Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President, 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.
Not only were more people in the House chamber to watch the speech in person, many of them were unmasked after the rule to wear masks on the House floor was lifted Tuesday.
Tonight, we meet as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. But most importantly as Americans.
With a duty to one another to America, to the American people, to the Constitution.
And with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.
Biden has framed his presidency as a fight between autocracy and democracy — and the war in Ukraine has only made it more so.
Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated.
He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined.
He met the Ukrainian people.
From President Zelenskyy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, 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 this struggle as President Zelenskyy said in his speech to the European Parliament “Light will win over darkness.” The Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States is here tonight sitting with the First Lady.
A touching moment as the audience stood and cheered; the ambassador, Oksana Markarova, was moved.
Let each of us stand if you’re able send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world.
She’s bright, she’s strong, she’s resolve. Yes, we the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people.
It’s notable that there was standing and clapping here from both sides of the chamber.
Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression they cause more chaos.
They keep moving.
Biden did not mention Hitler by name here, but this is likely an allusion to the notion of appeasement before World War II.
And the costs and the threats to America and the world keep rising.
That’s why the NATO Alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War 2.
The United States is a member along with 29 other nations.
It matters. American diplomacy matters. American resolve matters.
This could be something of a foreign policy lesson for the Americans who grew up after the Cold War and wonder what purpose NATO serves.
Putin’s latest attack on Ukraine was premeditated and totally unprovoked.
He rejected repeated efforts at diplomacy.
He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And he thought he could divide us at home in this chamber and this nation, he thought he could divide us in Europe as well. But Putin was wrong. We are ready, we are united and that’s what we did, we stayed united.
We prepared extensively and carefully.
We spent months building a coalition of other freedom-loving nations from Europe and the Americas to Asia and Africa to confront Putin.
The unity, so far, of countries imposing sanctions on Russia has devalued the ruble, sent interest rates skyrocketing and paused the Russian economy.
Like 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 he would try to falsify and justify his aggression.
We countered Russia’s lies with truth.
And now that he has acted the free world is holding him accountable.
The US intelligence community — unlike before the end of the Cold War, the US invasion of Iraq or the US pullout from Afghanistan — got it right here. Read more.
Along with twenty-seven members of the European Union including France, Germany, Italy, as well as countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and many others, even Switzerland.
We are 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 our allies –we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions.
We are cutting off Russia’s largest banks from the international financial system.
Preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian Ruble making Putin’s $630 Billion “war fund” worthless.
We are choking off Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come.
Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime no more.
The U.S. Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs.
We are joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.
This is important since the oligarchs may have Putin’s ear. Several have already called on him to end the invasion of Ukraine. There is a feeling that these rich Russians and their families do not want to give up the trappings of exorbitant wealth they enjoy in Western cities like London and Miami.
And tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American air space to all Russian flights – further isolating Russia – and adding an additional squeeze –on their economy.
He has no idea what’s coming.
The Ruble has lost 30% of its value.
The Russian stock market has lost 40% of its value and trading remains suspended. Russia’s economy is reeling and Putin alone is the one to blame.
Together with our allies we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Military assistance. Economic assistance. Humanitarian assistance.
We are giving more than $1 billion in direct assistance to Ukraine.
This is true, but it needs context. The US has given more than $1 billion in total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year. While Biden administration officials have continued to send aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion six days ago, they are not giving the total $1 billion in assistance right now.Read more
And we will continue to aid the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and to help ease their suffering.
Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and one of Putin’s main objectives is to make sure it never becomes one. The US, as with all NATO members, is bound by the organization’s charter to defend other members of the alliance.
Biden is also sending a message to Putin, who has placed his nuclear forces on high alert, that the US will not join the military fight in Ukraine.
Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.
For that purpose we’ve mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, and ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
As I have made crystal 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.
Here’s another message from Biden to Putin: Do not move on from Ukraine to try to seize control of the small Baltic nations. The US would retaliate with its military.
And we’re clear-eyed. The Ukrainians are fighting back with pure courage. But the next few days weeks, 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, proud proud people, pound for pound ready to fight with every inch of energy they have, they've known 30 years of independence, have repeatedly shown that they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.
The Russians have been surprised by the scrappy efforts of the Ukrainians. Biden makes clear this will not be a conflict that ends soon.
To all Americans, I will be honest with you, as I’ve always promised I would be. A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world.
And I’m taking robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at Russian economy. And I will use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers.
Tonight, I can announce that the United States has worked with 30 other countries to release 60 Million barrels of oil from reserves around the world.
Russia produces more oil than any other country in the world except the US. Prices have already spiked because of the invasion. Be ready for them to go even higher, since Biden’s efforts will not have a massive effect on the price of oil. That has more to do with the decisions of the OPEC+ oil cartel, which includes Russia.
America will lead that effort, releasing 30 Million barrels from our own Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And we stand ready to do more if necessary, united with our allies.
These steps will help blunt gas prices here at home. And I know the news about what’s happening can seem alarming to all Americans.
But I want you to know that we are going to be okay, we’re going to be okay.
Biden leaned forward and whispered this like he was telling everyone a secret. For some, this is his grandfatherly charm.
When the history of this era is written Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.
While it shouldn’t have taken something so terrible for people around the world to see what’s at stake now everyone sees it clearly.
We see the unity among leaders of nations and a more unified Europe a more unified West. And we see unity among the people who are gathering in cities in large crowds around the world even in Russia to demonstrate their support for the people of Ukraine.
In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.
While he wouldn’t commit US troops for fear of upending the equilibrium with Russia — the other major nuclear power — Biden said the stakes of this fight and containing Putin couldn’t be higher.
This is a real test. It’s going to take time. So let us continue to draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people.
To our fellow Ukrainian Americans who forge a deep bond that connects our two nations we stand with you, we stand with you.
Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people.
Clearly he meant “Ukrainian.” Oops!
He will never extinguish their love of freedom. 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.
As Biden said these words, a total of 952,969 people had died in the US from Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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.
I remember when my Dad had to leave our home in Scranton, Pennsylvania to find work. I grew up in a family where if the price of food went up, and it was felt throughout the family, it had an impact.
That’s why one of the first things I did as President was fight to pass the American Rescue Plan.
Because people were hurting. We needed to act, and we did.
Few pieces of legislation have done more in a critical moment in our history to lift us out of crisis.
This legislation, unlike previous Covid-19 measures, was passed without help from Republicans. Many of the provisions, such as large tax credits to people with children, have now expired.
It fueled our efforts to vaccinate the nation and combat COVID-19. It delivered immediate economic relief for tens of millions of Americans.
Helped put food on their table, keep a roof over their heads, and cut the cost of health insurance.
And as my Dad used to say, it gave people a little breathing room.
And unlike the $2 Trillion tax cut passed in the previous administration that benefitted the top 1% of Americans, the American Rescue Plan helped working people—and left no one behind.
Awkward TV moment alert. Republicans booed when Biden disparaged their tax cuts. Cameras showed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer prematurely standing to applaud during their boos. But the fact of help provided for people during the pandemic is important.
And it worked. It created jobs. Lots of jobs.
In fact—our economy created over 6.5 Million new jobs just last year, more jobs created in one year than ever before in the history of United States of America.
This is true. The US added 6.6 million jobs in the first 12 months of Biden’s term, more than the US added in any year going back to 1939, when this data series was first published. However, the Biden-era gains should be viewed with contextual caution. Biden inherited an economy that had been crushed by unprecedented pandemic-related job losses.Read more
Our economy grew at a rate of 5.7% last year, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years, the first step in bringing fundamental change to our economy that hasn’t worked for the working people of this nation for too long.
That is correct. But it also needs some more context because the economy is still recovering from the devastating impact of the pandemic.Read more
For the past 40 years we were told that if we gave tax breaks to those at the very top, the benefits would trickle down and everyone else would benefit.
But that trickle-down theory led to weaker economic growth, lower wages, bigger deficits, and the widening gap between those at the top and everyone else in nearly a century.
Here, Biden threw shade at the Ronald Reagan school of economics and argued the government can help the country help its citizens and create a more equitable society.
Vice President Harris and I ran for office, and I realize we had fundamental disagreements on this, but we ran for office with a 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 that when the middle class grows, the poor have a way up and the wealthy do very well.
America used to have the best roads, bridges, and airports on Earth.
Now our infrastructure is ranked 13th in the world.
We won’t be able to compete for the jobs of the 21st Century if we don’t fix that.
That’s why it was so important to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—the most sweeping investment to rebuild America in history.
This was a bipartisan effort, and I want to thank the members of both parties who worked to make it happen.
We’re done talking about infrastructure weeks.
We’re now talking about an infrastructure decade.
It was hard to do, but it is true: Democrats and Republicans came together to pass this large infrastructure bill. Many progressives were frustrated, feeling it still wasn’t large enough. Most Republicans opposed it. But it’s here, and it was bipartisan. And that’s something.
It is going to transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st Century that we face with the rest of the world—particularly with China.
As I’ve told Xi Jinping, it is never a good bet to bet against the American people.
We’ll create good jobs for millions of Americans, modernizing roads, airports, ports, and waterways all across America.
And we’ll do it all to withstand the devastating effects of the climate crisis and promote environmental justice.
A much larger effort to combat climate change died when Republicans would not allow a vote and two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, would not agree to change Senate rules to jam it through with a simple majority.
We’ll build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, begin to replace poisonous lead pipes—so every child—and every American—has clean water to drink at home and at school, provide affordable high-speed internet for every American—urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities.
This needs context. For a few reasons, it’s questionable whether the Biden administration will be able to meet its goal of installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations on US roads.Read more
4,000 projects have already been announced.
And tonight, I’m announcing that this year we will start fixing over 65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges in disrepair.
Folks, when we use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America – we are going to do it by Buy American: buy 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 taxpayers’ dollars support American jobs and businesses.
Every Administration, Democrat or Republican, says they’ll do it, but we are actually doing it.
We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails is made in America from beginning to end, all of it, all of it.
Some things are universal. Former President Donald Trump could have said these very words. Note: You didn’t hear that name — Donald Trump — from Biden in his address.
But folks, to compete for the best jobs of the future, we also need to level the playing field with China and other competitors.
That’s 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. We don’t now. China is.
Let me give you one example of why it’s so important to pass it.
If you travel 20 miles east of Columbus, Ohio, you’ll find 1,000 empty acres of land.
It won’t look like much, but if you stop and look closely, you’ll see a “Field of dreams,” the ground on which America’s future will be built.
This is where Intel, the American company that helped build Silicon Valley, is going to build its $20 billion semiconductor “mega site”.
Up to eight state-of-the-art factories in one place. 10,000 new good-paying jobs.
In those factories, they average job about $135,000 a year. Some of the most sophisticated manufacturing in the world to make computer chips the size of a fingertip that power the world and our everyday lives.
Smartphones. The Internet. Technology that is yet to be invented.
Amid the pandemic-induced supply chain issues, it would have been nice to have more computer chips made in the US.
But that’s just the beginning.
Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, who is here tonight. I don’t know where Pat is, oh there you go, Pat, stand up.
Pat came to see me and told me they are ready to increase their investment from $20 billion to $100 billion.
That would be one of the biggest investments in manufacturing in American history.
And all they’re waiting for is for you to pass this bill.
So let’s not wait any longer. Send it to my desk. I’ll sign it.
And we will really take off in a big way.
And Intel is not alone.
There’s something happening in America.
Just look around and you’ll see an amazing story.
The rebirth of the pride that comes from stamping products “Made In America." The revitalization of American manufacturing.
Companies are choosing to build new factories here, when just a few years ago, they would have gone overseas.
Biden would love nothing more than to get Rust Belt states in his corner. They are a key to the political map.
That’s what is happening. Ford is investing $11 billion to build 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 4,000 jobs in Michigan.
All told, we created 369,000 new manufacturing jobs in America just last year.
Powered by people I’ve met like JoJo Burgess, from generations of union steelworkers from Pittsburgh, who’s here with us tonight. Where are you JoJo? Thanks buddy.
As Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown says, “It’s time to bury the label ‘Rust Belt.’ ”
It’s time to see what used to be called the “Rust Belt” become the home of significant resurgence of manufacturing.
Biden lost Ohio in the 2020 election. He won Pennsylvania. He'd love to figure out how to win Pennsylvania again. Here's the argument from a White House economist that American manufacturing is making a comeback.
But with all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth and higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills.
Inflation is robbing them of the gains they thought otherwise would be able to feel.
I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.
Inflation is higher than it's been in 40 years and is starting to concern a lot of economists. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot presidents can do about it.
Look, our economy roared back faster than most predicted, but the pandemic meant that businesses had a hard time hiring enough workers to keep up production in their factories.
So you didn’t have people making those beams that went into buildings because they were out, the factory was closed.
The pandemic also disrupted global supply chains.
When factories close, it takes longer to make goods and get them from the warehouse to the store, and prices go up.
Look at cars.
Last year, one third of all of the inflation was because of automobiles sales. there weren’t enough semiconductors to make all the cars that people wanted to buy.
And guess what, prices of automobiles went up, especially used vehicles as well.
President Biden said the pandemic disrupted global supply chains and in turn boosted inflation. A third of last year’s inflation was due to higher car prices, he said. That’s roughly correct.Read more
So—we have a choice.
One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer.
I think I have a better idea to fight inflation.
Lower your costs, not your wages.
These are not quick fixes.
Make more cars and semiconductors in America.
More infrastructure and innovation in America.
More goods moving faster and cheaper in America.
More jobs where you can earn a good living in America.
And instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America.
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 say my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures. Top business leaders and I believe most Americans support my plan. And here’s the plan:
First – cut the cost of prescription drugs. We pay more for the same drug produced by the same company in America than any other country in the world. Just look at insulin. One in ten Americans has diabetes. In Virginia, I met a 13-year-old boy, the handsome young man standing up there, named Joshua Davis.
If only it were that easy to simply cut the cost of drugs without 60 votes in the Senate. Every recent president has tried.
He and his Dad both have Type 1 diabetes, which means they need insulin every single day. Insulin costs about $10 a vial to make, that’s what it costs the pharmaceutical company.
But drug companies charge families like Joshua and his Dad up to 30 times more. I spoke with Joshua’s mom.
Imagine what it’s like to look at your child who needs insulin to stay healthy and have no idea in God’s name how you’re going to pay for it.
What it does to your dignity, your ability to look your child in the eye, to be the parent you expect to be. I mean think about that, really think about that, that’s what I think about.
Joshua is here with us tonight. Yesterday was his birthday. Happy birthday, buddy, by the way.
A sweet moment on TV. The kid wore a suit and glasses.
For Joshua, and for the 200,000 other young people with Type 1 diabetes, let’s cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month so everyone can afford it.
Drug companies do very very well, their profit margin. And while we’re at it, I know we have great disagreements on this floor with this, let’s Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, they already set the price for VA drugs.
Look, the American Rescue Plan is helping millions of families on Affordable Care Act plans save $2,400 a year on their health care premiums. Let’s close the coverage gap and make these savings permanent.
Second - cut energy costs for families an average of $500 a year by combatting climate change.
Let’s provide investments and tax credits to weatherize your homes and businesses to be energy efficient and you 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 you another $80 a month because you’re not gonna have to pay at the pump.
This needs context. Biden’s estimate is based on third party analysis that assessed the savings Americans might see by 2030, not immediately.Read more
Third – cut the cost of child care. 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 a sister that really helped.
Middle-class and working families shouldn’t have to pay more than 7% of their income for care of young children.
My plan will cut the cost in half for most families and help parents, including millions of women, who left the workforce during the pandemic because they couldn’t afford child care, to be able to get back to work, generating economic growth.
My plan doesn’t stop there. It also includes home and long-term care. More affordable housing. And Pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old.
All of these will lower costs to families.
And under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. Nobody. Not a single penny.
Biden's plan — known as Build Back Better — failed to get through the Senate. No Republicans supported it, and Democrats couldn’t unite to pass it.
I may be wrong, but my guess is if we took a secret ballot in this floor, that we’d all agree that the present tax system ain't fair. We have to fix it.
I’m not looking to punish anybody. But let’s make sure corporations and the wealthiest Americans start paying their fair share.
Like Chris Coons and Tom Carper and my distinguished congresswoman, we come from the land of corporate America. There are more corporations in corporated American than every other state in America combined. And I still won 36 years in a row, the point is, even they understand you should pay just a fair share.
Last year, 55 of the Fortune 500 corporations earned $40 billion in profits and paid zero dollars in federal income tax.
It’s not fair. That’s why I’ve proposed a 15% minimum tax rate for corporations.
And that’s why, in the G7 and other meetings overseas we were able to put together, I was able to be somewhat helpful, 130 countries to agree on a global minimum tax rate so companies can’t get out of paying their taxes at home by shipping jobs and factories overseas. It’ll raise billions of dollars.
That’s why I’ve proposed closing loopholes so the very wealthy don’t pay a lower tax rate than a teacher and firefighter.
So that’s my plan, but I’ll give more details later. We will grow the economy and lower costs for families.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get this done, we all know we’ve gotta make changes. And while you’re at it, confirm my nominees to the Federal Reserve, which plays a critical role in fighting inflation.
Democrats want desperately to pass some elements of these plans. They've got numerous bills with bipartisan buy-in waiting on Capitol Hill. But Democrats spent much of the beginning of Biden's term focusing on partisan bills they could not pass.
My plan will not only lower costs to give families a fair shot, it will lower the deficit.
The previous Administration not only ballooned the deficit with tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations, it undermined the watchdogs whose job was to keep pandemic relief funds from being wasted.
But in my administration, the watchdogs are back.
We’re going after the criminals who stole billions in relief money meant for small businesses and millions of Americans.
And tonight, I’m announcing that the Justice Department will name a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud.
Two of the main new initiatives Biden announced involve the Justice Department going after people — specifically, pandemic fraudsters and Russian oligarchs.
By the end of this year, the deficit will be down to less than half what it was before I took office.
The only president ever to cut the deficit by more than one trillion dollars in a single year.
This is a little unfair, since Biden took office when the government was spending gobs and gobs of money to keep the country from being undone by the pandemic.
Lowering your costs also means demanding more competition.
I’m a capitalist, but capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism.
Capitalism without competition is exploitation—and it drives up profits.
When corporations don’t have to compete, their profits go up, your prices go up, and small businesses and family farmers and ranchers, I need not tell some of my Republican friends from those states, guess what? You got four basic meat-packing facilities, that’s it. You play with them or you don’t get to play at all. And you pay a hell of a lot more. A hell of a lot more because there’s only four.
See what’s 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 1,000% and made record profits.
Tonight, I’m announcing a crackdown on these companies overcharging American businesses and consumers.
The idea here is that companies used cover from the pandemic to artificially raise prices. They surely are not all foreign-owned.
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 your loved ones get the care they deserve and expect and that they will look at closely.
We’ll also cut costs and keep the economy going strong by giving workers a fair shot, provide more training and apprenticeships, hire them based on their skills not just 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.
Let’s increase Pell Grants and increase our historic support of HBCUs, and invest in what Jill—our First Lady who teaches full-time—calls America’s best-kept secret: community colleges.
Biden’s audience of one in this section could be Manchin, who helped foil plans for passing these types of proposals in the Senate.
And let’s pass the PRO Act when a majority of workers want to form a union—they shouldn’t be able to be stopped.
When we invest in our workers, when we build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out together, we can do something we haven’t done in a long time: build a better America.
For more than two years, COVID-19 has impacted every decision in our lives and the life of the nation.
And I know you’re tired, frustrated, and exhausted, to even count close to a million people sit at a dining room table or a kitchen table, looking at an empty chair because they lost somebody.
But I also know this.
Because of the progress we’ve 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 more normal routines.
We’ve reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19, with severe cases down to a level not seen since last July of last year.
Just a few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the CDC—issued new mask guidelines.
In an instant last Friday, most of the country's population went from living in places where masks were recommended by the CDC to ones where they weren't.
Under these new guidelines, most Americans in most of the country can now go mask free.
And based on the projections, more of the country will reach that point across the next couple of weeks.
Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.
I know some are talking about “living with COVID-19”. Tonight – I say that we will never just accept living with COVID-19.
We will continue to combat the virus as we do other diseases. And because this is a virus that mutates and spreads, we will stay on guard.
Here Biden was essentially saying the pandemic is entering an endemic phase, where we deal with the virus each year.
Here are four common sense 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’re vaccinated and boosted you have the highest degree of protection.
We will never give up on vaccinating more Americans. Now, I know parents with kids under 5 are eager to see a vaccine authorized for their children.
The scientists are working hard to get that done and we’ll be ready with plenty of vaccines if and when they do.
The pace of vaccinations in adults has slowed, dramatically. New data suggests the vaccine approved for children was not as effective at preventing infection in children during the Omicron surge. But vaccines are still the best way to prevent hospitalization and severe disease.
We’re also ready with anti-viral treatments. If you get COVID-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90%.
We’ve ordered more of these pills than anyone in the world. And Pfizer is working overtime to get us 1 Million pills this month and more than double that next month.
And we’re launching the “Test to Treat” initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they’re positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost.
The White House is expected to roll out a new Covid-19 plan Wednesday.
If you’re immunocompromised or have some other vulnerability, we have treatments and free high-quality masks.
We’re leaving no one behind or ignoring anyone’s needs as we move forward.
And on testing, we have made hundreds of millions of tests available and you can order them for free to your door step.
Even if you already ordered free tests tonight, I am announcing that you can order another group of tests, go to covidtests.gov starting next week, and you can get more tests.
Second – we must prepare for new variants. Over the past year, we’ve gotten much better at detecting new variants.
Two words no human wants to hear: new variant.
If necessary, we’ll be able to deploy new vaccines within 100 days instead of many more months or years.
And, if Congress provides the funds we need, we’ll have new stockpiles of tests, masks, and pills ready if needed.
I cannot promise a new variant won’t come. But I can promise you we’ll do everything within our power to be ready if it does.
Third – we can end the shutdown of schools and businesses. We have the tools we need.
It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again. People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office.
We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.
There was a little bit of deja vu to last year, before the Delta variant emerged. Let’s hope this return to normalcy is for real this time.
Our schools are open. Let’s keep it that way. Our kids need to be in school.
And with 75% of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77%, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom, and move forward safely.
Democrats lost the governor’s race in Virginia in part because voters wanted Covid-19 restrictions, particularly in schools, to end.
We achieved this because we provided free vaccines, treatments, tests, and masks.
Of course, continuing this costs money. So I will not surprise you, I’ll be back to see y’all.
I’m gonna soon send a request to Congress.
The vast majority of Americans have used these tools and may want to again, so I expect Congress to pass it quickly.
Fourth, we will continue vaccinating the world.
This is a key element of fighting the pandemic, since we’ve learned that borders do not stop the spread of the disease.
We’ve sent 475 Million vaccine doses to 112 countries, more than any nation on Earth.
And we won’t stop.
Because you can’t build a wall high enough, a vaccine can stop the spread of these diseases. We have lost so much to COVID-19. Time with one another. And worst of all, so much loss of life.
Let’s use this moment to reset. Let’s stop looking at COVID-19 as a partisan dividing line and see it for what it is: A God-awful disease.
This was a nice moment calling for unity. But it’s hard to imagine it pierced the hardened political divide over how to respond to the disease.
Let’s stop seeing each other as enemies, and start seeing each other for who we really are: Fellow Americans.
We can’t change how divided we’ve been, it’s a long time in coming. But we can change how we move forward—on COVID-19 and other issues we must face together.
I recently visited the New York City Police Department days after the funerals of Officer Wilbert Mora and his partner, Officer Jason Rivera.
They were responding to a 9-1-1 call when a man shot and killed them with a stolen gun.
It’s a tragic case. Read more here.
Officer Mora was 27 years old.
Officer Rivera was 22 years old.
Both Dominican Americans who’d grown up on the same streets they later chose to patrol as police officers.
I spoke with their families and told them that we are forever in debt for their sacrifice, and we will carry on their mission to restore the trust and safety every community deserves.
Like some of you that have been around for awhile, I’ve worked with you on these issues for a long time.
Biden was instrumental in passing a crime bill in the mid-1990s, which included an assault weapons ban but also led to decades of harsh prison sentences. Rising rates of violent crime may play a role in the midterm elections in November.
I know what works: Investigating in crime prevention and community police officers who’ll walk the beat, who’ll know the neighborhood, and who can restore trust and safety.
So let’s not abandon our streets. Or choose between safety and equal justice.
Let’s come together to protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable.
That’s why the Justice Department required body cameras, banned chokeholds, and restricted no-knock warrants for its officers.
That’s why the American Rescue Plan that you all provided $350 Billion that cities, states, and counties can use to hire more police and invest in proven strategies like community violence interruption—trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma and giving young people some hope.
We should all agree: The answer is not to Defund the police. The answer is to FUND the police, fund them with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.
Accusing Democrats of wanting to defund the police is a favorite talking point of many Republicans. Biden has never been on board with the idea -- nor have the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers.
I ask Democrats and Republicans alike: to pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe.
And I will keep doing everything in my power to crack down on gun trafficking and ghost guns you can buy online and assemble at home—they have no serial numbers and can’t be traced.
And I ask 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?
Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that open 100 rounds. You think the deer are wearing kevlar vests?
People have been talking about these measures for years. They do not appear to be a priority this year. And they would likely not have the supermajority needed to pass in the Senate.
Repeal the liability shield that makes gun manufacturers the only industry in America that can’t be sued. The only one. Imagine if we had done that with the tobacco manufacturers.
This is false. Gun manufacturers are not entirely exempt from being sued, nor are they the only industry with some liability protections.Read more
These laws don’t infringe on the Second Amendment. They save lives.
The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote – and to have it counted. And it’s under assault.
In state after state, new laws have been passed, not only to suppress the vote, we’ve been there before, but to subvert entire elections.
Given how key voting rights is to Democrats and how much attention they’ve given it, you might be surprised it was this far down in Biden’s speech. The reason may be that Democrats recently failed to get a supermajority to pass a national voting standard through the Senate. Republicans did not buy in to their plan.
We cannot let this happen.
Tonight. I call on the Senate to: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And while you’re at it, pass the Disclose Act so Americans can know who is funding our elections.
Tonight, I’d like to honor someone who has dedicated his life to serve this country: Justice Stephen Breyer—an Army veteran, Constitutional scholar, and retiring Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Breyer, thank you for your service.
And we all know, no matter what your ideology, one of the most serious constitutional responsibilities a President has is nominating someone to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
And I did that 4 days ago, when I nominated Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. One of our nation’s top legal minds, who will continue Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence.
Democrats breathed a collective sigh of relief when Breyer announced his resignation, allowing a Democratic President to nominate his successor. But Jackson’s confirmation will not change the political bent of the court, which is now solidly conservative and likely to stay that way for decades.
A former top litigator in private practice. A former federal public defender. And from a family of public school educators and police officers. She’s a consensus builder. Since she’s been nominated, she’s received a broad range of support—including the Fraternal Order of Police to former judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans.
During his speech, Biden touted his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, and claimed that her appointment has been embraced by a bipartisan array of interest groups and legal experts. This is correct.Read more
And if we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure the Border and fix the immigration system.
We can do both. At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling.
Every president since George W. Bush has tried and failed to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill.
We’ve set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers.
We’re putting in place dedicated immigration judges in a significant large number so families fleeing persecution and violence can have their cases heard faster and those who don’t legitimately hear can be sent back.
We’re 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 lit the torch of liberty that has led generations of immigrants to this land—my forebearers and so many of yours.
If Biden faces off against Trump again in 2024, one can imagine immigration becoming a top issue. Trump would use very different language to describe immigrants and the overall issue.
Provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers.
Revise our laws so businesses have the workers they need and families don’t wait decades to reunite.
It’s not only the right thing to do—it’s the economically smart thing to do.
That’s why 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 the rights of women.
The constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade—standing precedent for half a century—is under attack as never before.
It’s under attack from state laws that make it increasingly harder in certain parts of the country for women to obtain abortions.
More importantly, Roe v. Wade could soon be overruled by the conservative Supreme Court. There is absolutely nothing Biden can do about it. Congress could pass a law protecting the right to abortion nationally, but that seems very unlikely in the current environment.
If we want to go forward—not backward—we must protect access to health care. Preserve a woman’s right to choose. And let’s continue to advance maternal health care in America for all Americans.
And 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.
As we’ve just demonstrated, it often appears that we do not agree, we agree on a lot more things than we 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.
This is indeed a remarkable number, and Biden oversaw numerous bipartisan efforts.
However, on the big-ticket items he and fellow Democrats pushed on the campaign trail -- new social spending programs, immigration, voting rights and more -- partisanship gets in the way.
And soon, we’ll strengthen 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.
First, beat the opioid epidemic.
The opioid epidemic got much worse during the pandemic. A record number of Americans — more than 93,000 — died from drug overdoses in 2020. Read more.
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. And stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to go after traffickers.
If you’re suffering from addiction, know you are not alone. I believe in recovery, and I celebrate the 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 does just that, have the money. And 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. Thank you for the courage you showed.
Who is Frances Haugen? She’s the Facebook whistleblower. Biden’s language here — taking direct aim at the practices of social media companies — is interesting.
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 to for help, and full parity between physical and mental health care.
The third piece of that agenda is, support our veterans.
Veterans are backbone and the spine of this country, they’re 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.
Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan faced many dangers.
Other than this pledge to take care of veterans, Biden did not mention Afghanistan or the messy pullout of US troops he ordered.
One was stationed at bases and breathing in toxic smoke from “burn pits",many of you have been there. I've been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 40 times, these burn pits that incinerate wastes of war—medical and hazard material, jet fuel, and so much more.
When they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors were never the same.
Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness.
A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin.
One of those soldiers was my son Major Beau Biden.
We don’t know for sure if a burn pit was near where his hooch was near, in Iraq or 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 from 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.
Heath’s widow Danielle is here with us tonight. They loved going to Ohio State football games. 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 gonna 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’m also calling on Congress: 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, and last, let’s end cancer as we know it.
This is personal to me and Jill, 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 #2 cause of death in America–second only to heart disease.
Covid-19 is No. 3. See the CDC data here.
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% 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 their families.
To get there, I call on Congress to fund ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.
It’s patterned after DARPA—the Defense Department project that led in DARPA to the Internet, GPS, and so much more, and make our forces more safer and be able to wage war with more clarity.
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’s within our power, I don’t see a partisan edge to any one 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, Americans have debated great questions amid great strife, and have done great things.
We have fought for freedom, expanded liberty, debated totalitarianism and terror.
And 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, to expand fairness and opportunity.
And we will save democracy.
Biden may have been talking about Putin and Ukraine. Or voting rights. Or Trump and his effort to overturn the 2020 election. Probably it was all three.
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 Nation, of the Union.
And my report is this: the State of the Union is strong—because you, the American people, are strong.
It is a cliche of the State of the Union address that the President should say, “The State of the Union is strong.” Here Biden put his own twist on it.
We are stronger today than we were a year ago.
And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today.
Now is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time.
And we will, as one people.
The United States of America.
May God bless you all. May God protect our troops.
Thank you, go get ‘em.
An ad-libbed addition, and a very Biden way to end things.