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Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters in Cincinnati, Ohio

July 21, 2021

The President. I can't see you, but I know you're there. I—thank you for your patience today. I know it's a long day for you. I really mean it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I was just talking to one of the people who asked the question who had lost a son. I was—anyway——

Public Debt Limit

Q. Mr. President, the debt limit: Mitch McConnell said today that Republicans won't vote to raise the debt limit, and Democrats will have to include it in reconciliation. What's your response?

The President. I was hoping that wouldn't be the case. You know, for the last 4 years, they've just extended the debt limit. The reason for the significant debt is because of their—their debt, their tax limit—their, excuse me, their tax cut.

And there are going to be a couple of very difficult decisions that are going to have to be made to get through the end of the year. And one of them is the debt limit and extending the debt.

So I don't have an answer for you, but it's—I hope we can get by it.

Coronavirus Vaccination Efforts

Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the Republicans and Fox News changing their tune on the vaccine?

The President. Well, rather than be critical of it, I thank them for it. I think it's a matter of—first of all, in truth, I don't know how many of them believed what they were saying. They may have really believed it, but—the things that they've been saying.

And—but I think once the realization occurred that this virus was only killing primarily those people who had not been vaccinated, I think it was sort of, as we Catholics say, a bit of an epiphany for them. You know, it was a—like a—you know, conversion on the way to Damascus or something.

But I think it became real, and I'm glad they had the courage to say what they said. And hopefully, it will have some impact.

Russia-Germany Nord Stream II Natural Gas Pipeline

Q. Any comment on the Nord Stream deal, sir? The fact that there's a deal that Nord Stream II is going to move forward.

The President. Yes, I can. Nord Stream is 99-percent finished. The idea that anything that was going to be said or done was going to stop it was not possible.

But I had, as you know, very, very fruitful discussions with Angela Merkel, and her—she is working and—with the German Government on a commitment that suggests that if, in fact, Russia takes pains to deliberately inflict pain on Ukraine or other countries, they will respond.

"Breakthrough" Coronavirus Cases

Q. Mr. President, do you have—what do you say to Americans who have done everything right? They've gotten fully vaccinated, and they still contract COVID, a "breakthrough case," as it's called. What do say to them?

The President. Well, they're very—I say to them: They're very, very, very, very, very, very few people—number one. Those that it happened to, I don't—it may be possible—I know of none where they're hospitalized, in ICU, and/or have passed away.

So, at a minimum, I can say that even if they did contract it—which I'm sorry they did—it's such a tiny percentage, and it is not life-threatening.

Guys, we've got to get on the plane, or they're going to leave us all. Thank you. Thank you.

Congressional Commission on the January 6 Civil Unrest and Violence at the U.S. Capitol

Q. Mr. President, one more question, on January 6.

The President. January 6 is—look, guys.

Q. Are you concerned that no matter what happens now, the result is going to be perceived as partisan?

The President. No, because I think the American public, as I said tonight—you can't not understand what happened and still be partisan and try to cover it up. But nobody really believes it wasn't an insurrection. I mean, you know it. You can see by the looks on their faces. They know it.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:51 p.m. on the tarmac at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport prior to boarding Air Force One. In his remarks, he referred to Cincinnati, OH, resident Lynne Miller; and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. A reporter referred to Senate Minority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters in Cincinnati, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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