During Historic Washington Moment President Biden says “America is Arising Anew”
In what will go down as an historic moment in Washington, two women flanked an American President addressing a joint session of Congress.
As President Joe Biden began his address to the nation and the roughly 200-persons in the chamber, Biden recognized the important occasion. Turning to both women, he addressed them as “Madam Speaker and Madam Vice President,” as the room burst into applause. Said Biden, “No President has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.” Both Californians, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Harris are the first women to hold their positions. The evening also included another historic moment that may have been missed by some. As he entered the room, Biden was escorted down the aisle of the House chamber by William Walker, who became the first Black House sergeant-at-arms when he was sworn in earlier in the week by Pelosi.
After his first 100 days in office, Biden eagerly addressed the joint session, declaring “America is rising anew” as he enthusiastically pointed to the nation’s emergence from the coronavirus pandemic. Biden called it a moment for America to prove that its democracy can still work and maintain primacy in the world, He urged members to help him
expand federal programs to drive the economy past the pandemic and broadly extend the social safety net on a scale not seen in decades. Said Biden, “I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”’
Biden shared with the country an update on combating the COVID-19 crisis, saying hundreds of millions of vaccinations have been received, along with relief checks sent to help offset the devastation wrought by a virus that has killed 573,000 thousand Americans. He also championed his $2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure plan which he says will be financed by higher taxes on corporations.
With his fundamental belief in the power of government as a force for good, Biden spoke in his customary personal
tones as he demanded massive structural changes. Biden repeatedly pointed to his plan to get Americans back to work by restoring the millions of jobs lost to the virus. He set out an all-encompassing proposal for universal preschool, two years of free community college, $225 billion for childcare and monthly payments of at least $250 to parents. He continued to say that economic growth will best come from taxing the rich to help the middle class and the poor. Biden also used his address to touch on the broader national reckoning over race in America, urging legislation be passed by the anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
“America is ready for takeoff. We are working again. Dreaming again. Discovering again. Leading the world again. We have shown each other and the world: There is no quit in America,” Biden said. “I have never been more confident or more optimistic about America. We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and ‘We the People’ did not flinch.”
He demanded that the government take care of its own as a powerful symbol to the world of an America willing to forcefully follow its ideals and people. “Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?” Boden asked. “America’s adversaries – the autocrats of the world – are betting it can’t. They believe we are too full of anger and division and rage. They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy. They are wrong. And we have to prove them wrong.”
The GOP members sat silently in the chamber and refused to clap, even on universal issues that both sides agreed on. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina gave the Republican response, saying Biden was more rhetoric than action.
With the slenderest of majorities in Congress, many say Biden’s speech represented vision and a gamble. Even if Republican lawmakers prove resistant, Biden says he is willing to go it alone and is determined to sell his plans to the American people. The President immediately hit the road after his address, first visiting Georgia, with visits to Pennsylvania and Virginia over the days ahead.
Biden says funding all of this would be a series of tax increases on the wealthy that would raise about $1.5 trillion over a decade. Republican lawmakers in Congress so far have balked at the price tags of Biden’s plans, complicating the chances of passage in a deeply divided Washington.