August 11, 2022

President Biden warned lawmakers Friday that the “veto pen” will be the only power he’ll have if the Democrats lose Congress during the 2022 midterm elections.

Speaking in campaign mode at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Biden, 79, told party members they needed to hold onto the House and Senate to implement his agenda.

“This off-year election, in my view, may be the most important off-year election in modern history,” Biden said.

“Because we know what happens, we know the fundamental change that shifts if we lose the House and Senate,” he continued. “The only thing I’ll have then is a veto pen.”

Biden also said he was “sick” of Republicans blaming him for spiking gas prices and sky-high inflation.

“I’m sick of this stuff,” he told the crowd. “We have to talk about it because the American people think the reason for inflation is the government spending more money — simply not true.”

Biden pointed fingers at Putin for rising gas prices and inflation.
Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Biden told supporters that Vladimir Putin was “largely” to blame for high gas prices. But he said the Russian leader had failed to “divide” the US and its allies with his war in Ukraine, as he delivered a speech that was very similar to his Thursday address at the Democratic National Convention Winter Meeting in Washington DC.

“Democrats didn’t cause this problem, Vladimir Putin did. And we are working hard to fix it,” Biden said, as he touted increased domestic oil production.

“We are a democracy. And there needs to be, for it to work, there has to be a consensus. And consensus, you’ve got to get a majority. We’ve not been able to do that for a lot of the important things, that’s why we have to continue to maintain our majority,” the president said.

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Prices are shown at a gas station's pump in South San Francisco, California.
A San Francisco gas pump reflects the rising gas prices across the country.
Jeff Chiu/AP

Biden urged Democratic candidates to run on the strength of the nation’s improved unemployment and COVID-19 vaccination rates. He also said Democrats should brag about the November passage of his infrastructure bill, claiming it would “transform America.”

The president reiterated that he would not escalate Russia’s war by sending in American troops, but said the US had a “sacred obligation” to defend NATO territory as thousands of troops had been deployed to countries bordering Ukraine.

“The idea, the idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews, just understand, don’t kid yourself, no matter what you all say, that’s called World War III, okay?” he said.

Biden spoke for 37 minutes to lawmakers and their guests a day after two late night votes in Congress to pass a $1.5 trillion dollar spending plan that included an emergency aid package for Ukraine.

He received sporadic applause but long sections of his speech were met with silence from the tired crowd.