President Biden delivered his first 65-minute speech to a joint session of the House and Senate at 9 p.m. Wednesday (April 28), setting a record for the longest first speech by a president in recent memory.
Presidential speeches have traditionally been attended by about 1,600 people. Because of the epidemic, only about 200 members of Congress were invited to attend Biden’s first joint session address, and they could not bring family members or guests.
In his opening remarks, Biden said that after the crises of the new crown epidemic, the recession and the attacks on democracy, “America is moving forward again. Turning danger into possibility. Turning crises into opportunities. Turning setbacks into strength.”
In his speech, Biden laid out what he has accomplished in his 100 days in office. He said the United States has delivered 220 million doses of vaccine. The number of elderly deaths from the new coronavirus has dropped 80 percent since January, and more than half of American adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, “The progress the United States has made in the past 100 days in responding to one of the worst pandemic outbreaks in history is one of the great logistical achievements the United States has never seen before.”
Biden again mentions jobs plan with huge amount invested
Biden mentioned his upcoming American Jobs Initiative. He said the plan could create millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic growth. Decades ago, he said, the U.S. spent 2 percent of GDP on research and development; now it’s less than 1 percent, and China and other countries are catching up. The United States must develop and lead future products and technologies such as computer chips and clean energy.
Biden also announced that he wants to promote 16 years of compulsory education, adding two years of preschool and two years of community college education to the original 12 years of primary and secondary education.
Biden also said that Wall Street did not build America, it was the middle class that built America, and the unions built the middle class.
Biden talked about how he would not raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year during his term, and that he wanted to raise taxes on corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.
Biden’s family and job-related plan, first announced Wednesday, is $1.8 trillion in size, and with the previous infrastructure and jobs plan, the total size of the new package is about $4 trillion, equivalent to the size of the annual U.S. federal budget.
Republican lawmakers have already rejected Biden’s previous infrastructure investment plan of more than $2 trillion because the scale is too large. Democratic President Joe Biden, on the other hand, is betting that his spending plan can win congressional Republicans over to work with the White House. The plans have already been embraced by American voters.
Biden also thanked the Senate for passing the Anti-New Title Hate Crimes Act, which aims to protect Asian Pacific Americans from hate crimes. He urged the House of Representatives to do the same and get the bill to him for signature into law as soon as possible.
Foreign Policy Biden talks about Xi Jinping, Iran and North Korea nuclear weapons
On foreign policy, he cites his own past and Secretary of State Blinken’s extensive time spent with Xi Jinping. He said the United States must prove that democracy still works and that the U.S. government still works – and can deliver for the people.
He said, “In my discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, I told him that we welcome competition and don’t seek conflict, but I made it very clear that I will defend American interests across the board.”
Biden also said the Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs pose a serious threat to U.S. and world security. He said the U.S. will work closely with allies to address both threats through diplomacy and tough deterrence. He also said the U.S. will permanently end the war in Afghanistan, but will remain vigilant to terrorist threats from anywhere.
Biden concluded his speech by saying that America’s opponents, the world’s autocrats, are betting that democracy will not solve the pressing needs of the people and that the United States must prove them wrong.
“We must prove that democracy still works, that our government still works and can live up to the expectations of the people,” he said. Authoritarian dictatorships don’t win the future, he said, America does; the future belongs to America.
While Biden wants to focus primarily on advancing his domestic agenda, challenges from multiple adversaries such as China and Russia are testing his resolve on a range of geopolitical issues; Biden’s second 100 days in office will be tested by geopolitical issues, the Wall Street Journal said.
Republicans: Push for Partisan Color Bill Not a Move to Unite Nation
After the meeting, Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, commented on Biden’s speech on behalf of the Republican Party. He is the only African-American Republican senator.
He said the U.S. now has a vaccine sufficiency and job recovery thanks to the policies of the last Trump administration and bills passed by Congress in a bipartisan manner.
He then expressed dissatisfaction with Biden’s restrictions on vaccination, such as closing schools, arguing that public schools should have been reopened long ago.
He also criticized the Biden administration for spending less than 6 percent of its large infrastructure projects on building roads and bridges, and that Biden’s proposed tax hikes would stifle job growth.
Scott concluded by admonishing that the trend had been reversed when the Biden administration took over, and that the president should now unite the country rather than push through partisan bills. He said, “America’s best future cannot come from the dreams or socialist programs of Washington (politicians); they come from the American people.”
Biden’s congressional speech Wednesday received few joint bipartisan applause, one coming after his tough statement on Xi and the other after he said that most police officers in the United States enforce the law with justice.