President Joe Biden has participated in dozens of presidential speeches in Congress since he first arrived in Washington in 1973. But after nearly half a century of listening, he finally got a chance to speak Wednesday night. for they his vision of the country.
“America is on the move again, ”he said during his observations lasting about an hour. “Transforming danger into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Return to force. “
Biden he took the opportunity to brag about the achievements of his administration, highlighting how Americans have received over 220 million hits of COVID-19 vaccines in its first 100 days in office, who called “one of the greatest logistical successes this country has ever seen “.
Like the rest of Biden’s presidential milestones, this one too was changed due to the pandemic. The audience in the House Chamber, usually more than 1,000 people, including all members of Congress and multiple Supreme Court justices, was limited to just 200. Since most of Biden’s cabinet was watching television – only Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were present in person – there was no need for the usual “designated survivor”. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was the sole representative of the judicial branch, and the handful of Democratic senators who were in attendance were drawn in the lottery. Participants sat apart from each other to accommodate social distances, with up to three people in a row.
Still, Biden’s speech, which he had spent weeks honing with speechwriting director Vinay Reddy and a long time councilor Mike Donilon, it illuminated how the same catastrophe that prevented him from delivering to a full audience was also shaping his presidential agenda. His speech focused largely on economic priorities and outlined the plan of American families, his own $ 1.8 trillion proposal to raise taxes on the rich to pay for affordable childcare services, paid leave and access to education. If implemented, the plan would offer universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds and two-year free community college and create a national paid leave program. This proposal is the third prong of Biden’s $ 6 trillion plan to strengthen the post-pandemic economy by fighting inequality and climate change. He signed the first part, the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout, passed into law on March 11. Last month, he also called for a $ 2 trillion bill that would create millions of jobs and repair the country’s infrastructure, hailing it in his address to Congress as a “blue-collar project to build America.”
In total, tThese proposals would be the largest clean energy investment in US history and the largest federal investment in the US economy since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
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Biden reckons he has the political capital to push these plans through a tightly divided Congress because the pandemic’s exacerbation of social inequalities has increased Americans’ need and desire for federal intervention. In Gallup poll Since September 2020, it found that 54% of Americans wanted the government to do more to address the country’s problems, a 7 percentage point increase from the previous year. 56 percent of independents supported this view, the highest number since 2001. Both the infrastructure plan and the American household plan have amassed more than 60 percent Monmouth poll released on April 26.
“This is one of those rare opportunities in American history for presidents to accomplish great things,” he says Timothy Naftali, former director of the Richard Nixon Federal Presidential Library and historian at New York University. “They don’t happen that often and usually happen at a time of crisis when the weakness of the other side has created a political vacuum. And Joe Biden entered that void. “
Biden urged Congress to act on police reform in time for the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. “We must work together to find a consensus, “he said.” We must unite. Rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve. To eradicate systemic racism in our criminal justice system. ” House Democrats passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which includes provisions this would set a national standard for managing police departments, require law enforcement to collect data on police encounters, and put a federal ban on bottlenecks. But the bill would require at least ten Republican votes in the Senate and its fate is uncertain.
Biden has signaled that he is willing to compromise on immigration – the issue that has garnered its lowest approval ratings as the number of illegal border crossings peaked in two decades in March and the system has struggled to manage. an influx of unaccompanied minors. Biden said lawmakers are expected to pass the immigration reform bill it sent to Congress on its first day in office, which includes a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. But he said both sides must work together. “If Congress doesn’t approve my plan, let’s go through at least what we agree on,” he said. He also attempted to reach out to Republicans on infrastructure, after they released their infrastructure plan as an alternative to his. “We welcome the ideas,” he said.
But all of these proposals remain a major boost for a tightly – and bitterly – divided Congress. The last time Congress called a joint session nearly four months ago, a violent mob stormed the Capitol to try to prevent the certification of Biden’s election victory. (Right before his speech, Biden met with the Senate and House Sergeants at Arms, who are responsible for security, and the Capitol architect.) Notably, Biden did not call for any obstructionist reforms during his speech, which would allowed to pass his agenda along party lines.
Biden concluded by invoking the president’s rhetoric he has read about since before his inauguration: “In another era when our democracy has been tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us: in America, we do our part.” Biden said. “That’s all I’m asking. That we all do our part. “