President Biden took major hits this week, from the Pentagon confirming that a “tragic mistake” led to 10 civilians in Afghanistan dying in a drone strike, to the Food and Drug Administration rejecting his vaccine booster proposal, with much of the news breaking as the president headed to the beach for vacation.
“So the U.S. drone strike did NOT kill any ISIS-K but did kill 10 innocent civilians, including 7 children. Unbelievable. The Biden administration is a sad, tragic mess and an utter embarrassment on the world stage!,” Trump-era White House press secretary and Fox News contributor Kayleigh McEnany tweeted on Friday.
Pentagon admits drone strike killed civilians
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters on Friday that an Aug. 29 drone strike targeting ISIS actually killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, not terrorists.
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“As the combatant commander, I am fully responsible for this strike and its tragic outcome,” McKenzie said.
“I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie’s announcement follows White House press secretary Jen Psaki and others in the administration describing the Aug. 29 drone strike as a success amid the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.
But now, the White House is facing even more criticisms on its Afghanistan handling, following harsh blowback it already received when 13 U.S. service members were killed in Kabul by a suicide bomber.
But this was far from the only bad news to hit the Biden administration on Friday.
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FDA panel rejects booster shots for general public as pushed by White House
An FDA panel rejected distributing booster shots to the general public, but recommended Pfizer’s booster for high-risk people aged 65 and older after the Biden administration pushed to roll out a booster shot campaign on Sept. 20.
France recalls ambassador after submarine deal
In another foreign policy hit, France pulled its ambassador to the U.S. from Washington, D.C., following the announcement of a pact between Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. to give Australia nuclear-powered submarines in what is seen as an effort to counter China.
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The reports sparked a torrent of criticisms leveled at Biden, including condemnation that the news was breaking as Biden traveled to a Delaware beach for a long weekend.
Milley under fire for China calls about possible strike
The nation’s top-ranking military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, also faced controversy this week when Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, “Peril,” revealed Milley gave assurances to China that America would not strike the country amid his worries that former President Donald Trump’s actions might spark a war.
Trump fired back on Tuesday that if the revelation in the book about “Dumbass” Milley is true, it would be treasonous. He called Milley a “failed leader” for his role in the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, lamenting the U.S. service members who were killed, Americans left behind along with “$85 Billion worth of the newest and most sophisticated military equipment in the world.”
Blinken scales back Hong Kong tweet
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also faced criticism this week when he deleted a tweet showing support for the residents of Hong Kong, which seemingly criticized China, and replaced the tweet with one worded less-forcefully.
“Beijing should let the voices of all Hong Kongers be heard. The PRC’s disqualification of district councillors only weakens Hong Kong’s long-term political and social stability. We stand with the people of Hong Kong & continue to support their human rights & fundamental freedoms,” Blinken’s original tweet read.
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After that tweet was deleted, his account tweeted Thursday: “The PRC’s disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councillors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance. Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”
Border crisis explodes
The Biden administration is juggling the bad news this week as the border crisis continues, with hundreds of migrants crossing the border into Texas on Saturday.
“This situation has completely spiraled out of control,” Fox News’s Bill Melugin said Saturday while in Del Rio, Texas, showing hundreds of migrants crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S., many of whom are from Haiti.
“We got here two days ago. It has only gotten significantly worse. Honestly, it’s just stunning to witness what we’re watching here on this river because we’ve been here for two hours now, almost two hours, and this line of people hasn’t stopped.”
The continuation of the border crisis, combined with Biden’s handling of Afghanistan, comes as a new poll showed the president’s job approval tanking to 42%.
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“If there ever was a honeymoon for President Biden, it is clearly over. This is, with few exceptions, a poll full of troubling negatives … from overall job approval, to foreign policy, to the economy,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy highlighted of Biden’s slipping numbers.
Dem infighting leaves massive spending agenda in limbo
On the domestic front, the administration is aiming to pass a $3.5 trillion spending plan and a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, but the agenda has been threatened by Democratic progressives and moderates debating how to move each forward.
The Senate passed the infrastructure bill last month with much fanfare. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and progressives said for weeks that they won’t vote for it without guarantees that Congress will pass a reconciliation bill to their liking.
After a clash with moderates who wanted a guarantee of a vote on the infrastructure bill and were threatening to tank the budget resolution that allows Democrats to bypass the Senate filibuster, Pelosi set a tentative date for a vote on infrastructure for Sept. 27.
If Democrats in Congress can get on the same page on how to pass both bills while keeping Republican for the bipartisan infrastructure plan, it would be a big boost to Biden’s presidency, supporters say.
“The president is on the cusp of achieving a major expansion in public education, one of the largest expansions of the social safety net, the largest investment in climate change mitigation” and overhauls in labor law and drug pricing, Patrick Gaspard, a former Obama administration official who is now the president of the Center for American Progress, told the New York Times.
“Each one of these things is significant in its individual constituent parts,” he said, “but taken as a whole, it, I think, speaks to the remarkable opportunity that we have — these once-in-a-generation opportunities to set a course that creates growth for all, including and especially those who have been most vulnerable in this economy.”
Fox News’s Michael Lee, Tyler Olson and Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.