President Joe Biden discussed issues at the forefront of many citizens’ minds including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation Tuesday night in his inaugural State of the Union address.
“We the United States stand with the Ukrainian people,” Biden said as a direct message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had warned foreign allies of Ukraine to stay out of the conflict.
Over the weekend, the invasion left foreign powers deciding how to best aid Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy without the use of militant force. Biden assured the public that America is not fearful of Putin or threatened by his remarks against any foreign aid to Ukraine.
“The NATO alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War II,” he reminded listeners. As part of the alliance, the United States and the other 29 countries will support efforts to protect Ukraine and weaken Russia’s presence around the world.
“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.”
Since the start of Biden’s presidency, he has been a target of blame for the ongoing coronavirus crisis in America, along with the limited resources for health-care workers and the public. In the speech, he discussed the importance of keeping schools and businesses open and announced that citizens can order more free tests for COVID-19. “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,” he added.
Reflecting on the financial impact of the pandemic, Biden said that “the American Rescue Plan helped working people and left no one behind” and that the economy grew “at a rate of 5.7% last year.”
The president later mentioned that the U.S. infrastructure is ranked 13th in the world despite the United States being one of the wealthiest countries, making it crucial that Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Biden extended thanks to the Republican Party for supporting and investing in the bill so that it could get through. He plans to create an “infrastructure decade” with the resources being accumulated through the new law.
Biden informed the nation that over 4,000 projects have been announced to improve infrastructure issues throughout the country such as lead pipes, internet access and transportation. This year he plans to begin fixing “65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges.” This promise comes with several other plans to restore the working class and create employment opportunities for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs over the last two years.
The president shared several goals he has for the rest of his term that will help impact younger generations overtime. He asked that lawmakers fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 nationwide, implement aid to help families in poverty and increase “our historic support of HBCUs.” He said these actions are designed to provide a better America for children so they can embrace the opportunities awaiting them for years to come.
With discrimination and racism raging throughout the nation decades after the outlawing of segregation and other extreme forms of racial division, Biden asked the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation was created in 2021 to restore voting laws passed in 1965 during the Civil Rights era.
The president also recognized the need to “secure our border and fix the immigration system.” He aims to bring people of all backgrounds together, rather than continuing to allow current institutions of power to tear them apart.
Toward the end of the hour-long speech, Biden honored retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who served on the court for almost 50 years. In an historic announcement, Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman to serve as an associate justice if confirmed by Congress.
After the address, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds provided the Republican response later in the night. “It feels like President Biden and his party have set us back in time,” she said. Reynolds stated Biden has made America look weak on the global stage and more specifically during the recent eruption in the Russia and Ukraine conflict.
In a briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared the possible topics that Biden would discuss in his speech. Psaki said that the “president will lay out the efforts we are taking, he has taken, he has led on to rally the world to stand up for democracy and against Russian aggression.” The president attempted to do just that throughout his speech with numerous claims on all the progress coming to the nation.
“We can do something we haven’t done in a long time … build a better America.”
Myía Borland is a public affairs reporter for HUNewsService.com.