SGT. AT ARMS
Madame Speaker, the president of the United States.
Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
Thank you all very, very much. Thank you. Please. Thank you so much. Madame speaker, but — madame speaker, madame vice president at our first lady and second gentleman, members of Congress and the cabinet, justices of the Supreme Court, my fellow Americans, last year, Covid-19 kept us apart. This year, we are finally together again.
Tonight, we meet as Democrats, Republicans, independents, but most importantly, as Americans with a duty to one another, to America, to American people, to the Constitution. And an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.
Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the very foundations of the free world. Thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways, that he badly miscalculated. He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would’ve roll over. Instead, he was met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.
President Zelenskyy — to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their determination literally inspires the world. Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees to teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland. In the struggle, President Zelenskyy said in his speech in the European parliament, light will win over darkness. The Ukrainian ambassador of the United States is here tonight sitting with the first lady. If you are able to stand, send an on — an unmistakable signal to the world. Thank you.
The western world has watched in admiration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he has navigated his country through the unimaginable horrors of a Russian invasion — refusing to leave his capital city even as it’s getting bombed. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) summed it up this way: “There were some of us who were wondering whether Zelenskyy was Ghani or Churchill. So far, he’s very much Churchill.”
Democrats and Republicans have largely been united in the face of Russia’s aggression. But there are still some notable divisions between the two parties over how far to go in punishing Russia. For example, Republicans want Biden to sanction Russia’s extremely profitable energy sector. They also want the president to impose secondary sanctions on Russian banks, which would punish entities that do business with those banks. European allies have cautioned against that approach, and the White House hasn’t indicated a willingness to embrace those types of sanctions as a result. Unity with Europe is still the Biden administration’s guiding principle here.
We, the United States of America, stand with Ukrainian people. Throughout our history, we have learned this lesson. When dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. The cost to America and the world keeps rising.
That is why the NATO alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War II. The United States is a member along with 29 other nations. It matters. American diplomacy matters. American resolve matters.
Putin’s latest attack on Ukraine was premeditated and totally unprovoked. He rejected repeated, repeated efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO would not respond. He thought he could divide us at home in this chamber and this nation and he thought he could divide us in Europe as well, but Putin was wrong. We are ready. We are united and that is what we did. We stayed united.
We prepared extensively and carefully. We spent months building coalitions of other freedom loving nations in Europe and the Americas to the Asian and African continents to confront Putin. Many of you, I spent countless hours unifying our European allies. We shared with the world in advance what we knew Putin was planning and precisely how we would try to falsify and justify — how he would try to falsify and justify his aggression.
Biden has received praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for his administration’s efforts to bring European nations — many of which were previously reluctant to impose harsher sanctions on Russia — on board with the U.S.-led efforts to hold Putin accountable. For example, Biden has hinted at European allies’ unwillingness to kick Russian banks out of the SWIFT system; but later brought them along when the U.S. announced its own SWIFT sanctions over the weekend.
We countered Russia’s lies with the truth, and now he has acted, the free world is holding him accountable along with 27 members of the European Union including France, Germany, Italy as well as countries like the United Kingdom, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, even Switzerland inflicting pain on Russia and supporting the people of Ukraine. Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.
Together, along with our allies, we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions. We are cutting off Russia’s largest banks and international financial system preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian ruble, making Putin’s 630 billion dollar war fund worthless.
We are choking Russia’s access to technology that will sap of the economic strength and weaken its military for years to come. Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who built a billions of dollars off this violent regime, no more.
I mean it. The United States department of justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs. We are joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We are coming for you. Tonight, I am announcing we will join our allies in closing off American airspace all Russian flights.
Lawmakers from both parties have been calling on Biden to crack down on Russia’s expansive network of oligarchs.
Russia is likely to retaliate by closing off its airspace to U.S. planes, as they did to the European Union and Canada. U.S. planes were already banned from flying over western Russia and Ukraine due to safety concerns, but some of the most lucrative air routes to eastern Asia and India from North America cross Russian airspace thousands of miles away.
He has no idea what is coming. The ruble has already lost 30 percent of its value. The Russian stock market has lost 40 percent of its value. Trading remains suspended. The Russian economy is reeling. Putin alone is the one to blame. Together with our allies, we are providing support to the Ukrainians and their fight for freedom. Military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance. We are giving more than a billion dollars of direct assistance to Ukraine and will continue to aid Ukrainian people as they defend their country and help ease their suffering.
This line, notably, was not in Biden’s prepared remarks.
The Biden administration unlocked an additional $350 million of military aid for Ukraine over the weekend, a critical boost as the country’s military holds off Russian invaders. But Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. [told senators last night in a closed-door meeting that the military needed even more weaponry and was in particular need of more Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles. That’s where Congress will need to step in and set aside additional funding, which is expected to ride alongside the broader government funding bill that needs to clear both chambers by the end of next week.
Last week, Biden formally [asked Congress for an extra $6.4 billion in humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine. There’s bipartisan appetite for an even larger number, and congressional leaders have said they intend to include the extra funds as part of the larger government funding bill that needs to pass by the end of next week.
But let me be clear. Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. Our forces are not going to Europe to fight Ukraine but to defend our allies in the event Putin decides to keep moving west. We have mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments to protect countries including Poland, Latvia and Estonia. As I have made clear, the United States and our allies will defend every inch of territory that is NATO territory with the full force of our collective power. Every single inch.
We are clear eyed. Ukrainians are fighting back with pure carriage. The next few days, weeks and months will be hard on them. Putin has unleashed violence and chaos. But while he May make gains on the battlefield, he will pay a continuing high price over the long run. And a pound of Ukrainian people — the proud people pound for pound ready to fight with every inch they have. They have known 30 years of independence. Have repeatedly shown they will not elevate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.
To all Americans, I will be honest with you, a Russian dictator invading a foreign country has cost around the world and I am taking robust action to ensure the pain of our sanction is targeted at the Russian economy and we use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers.
When fully implemented, the U.S. sanctions on Russia are sure to drive up costs for American families who have already been reeling from the effects of inflation and supply-chain issues. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties have said this kind of short-term pain would be necessary in order to hold Putin accountable. But that unity won’t hold forever, and Biden will have to work hard to justify the price hikes — especially with the midterm elections looming.
Tonight, I can announce the United States has worked with 30 other countries to release 16 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world. America will lead that effort. Releasing 30 million barrels and we stand ready to do more if necessary. United with our allies. These steps will help want gas prices at home. I know news about what is happening can seem alarming to all Americans.
Biden has been explicit about the potential that sanctions on Russia could drive up gas prices at home, arguing that the cause is worth the sacrifice. But that doesn’t mean the White House isn’t desperately searching for any way to blunt the impact on Americans, especially with inflation already driving prices for gas and household goods higher.
But I want you to know we are going to be ok. We are going to be ok. When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war in Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.
While it should not take something so terrible for people around the world to see what is at stake, now everyone sees it clearly. We see the unity among leaders of nations, a more unified Europe, a more unified west. We see unity among the people gathering in cities and large crowds around the world even in Russia to demonstrate their support for the people of Ukraine.
The battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment. The world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security. This is the real test. It is going to take time. Let’s continue to draw inspiration from the iran will of the Ukrainian people. To our fellow Ukrainian Americans who forged a deep bond that connects our two nations, we stand with you. We stand with you. Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks but it will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people. He will never weaken the resolve of the free world.
We meet tonight in an America that has lived through two of the hardest years this nation has ever faced. The pandemic has been punishing and so many families are living paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling to keep up with the rising cost of food, gas, housing and so much more.
I understand like many of you did, my dad had to leave his home in Scranton, Pennsylvania to find work or like many of you, I grew up in family where the price of food went up, it had an impact. That is one of the first things I did as president was fight to pass the American Rescue Plan. People were hurting. We needed to act and we did.
This is a Biden-speech staple — always bringing it back to his upbringing in Scranton.
Few pieces of legislation have done more at a critical moment in our history to lift us out of a crisis. Filled our efforts to vaccinate the nation and combat Covid-19. Deliver immediate economic relief to tens of millions of Americans. It helped put food on the table. Remember those long lines of cars waiting for hours to get a box of food put in their trunk. It cut the cost of health care insurance.
Economists largely agree that the trillions of dollars that the America Rescue Plan poured into the economy helped avert a deep recession and fuel an accelerated recovery. But it also opened the door to rising prices, which has dented Americans’ confidence in the health of the economy.
As my dad used to say, it gave the people a little bit of breathing room. Unlike the $2 trillion tax cut in the previous administration, that benefit of the top 1 percent of Americans, — that benefit of the top 1 percent of Americans, the American rescue plan helped working people and left no one behind.
After mostly bipartisan applause in response to Biden’s remarks on Russia-Ukraine, you are seeing a more partisan response from the audience as the speech turns to domestic policy.
And it worked. It worked. It created jobs, lots of jobs. Our economy created over 6.5 million new jobs just last year. More jobs in one year than ever before in the history of the United States of America. The economy grew at a rate of 5.7, the strongest growth rate in 40 years.
The first step of bringing fundamental change to our economy, it has not worked for working people for too long to read for the past 40 years, we were told a tax break for those at the top would trickle down and everyone would benefit paired the trickle-down theory led to a weaker economic growth, lower wages, bigger deficits and a widening gap between the top and everyone else in nearly a century.
Vice president Harris and I ran for office and I realized we had a fundamental disagreement on this but were in for office of the new economic vision for America. Invest in America. Educate Americans. Grow the workforce. Build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.
Because we know when the middle class grows, the poor go way up and the — now our infrastructure is ranked 13th in the world. We will not be able to keep for the jobs and in the 21st century if we don’t fix it. That is why it was so important to pass the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The infrastructure law, which directs $550 billion in new spending toward roads, bridges, water pipelines, broadband and other major projects, is Biden’s biggest legislative accomplishment to date
I thank my Republican friends who joined to invest and rebuild America. The single biggest investment in history to a bipartisan effort paired I want to thank the members of both parties who worked to make it happen. We are done talking about infrastructure weeks. We are talking about infrastructure decade.
With his Build Back Better bill stalled, Biden’s infrastructure law has become the default legislative accomplishment for Democrats to run on ahead of the midterms. The challenge: Getting voters to appreciate its impact when it could take months or years for many of the projects it funds to be completed.
It’s going to transform America, to put us in path to win the economic capitation of the 21st century. I told Xi Jinping it has never been a good bet to bet against the American people.We will create good jobs for millions of Americans, modernizing roads, airports, ports, waterways across America. We will do it to withstand the devastating effects of climate change and environmental injustice. We will build a national network of 500 thousand electric vehicle charging stations. We will replace the leadpipe so every child has clean water to drink at home and at school.
One way that Biden has tried to gin up voter enthusiasm for the infrastructure law is to frame it as a transformational accomplishment —one that will not just benefit Americans now, but generations to come.
While Russia is on the top of everyone’s minds right now for obvious reasons, most lawmakers believe the most significant long-term challenge and threat to the U.S. is China. The House and Senate are currently reconciling each chamber’s legislation aimed at helping U.S. companies better compete with China, and Biden has signaled he would sign it into law.
We are going to provide affordable high speed internet for every American, rural, suburban and travel can — and travel committees. 4000 projects have been announced. Any of you have announced them in your districts. I am dancing this year we will start fixing 65,000 miles of highway in 1500 bridges in disrepair.
When we use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America, we are going to do it by buying America. Buying American products to support American jobs. The federal government spends about $600 billion a year to keep this country safe and secure. There’s been a law on the books for almost a century to make sure taxpayer dollars support American jobs and businesses.
Every administration says they will do it but we are actually doing it. We will buy America to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guard rails is made in America from beginning to end. All of it.
But folks, to compete for the jobs of the future, we also need a level playing field with China and other competitors. That is why it is so important to pass the bipartisan innovation act sitting in Congress that will make record investments in emerging technologies and American manufacturing.
We used to invest almost 2% of our GDP in research and development. China is. If you travel 20 miles east of Columbus, Ohio you will find a thousand empty acres of land. If you stop and look closely, you will see a field of dreams — you will see a field of dreams or the ground on which America’s future will be billed to that is where intel, the American comedy that helped build a $20 billion conductor mega site.
Up to eight state-of-the-art factories in one place. 10,000 new jobs. They average about 135 — $135 thousand a year. The most sophisticated manufacturing in the world to make computer chips the size of a fingertip. The power in the world for everyday lives. From smart phones, the internet. Technology yet to be invented. But that is just the beginning. Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger who is here tonight — stand up.
Pat came to see me and he told me they are ready to increase their investment from $20 billion to $100 billion. That would be the biggest investment in manufacturing in American history. And all they are waiting for is for you to pass this bill. So let’s not wait any longer. Send it to my desk. I will sign it and we will really take off in a big way.
The House and Senate couldn’t reach a compromise in time for tonight’s speech on a bill that would help the U.S. compete with China economically and incentivize domestic semiconductor production. But Biden is pushing lawmakers to make a deal and get something to his desk
And folks, Intel is not alone. There is something happening in America. Just look around and you will see an amazing story. The rebirth of pride that comes from stamping products made in America. The revitalization of a menu — of American manufacturing. Companies are choosing to build new factories here when just a few years ago, they would have gone overseas. That is what is happening.
Ford is investing $11 billion in electric vehicles creating 11,000 jobs across the country. GM is making the largest investment in its history, $7 billion to build electric vehicles creating 4000 jobs in Michigan. All told, creating 369,000 new tech — new manufacturing jobs in America just last year alone.
Powered by people like JoJo Burgess from generations of union steelworkers — union steelworkers from Pittsburgh. As Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown says that Sherrod Brown— Sherrod brown says, it is time to bury the label rust belt. It is time to see what used to be called the rust belt become the home of a significant resurgence of manufacturing. With all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth, higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with their bills. Inflation is robbing them of the gains they thought otherwise they would be able to feel. I get it.
That is why my top priority is getting prices under control. Our economy roared back faster than almost anyone predicted but the pandemic meant that businesses had a hard time hiring enough people because of the pandemic to keep up production in their factories. You did not have people making those beans that went into buildings because the factory was closed the panic disrupted the global supply chains.
When factories close, takes longer to make goods and get them to the warehouses to the stores and prices go up. Look at cars last year. One third of all the inflation was because of automobile sales. There were not enough semiconductors to make all the cars people wanted to buy. Prices of automobiles went way up. Especially used vehicles as well.
We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poor. I think I have a better idea to fight inflation. Lower your costs. Not your wages.
That means make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More jailed — more goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. Instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America.
(Applause)] :[(chanting usa)
Economists call it increasing the productive capacity of our economy. I call it building a better America. My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit. 17 Nobel laureates in economics said my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures. Top is in his leaders andI believe most Americans support the plan. Here is the plan. First, cut the cost of prescription drugs.
Biden may have a plan, but in reality there’s not much that he can do to rein in inflation That job is largely going to fall to the Federal Reserve, which is expected to begin raising interest rates later this month.
Biden loves this talking point. But the administration’s allies have questioned at times whether touting an endorsement from a bunch of Nobel laureates is really the message that resonates best with everyday Americans.
We pay more for the same drug produced by the same company than any other country in the world. Look at insulin. One in 10 Americans has diabetes. In Virginia, I met a 13-year-old boy, the handsome young man standing up there, Joshua Davis.
Health care and Covid-19
Notice Biden is talking about a Build Back Better staple without citing the stalled bill. POLITICO-Harvard T. Chan polling shows that most Americans support BBB provisions like drug pricing reform but aren’t familiar with the sweeping, trillion-dollar legislation. Democrats have mulled breaking it into smaller, sellable pieces to get the president’s priorities through.
He and his dad both have type one diabetes, which means they need insulin every single day. Insulin costs about $10 a vial to make. That is what it costs the pharmaceutical company. But drug companies charge families like Joshua and his dad 30 times the amount. I spoke to Joshua’s mom.
Imagine what it’s like to look at your child who needs insulin to stay healthy and have no idea how you’re going to be able to pay for it. What it does to your family. But what it does to your dignity, your ability to look your child in the eye, to be the parent you expect yourself to be. Think about that.
Health care and Covid-19
Insulin pricing is a universal talking point for Democrats and Republicans, alike, who decry high drug costs because few innovations have been made with the critical therapy but prices keep rising. This is one of the few areas of drug pricing reform where the parties might find agreement, especially as they spar on bigger proposals like government price negotiations and fining pharmaceutical companies for price hikes beyond inflation (both of which have been floated for years).
That is what I think about. Josh was here tonight but yesterday was his birthday. Happy birthday, buddy, by the way.
For Joshua and 200,000 other young people with type one diabetes, let’s cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month so everyone can afford it. Drug companies will do very well with their profit margins. While we are at it, I know we have great disagreements on this floor. Let’s let Medicare negotiate the price of prescription drugs.
They already set the price for VA drugs. The American Rescue Plan is helping millions of families on the Affordable Care Act plans save them to hunt — save them $2400 a year on the care premiums. Let’s close the coverage gap and make those savings permanent.
Second, let’s cut energy costs for families, an average of $500 a year by combating climate change. Let’s provide investment tax credits to weatherize your home and business to be energy-efficient and get a tax credit for it. Double America’s clean energy production in solar, wind and so much more. Lower the price of electric vehicles, saving another $80 a month that you will not have to pay at the pump.
The third thing we can do to change the standard of living for hard-working folks is cut the cost of childcare. Cut the cost of childcare.
If you live in a major city in America, you pay up to $14,000 a year for child care per child. I was a single dad for five years raising two kids. I had a lot of help though. I had a mom, a dad, a brother and sister that really helped. Middle class and working folks should not have to pay more than 7 percent of their income to care for young children.
My plan would cut the cost of childcare in half for most families. And help parents including millions of women who left the workforce during the pandemic because they could not afford childcare to be able to get back to work. Generating economic growth.
My plan does not stop there. It includes home and long-term care. More affordable housing. Pre-K for three and four-year-olds. All of these will lower costs for families to do under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. Not a single penny.
I may be wrong, but my guess is if we took a secret ballot on this floor that we would all agree the present tax system ain’t fair. We have to fix it. I’m not looking to punish anybody, but let’s make corporations and both the American start paying their fair share.
Last year, Chris Coons and Tom Carper and my distinguished congresswoman, we come from the land of corporate America. I still won 36 years in a row. Even they understand you should pay a fair share.
Classic Delaware shout-out from Biden.
Last year, 55 of the fortune 500 companies earned $40 billion in profit and paid zero in federal taxes. Now look, it is not fair. That is why I proposed a 15% minimum tax rate for corporations.
That is why in the G7 and other meetings overseas, I was able to be somewhat helpful. 130 countries agreed on a global minimum tax rate so companies cannot get out of paying taxes at home by shipping jobs in factories overseas. It will raise billions of dollars.
That is why I propose closing loopholes for the very wealthy so they don’t pay a lower tax rate than a teacher or firefighter. I will grow the economy and lower the cost for families.
What are we waiting for? Let’s get this done. We all know we have got to make changes.
While you are at it, confirm my nominees for the Federal Reserve. It plays a critical role in fighting inflation. My plan not only lower cost and give families a fair shot, it will lower the deficit.
This framing of Biden’s domestic agenda as a way to reduce the deficit is new, and aimed at appealing solely to Manchin.
The West Virginia Democrat has so far refused to back Biden’s Build Back Better bill. But last month he did express enthusiasm for refashioning that plan as a deficit reducer, touching off a White House effort to shift its messaging.
The previous administration not only ballooned the deficit for very wealthy corporations, it undermined the watchdogs, the job of those to keep pandemic relief funds being wasted.
Remember we have those debates about whether or not those watchdogs should be able to see every day how much money was being spent or was it going to the right place? My administration, the watchdogs are back.
We are going to go after the criminals who stole billions of relief money meant for small businesses and millions of Americans. I am announced — I am announcing the Justice Department will name a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud.
I think we all agree. Thank you. By the end of this year, the deficit will be down to less than half of what it was before I took office, the only president ever to cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion in a single year. Lowering your costs also meant demanding more competition.
I am a capitalist, but capitalism without competition is not capitalism. Capitalism without competition is exploitation, it drives up profits — without competition is exploitation. It drives up profits, when corporations don’t have to compete, their profits go up.
Small businesses and family farmers and ranchers — I need not tell some of my Republican friends in those states. You have four basic meatpacking facilities. That is it. You play with them or you don’t get the play at all and you pay a helluva lot more.
White House officials have debated how explicitly to blame corporations for rising prices. Some economists in the administration are skeptical that there’s a clear-cut link between corporate profits and the higher price of goods. But other officials see it as good politics, allowing Biden to single out clear problems he’s trying to fix.
See what is happening with ocean carriers moving goods in and out of America. During the pandemic, about half a dozen or less foreign-owned companies raised prices by as much as 1000% and made record profits. Tonight, I — I am announcing a crackdown on companies overcharging American businesses and consumers.
Biden needs an inflation bogeyman, so he’s turning his attention to container ships. The Justice Department’s antitrust division will provide attorneys and economists to assist the Federal Maritime Commission with enforcing the U.S. Shipping Act, a 1984 law that lightly regulates ocean carriers.
And as Wall Street firms take over more nursing homes, quality in those homes has gone down and costs have gone up. That ends on my watch. Medicare is going to set higher standards for nursing homes and make sure loved ones get the care they deserve and they are looked at closely.
Health care and Covid-19
The administration on Monday released a multipronged plan to improve nursing home safety after devastating losses during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials are still assessing what went wrong, from workforce shortages to lax oversight.
Health care and Covid-19
Biden’s new plan includes a minimum staffing requirement, a range of safety measures, boosted inspections and massive new fines for poorly operated nursing homes. Some of these provisions were part of the languishing Build Back Better Act, so it remains to be seen how much he can do without congressional clearance.
We will also cut costs and keep the economy going strong and give workers a fair shot, provide more training at apprenticeships, hire them based on skills and not just through their degrees. Let’s pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and paid leave. Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And extend the child tax credit so no one has to raise a family in poverty.
The expanded Child Tax Credit helped drive a massive reduction in child poverty last year. But the monthly payments expired in December and there’s no clear path to reviving them, complicating Biden’s ability to take credit for such a major accomplishment.
Let’s increase Pell Grant and increase our historic support for HBCUs and invest in what Jill, our first lady who teaches full-time, calls America’s best-kept secret, community colleges.
Let’s pass the PRO Act. When a majority of workers want to form a union, they should not be stopped. We invest in our workers, or me build the economy from the bottom up in the middle out together, we can do something we have not done in a long time, build a better America.
For more than two years, Covid has impacted every decision in our lives and the life of the nation. And I know you are tired, frustrated and exhausted. That does not even count the close to a million people who sit at the dining room table or kitchen table and look at an empty chair because they lost somebody.
I also know this. Because of the progress we have made, because of your resilience and the tools we have been provided by this Congress, tonight I can say we are moving forward safely back to a more normal routine.
We have reached a new movement in the fight against Covid-19. Severe cases are down to a level not seen since July of last year. A few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new mask guideline.
Under the new guidelines, most Americans in most of the country can now go mask free. Based on projections, more of the country will reach a point — across that point across the next couple of weeks per think to the progress we have made this past year, Covid-19 no longer need control our lives.
I know some are talking about living with Covid-19, but tonight, I say we will never just accept living with Covid-19. We will continue to combat the virus as we do other diseases. Because this virus mutates and spreads, we have to stay on guard. Here are four commonsense steps as we move forward safely in my view. First, stay protected with vaccines and treatments.
We know how incredibly effective vaccines are. If you are vaccinated and boosted, you have the highest degree of protection. We will never give up on vaccinating more Americans. I know parents with kids under five are eager to see their vaccines authorized for their children. Scientists are working hard to get that done and will be ready with plenty of vaccine if and when they do.
Health care and Covid-19
Another essential comment, considering the timeline for infant and toddler vaccines has been pushed back, which has many parents on edge. Biden is trying to instill confidence here.
You’re all — we are also ready with antiviral treatments. If you get Covid-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90 percent. I have ordered more pills than anyone in the world has. Pfizer is working overtime to get us a million pills this month and more than double that next month.
And now we are launching the test to treat initiative. So people can get tested at a pharmacy if they prove positive, receive the antiviral pills on the spot at no cost.
If you are immunocompromised or have some other vulnerability, we have treatments and free high-quality masks. We are leaving the wind behind organ during anyone’s needs as we move forward. — We are leaving the wind behind or ignoring anyone’s needs as we move forward. On testing, we have hundreds of millions of tested billable for you.
If you have already ordered free test tonight, I am announcing you can order more from covid tests.gov starting next week and you can get more tests. Second, we must prepare for new variants. Over the past, we have gotten much better at detecting new variants.
If Congress provides the funds we need, we will have moved stockpiles — we will have new stockpiles pit I cannot promise a new variant will not come but I can promise you we can do everything within our power to be ready if it does.
Health care and Covid-19
This is in line with what Adam Cancryn and I reported earlier this week The president and his advisers are wary of declaring a new chapter in the pandemic when there are different realities across the country right now and the possibility of a new variant looms. Biden still feels burned from declaring premature success against Covid last July, only for the Delta variant to appear and trigger a surge in breakthrough cases and hospitalizations.
Third, we can end the shutdown of schools and businesses. We have the tools we need we pin it is time for America to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again people — again. People working from home can feel safe again and begin to return to our offices. We are doing that in the federal government peered the vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person. Our schools are open. Let’s keep it that way. Our kids need to be in school.
With 75% of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77%, most Americans can remove their masks and stay in the classroom and move forward safely. We achieved this because we provided free vaccines, treatments, tests and masks.
And to doing this costs money. I will not surprise you. I will be back to see you all peered I will soon send a request to Congress. The vast majority ofAmericans have used these tools andMay need them again so I expect Congress and I hope you will pass it quickly.
Fourth, we will continue vaccinating the world. We have sent 475 million vaccine doses to 112 countries, more than any nation on Earth.
We won’t stop. We cannot build a wall high enough to keep out a vaccine — the vaccine can stop the spread of these diseases. We have lost so much to Covid-19. Time with one another. Worst of all, so much loss of life. Let’s use this moment to reset.
Health care and Covid-19
I think he meant a wall high enough to keep out a virus? A clever way to harken back to President Donald Trump’s approach to global aid.
Stop looking at Covid as a partisan dividing line. 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 are. Fellow Americans.
We cannot change how divided we have been, it was a long time coming. We can change how to move forward on Covid-19 and other issues we must face together. I recently visited New York City Police department days after the funerals of Officer Wilbert Mora and Officer Jason Rivera. They were responding to a 911 call when a man shot and killed them with a stolen gun.
Even as the Democratic Party has been debating the future of policing, Biden has long considered himself a pro-cop, law-and-order sort of Democrat. He’s leaning into that now.
Officer Mora was 27 years old, Officer Rivera was 22. Both Dominican Americans who grew up on the same streets they later chose to patrol as police officers. I spoke with their families and I told them we are forever in debt for their sacrifices and we will carry on their mission to restore the trust and safety every community deserves.
Like some of you, who have been around for a while, I have worked with you on these issues for a long time. I know what works. Investing in crime prevention and community policing, cops who walk the beat, who know the neighborhood and who can restore trust and safety.
It’s not a bend in our streets or choose between safety and equal justice. Let’s come together to protect our committees, restore trust and hold law enforcement accountable. That is why the Justice Department has required body cameras, banned chokeholds and restricted no-knock warrants for officers. That is why the American Rescue Plan provided $350 billion that cities, states and counties can use to hire more police, invest in more proven strategies.
Proven strategies like — proven strategies like community violence interruption, trusted messengers working the cycle of violence and trauma and giving young people hope. We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police. It is to fund the police. To fund them.
Biden took a stand against the “defund the police” movement during the 2020 campaign, even as many in the left wing of his party were calling for radical reforms to policing. He and his advisers have only become more confident that they made the right call, on the politics. This is an explicit rebuff of part of the left wing of the party.
Fund them with resources and training. Resources and training they need for — they need to protect our communities.
I asked Democrats and Republicans alike to pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe. I will do everything in my power to crack down on gun trafficking of ghost guns you can buy online, assemble at home. No serial numbers. Cannot be traced. I asked Congress to pass proven measures to reduce gun violence. Pass universal background checks.
Why should anyone on a terrorist list be able to purchase a weapon? Why? Why?
And folks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines with 100 rounds. You think the deer are wearing kevlar vests? Repeal the liability shield that makes gun manufacturers the only industry in America that cannot be sued. The only one.
Biden has not had much luck in advancing gun reform so far and activists feel he has not done enough. Biden had to withdraw his nominee for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last September, and has not yet announced a replacement.
Imagine had we done that with the tobacco manufacturers. These laws do not infringe on the Second Amendment. They save lives.
The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote. And have it counted. And look, it is under assault. State after state, new laws have been passed. Not only to suppress the vote, we have been there before. But to subvert the entire election. We can’t let this happen.
Tonight I call on the Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass the John Lewis Act. While you are at it, pass the DISCLOSE Act so Americans know who is funding our elections.
Tonight, I would like to honor someone who has dedicated his life to serve his country. Justice Breyer. An army veteran, constitutional scholar, retiring justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Breyer, thank you for your service.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I mean it. Stand up. Thank you.
We all know matter what your ideology, we all know what are the most serious responsibility a president has is nominating someone to serve on the United States Supreme Court. As I did four days ago. I nominated Circuit Court of Appeals Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of our nation’s top legal minds who will continue Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence.
A former top litigator in private practice, a former federal public defender. From a family of public school educators and police officers, she is a consensus builder. She has received a broad range of support including the Fraternal Order of Police and former judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans.
This line is aimed at Senate Republicans. Biden hopes he can get bipartisan support for his Supreme Court pick.
Folks, if we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure our border and fix the immigration system.
As you might guess, I think we can do both. At our border, we must install new technology like cutting edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling. We have set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers.
We’re putting in place dedicated immigration judges in significantly larger numbers of families fleeing persecution and violence can have their cases heard faster. We are screening — we are securing commitments and supporting partners in South and Central America to host more refugees and secure their own borders. We can do all this while keeping with the torch of liberty that has led to generations of immigrants to this land. My forbearers and many of yours. Provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMERS.
For those on temporary status, farmworkers and essential workers. Revise our laws so businesses have the workers they need and families don’t wait decades to reunite. It is not only the right thing to do. It is the economically smart thing to do.
That is why the immigration reform is supported by everyone from labor unions to religious leaders to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Let’s get it done once and for all.
Advancing liberty and justice also requires protecting rights of women. The constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade standing precedent for half a century is under attack as never before. If you want to go forward, not backward, we must protect access to health care. Preserve a woman’s right to choose.
A pertinent comment from the president considering a progressive bill to protect abortion rights, the Women’s Health Protection Act, failed in the Senate just last night after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined Republicans in voting “no.” He also has a very targeted audience: The Supreme Court justices, sitting in the first two rows, will soon rule on a challenge to Roe v. Wade.
And folks, for our LGBTQ+ Americans, let’s finally get the bipartisan equality act to my desk.
The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is simply wrong. As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I will always have your back as your president, so you can be yourself and reach your god-given potential.
Folks, as I have demonstrated, while it often appears that we never agree, we agree on more things than many of us acknowledge. I signed 80 bipartisan bills into law last year from preventing government shutdowns to protecting Asian Americans from still-too-common hate crimes to reforming military justice. And we will soon be strengthening the Violence Against Women Act that I first wrote three decades ago.
It is important for us to show the nation that we can come together and do big things. So tonight I’m offering a unity agenda for the nation. Four big things we can do together, in my view. First, beat the opioid epidemic.
The opioid crisis and overdoses in particular have worsened during the pandemic, compounded by social isolation and the rise of potent fentanyl products. Many public health experts argued that reform in this area is overdue, but it takes a multiagency approach. Case in point: Several lawmakers tried to stall Biden’s Food and Drug Administration nominee (now commissioner) Robert Califf, citing the agency’s record on opioid approvals.
There is so much we can do. Increase funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery. Get rid of outdated rules that stop doctors from prescribing treatments. Stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to go after the traffickers.
And if you’re suffering from addiction, you should know that you are not alone. I believe in recovery, and I celebrate the 23 million, 23 million Americans in recovery.
Second, let’s take on mental health, especially among our children, whose lives and education have been turned upside down. The American Rescue Plan gave schools money to hire teachers and help students make up for lost learning. I urge every parent to make sure your school, your school does just that. They have the money. We can all play a part. Sign up to be a tutor or a mentor.
Children were also struggling before the pandemic — bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media. As Frances Haugen, who is here with us tonight, has shown, we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.
Biden this morning released a wide-ranging plan to bolster the behavioral health workforce, improve access to care and most notably, crack down on social media’s impact on teens’ mental health. But those proposals are expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars between them and Congress has been slow to move on the budget, let alone new funding initiatives.
Folks, thank you. Thank you for the courage you have shown. It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children,
Demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children. And let’s get all Americans the mental health services they need. More people they can turn for help, and full parity between physical and mental health care, and to be treated that way with our insurance.
I was in the press briefing this morning on Biden’s mental health plan and it was striking how they went after tech companies — but didn’t specify what that regulation would look like.
Parity in this context means mental health care shouldn’t cost more than physical care we consider essential. This started with a George W. Bush-era law, but Biden pledged this week to ensure payers and providers are complying.
The third thing we can do is support our veterans. Veterans are the backbone and the spine of this country. They are the best of us.
I’ve always believed that we have a sacred obligation to equip all those we send to war and care for them and their families when they come home. My administration is providing assistance with job training and housing, and now helping lower-income veterans get VA care debt-free.
And our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan faced many dangers. One, being station databases and breathing and smoke from burn pits. I have been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan 40 times. These burn pits that incinerate wastes of war, medical and hazardous material, jet fuel, and more.
Veteran advocates have long lobbied for recognition of medical problems sparked by “burn pits” near bases in the Iraq War, a link that The Department of Veterans Affairs long denied but recently acknowledged could cause some health problems. It’s incredibly notable that Biden is highlighting this now.
And when they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best-trained warriors in the world were never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know.
One of those soldiers was my son, Major Beau Biden. I don’t know for sure if a burn pit that he lived near in Iraq and earlier it — earlier than that in Kosovo — was the cause of his brain cancer, or the diseases of so many of our troops. But I’m committed to finding out everything we can, committed to military families like Danielle Robinson of Ohio, the widow of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson. He was born a soldier. Army national guard. Combat medic in Kosovo and Iraq. Stationed near Baghdad, just yards from burn pits the size of football fields. Danielle is here with us tonight. They loved going to Ohio state football games.
Biden gets emotional about issues that relate to his late son. It’s part of why this issue made it into the speech.
This is the recognition that so many veteran advocates have asked for, for years. Bringing up his son Beau in this moment is especially powerful.
And he loved building Legos with their daughter. But cancer from prolonged exposure to burn pits ravaged Heath’s lungs and body. Danielle says Heath was a fighter to the very end. He didn’t know how to stop fighting, and neither did she. Through her pain, she found purpose to demand we do better. Tonight, Danielle, we are going to do better.
The VA is pioneering new ways of linking toxic exposures to diseases, already helping more veterans get benefits. And tonight, I’m announcing we’re expanding eligibility to veterans suffering from nine respiratory cancers. I am also calling on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they deserve.
And fourth, let’s end cancer as we know it.
This is personal to me and Jill, and to Kamala, and to so many of you. So many of you have lost someone you love — husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, dad. Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in America second only to heart disease.
Biden’s son, Beau, and Vice President Harris’ mother both died of cancer.
Last month, I announced our plan to supercharge the Cancer Moonshot that President Obama asked me to lead six years ago. Our goal is to cut the cancer death rate by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years, and I think we can do better than that, turn more cancers from death sentences into treatable diseases. More support for patients and families.
To get there, I call on Congress to fund what I call ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. It is patterned after DARPA— the Defense Department project that led to the internet, GPA, and so much more that make our forces safer and able to wage war with more clarity.
There was debate amongst people close to the president about whether he should talk about this multibillion-dollar agency in SOTU, considering he proposed it last year and Congress hasn’t moved legislation. But this initiative, modelled after a Pentagon agency, is one of the president’s top priorities and he needs to shore up support considering GOP backing for new medical research is eroding
ARPA-H will have a singular purpose — to drive breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more. A unity agenda for the nation. We can do these things. It is within our power, and I don’t see a partisan edge to any of those four things.
My fellow Americans, tonight, we have gathered in a sacred space, the citadel of our democracy. In this capitol, generation after generation of Americans have debated great questions amid great strife, and have done great things. We have fought for freedom, expanded liberty, defeated totalitarianism and terror. We built the strongest, freest, and most prosperous nation the world has ever known.
Now is the hour. Our moment of responsibility. Our test of resolve and conscience, of history itself. It is in this moment that our character of this generation is formed. Our purpose is found. Our future is forged.
Well I know this nation. We will meet the test. To protect freedom and liberty, expand fairness and opportunity. And we will save democracy.
As hard as these times have been, I am more optimistic about America today than I have been my whole life. Because I see the future that is within our grasp. Because I know there is simply nothing beyond our capacity. We are the only nation on Earth that has always turned every crisis we have faced into an opportunity. The only nation that can be defined by a single word — possibilities.
So on this night, in our 245th year as a nation, I have come to report on the State of the Union. 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. This 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. God bless you all. And May God protect our troops. Thank you.