Biden in State of the Union vows to ‘finish the job’ – NBC Chicago

President Joe Biden urged Republicans repeatedly Tuesday night to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and unifying the nation as he delivered a state of the art address. Union intended to reassure a country plagued by pessimism and heavy political divisions. .

The backdrop for the annual address was markedly different from the previous two years, with a Republican speaker sitting expressionless behind Biden and GOP lawmakers in the audience preparing to scrutinize both his administration and his policies.

But Biden has sought to portray a radically different nation in positive ways than the one he took charge of two years ago: from a faltering economy to one thriving with new jobs; from a nation crippled and fatigued by the pandemic to a nation that has now opened up and a democracy that has survived its greatest test since the civil war.

“America’s story is a story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward. Of never giving up. A unique story among all nations,” Biden said. “We are the only country that came out of each crisis stronger than when we entered it. That’s what we still do.”

He added: “We’re not done yet by any stretch of the imagination.”

Biden sought to reassure the nation that his stewardship of the country has delivered results both at home and abroad, as he also set out to prove his suitability for likely re-election.

But the challenges for Biden are many: economic uncertainty, a grueling war in Ukraine, growing tensions with China, and more. And signs of past trauma at the Capitol, including the Jan. 6, 2021 insurgency at the Capitol, were unavoidable, with a tall fence encircling the compound as lawmakers and those in attendance faced tighter security measures than before. habit.

From the outset, the partisan divides were clear. Democrats — including Vice President Kamala Harris — clapped as Biden began his speech. The new Republican House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, although he greeted the President warmly when he entered the chamber, remained in his place.

Rather than rolling out flashy policy proposals, the president set out to offer a reassuring assessment of the state of the nation, declaring that two years after the Capitol attack, American democracy was “unyielding and unbroken.”

“America’s story is one of progress and resilience,” he said, pointing to record job creation during his tenure as the country emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden also pointed to areas of bipartisan progress in his first two years in office, including on vital state infrastructure and high-tech manufacturing. And he said, “There’s no reason why we can’t work together in this new Congress.

“People sent us a clear message. Fighting for fighting, power for power, conflict for conflict, gets us nowhere,” Biden said. “And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America – the middle class – to unite the country.”

“We were sent here to finish the job! »

The president took to the House rostrum at a time when only a quarter of American adults say things in the country are moving in the right direction, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track. And a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek another term.

He sought to confront these feelings head-on.

“Wondering if there’s still a path for you and your children to move forward without drifting apart, I get it,” Biden said. “That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. The jobs are coming back, the pride is coming back because of the choices we have made over the past two years.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has gained national profile as Trump’s press secretary, was expected to deliver the Republican response to Biden’s speech.

She was to focus much of her remarks on social issues, including race in business and education and alleged big tech censorship of conservatives.

“As you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in waking fantasies than the harsh reality that Americans face every day,” she was to say, according to excerpts released by her office. “Most Americans just want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a leftist culture war that we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”

With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the White House and lawmakers from both parties invited guests designed to bring political messages home with their presence in the House chamber. The parents of Tire Nichols, who was severely beaten by police officers in Memphis and later died, are among those sitting with first lady Jill Biden. Other Biden guests included rock star/humanitarian Bono and the 26-year-old who disarmed a gunman in the Monterey Park, Calif., shooting last month.

“Today, I am announcing new standards requiring all building materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America,” President Joe Biden said during the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus invited family members of those involved in police incidents, as they sought to press for action on police reform in the wake of Nichols’ death. The White House, ahead of the speech, linked police reform with reducing violence, suggesting that giving police better training tools could lead to less crime nationwide.

Biden was changing course after spending his first two years pushing through major bills such as the bipartisan infrastructure package, legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and climate action. With Republicans now in control of the House, he is focused on implementing these massive laws and making sure voters credit the improvements to him.

Biden, not known for his eloquence, appeared relaxed and confident as he delivered his speech. He added casual remarks, basked in responses from Democratic lawmakers who frequently rose to thunderous ovations and playfully engaged with his Republican critics.

Addressing Republicans who voted against the big bipartisan infrastructure bill, Biden said he will always ensure their pet projects receive federal support. “I promised to be the president of all Americans,” he said. “We will finance these projects. And I will see you at the first pickaxe.

Change is largely out of necessity. The newly empowered GOP is eager to undo many of its accomplishments and is committed to continuing a host of investigations, including reviewing recent discoveries of classified documents from his time as vice president at his home and in his former desk.

Although he promised bipartisanship wherever possible, Biden also highlighted the sharp tensions between him and House Republicans: He discussed the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Democrats’ Climate Change Act and healthcare in 2022 and their reluctance to raise the federal debt ceiling, the nation’s statutory borrowing authority. which must be raised later this year or risk default.

Emphasizing that “the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” Biden accused congressional Republicans of threatening to hold the US economy hostage to their political demands.

“Instead of making the rich pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to be phased out every five years. That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will disappear,” Biden said. “Other Republicans are saying that if we don’t cut Social Security and Medicare, they’ll let America default on its debt for the first time in our history.

“I won’t let that happen.”

On the eve of the president’s speech, McCarthy challenged Biden to come to the negotiating table with House Republicans to cut spending as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“We need to move toward a balanced budget and insist on real accountability for every dollar we spend,” McCarthy said.

As hopes for broad-based bipartisanship dim, Biden reiterated his 2022 call for Congress to support his “unity agenda” of actions to address the opioid epidemic, health mental health, veterans’ health and cancer. He announced new executive action and called on lawmakers to act in support of new measures to support cancer research, address housing needs and suicide among veterans, improve access to mental health care and to continue cracking down on the deadly fentanyl trade.

The president also called for extending the new $35 per month price cap on insulin for people on Medicare to everyone in the country. And he pushed Congress to quadruple the 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks that was signed into law in the Democrats’ climate and health care bill passed last year, known as Inflation Reduction Act.

The speech comes days after Biden ordered the military to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew brazenly across the country, captivating the nation and serving as a reminder of the strained relationship between the two world powers.

“Make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country,” Biden said. “And we did.”

Last year’s address came just days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine and many in the West doubted Kyiv’s ability to withstand the onslaught. Over the past year, the United States and other allies have sent tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. Now Biden must advocate — both at home and abroad — to maintain this coalition as the war drags on.

NBC Chicago

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