US President Joe Biden was very positive about the current situation in the United States on Wednesday evening (local time) during his first speech to Congress. According to Biden, he inherited a country in crisis at his inauguration, but the US is now on the move again.
In his speech, the president discussed, among other things, income inequality, the corona virus, infrastructure, employment and immigration. He reiterated that his government had managed to put in more than 220 million corona vaccines within 100 days of taking office, against a target of 100 million. By now, any American aged sixteen or older can receive a corona vaccine.
He called the vaccination campaign one of the greatest logistical successes ever. Biden promised that he would eventually help other countries with vaccines. “The US is becoming an arsenal of vaccines for other countries – just as we were an arsenal for democracy after World War II,” said Biden.
The president said he has gotten the US economy back on track with his $ 1,900 billion ($ 1,565 billion) corona support package. He also confirmed that there will be a bailout package of an additional $ 1,800 billion. That money is intended to support children, families and education. For example, there must be free training for practical professions and people must be able to take free parental leave.
According to Biden, this is to combat inequality in the US. He called it a “unique investment in the US that occurs only once per generation”. “We need to prove that democracy still works, that our government still works, and that we can deliver to the people.”
Biden also wants to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure and technology. He wants to have this paid for by imposing extra tax on large companies and the rich. His plans received a standing ovation from the Democratic corner. Most Republican MPs remained seated.
Republican Party thinks the plans are too expensive
The Republicans think the plans are too expensive and irresponsible and do not support Biden. Republican Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) called Biden’s agenda a “liberal wish list of major public waste.”
Technically, he doesn’t need Republican backing either, because Democrats have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, when he took office, he promised that he would do more to unite the two parties.
Like his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden took a hard line on China during his speech. In his speech he warned that the US will react harshly if countries fail to comply with international rules. He said he has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he is not looking for a conflict, but that he will take action against unfair trade practices. He also wants to maintain a military presence in the South China Sea. “Not to start a war, but to prevent it,” said Biden.
Finally, Biden also briefly discussed gun violence, immigration and racism. “We’ve all seen the knee of injustice in the necks of black Americans,” in reference to George Floyd’s death. “Now is the time to make real progress.”
For the first time, two women behind the president during a speech in parliament
Behind Biden during the speech were Vice President Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is the first time that two women have stood behind a president during a speech in parliament. Biden started his speech by stating that it was “finally time” for that. On Friday he will be president for exactly one hundred days.
Normally there are about 1,600 people in attendance at the president’s speech, but the corona virus has now limited that to about 200. People also had permanent places and no guests were invited. The speech was broadcast live on American television.
Additional security was present around the Capitol in Washington this year, in fear of new riots after the storming of the building on January 6.