President Joe Biden, in his annual address to both houses of Congress on Tuesday, will say that American democracy is “wounded” but “strong and intact.”
In his first speech to a joint session of Congress since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in January this year, Biden will mention economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the huge plans for infrastructure law and inflation reduction bills passed. in 2022. The White House chief is expected to point out that a divided Congress can still pass new laws in the near future.
“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there’s no reason we can’t work together in the new Congress,” read excerpts from Biden’s speech released by the White House at the day before the speech.
“People sent us a clear message. Fighting for fighting, strength for power, conflict for conflict will get us nowhere. We were sent here to finish the job,” the speech read.
The president claims to want to unite the country, but remains unpopular.
Biden’s public approval rating rose a full percentage point to 41% in a Reuters/Ipsos poll that ended on Sunday. It’s near the lowest level of his presidency: 65% of Americans now think the country is heading in the wrong direction, up from 58% a year earlier.
In his speech, Biden will say that the economy benefits from 12 million new jobs, that COVID-19 no longer controls American lives, and that American democracy remains strong.
“Today, our democracy, despite its wounds, remains steadfast and unbroken,” read excerpts from the speech.
Biden’s aides see the speech, which will draw millions of viewers and possibly the president’s biggest TV audience of the year, as a major milestone ahead of a second presidential campaign, which he is expected to announce in the coming weeks. .
Biden turned 80 in November and, if re-elected, he will be 82 at the start of his second term, which recent polls have many Democratic voters worried about.
Biden will note the resilience and strength of the US economy as unemployment fell to nearly a 54-year low in January. At the same time, Biden will promise to continue his efforts to reduce inflation and protect social pension payments and public health insurance programs.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that 2023 should be a year of “significantly lower inflation,” adding that a strong labor market means the process of raising interest rates could continue. “for a certain time”.
Biden will slam companies for profiting from the pandemic and release a wish list of economic proposals, the White House said, though many are unlikely to pass Congress. These include a special tax on billionaires and a quadrupling of the tax on corporate stock buybacks.
On foreign policy, Biden is expected to speak separately about the US response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO strength and US-China tensions.
President will call for bipartisan unity to advance cancer research, support veterans, expand general mental health services and fight ‘the opioid epidemic and overdoses,’ the White House said .
Joe Biden will ask Congress to strengthen regulation of the tech sector, including strengthening user data privacy protections, one of the presidential aides has said.
Police reform will also be addressed in a speech following the death of Tire Nichols, an African-American man who died last month after being beaten by police in Memphis. Nichols’ mother and stepfather will be among the president’s guests at Congress.
Biden will also push for Congress to require background checks on all gun buyers and ban the sale of assault weapons, the White House said, though the prospects for those laws are dim.
Chairman Kevin McCarthy will speak for the first time since Biden. Democrats and Republicans are at odds over raising the $31.4 trillion public debt ceiling that must be raised in coming months to avoid a default.
On Tuesday, McCarthy said he would not tear up the text of Biden’s speech, referring to former President Nancy Pelosi’s actions following Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address.
“I respect the other side,” McCarthy said in the video. – I may disagree with politics. But I want to make sure this country is strong, economically resilient, energy independent, safe and responsible. He said he urged Biden not to use the phrase “extremist MAGA Republicans” in his speech.
Some Republicans in the House of Representatives are questioning Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential race against Trump, vowing to investigate his cabinet and family. But narrow majorities and intra-party divisions have made it difficult for Republicans to choose a speaker, and they are expected to continue to fight to unite the faction.
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