Biden Tells Congress ‘America Is On The Move Again’< < Back to
WASHINGTON, D.C. (NPR) — President Biden addressed Congress on Wednesday night, in a speech where he told the body that his administration’s work to fight the pandemic shows that “America is on the move again.” He also stressed that he and Congress must work to prove “that our government still works — and can deliver” for the American people.
“As I stand here tonight, we are just one day shy of the 100th day of my administration,” Biden said in remarks to lawmakers that ran just over an hour.
“Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
(Read NPR reporters’ annotation of Biden’s remarks.)
Biden used his address on the eve of his 100th day in office to make the case for huge new investments and tax reforms to overhaul the U.S. economy and rebuild the middle class. Administration officials on Tuesday previewed the latest tier to the president’s economic recovery pitch — the American Families Plan (AFP) — which would dedicate $1.8 trillion to family care and education.
“We guarantee that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of five. The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime,” Biden said, touting the AFP, which would also provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
“No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and a loved one – a parent, spouse, or child.”
Biden said this plan would be funded by increasing taxes on the nation’s top earners and corporations, who he said do not contribute a fair share of their earnings as compared to working-class families.
The White House said that Biden would host a meeting of leaders from the Senate and House on May 12, the first time he will host the four top Democratic and Republican leaders together since he has taken office. He and his staff have met at the White House with 130 members of Congress during his first 100 days in office, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter.
The administration’s work in vaccinating more than 140 million people in the U.S. with at least one dose, as well as distributing financial relief to households, are among what Biden views as his biggest achievements during his first 100 days in office.
The president said, “we have acted to restore the people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.”
“We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. We’re delivering real results to people — they can see it and feel it in their own lives. Opening doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing some more fairness and justice,” Biden told the joint session.
Biden faces a deeply divided Congress to press his agenda. Issues of taxation and government spending are some of the biggest stumbling blocks he’ll face, particularly in the Senate, where the parties are divided 50 Republicans to 50 Democrats, with Democrats holding a slim, technical majority in the chamber.
Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate’s only Black Republican, has been tapped to give his party’s response to Biden’s speech this evening. He plans to criticize the president on his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which he and other Republicans view as overly restrictive and unhelpful.
“Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future. Our public schools should have reopened months ago. Other countries’ did. Private and religious schools did. Science has shown for months that schools are safe,” Scott, who was raised in a single-parent, working-class household, will say, according to excerpts released ahead of the speech.
“But too often, powerful grownups set science aside. And kids like me were left behind.”
The issue of reopening schools amid the pandemic has been one of the most divisive issues across party lines. Republicans have pushed for students to return to the classroom in order to help ease the strain on the economy, while Democrats largely have been more cautious, stressing public health concerns.
“This administration inherited a tide that had already turned. The coronavirus is on the run,” Scott is expected to say.
“Thanks to Operation Warp Speed and the Trump administration, our country is flooded with safe and effective vaccines. Thanks to our bipartisan work last year, job openings are rebounding. … So why do we feel so divided and anxious?”