Evening and welcome to our special PBS News Hour coverage of President Joe Biden's first joint address to Congress.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
Tonight's speech comes on the eve of his 100 day in office.
And with challenges facing the nation in almost any direction, he looks, it takes place as the United States remains in the grip of the covid pandemic, even as vaccinations rise and the number of cases goes down.
The president will address that as he folds in his ambitious plans to reimagine the U.S. economy from roads and bridges to child care, all while confronting the climate crisis.
This is also a moment of racial reckoning in America and calls for action to end gun violence.
There are other milestones tonight we will see two women for the first time behind the president, and he will speak from the site of the violent January 6th insurrection.
When the foundations of our democracy were attacked.
Are you Michel Sándor and our Lisa Desjardins are there at the Capitol for what you see is a socially distanced event.
Lisa will be joining us on the phone, but she's inside the House chamber in the balcony where the speech is taking place.
Lisa, we're watching.
We're waiting for the president to come in, but it's very clear many fewer people here there would normally be there for a presidential address.
That's right, Judy.
In the past, just over a year, I've seen two impeachments and insurrection, and I have never seen anything like this in the House chamber.
You see members dotting the chamber, roughly just 200 people in a chamber that usually holds 14 shoulder to shoulder.
I have to say, members seem to be in a good mood.
This is a strange event, all the formality, the circumstance of a high event of the nation.
But it's combined with the feeling of almost a summertime reunion.
I think the lack of many people here is actually leading to a feeling of congeniality.
You're going to see a lot of elbow bumps instead of handshakes here.
You will see perhaps the president moving faster through the chamber than we do usually.
And of course, much of this has to do with the coronavirus.
But I want to remind people there are also very intense security concerns around the Capitol right now getting in here.
There is more security.
Everyone in this chamber had to go through special security checks and we all had to either pass a covid test, get a negative test or prove that we are fully vaccinated.
So there are extra layers of security and concern here tonight.
But the mood in the chamber at this moment is actually very high.
And if anything seems rather cheerful.
As I turn to you, Umesh, we are looking at history in the making.
As we've said for the first time, two women standing and then sitting behind the president as he speaks to this joint session.
Vice President Kamala Harris, her first time in that role, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
We're reminded as fill this role seven times for different American presidents.
But what is the White House thinking as the president prepares to make this speech?
Well, this is a huge moment for President Biden and for our nation.
The president is going to be speaking to this moment, speaking to the idea that we are a nation that is still in crisis, that is still dealing with a pandemic, or we're also a nation that's politically and racially divided.
He's going to be talking about a number of plans that he wants to see Congress pass, really pushing them to say we need to have more plans for working Americans, more plans for workers.
He's going to be talking a lot about the American family's plan.
It's a one point eight dollars trillion dollar plan that he can me detailing.
But overall, he's going to be pushing for six trillion dollars overall for spending here.
Another thing to note is that he's talking about the women behind him, the president.
Of the United States.
Sorry to interrupt you, but we wanted to hear William Walker, the new house sergeant at Arms, who's just taken that office in this week.
On Monday, he was sworn in.
He announced that President Biden would be entering the chamber.
You can see what is normally a walk down that aisle where the president may be shaking hands with dozens of people.
A very fist bump with Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, who was one of the few Republicans to speak out against President Trump at the time of the insurrection.
There you see President Biden fist pumping with Patrick Leahy, the senator from Vermont, but preparing to step up to the front.
That was Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader.
He's saying hello to the chief justice, John Roberts.
Representing the only and are Bernie Sanders, who, of course, ran against him for president, Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then making his way up to the front of the chamber, as we said, where history in the making, two women, the vice president of the United States and the speaker of the House of Representatives, standing there behind President Biden, giving a copy of his address to each one of them, which is by tradition.
But as he prepares to speak, we look at.
This much more somber.
I have the high privilege and distinct honor to present to you the president of the United.
States, First Lady Jill Biden there.
We saw a moment ago the second gentleman, the husband of Vice President Paul Harris, is there again, huh?
Well, we will hear applause tonight.
Q Thank you.
Let's let's listen.
I don't want to talk over the president.
President Biden: Good to be back.
And Chuck, all understand is good to be almost home down the hall.
Anyway, thank you all.
Madam Speaker, Madame Vice President, no president has ever said those words from this podium.
No president has ever said those words.
And it's about time first Lady and her husband, second gentleman, Chief Justice, members of the United States Congress.
In the cabinet, distinguished guests, my fellow Americans, while the setting tonight is familiar.
This gathering is just a little bit different.
Reminder of the extraordinary times we're in.
Our history, presidents have come to this chamber to speak to Congress, to the nation and to the world.
War, to celebrate peace, to announce new plans and possibilities.
Tonight, I come to talk about.
Crisis and opportunity.
By rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy and winning the.
Future for America.
I stand here tonight one day shy of the 100th day, my administration, 100 days since I took the office and lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation.
We all did that was in crisis.
The worst pandemic of the century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst attack.
On our democracy since the Civil War.
Just one hundred days, I can report to the nation America.
Is on the move again.
Turning Carol into possibility, crisis to opportunity, setbacks in the strength.
We all know life can knock.
But in America,.
We never, ever, ever stay down.
Americans always get up.
Today, that's what we're doing.
America is rising to new choosing hope over fear, truth over lies.
And light over darkness.
After 100 days of rescue and renewal.
America is ready for takeoff.
In my view.
We're working again.
Dreaming again, discovering again and leading the world again.
We have shown each other.
And the world that there's no quit in America.
One hundred days.
Ago, America's house.
Was on fire.
We had to act.
And thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer and the overwhelming support of the American people, Democrats, Independents and Republicans, we did act together.
We passed the American rescue plan, one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.
We're already seeing the result.
We're already seeing the result.
After I promised we'd get one hundred million covid-19 vaccine shots into the people's arms in 100 days,.
We will have provided over two hundred and.
Twenty million covid shots in those days.
Thanks to all the help of all of you.
We're marshaling with your help.
We're marshaling every federal.
We've gotten vaccines, nearly 40000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centers where the poorest of the poor.
Can be reached.
We're setting up community vaccination sites, developing mobile units to get the hard to reach communities.
Percent of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site.
Everyone over the age of 16, everyone.
Is now eligible to get vaccinated right now, right away.
Go get vaccinated.
Go and get the vaccination there available.
Eligible now, I was sworn in.
On January 20th.
Less than one percent of the seniors in America are fully vaccinated against covid-19.
100 days later,.
70 percent of seniors in America over 65 are protected, fully protected.
Senior deaths from covid-19 are down 80 percent.
Since January, down 80 percent because of all of you.
And more than half of all the adults in America have got at least one shot, a mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona.
I asked the nurse.
Said, what's it like?
She looked at me and she said, It's like every shot is giving a dose of hope.
Was there for a dose of hope, a dose.
Of hope for an educator in Florida as a child suffering from an autoimmune disease,.
Wrote to me, says.
She's worried and she was worried about bringing the virus home.
She said she then got vaccinated.
At a large site in her car.
She said she sat in her car when she got vaccinated, just cried, cried out of joy and cried out of relief.
The smiles on the kids faces for those who are able to go back to school because the teachers and school bus drivers and cafeteria workers have been vaccinated.
Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing hands against the window to say goodbye means everything.
Those things mean everything.
You know, there's still you all know it.
You know better than any group of Americans.
There's still more work to do to beat this virus.
We can't let our guard down.
But tonight, I can say it because of you.
The American people.
Are our progress.
These past hundred days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements, logistical achievements this country's ever seen.
What else have we done in those first hundred days?
We kept our commitment.
Democrats and Republicans.
I'm sending fourteen hundred dollar rescue checks to eighty five percent of American households were already sent more than once.
One hundred sixty million checks out the door.
It's making a difference.
You'll know when you go home.
For many people, it's making all the difference in the world.
The single mom in Texas who wrote me, she said she couldn't work, but she said the relief check put food on the table and saved her and her son from eviction from their apartment.
A grandmother in Virginia who told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor, something she said she put off for months because she didn't have the money.
One of the defining images, at least from my perspective in this crisis, has been cars lined up, cars lined up for miles and not allowed.
People just barely ever start those cars.
Nice cars lined for miles, waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk.
I don't know about you, but I didn't ever think I'd see that in America.
And all of this is through no fault of their own, no fault of their own.
These people are in this position.
That's why the rescue plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger and hunger is down sharply already.
We're also providing rental assistance.
You all know this.
But the American people, I want to make sure they understand keeping people from being evicted from their homes, providing loans to small businesses to reopen and keep their employees on the job.
During these 100 days, additional.
Eight hundred thousand Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act.
When I established a special sign up to do that, 800000 in that period, we're making one of the largest one time ever investments ever in improving health care for veterans, critical.
Investments to address the opioid crisis.
And maybe most importantly, thanks to the American rescue plan, we're on track to cut child poverty in America in half.
And in the process, all.
This is all going on.
The economy created more than one million, 300000 new jobs and 100 days more jobs.
In more jobs in the first 100 days.
Than any president on record.
The International Monetary Fund.
The International Monetary Fund is.
Now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than six percent this year.
That'll be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades.
America's movie moving forward.
But we can't stop now.
We're in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century.
We're at a great inflection point in history.
We have to do more than just build back better to build back, to build back, better.
We have to compete more strenuously than we have throughout our history.
I think about it, public investment in infrastructure has literally transformed America,.
Our attitudes as well as our opportunities.
The transcontinental railroad, the interstate.
Highways, united two.
Oceans and brought a totally new age of progress.
To the United States of America.
Universal public schools and college.
Aid open wide the doors of opportunity.
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the moon.
Now we're on Mars.
Discovering vaccines gave us the Internet and so much.
These are investments we made together as one country, an investment that only the government was in a position to make.
Time and again, they propel us into.
That's why I proposed the American jobs plan a once in the generation investment in America itself.
This is the largest jobs plan since World War Two creates.
Jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure.
Jobs, modernizing our roads, bridges, highways, jobs, building ports and airports.
Rail corridors, transit lines.
It's clean water.
And today up to 10.
Million homes in America and more than four hundred thousand schools.
And child care centers have pipes was led them, including drinking water, a clear.
And present danger to our children's.
American jobs plan creates jobs, replacing 100 percent of the nation's lead pipes and service lines.
So every American can drink clean water and the process will create thousands and thousands of good paying jobs.
Creates jobs connecting every American with high speed Internet, including 35 percent of the rural American, still doesn't have it.
It's going to help our kids and our businesses succeed in the 21st century economy.
And I'm asking.
The vice president to lead this effort if she would,.
Because I know get done.
Creates jobs building a modern.
Our grids are vulnerable to storms, hacks, catastrophic failures with tragic results.
As we saw in Texas and elsewhere during the winter storms.
The American jobs plan will create jobs and lay thousands.
Of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid.
We can do that.
Look, American jobs plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and back to the careers.
Two million women.
Have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic, two million and too often because they couldn't get the care they needed.
To care for their child or care for an elderly parent who needs help.
800000 families are on Medicare waiting lists right now to get home care for their aging parent or a loved one with disability.
If you think it's not important, check out in your own district,.
Democrat or Republican or Democrat.
Or Republican voters.
The great concern, almost as much as the children, is taking care of an elderly loved one who can't be left alone.
But this plan is going to help those families and create jobs for.
Our caregivers with better wages and better benefits.
Continue the cycle growth for too.
We fail to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate.
Jobs, jobs, for me and I think climate change.
Jobs, American jobs plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy efficient buildings and homes.
Electrical workers, IBEW members installing 500000 charging stations along our highways.
So we can own so we can own the electric car market.
Farmers, farmers planting cover.
Crops so they can reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.
Think about it.
There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can't be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.
No, no reason.
There's no reason why American American workers.
Can't lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.
There is no reason we have this capacity.
The brightest, best trained people in the.
The American jobs aren't going to create millions of good paying jobs, jobs.
Americans can raise a family on, as my dad would then say with a little breathing room.
And all the investments in the American jobs plan will be guided by one principle,.
And I might know parenthetically, that does not that does not violate any trade agreement has been the law since the 30s.
By American American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America to create American jobs.
That's the way it's supposed.
And it will be in this administration.
And I may made it clear to all my cabinet people their ability.
To give exemptions has been and strenuously limited.
It will be American products.
Now, I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you.
Of you, some of the folks I grew up with feel left behind, forgotten in an economy is so rapidly changing, it's frightening.
I want to speak directly to you because you think about it, that's what people are most worried about.
Can I fit in?
Independent experts estimate.
The American jobs will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come.
It is a it is a eight year program.
These are good paying jobs that can't be outsourced.
Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created.
An American jobs plan do not require a college degree.
Seventy five percent don't.
Require an associate's.
The American jobs plan is a blue.
Collar blueprint to build America.
That's what it is.
And I recognize this is something I've always said.
This chamber in the.
Other good guys and women on Wall Street.
But Wall Street didn't build this country.
The middle class built the country and unions.
Built the middle class.
So that's why I'm calling on Congress to pass protect the.
Right to organize and the pro act and send it to my desk so we can support the right to unionize.
And by the way, we're thinking about sending things to my.
The minimum wage to 15 dollars.
No one working 40 hours a week.
No one working 40 hours a week.
Should live below the poverty line.
We need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women.
And while we're doing this, let's get the Paycheck Fairness Act to my desk as well.
They spent much too long.
And if you wonder whether there's too long, look behind you.
Impliedly American jobs plan B, the biggest increase in nondefense.
Research and development on record.
We'll see more.
And some of you know more about this than I do.
We'll see more technological change in the next 10 years than we saw in the last 50.
That's how rapidly.
Artificial intelligence, so much more is changing.
And we're falling behind the competition with the rest of the world.
We used to invest two percent of our gross domestic product in America, two percent of our gross domestic product research and development today.
Mr. Secretary, that's less than one percent.
China and other countries are closing in.
We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future.
Advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy.
The secretary of defense can tell you and those you are working national security issues.
Now, the Defense Department has an agency called DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project.
Agency, that people who set.
Up before I came here.
And that's been a long time ago.
To develop breakthroughs.
That enhance our national security.
That's their only job.
And it's a semi separate agency under the Defense Department.
Led to everything from the discovery, the Internet to GPS and so much more.
That's enhanced our secured the.
National Institutes of Health.
The NIH, I believe, should create a similar advanced research.
Projects Agency for Health.
Now, here's what I would do, would have a singular purpose to.
Develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect and treat diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes and cancer.
I'll still never forget when we passed a cancer proposal last year, I was vice president almost nine million dollars going to NIH cuz the point of personal privilege never forget you stand and mention saying name.
And after my deceased son it meant a lot.
But so many of us have deceased sons, daughters and relatives died of cancer.
I can think of no more worthy investment.
I know of nothing that is more bipartisan.
So let's end cancer as we know it.
It's within our power and it's within our power to do it.
In jobs and infrastructure, like the ones we're talking about, have often had bipartisan support in the past.
Vice President Harris and I met regularly in the Oval Office and Democrats and Republicans discussed the jobs plan.
And I applaud a group of Republican senators just put forward their own proposal.
So let's get to work.
I wanted to lay out before the Congress my plan before we got into the deep discussions.
I'd like to meet.
With those who have ideas that are different, I think are better.
I welcome those ideas, but the rest of the world is not waiting for us.
I just want to be clear from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.
Look, we can't.
Be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
Secretary blinking tell you, I spent a lot of time with President Xi travel over seventeen thousand miles, spent.
That time over twenty four hours in private discussions with him.
When he called to congratulate me, we had a two hour discussion.
He's deadly earnest.
About becoming the most significant consequential nation in the world.
He and others.
Autocrat's think that democracy can't compete in the 21st century with autocracies.
It takes too long to get consensus to win that competition for the future.
In my view, we also need to make a once in a generation investment in our families and our children.
That's why I've introduced the American Families Plan tonight.
Which addresses for the biggest challenges facing American families and in turn, America first is access to good education.
And this nation made twelve years of public education universal in the last century.
It made us the best educated, best prepared nation the world.
It's, I believe, the overwhelming reason that propelled us to where we got in the 21st in the 20th century.
But the world is caught up.
We're catching up.
They're not waiting.
I would say parenthetically, if we were sitting down, we had a bipartisan committee together and said, OK, we're going to decide what we do in terms of government providing for free education.
Whether we think, as we did in the 20th century, that 12 years is enough in the 21st century,.
I doubt it.
12 years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century.
That's why my American families is playing guarantees for dishtowel years of public education.
Every person in America starting as early as we can.
A great university in this country have conducted studies of the last 10 years and shows that in two years of universal, high quality preschool for every three year old.
And four year old, no matter what background they come from, puts them in the position to be able to compete all the way through 12 years and increases exponentially their prospect of graduating and going on beyond graduation.
Researchers chose when a young child goes to school, not daycare,.
They're far more likely to graduate from high school and go to college or something after high school.
When you add two years of free community college, on top of that, you begin to change the dynamic.
We can do that and will increase Pell Grants.
And invest in historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, minority serving institutions, The reason is they don't have the endowments, but their students are just as capable of learning about cybersecurity, just as capable of learning about.
Metallurgy, all the things that are going on to provide those jobs in the future.
Jill is a community college professor who teaches the day as first lady.
She's long said.
She's long heard it once.
I've heard it a thousand times, Joe, any country that out educates us is going to outcompete us.
She'll be deeply involved in leading this effort.
Thank you, Joe.
Second thing, we need American families planning to provide access to quality, affordable child care.
To guarantee proposing new legislation to guarantee.
That low and middle income families will pay no more than seven percent 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.
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave and medical leave.
One of the few industrial countries in the world.
No one should have to choose between.
A job and a paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones or parent or spouse or child.
And fourth, the American family plan puts directly into the pockets of millions of Americans in March, we expanded tax credit for every child in a family up to three thousand dollars per child.
If you're under six years of age, I'm assuming over six years of age and 3600 dollars for children over six years of age with two parents, two kids, that's seventy two hundred dollars in the pockets.
They're going to help take care of your family.
And that will help more than 65 million children.
And help cut child care.
And we can afford it.
That in the in the last piece of legislation we passed.
But let's extend that child tax credit at least through the end of 2025.
The American rescue plan lowered health care.
Premiums for nine million Americans who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
I know that's really popular this side of the aisle.
Make that provision permanent so their premiums don't go back to.
Addition to my.
I'm going to work with Congress to address this year other critical priorities.
For American families.
The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans, protecting people with preexisting conditions, protecting women's health.
And the pandemic is demonstrated how badly, how badly it's needed.
Let's lower deductibles for working families.
And the Affordable Care Act, the Affordable Care Act,.
And let's lower prescription.
We know how to do this.
The last president had that as objective.
Know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America.
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug.
Prices of anywhere in the world right here in America, nearly three times for the same drug, nearly three times.
What other countries pay.
We have to change that.
And we can let's who we talked about for all the years.
I was down here in this body in Congress, let's give Medicare.
The power to save hundreds of billions trying to go shading.
Lower drug prescription price.
By the way, it won't just won't just help people on Medicare prescription drug costs for everyone.
And the money we save, which is billions of dollars, can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare coverage benefits without costing taxpayers an additional penny.
It's within our power to do.
Let's do now.
We've talked about it long enough, Democrats and Republicans, let's get it done this year.
This is all about a simple premise.
Health care should be a right, not.
A privilege in America.
So how do we pay.
For my jobs and family plan?
I made it clear we can do it without increasing the deficit.
With what I will not do.
I will not oppose.
Any tax increase on people making less than four hundred thousand dollars.
But it's time.
For corporate America and the wealthiest one percent of Americans to just.
Begin to pay their fair share, just their fair share.
I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party.
I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire, but pay your fair share.
Recent study shows that 55 in the nation's biggest corporations paid zero.
Federal tax last year.
Those 55 corporations made in excess of 40 billion.
Dollars in profit.
A lot of companies also.
Evade taxes through tax havens in Switzerland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.
It's not right.
We're going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well.
To reward work, not just wealth.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest one percent of Americans, those making over four hundred thousand dollars or more back up to where it was when George W. Bush was president.
When he started 39 point six percent.
That's where it was when George W. was president.
We're going to get rid of the loopholes, allow Americans to make more than a million dollars a year and pay a lower tax rate on their capital gains and Americans who receive a paycheck.
We're only going to affect three tenths of one percent of all Americans by that action, three tenths of one percent.
And the IRS is going to crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.
It's estimated to be billions of dollars by think tanks are left, right and center looking to punish anybody.
But I will not add a tax burden, additional tax burden to the middle class in this country.
They're already paying enough.
What I propose is fair, fiscally responsible, and it raises revenue to pay.
For the plans.
I propose that will create millions of jobs that will grow the economy and enhance our financial standing in the country.
When you hear someone say they don't want to raise taxes on the wealthiest one percent or corporate America, ask them whose taxes you want to raise instead, who's going to cut.
Look, the big tax cut in 2017.
Remember, we're supposed to pay for itself.
That was our sole and generate vast economic growth.
Instead, it added two trillion dollars to the deficit.
It was a huge windfall for corporate America.
And those are the very top.
Instead of using the tax saving to raise wages and invest in research, development, it poured billions.
Of dollars into the pockets of CEOs.
In fact, the pay gap between.
CEOs and their workers is now among the largest in history.
According to one study, CEOs make three hundred and twenty times what the average worker in the corporation makes used to be in below.
The pandemic has only made things worse.
20 million Americans lost their job in the pandemic.
Working and middle class Americans.
At the same time, roughly six hundred and fifty billionaires in America saw their net worth increased by more than one trillion.
The same exact period.
Let me say it again.
650 people increase their wealth by more than one trillion dollars during this pandemic.
And they're now worth more than four trillion dollars.
My fellow Americans, trickle down, trickle down economics has never worked this time to grow the economy from the bottom in the middle out.
You know, there's a broad consensus.
Of economists left, right and center, and they agree with, I'm proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.
These are among the highest values investments we can make as a nation.
I've often said.
Our greatest strength is the power of our example, not just the example of our power, my conversations with world leaders.
And I've spoken over 38, 40 of them that I've made it known.
I made it known that America's back know what they say.
The comment I hear most of all from them, they say we see America's back, but for how long, but for how long?
My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we're back with her, back to stay, and then we aren't going to go alone.
We're going to do it by leading with our allies.
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, mass migration, cybersecurity, climate, change, as well as experience what we're experiencing now, pandemics.
There's no wall high enough to keep any virus out.
And our own.
Vaccine supply, as it grows to meet our needs.
And we're meeting them, will become an arsenal for vaccines for other countries, just as America is the.
Arsenal for democracy for the world in a consequential influence, the world.
But every American will have access before that.
American have access.
To be fully covered by covid-19 from the vaccines.
Look, the climate crisis is not our fight alone.
It's a global fight.
The United States accounts, as all of you know, less than 50 percent of carbon emissions.
The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent.
That's why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris accord, because if we do everything perfectly.
It's not going to only matter.
I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America with all the major economies.
Of the world, China, Russia, India, European Union.
And I said I do in my first 100 days.
I want to be very blunt about it.
I had my attempt was to make sure that the world could see there was a consensus.
That we are at an inflection point in history.
And Kenzi's consensus is if we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living of almost everyone around the world.
If you watched any of it, you were all busy.
I'm sure you didn't have much time.
That's what virtually every nation said.
Even the ones that aren't doing their fair share.
The investments I propose tonight also advance the foreign policy.
In my view, the benefits the middle class.
That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.
My discussions and my discussions as President Xi, I told we welcome.
We're not looking for conflict, but I made absolutely clear.
That we will defend America's interests.
Across the board.
America will stand.
Up to unfair trade practices and undercut American workers and American industries like subsidies from state to state owned operations and enterprises and the theft of American technology, intellectual property.
I also told President Xi they will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific, just as we do with NATO in Europe, not to start a conflict, but to prevent one.
And told them what I said.
To many world leaders that America will not back away from our commitments, our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and our alliances.
I pointed out to no responsible American president could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated.
An American president president has to represent the essence of what our country stands for.
Is an idea, the most unique idea in history.
We are created,.
All of us equal.
It's who we are and we cannot walk.
Away from that principle.
And in fact, say.
We're dealing with the American idea.
With regard to Russia, I know a concern, some of you, but I made very clear to Putin.
That we're not.
Going to seek to excuse me escalation, but their actions will have consequences.
They turn out to be true and they turned out to be true.
So I responded directly, proportionately to Russia's interference in our elections in the cyber attacks on our government and our business.
Did both of these things.
And I told them we would respond.
And we have.
But we can also cooperate when it's our mutual interest.
We did it when we extended the new START treaty on nuclear arms and we're working to do it on climate change.
But he understands we will.
Respond on Iran and.
North Korea nuclear programs presents serious threats to American security and the security of the world.
We're going to be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries.
Through through diplomacy as well as stern deterrence.
And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan.
We have we have, without hyperbole,.
The greatest fighting force in the history of the world.
I'm the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a son serving in a war zone.
Today, we have service members serving in the same war zone as their parents did.
We have service members in Afghanistan who are.
Not yet born on 9/11.
The war in Afghanistan, as we remember the debates here were never meant to be multigenerational undertakings of nation building.
To Afghanistan to get terrorist the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
We said we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of.
Hell to do it.
Been in the upper Konar Valley, we've kind of seen the gates of hell and we deliver justice to bin Laden.
We degraded the terrorist threat of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and after 20 years of value, valor and sacrifice, it's time to bring those troops.
As we do, we'll maintain over the horizon capacity to suppress future threats to the homeland.
Make no mistake, in 20 years, terrorism has terrorism has metastasized.
The threat is evolved way beyond Afghanistan.
Those in the Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, defense committees, you know, well,.
We have to remain vigilant against the threats.
The United States, wherever they come from,.
Al-Qaida and ISIS.
Are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, other places in Africa and the Middle East and beyond.
And we won't ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today.
White supremacy is terrorism.
We're not going to ignore that either.
My fellow Americans.
Look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation.
It was nearly a year ago before her father's funeral when I spoke with Jana, Floyd, George, Floyd, young daughter.
She's a little tykes.
I was kneeling down to talk to her.
I could look her in the eye.
She looked at me.
She said, my daddy changed the world.
Well, after the conviction of George Soros murderer.
We can see how right she was.
If if we have the courage to act as a Congress, we've all seen the name and justice on the neck of black Americans.
Now's our opportunity to make some real progress.
Majority of men and women wearing a uniform and a badge serve our communities and they serve them honorably.
I know them.
I know they want.
I know they want.
To help me at this moment as well.
My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and enact police reform.
In George Ford's name that passed the House already.
I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in a very productive discussions with Democrats in the Senate.
We need to work together to find a consensus, but let's get it done.
Next month, by the first anniversary of George Ford's death.
The country supports this reform and Congress.
Should act, should act.
We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc.
Of the moral universe toward justice, real justice.
And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues American and American lives in other ways.
A chance to live a real equity, good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to generate wealth and pass.
It down to generations because you have an access to purchase a house real opportunities in the lives of more Americans black, white, Latino, Asian Americans, Native Americans,.
Look, I also want to thank the United States Senate for voting 94 to one to pass covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian-American and Pacific Islander.
You acted decisively.
You could see on television the viciousness.
Of the hate crimes we've seen over the past year, this past year, and for too long.
I urge the House to do the same and send legislation to my desk, which I will gladly, anxiously.
I also hope Congress.
Can get to my desk, the Equality Act to.
Protect LGBTQ Americans, all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave.
I want to know your president has your back another thing, let's.
Authorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has.
Been law for twenty seven years.
Twenty seven years ago, I wrote you will.
Close the act.
It has to be authorized now.
We'll close the boyfriend loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
The court order said this is an abuser.
Own a gun is to close that loophole that existed.
You know, it's estimated that fifty women are shot and killed by an intimate partner every month in America.
Fifty a month.
Let's pass it and save some lives.
I need it.
I need not tell anyone this.
Gun violence has become an epidemic in America.
The flag at the White House was still flying at half mast for the eight victims of the mass shooting in Georgia when ten more lives were taken in a mass shooting in Colorado.
And in the weekend between those two events, two hundred and fifty other Americans were shot dead in the streets of America, 250 shot dead.
I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue.
In the 90s, we passed universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines that hold a hundred rounds that can be fired off in seconds.
We beat the NRA.
Mass shootings and gun violence decline.
Check out the report over 10 years, but nearly 22000.
The law expired.
We've seen daily bloodshed since.
I'm not saying the law continued.
We wouldn't see bloodshed more than two weeks ago in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest people I know, the survivors and families who lost loved ones to gun violence.
I laid out several of the Department of Justice actions that are being taken to impact on this epidemic.
One of them is banning so-called ghost guns.
These are homemade guns built from a kit that includes directions how to finish the firearm.
Have no serial numbers, so they show up at crime scenes and they can't be traced.
The buyers of these ghost gun kids aren't required to pass any background check.
From a criminal or terrorist could buy this kid and within 30 minutes have a weapon that's lethal.
But no more.
And I'll do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence.
But it's time for Congress to act as well.
Look, I don't want to become confrontational, but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democratic colleagues and close the loopholes required in background check purchases of guns.
We a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines don't tell me can't be done.
We did it before and it worked.
Talked to most responsible gun owners and hunters.
They'll tell you there's no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a weapon.
Do you think?
They're wearing Kevlar vests.
It was I'll tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn't be able to buy these kinds of reasonable reforms, have overwhelming support from the American people, including many gun owners.
The country supports reform this and Congress should act.
This shouldn't be a red or blue issue and no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.
You can't yell fire in a crowded theater from the very beginning.
There are certain guns, weapons that could not be owned by Americans.
Certain people could not own those weapons ever going to change in the Constitution.
We're being reasonable.
I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue.
I think it's an American issue.
And here's what else we can do.
Immigration has always been essential to America.
Let's end our exhausting war with immigration.
For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and we've done nothing about it.
It's time to fix it.
On day one of my presidency, I kept my commitments and a comprehensive immigration bill.
The United States Congress.
If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high tech border security.
If you believe the pathway to citizenship, pass it.
Over 11 million undocumented folks, the vast majority of here overstaying visas, pass it.
We can actually if you actually want to solve a problem, I've sent a bill to take a close look at it.
We also have to get at the root problem of why people are fleeing, particularly to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The violence, the corruption, the gangs, the political instability, hunger, hurricanes, earthquakes, natural disasters.
When I was president, my president, when I was vice president, president asked me to focus on providing help needed to address the root causes of migration, and it helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave.
The plan was working, but the last administration decided it was not worth it.
I'm restoring the program and I asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic effort to take care of this.
I have absolute confidence you get the j. Ob.
Look, if you don't like my plan,.
Let's at least pass what we all agree on.
Congress need to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for Dreamers.
The young people only know America as their home and permanent protection for immigrants who are here on temporary protected status, who came.
From countries beset by manmade and natural made violence and disaster, as well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our table for immigrants.
Have done so much for America during this pandemic and throughout our history.
The country supports immigration reform.
We should act.
Let's argue over, let's debate it, but act.
And if we truly want to restore the soul of American to protect the sacred right to vote, most people, more people vote in the last.
Presidential election than any time in American history in the middle of the worst pandemic ever.
And should be celebrated.
Instead of being attacked, Congress should pass H.R.
one and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send to my desk right away.
The country supports it and Congress should act now.
As we gather here.
Tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this capital, desecrating our democracy remain vivid in our minds.
Put at risk.
Many of your lives, lives were lost.
Extraordinary courage is summoned.
Was an existential crisis, a test of whether our democracy.
And it did.
But the struggle is far from over.
The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both.
Ancient and urgent.
Old as our republic still vital today, can.
Our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us created equal in the image of God had a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect and possibility?
Can our democracy deliver the.
Most to the most pressing needs of our people?
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger,.
Hate and fears that have pull us apart?
America's adversaries, the autocrats of.
The world are betting we can't.
And I promise you, they're betting we can't.
They believe are too full of anger and division and rage.
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol is proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.
But they're wrong.
You know what?
I know it.
But we have to prove them wrong.
We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and we can deliver for our.
And our first 100 days together, we've acted.
Restore people's faith in democracy, 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, feel it in their own lives.
Opening doors of opportunity guarantees more fairness and justice.
That's the essence of America.
That's democracy in action.
Our Constitution opens with the words as trite as it sounds.
We the people must time remember that we the people are the government.
You and I are not some force in a distant.
Not some powerful force we have no control over.
It's us, it's.
We, the people, and another era.
When our democracy is tested.
Franklin Roosevelt reminded us in America we do our.
We all do our part.
That's all I'm.
Asking you, that we do our part, all of us.
If we do that, we will meet the Senate challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable.
Autocrats will not win the future.
We will, America will.
And the future belongs to America.
As I stand here tonight before you in a new and vital hour of.
Life and democracy of our nation.
And I can say with absolute confidence, I have.
Never been more confident or optimistic.
About America, not because I'm president, because of what's happening with the American people.
We've stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic.
And we the people did not flinch.
The very moment our adversaries were certain we'd pull apart and fail.
We came together, reunited with light and hope.
We summon the new strength, new resolve to position us to win the competition of the 21st century on our way to a union more perfect.
More prosperous, and more just as one people, one nation and one America.
They told every world leader I've ever met with over the years, it's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America.
And it still is.
It where the United States of America, there's not a single thing, nothing, nothing beyond our capacity.
We can do whatever we set our minds to if we do it together.
So let's begin to get together.
God bless you all and may God protect our troops.
Thank you for your patience.
That was President Joe Biden delivering his first session to a joint session of if his first speech to a joint, a joint session of Congress.
It lasted an hour and five minutes with many interruptions for applause.
Historic in that he was seated standing in front of the first for the first time ever, two women, one the vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, the other Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House.
You see him making his way out of the House chamber, socially distant.
Only two hundred people in a chamber which can hold up sixteen hundred.
Let me quickly turn to my colleague, Lisa Desjardins, who's been watching the president's address from the balcony there in the house.
Lisa, tell us about what you saw from inside that room.
Looking down now on the president talking, and there's already a line of people waiting to talk to him.
You see there Bernie Sanders next to him.
But there's a line going up the aisle of several senators hoping to talk to him.
I don't know if that will happen, but I have to say this was an incredibly unusual speech.
And really in the chamber, there was not the electricity that you usually have with the stage because you have hundreds of people from around the country, VIP guests, everyone shoulder to shoulder that was in here.
There wasn't that crackle.
There was something different.
This speech in this chamber felt more intimate than almost any speech I have heard before.
And you heard President Biden, I think, use that sometimes almost talking in a form of a whisper to the chamber.
Obviously, Democrats loved much of this speech.
The largest reaction I saw and heard was over the childcare portion.
But there were many parts that they like on immigration, unwrite, unjustice, on the Asian-American hate crime bill.
But I will say something I had not seen before.
And one of these speeches was there were a number of Republicans repeatedly standing for some things you wouldn't expect on the climate section when President Biden talked about jobs, trying to make that pivot and appeal to them.
Indeed, I did see several Republicans, and I think he probably is trying to claim the mantle of someone who cares about America and appeal to Republicans on that level.
However, for much of the speech, most Republicans just stay seated.
They obviously did not like some sections, in his words, about trickle down economics.
Never, never working.
He's got a long way to go to bridge the gap.
But this is the most enthusiasm I've seen from Republicans versus Democrats, at least in this capital.
So we were looking whenever we were able to see what the Republicans who were seated to his left as he looked out on the on the audience to see when they were standing.
But you're right, they did stand on several of the points that he made.
Certainly not all.
What we're seeing right now is striking.
President Biden is staying in the chamber.
Normally it's noisy.
People are milling around.
But there are so few people there.
They've gathered in the front of the house chamber.
Some of the members you see Dick Durbin there on the left a moment ago, the president spent several moments talking with Bernie Sanders and with Rosa DeLauro, the congresswoman from Connecticut.
You see him still talking with members.
You see Chuck Schumer there in the foreground on the right.
It's it's probably a case of they haven't seen the president in some time and they want to get in, get in a word, a word in edgewise.
You mean you're able to watch this as well?
Michelle Sándor, who covers the White House for us, this is an opportunity for the president to see people he knows very well.
And this really is President Biden in his element.
Remember that he spent four decades serving in the Senate, serving in Washington.
He is someone who knows a lot of people in Washington very well, a lot of these members he served with.
So this is him in some ways enjoying this moment, taking in this moment of history where he was just finished giving his first address to Congress.
I want to start with the idea, of course, that President Biden went straight to the fact that he had for the first time two women standing behind them.
He's standing behind him.
He said, Madam Secretary, Madam Vice President.
He said, no president has said those words.
And it's about time that really got to the heart of this moment, really pausing to take in the fact that that is happening.
It such a moment in history, so striking to see him there.
Then the president really went on a speech that went through a lot of different areas, including the fact that he really wants Congress to act.
He gave them a deadline on policing, saying by May 25th, a year after George Foy was killed by that officer, that was now that has now been convicted of his murder, that the Congress should pass that bill by then.
He also really cast a lot of his plans, a lot of his ideas as this being a competition between America and our adversaries, saying a time after time that autocrats are betting against America, hoping that there's too much division.
And when it comes to race, when it comes to politics, immigration, climate change, he said, our adversaries essentially want us to fail in America, that we can't let them happen again.
Let that happen.
Moving to note is that he called out Republicans here.
He said Republicans come to the table.
We want to hear your ideas.
But he also made the case we're not going to waste doing nothing on the economy, doing nothing on climate change, doing nothing on a number of issues that he talked about.
He said it's just not the right thing.
I think I'm also struck by the idea that the president said we have a chance here to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.
That, of course, echoing the words of the late civil rights icon, Martin Luther King.
He's saying here we have a moment.
Don't lose this moment here.
After all that we've been through as country.
So this was really President Biden laying out his plans, but also wanting to talk about the history before us here tonight, I think.
Is the president pausing to speak with a Republican senator, Rob Portman?
Maybe I'm having a hard time seeing who's who behind the masks.
But it is a pretty remarkable thing to see a president lingering in the way we are seeing President Biden do, having real brief but real conversations with people on his way out of the chamber.
It's not as noisy in the House chamber as it would normally be at this time with so many people there.
So presumably people can can hear one another speaking, but you make sure you're absolutely right.
The president threw down the gantlet to Republicans on guns.
He said it's time to do something on immigration.
It's time to do something on the George Floyd Act.
On voting rights.
He was, of course, addressing everyone in the room and everyone watching on television.
But he was he was speaking to Republicans several times on several at several points, and he called them out.
Lisa Desjardins, I'm going to bring you in again.
It seemed to me he touched on just about every one of the legislative challenges that the administration is trying to get through Congress right now.
You know, these speeches are known for their laundry list style, but really all of these were just not just small ideas.
These were major platforms and missions that he was talking to Congress, climate, gun, racial justice, immigration, all of it.
And what you see right now is this.
This is him reaching across, talking to Republican members.
Now, as they're as you say, as you were saying, Judy, and I see more Republicans just pass for the camera is waiting to talk to him.
Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, one of those.
So this is an interesting situation.
The president has just said to Republicans, I want to talk to you.
And here he is walking out the chamber doing that.
So he's making good on that side.
So we have to just question for this president, of course, is can he sway any of these votes?
It's going to be very difficult to win over these Republicans in this environment.
But here he is trying to do that.
One thing also stood out to me where I'm sitting right now, where the president is about to walk to.
This is a place where we had House members fearing for their lives just a few months ago, hiding from insurrectionists.
Just on the other side of the wall.
And President Biden made the choice to mention that, but not really talk about it in depth.
I have to think that that has something to do with him not wanting to make this too partizan of a speech.
He knows that that is a very raw subject here and a very difficult one at the Capitol.
He mentioned it, but he didn't talk about it at length.
Which is remarkable because it was such a stunning moment in history.
And a very good point, Lisa, because and this may be a republic and the president is speaking with here,.
I believe she's a congresswoman from Staten Island.
Lisa, you may you may be able to help me out speaking with.
Thank you very much.
Malliotakis Congressman Malliotakis from Staten Island, a Republican who probably doesn't agree with the president on a number of issues, but still taking a moment to speak with him.
It looks like she's giving him her card.
This is the kind of thing we haven't seen a great deal of in recent years.
Presidents having real conversations with members of the other party.
We don't want to make too much of it because we know there's still a lot of opposition to what the administration is a gentleman from.
With what the Democrats have put forward, it looks like some of the members are trying to still trying to to talk with the president.
We know that there will be a Republican response.
It's going to come in just a few moments from Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who's going to be speaking from another room there in the Capitol, the Mike Mansfield Room.
We will be going to to Senator Scott as soon as that gets underway.
But in the meantime, I'm going to turn to our our analys.
Ts Who are joining us, David Brooks with The New York Times columnist, friend of the program, Jonathan Capehart, another friend of the program from The Washington Post joining them, and that Gordon Reed, a historian at Harvard University, and Mark Short, he served as chief of staff to former vice president Mike Pence.
It's so good to see all of you.
I'm going to come to you quickly because we don't know how long it's going to be before we will start to hear from from from Senator Tim Scott.
But, David Brooks, let me start with you.
What is your takeaway from tonight?
First, we've heard a lot of these.
I'm not sure.
I've heard one that had so many policy mentions of the scope of Biden's activism was really evident.
It's like a military industrial complex of wonk ism.
And so I'm just struck by how remarkably active president he is turning out to be, whether you like them or not.
Second, as you mentioned, it's really.
All scoped as us versus the world, us versus the autocrats, a sense of national competition, which I think is an attempt to unify us, to give us a rival, to unify against.
And that came through in his argument for poor education.
If we're going to compete with the rest of the world, how can we possibly only have 12 years of a free education?
We need to add four years to that.
Jonathan Capehart, what about you?
I'll add on to what David said and say this.
I was struck by how much the president didn't have the focus on him after four years of President Trump.
It was always about him.
Many refrains in the president's.
One refrain was because of all of you or because of you.
Early on in the speech, it was about the American people.
Later on in the speech, it was Congress.
Because of you, those of you sitting in the room because of you, we were able to get this done.
And that's not a partizan message.
That is a unifying message.
Yes, he did in various places in the speech.
Take it to the Republicans to say we we need you to move and vote on these things to help the American people.
But to David's point, it really was.
Us against the world, us, all of us, the American people.
Solving these problems to fix the nation at home, but also to make us competitive abroad.
I thought this was despite having maybe a quarter of the people who are normally there.
I agree with Lisa.
It was a much more intimate speech.
But I also think not being in the room, but watching on television,.
It's still, for me, had the same energy and I think a little more focus because we were not distracted by taunts or boos or too many standing ovations or antics that come from from folks watching inside Hall.
Clearly a very different atmosphere in the House chamber.
I want to hear from you, Mark Short.
Again, former chief of staff to the vice president, Mike Pence, as we wait to hear from Senator Scott.
But tell us what you're thinking.
Well, thanks, Judy.
I think that for the first 100 days, the president and his team have done a very good job of presenting him in a moderate way.
And I think his rhetoric has been moderate, even if his policies have been more liberal.
But I think, as David said tonight, he went through such a litany of so many policies that I think are so clearly more liberal that I think it hearkens almost to an FDR new deal of the size and scope of what he's proposing for the government's role in American lives to be.
And if you add up the two trillion in debt relief, plus the four trillion infrastructure, six trillion dollars in spending, it's a massive amount and a massive tax increase.
And I think for the first 100 days, the president's also been abetted by Republicans having so many internal squabbles that perhaps having these policies laid out the way they are, it will actually unify Republicans in a message that gives a contrast to the policies of a huge government.
And interesting, interesting point to make.
And perhaps we can come back to that in just a moment.
We're now about 30 seconds away from Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Annette Gordon Reed, I'm going to come to you after we hear from Senator Scott.
He is speaking, as we said, from the capital that Mike Mansfield Room named after the late Senate majority leader.
Let's I'm reminded.
That Senator Scott has been deeply involved in negotiations over the George Floyd Act.
This is a bill that has to do with reforming policing in the United States.
We expect that he will address that.
Among other things, in his remarks.
I'm Senator Tim Scott from the great state of South Carolina.
We just heard President Biden's first address to Congress.
Our president seems like a good man.
Was full of good words.
But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership.
You promise to unite a nation to lower the temperature, to govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted.
This was a pitch.
You just heard it again.
But our nation is star revving for more than empty platitudes.
We need policies in progress.
That brings us closer together for three months in the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart.
Waste your time with finger pointing or partizan bickering.
You can get that on TV any time you.
I want to have an honest conversation about common sense and common ground, about this feeling that our nation is sliding off its shared foundation and how we move forward together.
Growing up, I never dreamed I would be standing here tonight when I was a kid.
My parents divorced my mother, my brother and I moved in with my grandparents,.
Three of us sharing one bedroom.
I was disillusioned and angry and I nearly.
Failed out of school.
But I was blessed first with a praying mom.
And let me say this to the single mothers out there who are working their tails off, working hard, trying to make the ends meet, wondering if it's worth it.
You can bet it is.
God bless your amazing effort of heart of your kids.
I was also blessed by Chick fil A operator, Germanies, and finally.
With a string of opportunities that are only possible here in America.
This past year, I've watched covid attack every rung of the ladder.
It helped me up.
So many families have lost parents and grandparents too early.
So many small businesses have gone under becoming a Christian transformed my life, but for months, too many churches were shut down.
Most of all, I'm saddened that millions of kids have lost a year of learning when they could not afford to lose a single day 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, but too often powerful grown ups set science aside.
And kids like me were left behind.
The clearest case I've seen for school choice in our lifetimes because we know that education is the closest thing to magic in America.
Last year, under Republican leadership, we passed five bypass covered packages.
Congress supported our schools, our hospitals, saved our economy and funded operation warp speed, delivering vaccines in record time.
All five bills got 90 90 votes in the Senate.
Common sense found common ground.
Republicans told President Biden, we wanted to keep working together to finish this fight, but Democrats wanted to go.
Spent almost two trillion dollars on a partizan bill that the White House bragged was the most liberal bill in American history.
Only one percent went to vaccinations.
No requirement to reopen schools promptly covid Congress together.
Five times, this administration pushed us apart.
Another issue that should unite us as infrastructure.
Support everything you think of when you think of.
Infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, airports, waterways, high speed broadband.
In for all of that.
But again, Democrats want a partizan wishlists.
They won't even build bridges to build bridges less than six percent.
The president's plan goes to roads and bridges.
It's a liberal wish list of big government waste.
Plus, the biggest job killing tax hikes in a generation.
Experts say when all is said and done, it would lower wages of the average American worker and shrink our economy.
Tonight, we also heard about a so-called family plan, even more taxing, even more spending to put Washington even more in the middle of your life from the cradle to college.
The beauty of the American dream is.
That families get to define it for themselves.
We should be expanding opportunities and options for all families, not throwing money at certain issues because Democrats think they know best infrastructure spending that shrinks our economy is not common.
Our southern borders and creating a crisis is not compassionate.
The president is also abandoning principles he's held for decades now.
He says your tax dollars should fund abortions.
He's laying groundwork to pack the Supreme Court.
Is not common ground.
Nowhere do we need common ground more desperately than in our discussions of race.
I have experience the pain of discrimination.
I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason to be followed around a store while I'm shopping.
I remember every morning at the kitchen table, my grandfather would open the newspaper and read it, I thought.
But later I realized he had never learned to read it.
He just wanted to set the right example.
I've also experienced a different kind of intolerance.
Called Uncle Tom and the N-word by progressives, by liberals.
Just last week, a national newspaper suggested my family's poverty was actually.
A privilege because a relative on land generations before my time, believe me, I know firsthand our healing is not finished.
In twenty fifteen, after the shooting of Walter Scott, I wrote a bill to fund body cameras.
Last year after the deaths of Brianna Taylor and George Floyd, I built an even bigger police reform proposal for my Democratic colleagues.
I extended an olive branch.
I offered amendments.
But Democrats used a filibuster to block the debate from even happening.
My friends across the aisle seemed to want the issue more than they wanted a solution.
But I'm still working.
I'm hopeful that this will be different when.
America comes together.
We've made tremendous progress, but powerful forces want to pull us apart.
A hundred years ago, kids in classrooms were taught the color of their skin was their most important characteristic, and if they looked a certain way, they were inferior.
Today, kids are being taught that the color of their skin defines them again, and if they look a certain way, they're an oppressor.
From colleges to corporations to our culture, people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven't made any progress at all by doubling down on the divisions we've worked so hard to heal.
You know, this stuff is wrong.
Hear me clearly.
America is not a racist country.
It's backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination.
And it's wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly.
Shut down debates in the present.
I'm an African-American who's voted in the South my entire life.
I take voting rights personally.
Republicans support making it easier to vote and harder to cheat, and so do the voters.
Big majorities of Americans support early voting and big majority support voter I.D., including African-Americans and Hispanics.
Common sense makes common ground.
But today, this conversation has collapsed.
The state of Georgia passed a law that expands early voting.
Preserves no excuse mail in voting, and despite what the president claimed, did not reduce Election Day hours.
If you actually read.
This law, it's mainstream.
It will be easier to vote early in Georgia than in Democrat run New York.
But the left doesn't want you to know that they want people virtue signaling by yelling about a law they haven't even read.
Fact checkers have called out the White House for the statements.
The president absurdly claims that this is worse than Jim Crow.
What is going on here?
I'll tell you a Washington power grab.
Outrage is supposed to justify Democrats new sweeping bill that would take over elections for all 50 states.
It would send.
Public funds to political campaigns you disagree with and make the bi partizan federal elections Commission.
This is not about civil rights or our racial past.
It's about rigging elections in the future.
And the same filibuster that President Obama and President Biden praised when they were senators, the same filibuster that the Democrats used to kill my police reform bill last year has not suddenly become a racist relic just because the shoe is now on the other foot.
Is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way one side wants.
It's far too important.
Should be a joyful springtime for our nation.
This administration inherited a tide that had already turned.
The coronavirus is on the run.
Thanks to Operation Warp Speed in 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?
Anxious a nation with so much cause for hope should not feel so heavy.
President who promised to bring us together, should not be pushing agenda that tear us apart.
The American family deserves better and we know what better looks like just before covid, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime, the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians and a 70 year low nearly for women.
Wages for higher wages were growing faster at the bottom than at the top.
Twenty five percent saw their wages go up faster than the top twenty five per cent.
That happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans.
In addition to that, we faced opportunity zones, criminal justice reform and permanent funding for historically.
Black colleges and universities.
For the first time ever, we fought the drug epidemic, rebuilt our military and cut taxes for working families and single moms like the one that.
Our best future will not come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams.
It will come from you, the American people, black, Hispanic, white and Asian, Republican and Democrat, brave police officers in black neighborhoods.
We are not adversaries.
We are family.
We are all in this together and we get to live in the greatest country.
On earth, the country where my grandfather and his ninety four years saw his family go from cotton to Congress.
In one lifetime.
So I am more than hopeful.
I am confident that our finest hour has yet to come.
Original sin is never the end of the story, not in our souls and not for our nation.
The real story is always redemption.
I am standing here because my mom has prayed me through some really tough times.
I believe our nation has succeeded the same way because generations of Americans in their own ways have asked for grace and God has supplied.
So I will close with a word from a worship song that really helped me through this past year of covid.
The music is new, but the words draw from Scripture.
May the Lord bless you and keep you make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May his presence go before you and behind you and beside you in your weeping and your rejoicing.
He is for you.
His favor be upon our nation for a thousand generations.
And your family and your children and their children.
Good night and God bless the United States of America that.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott delivering the Republican response to President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress there at the end, citing the words of a gospel song but earlier and criticizing President Biden's speech as platitudes and saying that it will further serve to divide Americans and then criticizing specific parts of it.
I want to bring in historian Annette Gordon Reed, who's been with us.
Annette Gordon Reed, you were listening to this.
What did you make of Senator Scott's remarks?
Well, it was interesting, quite.
Religious, very much hitting the points you expected him to make appealing to culture, the culture war.
I think, to rally his troops, the people who believe in what he believes.
I expected to see a bit more of a point by point, perhaps refutation of what the president had to say.
I think it's very complicated because his his rendition, his understanding of what's going on in Georgia struck me as as not exactly accurate, nor the statement about the vaccine's vaccination program that really got jumpstarted after the new administration.
But I think he was effective for what it is that he was supposed to be doing and to the people for whom he was supposed to be speaking.
Noteworthy that he said he even though he was discouraged with the administration's response so far on the George Floyd Act on policing reform, he still had some hope that there would be a productive result.
We want to get also interesting.
And I do want to come back to you and let Gordon read in just a moment.
But right now, let's get some reaction from lawmakers.
And I want to start with Representative Pramila Jean-Paul, Democrat from Washington State.
She's joining us from the Capitol.
Congresswoman, Congressman Agia Paul, can you hear me?
I see you holding your ear or earpiece.
Judy Woodruff, can you hear me there talking?
I can't really.
We will come back to her in just a moment.
Once once they have that working.
David Brooks, I'm going to come to you while we get that sorted out.
What was your take on on what Tim Scott had to say?
I mean, he pretty much dismissed what what President Biden was was trying to do, which was paint a picture where saying I'm open to working with Republicans I thought.
Was quite effective speech and hope that it was a lot longer than the usual responses.
Tim Scott is extremely personable person.
And that came through, which he had good intonation, good warmth, the emphasis on the Georgia voting laws in our state.
Republicans really think that's still a good issue for them.
They think voter ID is very popular and they're right about that.
I don't know about the whole lot of it, but they they are not afraid of the voting issue.
I think the big thing that struck me was Joe Biden has just proposed somewhere like six to eight trillion dollars in government spending and Tim Scott barely touched it.
He talked you know, he mentioned that it's big government liberalism, which I suppose it is.
But he's got to the Republicans have to come up with a policy response because a lot of these individual policies are popular.
And there has to be an argument on the other side.
And Tim Scott talked about school closing, talked with a lot of other stuff.
But the main thing here in front of us is these big government spending programs and Republicans really have to have an argument.
And what about that?
Jonathan Capehart, the president did lay out a number of initiatives tonight that we know he cares.
He says he cares very deeply about from health care to jobs to education to, as we just mentioned, voting rights, immigration.
You go down the list.
What what is the I mean, is there a way for Republicans to look at this and pick it apart or or what?
I mean, what should their approach be?
Well, I agree with David that their approach should be going point by point, toe to toe with the president on his ideas.
The peril that Senator Scott faced is the same peril that anyone.
Who has to do the response to the sitting president is.
And that is you don't know exactly what he's going to say.
So you try to anticipate what he might say and then get your message across.
Thought Senator Scott response and a lot of ways was beside the point, specifically because of what David pointed out.
The president's speech was filled with policy specifics and policy proposals.
And the Republican response for it to be effective should have been a policy specific specifics and policy proposals, especially since the White House had put out what the American jobs plan is and how they're going to pay for.
Of weeks ago, a few weeks ago, it's not like they didn't know what he was going to say.
And it seemed as though Senator Scott opted to, as Annette Gordon just said,.
Opted to do the culture war thing, opted to talk to a very narrow band of the American populace rather than come to the table with with specifics, with Republican ideas.
He is the lead negotiator on the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.
For Republicans in the Senate.
It would have been wonderful if he spent any time, but certainly a lot of time talking through the specifics of his objections with the bill as it came from the House and his ideas, Republican ideas to get it to get it to passage.
But he didn't do that.
And instead, he he.
Leaned on religion.
He leaned on culture war and didn't say anything with regard to specifics.
I mean, he did he did bring up of course, he discussed that George Floyd act.
But but he he mainly criticized Democrats.
And they seem to want the issue more than they want progress.
I am going to try to go back now to Congresswoman Pramila Jaya.
Paul, Washington State.
I think you can hear us and we can hopefully hear you.
Representative Paul, tell us what your reaction is first, though, to President Biden's remarks.
Well, it was a wonderful speech, Judy.
You know, I think that the president was compassionate.
He spoke to the American people about all the things we had already gotten done in ninety nine days of his presidency from shots and arms, checks in pockets, you know, making sure we were helping small businesses.
And then he laid out a vision.
And this was a generous vision.
It was a hopeful vision.
It was a call to action for Americans across the country who have been wondering who are we as a country?
You know, he talked about paid leave and families.
He talked about child care.
He talked about free college and trade school and how we need to invest in early education and higher education.
He you know, he really brought home, I think, the issue of immigration in saying this is what we need to do.
Let's deal with this once and for all.
And of course, he touched on any number of other things, including ending the endless war in Afghanistan.
And I think that was also a really important point to who we are as a country in our global nation of allies arou.
Nd The world.
Congressman, Congresswoman, is one of the thing we did hear just now from Senator Tim Scott in the Republican response describing what President Biden wants as a cradle to to the end of school government involvement in education in a very in a critical way, saying this approach is the wrong approach.
Well, what I keep thinking about and I was in an urban labor hearing today saying exactly this, as Republicans were saying, you know, Americans don't want government in their schools.
Well, actually, the families plan, what people know about it has 65 percent approval across the country.
The jobs and infrastructure plan has 68 percent approval.
Across the country, the rescue plan is wildly successful.
So, yes, Americans do need help right now.
They want government to come in and be a great equalizer of opportunity and to help them get back on their feet and feel like they've got a future that they can be proud of.
I Paul, very good to see you.
Thank you so much for taking time to to speak with us tonight.
I do want to go back to one of our guests, analyst Mark Short, formerly, of course, worked, as we said, for Vice President Pence.
What about this back and forth over government role in education and President Biden's argument that in the 21st century, 12 years of free education is simply not enough for America to compete in the world?
Well, Judy, I think it goes to the larger point that Tim Scott was making.
And I think even to David's point, we should be welcoming this debate about what do we want the size and scope of the federal government to be.
My wife and I have chosen to educate our children in the public schools here in this area.
And, you know, sadly, so much of the curriculum now moves away from science and math and instead devolves into critical race theory.
And I think that there's a lot of us who don't want more government involvement in education and don't want more government involvement in our lives.
And I think that that is that is a welcome debate.
For Republicans is something that we should champion as opposed to some of the personality debates that that we've been having over the last few years.
So so being able to have a stark contrast, what we think the size and scope of government should be is really something we should welcome.
And laying out really roughly close to four trillion dollars in new tax increases from tonight is another debate that we should be welcoming to have, because the reality is that even China has lowered their corporate tax rate.
If you go to the Biden Harris proposal, of twenty eight percent and you add state and local taxes that governments don't pay, we'd be the very highest of all industrialized nations.
And that's what we're paying in corporate tax rates.
So that's a debate we should welcome.
Joining us tonight as as a guest analyst, I want to bring in another member of Congress right now.
He's Representative Kevin Brady of Texas.
He's the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Congressman, very good to see you.
I want to bring you into this conversation about about what President Biden had to say tonight and in particular, what the government's role should be as we think about education, as we think about the environment and a number of other issues the president raised.
So, one, Judy, thanks for having me.
It's great to see you.
Secondly, it was certainly a different atmosphere with sort of unusual social distancing today.
But these are always important events to be at, in my view.
So, look, obviously, the president has been fortunate, inherited a very strong economic recovery and life saving vaccines.
We're seeing good things from that.
But my worry, obviously, was I counted up over five million jobs, U.S. jobs lost because the tax increases he talked about tonight, I think that's going to sabotage the economic recovery.
I think it's going to hurt working families.
And I know I'm certain it will drive U.S. jobs overseas just as it did the last time we saw these high rates.
I want to ask you, though, about about something President Biden cited.
He said during in the period after this pandemic, 650 billionaires in this country have picked up an additional couple of trillion dollars in worth.
At the same time, 20 million Americans have lost their jobs.
I mean, that's a pretty stark contrast, isn't it?
Does it is.
If it were in context.
So first, we've gained back almost two thirds of the jobs we lost because we came into this with such a strong economy.
Congress worked together on cheap loans and others.
So we've made great progress.
What he didn't say was that there are about 10 billionaires, Elon Musk, others, who you would recognize who had extraordinary gains in their stock prices.
During this period, covid period.
It doesn't reflect that.
And so the bottom line is, if you think you can tax, spend and borrow your way to prosperity with tax increases, it simply doesn't work that way in tax reform.
What we did was drive poverty rate to the lowest in more than half a century.
Our household income in 2019 was eight times larger, was bigger than all eight years.
The Obama administration in income inequality shrunk.
That's how you gain these goals.
But we're also eager to do help working families.
Congressman, ready just in a few seconds, are there things that you can work with this president on?
Real infrastructure has always been bipartisan.
Support, becoming medical independent from China in crucial medicines, medical supplies.
I think there are ways to improve access to paid family medical leave, but without permanently smaller paychecks, which is what the president is proposing.
So absolutely, there's common ground, but I'll tell you, I've always had a reputation for finding that common ground.
I've had no outreach from anyone in the White House on how we work together.
I think that's a problem.
Congressman Kevin Brady of the state of Texas, thank you.
We very much appreciate your joining us.
And in just the short time that we have left, I'm going to quickly go back to historian Annette Gordon Reed for a final comment, bringing it all together.
Annette, here at the end, the Republicans we're hearing still seem to be saying they're not hearing what they want from this president.
That's not surprising there.
There's a gulf there very, very far apart.
Everything we've seen suggests that he is going to try.
To reach across the aisle.
And as they have suggested, even Tim Scott said that he was willing to do that.
He was willing to try.
So that's the only thing that we can hope for, that they will reach common ground and continue to try to do that.
But it doesn't seem a hopeful prospect at this particular moment given his response tonight in the way we said before, being unresponsive to the points in the speech.
I will say in response and reaction to what Congressman Brady just said, that the White House is saying the president is prepared to work with members of the other party.
Thank you, Annette Gordon Reed.
Thank you to all of our analysts that does conclude our special live.
Coverage and analysis of the president's first address to a joint session of Congress.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
Please join us online and again here tomorrow.
Evening for all of us at the PBS News Hour.
Please stay safe and we'll see you soon.
This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.