that," O'Donnell said.

Biden smiled and said, "Me too."

Biden held his first press conference as president this past March, with select reporters spaced far apart in the East Room.

Biden held his first press conference as president this past March, with select reporters spaced far apart in the White House East Room.

The president took no questions from reporters Friday during an event promoting his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law ahead of a long weekend at his home in Wilmington, Del.

This will be Biden's first solo press conference since last March.AP

White House press aides have pursued a strategy of pre-screening journalists allowed within earshot of Biden at regular events in the East Room and the White House-adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The criteria for selection to those events remains a mystery to reporters, who have been given a range of conflicting explanations. Some major news outlets, including The Post, are almost never allowed to attend. It's widely believed to be a tactic to shape the questions that get asked.

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