Zick Miller and KOLIN LONG
WASHINGTON (AP) – Addressing a troubled nation and a troubled world, President Joe Biden promised in his first address on the state of the Union on Tuesday night to curb Russian aggression in Ukraine, curb inflation in the US and fight a fading but still dangerous crown.
Biden said he and all members of Congress, regardless of their political differences, unite “with an unwavering determination that freedom will always prevail over tyranny.” He asked lawmakers, who crowded the House of Representatives, to stand up and say goodbye to Ukrainians when he began his speech. They stood and greeted each other.
It was a notable demonstration of unity after a long year of brutal thieving between Biden’s Democratic Coalition and the Republican opposition.
Biden’s 62-minute speech, which was divided between focusing on the war abroad and caring at home, reflected the same balance he now faces during his presidency. He must express his allied determination against Russia’s aggression, while leaning towards inflation, fatigue from COVID-19 and lowering approval ratings ahead of the by-elections.
Seeking to boost momentum from the speech, Biden will head to Wisconsin on Wednesday to show Americans that his domestic agenda is working. His vice president and cabinet members will travel across the country to spread the word.
Biden is once again heading to the old bridge, which is planned to be repaired, which is increasingly becoming a symbol of his administration, a tangible testimony to the nation he is working to rebuild. This time it is a wrought iron bridge connecting Duluth, Minnesion, and Superior, Whiskey. across St. Louis Bay.
The bridge will be replaced with funds from a large-scale infrastructure plan signed last year, which is a sign of two-party legislation and proof, Biden said, that the Republican Party and Democrats can still work together.
In a speech Tuesday, Biden stressed the courage of Ukrainian defenders and has just stepped up a Western alliance that has worked to rearm the Ukrainian military and cripple Russia’s economy through sanctions. He also acknowledged the costs to the US economy, but ominously warned that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine would not be contained.
“Throughout our history, we have learned this lesson – if dictators do not pay the price for their aggression, they cause even more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And the cost and threats to America and the world continue to rise. ”
While Biden said, Russian forces are stepping up their attacks in Ukraine, shelling the central square of the country’s second largest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower, killing at least five people. The Holocaust Memorial in Babi Yar was also damaged.
Biden has announced that the United States is following Canada and the European Union, which has banned Russian planes from entering its airspace in retaliation for invading Ukraine. He also said the Justice Ministry was setting up a task force to persecute Russian oligarchs, whom he called “corrupt leaders who have pulled billions of dollars out of this violent regime.”
“We are coming for your wrong income,” he said, promising that the United States and European allies were looking for their yachts, luxury apartments and private jets.
In his speech, Biden turned from problems abroad to problems at home. Even before the Russian invasion led to a sharp rise in energy prices, prices for American families rose, and the COVID-19 pandemic continued to harm families and the economy.
Biden outlined plans to fight inflation by reinvesting in U.S. manufacturing facilities, speeding up supply chains and reducing the burden of caring for children and the elderly.
“Too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills,” Biden said. “Inflation deprives them of the profits they might have felt otherwise. I understand. That’s why the main priority for me is price control. “
One sign of national progress in the fight against the pandemic Biden has entered the ward without a mask as coronavirus cases are declining and new federal guidelines are trying to push the public to take action before a pandemic. But there was also evidence of continuing tensions: the Capitol was recently fenced off due to security concerns after last year’s uprising.
Against domestic unrest and danger abroad, the White House conceived Tuesday night’s speech as an opportunity to highlight improving the coronavirus outlook, change Biden’s domestic policy priorities and show a way to reduce costs for families struggling with high inflation. But events have turned to world affairs after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week and Putin’s brandishing of a nuclear sword.
As usual, one cabinet secretary, in this case Trade Minister Gene Raymond, was in a safe place during the speech, ready to take over government in the event of a disaster.
“The State of the Union” is usually an appeal addressed to a national audience, but this year the whole world watched. In an interview with CNN and Reuters, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Biden to deliver a strong and “useful” message about Russia’s invasion. As a sign of unity, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova joined First Lady Jill Biden in the gallery of the House of Representatives.
At a rare inappropriate moment, a spokesman for Laurent Bobert of Colorado shouted that Biden was guilty of 13 servicemen who were killed during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last August.
“You put them on. Thirteen of them, ”Bobert shouted when Biden mentioned his late son Bo, a veteran who died of brain cancer and served near toxic military pits widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden is finalizing legislation to help veterans suffering from exposure and other injuries.
While the crisis in Eastern Europe may have helped cool guerrilla tensions in Washington, it has not eradicated political and cultural differences that call into question Biden’s ability to act.
A February AP-NORC poll found that more people disapprove than approve of how Biden handles his work, with 55% to 44%. That’s less than 60% of the favorable rating last July.
Biden used his remarks to highlight the progress made a year ago – most of the U.S. population is now vaccinated and millions of people are working – but also acknowledged that the work has not yet been done, acknowledging American discontent.
“I came to report on the state of the union,” Biden said. “And my report is this: the state of the union is strong because you, the American people, are strong. Today we are stronger than a year ago. And in a year we will be stronger than today. “
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, elected to respond to Republicans, said Biden’s appeal was a blast from the past with rising inflation, rising crime and a resurgence of Russia, making it more like the 1980s than it is today.
“Even before taking the oath, the president said he wanted – I quote – to make America respected around the world again and unite us here. He failed on both fronts, ”she said.
Biden used his speech to return the country “to more normal routines” after the coronavirus changed the lives of Americans.
“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and refill our big centers,” he said. He said people will be able to order another round of free tests from the government, and that his administration is launching a “test for treatment” initiative to provide free antiviral pills in pharmacies to those who test positive for the virus.
While a large package of social spending was rolled out in Congress last year, this year Biden has largely repackaged past proposals in search of achievable measures that he hopes will be able to gain the support of the two parties in a heavily divided Congress ahead of the election.
The president also noted investments in everything from broadband Internet access to building bridges from the November $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law as an example of government consensus and change for the nation.
As part of his speech to voters, he also emphasized the new ways in which proposals such as expanding the tax credit for children and reducing the cost of childcare could bring relief to families as prices rise. He said his proposals on climate change would cut costs for low- and middle-income families and create new jobs.
Biden called for lower health care costs by unveiling his plan to allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs, and to expand more generous health insurance subsidies, which are now temporarily available through the Affordable Care Act markets, where 14, 5 million people receive coverage.
Biden also called for measures on voting rights that failed to gain the support of the Republican Party. And as gun violence grows, he has returned to calls to ban assault weapons, a rude request he hasn’t made in months. He called for “funding the police with the resources and training needed to protect our communities.”
He chaired Congress during a two-party tribute to retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and noted the biography of Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, his candidacy to become the first black woman in the Supreme Court.
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Fatima Hussein, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Lisa Mascara of Washington and Jason Dyren of New York contributed to this report.