During his speech, he touched on several key points which include the deadly global pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising inflation.
A Notable Moment in History
In an excellent way to start off Women’s History month, for the first time in history, two women, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sat behind the president of the United States during an official State of the Union address.
Russia Invaded Ukraine
Biden began his speech immediately condemning Putin by name while praising the Ukrainian people as well as President Zelenskyy. Biden also mentioned the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova who was one of first lady Jill Biden’s guests, was in attendance. She stood up holding her country’s flag as Biden received a bipartisan standing ovation as he called on members of Congress to stand in the House chamber in a show of support for the country. Several members of Congress wore blue and yellow in support of Ukraine.
Biden spoke at length about how the United States, along with at least twenty-seven members of the European Union including France, Germany, Italy, as well as countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and many others, even Switzerland are crippling Russia’s economy by implementing sanctions, cutting off Russia’s access to technology, and limiting Russian airplanes access to airspace.
Biden also clarified that we would not be sending in our own troops to participate in the conflict, stating, “Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. “
The Covid-19 Global Pandemic
Biden acknowledged how difficult the pandemic has been for American citizens. He is requesting that we put our differences of opinions across party lines to the side and take this opportunity to “reset” and move forward. “Let’s use this moment to reset. Let’s stop looking at COVID-19 as a partisan dividing line and see it for what it is: A God-awful disease.
Let’s stop seeing each other as enemies, and start seeing each other for who we really are: Fellow Americans.
We can’t change how divided we’ve been. But we can change how we move forward—on COVID-19 and other issues we must face together.”
Biden outlined details on efforts to combat the pandemic. He announced that Americans who ordered free Covid-19 tests from covidtests.gov will be able to order additional tests “starting next week” and said his administration’s scientists are “working hard” to get vaccines authorized for children under five years of age. Biden also announced his administration was launching a “test-to-treat” program where Americans who test positive for COVID at drugstores could then receive free antiviral pills to treat the virus.
Almost everyone in attendance was mask free and Biden, himself was unmasked and shook hands with many as he took his position behind the podium to show the world that things are beginning to “get back to normal”. He also addressed mask wearing in the country and how it is coming to an end stating, “Just a few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the CDC—issued new mask guidelines. Under these new guidelines, most Americans in most of the country can now be mask free.”
Joe Biden addressed rising inflation, “I get it,” he said, “Too many families are struggling to keep up with their bills,” he said. “Inflation is robbing them of gains they thought otherwise they would be able to feel.” He said his “top priority is getting prices under control.”
He took the opportunity to retune the “Build Back Better” plan: cutting the cost of prescription drugs, combating climate change in order to lower energy costs, lowering the cost of child care, and instituting free, universal pre-K, among other initiatives.
Biden shared his idea of driving down inflation, “One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages. “
Many of his proposals will rely on a Congress that has been reluctant to pass much of his social spending proposals.
Supreme Court Justices
Biden took a moment to honor the retiring Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Breyer, who was treated to an extended applause. Biden then took the opportunity to introduce and make the case for his nominee to replace Breyer, Ketanji Brown Jackson, calling her a “consensus builder.”
Defunding the Police…or Not
With police executing People of Color at an alarming rate, which has caused civil unrest across the nation, many progressive democrats have called to defund the police. Joe Biden suggested just the opposite and said, “Let’s come together to protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable.” He then went on, “That’s why the Justice Department required body cameras, banned chokeholds, and restricted no-knock warrants for its officers.
That’s why the American Rescue Plan provided $350 Billion that cities, states, and counties can use to hire more police and invest in proven strategies like community violence interruption—trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma and giving young people hope.
We should all agree: The answer is not to Defund the police. The answer is to FUND the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”
Joe Biden wrapped up his speech on a high note and used the word “strong” repeatedly in almost a rallying cry, “And my report is this: the State of the Union is strong—because you, the American people, are strong. We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today. Now is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time. And we will, as one people. One America. The United States of America.”
The State of the Union address can be seen here: