Four Takeaways From Biden’s First Address to Congress

By: Alexis Cope

On Wednesday night, President Biden addressed his first joint session of Congress, reviewing his first 100 days in office and suggesting new plans he wishes to put in motion. He said, “America is on the move again,” and made it clear he wished to keep the nation moving.

The session was held in the House chamber due to security and health concerns raised by the January 6th attack and COVID-19. Not all members of Congress were present, and the address lasted for around an hour. 

Two women on the podium make history.

For the first time in history, two women, one a woman of color, were seated behind the president as he spoke to the members in attendance. Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi framed either side of the president, creating a powerful image for all watching to view.

Biden recognized this as he entered the chamber, saying, “Madam Speaker. Madam Vice President. No president has ever said those words before, and it’s about time.”

Bipartisanship is critical, but Biden is ready to act.

When discussing new proposed federal spending programs, Biden stressed the idea that he is willing, ready, and keen to work with the Republican members of Congress, but should they fail to cooperate, he will move forward without their approval. “Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Getting Republican members of Congress on his side will likely be one of Biden’s most difficult tasks as president. In his inaugural address, Biden stressed the importance of this point, proclaiming, “the American story depends on…all of us….[this] requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity. Unity.” 

So far, it seems, the president has not quite gotten what he wished for on that score. Though he did praise a group of Republicans who “put forward their proposal,” there was often little reaction from the party to some of Biden’s remarks. None of the attending Republicans clapped when Biden announced his goal of cutting child poverty in half or after the session.

Biden wants to put America, and her middle/lower class, first.

Biden announced new changes to his American Jobs Plan, pledging that “American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America that create American jobs.” He also mentioned how “clean energy will create jobs for America,” thereby addressing his promises to help control climate change and help the nation’s economy. This plan also contains budgets for improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Biden also discussed his new American Families Plan, which primarily focuses on providing more families, specifically those of a lower income, with better education opportunities. Among other things, this plan will allow for free preschool services and two years of free community college. The plan will also support longer medical leaves for families and solidify protections and relief plans for COVID-19 that were once only temporary.

The COVID-19 crisis is bettering.

Biden also patted himself on the back for all he has done to curb the coronavirus pandemic. 

Flexing the number of vaccinations completed within his first 100 days in office, most of which were distributed to seniors, Biden did not confront the looming hurdle of many Americans’ distrust of and hesitancy to take the vaccine. In order to reach herd immunity, nearly 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated, a number which might be hard to achieve given the current mindset of many. 

Biden did, however, urge all listening to take advantage of the vaccination sites popping up across the country. “Go get vaccinated, America,” he said.

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