US President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered his second State of the Union address since taking office. This marks the first time he addressed Congress since Republicans won control of the House in the November midterm elections.
Biden began his speech by congratulating House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who was recently elected to his role, and then congratulated House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the first African-American in that role.
“Folks, the story of America is the story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward, and never, ever giving up. It is a story unique among all nations. We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis we have ever entered stronger than we got into it,” he stated.
“Look, folks, that's what we're doing again. I stand here tonight after we created with the help of many people in this room. 12 million new jobs. More jobs created in two years than any president has created in four years, because of you all,” he continued.
A major focus of the speech was unity, with Biden calling for Democrats and Republicans to work together.
“We do not think anything is beyond our capacity. Everything is a possibility. We're often told Democrats and Republicans cannot work together. But over the past two years, we have proven codecs and naysayers wrong. Yes, we disagree plenty, and yes, there were times the Democrats went alone. But time and again, Democrats and Republicans came together,” he said.
“To my Republican friends, if we can work together last Congress, there is no reason we cannot work together in this Congress as well.”
The President noted that inflation “has been a global problem because the pandemic disrupted our supply chain, and gas prices are coming down, food prices are coming down. Inflation prices have come down and take home pay has gone up. Additionally, over the last two years, a record 10 million Americans applied to start new businesses.”
“Folks, I know I have been criticized for saying this but I am not changing my view. We are going to make sure the supply chain for America begins in America. The supply chain begins in America.”
He noted the infrastructure law, which he described as “the largest investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower's interstate highway system. Atlanta to Portland. Bridges, railroads, tunnels, ports and airports, clean water, Urban, rural, tribal. And folks, we're just getting started. We're just getting started.”
“I want to thank my Republican friends who voted for the law and those who voted against it as well. But I’m still ask to fund projects in their districts, but don't worry. I promised to be the president for all Americans. We'll fund these projects. And I'll see you at the groundbreaking,” added Biden.
While the President was mostly cheered, he was also met with some boos when he criticized the previous Trump administration over the deficit.
“In the last two years, my administration cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion, the largest deficit reduction in American history. Under the previous administration, the American deficit went up four years in a row. Because of those record deficits, no president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor. Nearly 25% of the entire national debt, that took 200 years to accumulate, was added by administration alone. That is a fact. Check it out. Check it out. How did Congress respond to that debt? They did the right thing, they lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis. They paid American bills to our country. Tonight, I'm asking this Congress to follow suit,” he said.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said, “Let's recognize how far we've come in the fight against the pandemic itself. While the virus is not gone, thanks to the resilience of the American people in the ingenuity of medicine, we have broken COVID’s grip on us. COVID deaths are down by 90%. We've saved millions of lives and opened our country back up. And soon we'll end the public health emergency. But we will remember the toll and pain that will never go away. More than one million Americans lost their lives to COVID.”
The President called for a ban on assault weapons following the recent mass shootings. One of the guests at the speech was Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old hero who saved lives during the recent shooting during the Lunar New Year celebrations in California.
“It's time we do the same. Ban assault weapons now. Ban them now. Once and for all. Mass shootings went down. After it expired, during the Republican administration, mass shootings tripled. Let's finish the job and ban assault weapons.”
He also addressed the Ukraine war, which was launched nearly a year ago, saying, “We built a global coalition. We stood against Putin's aggression. We stood with the Ukrainian people. Tonight, we are once again joined by Ukraine's ambassador to the United States. She represents not just her nation, but the courage of her people.”
Biden told the Ambassador, “We are going to stand with you as long as it takes. Our nation is working for more freedom, more dignity, and more peace, not just in Europe, but everywhere.”
He also commented on the US-China relations, following last week’s surveillance balloon incident, “We made clear, I made clear in my personal conversation of which I have many with President Xi, that we seek competition. And I'm committed to work with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world. But make no mistake, as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country.”
Biden also stated, “Democracy must not be a partisan issue. It's an American issue. Every generation of Americans has faced a moment where they have been called to protect our democracy, defend it, to stand up for it. And this is our moment.”
“Tonight, I fulfilled my constitutional duty to report on the state of the nation. And here is my report. Because of the Soul of this nation, because of the backbone of this nation, because of the people of this nation, the State of the Union is strong,” he declared.
In conclusion Biden said, “I'm not new to this place. I have served about as long as everyone of you who has served here. But I've never been more optimistic about our future, the future of America. We just have to remember who we are.”
“We are the United States of America and there is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together. God bless you all. And May God protect our troops,” he stated.