tv Presidential Address to Congress NBC April 28, 2021 6:00pm-8:00pm PDT
tonight, president joe biden center stage. his first address to a joint session of congress before a nation still deeply divided over the election, still reeling from the pandemic. just ahead, the president's big plan from infrastructure to climate, to economic relief and the big with it, and can the bipartisanship find common ground or will he go it alone? america will be watching tonight in this presidential address to congress. ♪♪
♪♪ from nbc news, a presidential address to congress live from studio 1a in new york. here are lester holt and savannah guthrie. >> good evening, everyone. i'm lester holt here with savannah, just moments from now president joe biden will enter the house chamber to speak to a joint session of congress. the president, who for decades, has either been a senator watching from a gallery or a vice president sitting on stage, now the man of the moment and it probably isn't going to look a lot like he imagined it might and we'll explain in a moment. per tradition, we should tell you the first speech from a president to congress is called a joint address rather than a state of the union, but it will look like a state of the union. >> it will look a lot like a state of the union and before one word his been uttered tonight, history has been made. two women behind the podium for the first time in our nation's history and this is the first time congress has met for a
joint session in that very chamber since january 6th when rioters attacked the heart of our democracy. the president tonight has a big agenda. he's set to unveil a new $1.8 trillion plan that he says will help working american families. >> and you can see folks finding their seats as chuck schumer there, the seating is quite wide and quite varied trying to keep people from closer interactions in the age of covid. i want to go to nbc chief white house correspondent peter alexander who has learned more about the president's preparations and what he plans to tell the american people tonight. peter? >> lester, we're getting an early look at some of the president's comments through his excerpts and the president will say that america is on the move again. he'll push congress in his words, to put peril into possibility. aides tell me he has been revising this speech for days as we watch the chamber right now, we are told he'll be about an hour long and the biggest takeaway here and this call for
one of the largest expansion of government more than $6 trillion to do it, as you see the first lady, joe biden and the second gentleman. he'll want to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and tonight we will be watching that chamber and the reaction from republican, lester and savannah who say it's a non-starter. >> all right, peter, thank you. >> let's turn to nbc's kasie hunt who is inside that chamber right now and as we mentioned this is not going to look like speeches we've seen in the past what would usually be 1600 people in the house chamber, there's only 200 now and not the full senate, kasie and not as members of the supreme court and the cabinet and also pandemic changes and security changes, as well. >> that's right, savannah, and i have to tell you, it is surreal to be here for this event. i'm standing up in the house galleries where we normally cover these addresses from, but instead there are only a handful of reporters and so few people on the floor. the atmosphere feels almost casual.
it's very strange. it's more than any normal day with the normal number of people that will be scattered around on the house floor than it is like a huge ceremony like a joint address from the state of the union and what you can see on the screen is pandemic precaution and the chairs that have papers sitting on them are blocked off. every person has an assigned seat that has been able and invited to attend. >> let's pause for a moment and listen to this moment. let's pause for a moment. >> madam speaker, the president of the united states. [ applause ] >> william walker, the sergeant at arms, the first black sergeant at arms. 47 years ago joe biden first came to congress and he has sat through many of these speeches and never has he walked down the aisle and been the man of the hour, the one to deliver the address and what a time. as mentioned, though, kasie, we've seen these pandemic
precautions and a slimmed-down audience and security precautions in light of what happened in that very room just a couple of months ago on january 6th. [ applause ] >> -- in the wake of that insurrection. the reality is security is much tighter than it normally is. members of congress had to go through magnetometers like tsa screening at the airport and something incredibly unusual has never happened before in keeping with the house of representatives in the wake of the january 6th insurrection that concerns that members of congress may carry something dangerous with them. >> i attended a meeting with the president and other tv journalists largely off the record today to talk about what he wants to unveil tonight and he seemed very relaxed and very confident and it's clear he's picking things that are popular, big price tag, but popular.
>> members of congress, i have the high privilege and distinct honor to present to you the president of the united states. [ applause ] >> all of this pomp and circumstance will take less time than usual because of the smaller crowd and let's listen to the president as he addresses the nation for the first time. >> thank you. [ applause ] thank you, thank you, thank you. good to be back. [ applause ] >> it's good to be almost home. down the hall. anyway, thank you all. madam speaker, madam vice president. [ applause ]
no president has ever said those words from this podium. no president has ever said those words and it's about time. [ applause ] >> first lady -- i'm her husband. second gentleman, chief justice, members of the united states congress and the cabinet, distinguished guests, my fellow americans, while the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is just a little bit different. a reminder of the extraordinary times we're in. throughout our history, presidents have come to this chamber to speak to congress, to
the nation and to the world, to declare war, to celebrate peace, to announce new plans and possibilities. tonight, i come to talk about crisis and opportunity about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy and winning the future for america. i stand here tonight one day shy of the 100th day of my administration, a hundred days since i took the oath of office and lifted my hand on our family bible and inherited a nation. we all did, that was in crisis. the worst pandemic in a century, the worst economic crisis since the great depression, the worst attack on our democracy since the civil war. now, after just 100 days, i can report to the nation, america is
on the move again. [ applause ] >> turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity, setbacks into strength. we all know life can knock us down, but in america we never, ever, ever stay down. americans always get up. today, that's what we're doing. america is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies and light over darkness. after 100 days of rescue and renewal, america's ready for a takeoff, in my view. we are 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. none. 100 days ago america's house was on fire. we had to act. thanks to extraordinary leadership of speaker pelosi, 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 results. [ applause ] >> we're already seeing the results. [ applause ] >> after i promised we'd get 100 million covid-19 vaccine shots into people's arms in a hundred days, we will have provided over 220 million covid shots in those
hundred days. thanks to all of the help of all of you. we are marshalling, with your help, everyone's help, we are marshalling every federal resource. we've gotten vaccines to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centers for the poorest of the poor can be reached. we are setting up community vaccination sites and developing mobile units to get the hard to reach communities. today, 90% 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, america. go and get the vaccination. they're available. [ applause ]
they're eligible now. [ applause ] >> when i was sworn in on january 20th less than 1% of the seniors in america were fully vaccinated against covid-19. 100 days later, 70% of seniors in america over 65 are protected, fully protected. senior deaths from covid-19 are down 80% since january. down 80% because of all of you and more than half of all of the adults in america have gotten at least one shot. a mass vaccination center in glendale, arizona, i asked a nurse -- i said, "what's it like?" she looked at me and said, "it's like every shot is giving a dose of hope." a dose of hope for an educator
in florida with a child suffering from an auto immune disease wrote to me said 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 and just cried. cried out of joy and cried out of relief. parents, seeing the smiles on their kids' faces for those that are able to go back to school because the teachers and the school bus drivers and the cafeteria workers have been vaccinated. grandparents, hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing hands against a window to say good-bye. it means everything. those things mean everything. you know, there's still -- you all know it, you know better than any group of american, there's still more work to do to beat this virus. we can't let our guard down, but tonight i can say because of
you, the american people, our progress these past hundred days with 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, of sending $1400 rescue checks to 85% of american households. we've already sent more than 160 million checks out the door. it's making a difference. you all know when you go home. for many people it's making all the difference in the world. a single mom in texas who wrote me, she said she couldn't work. 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 he 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 -- not people just barely able to start those cars, nice cars, lined up for miles waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk. i don't know about you, but i never thought i'd see that in america, and all of this is through no fault of their own, man. 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 that re-opened and keep their employees on the job. during these hundred days an additional 800,000 americans enrolled in the affordable care act when i established a special sign-up period to do that, 800,000 in that period. i'm making one of the biggest one-time ever investments ever in improving health care for veterans. critical investments to address the crisis and maybe most importantly, thanks to the american rescue plan, we're on track to cut child poverty in america in half this year.
[ applause ] >> in the process, while this is all going on, the economy created more than 1,300,000 new jobs in a hundred days. more jobs in -- [ applause ] more jobs in the first hundred days than any president on record. the international monetary fund -- [ applause ] >> the international monetary fund is now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than 6% this year. that will be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades. america's moving. 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 inflexion point in history. we have to do more than just build back better. we have to build back, and build back better. we have to compete more strenuously than we have. throughout our history, think about it, public investment in infrastructure has literally transformed america. our attitudes, as well as our opportunities. the transcontinental railroad, 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 opened wide the doors of opportunity, scientific breakthroughs took us to the moon, now we're on mars discovering vaccines and gave us the internet and so much more. these are investments we made
together as one country and investments that only the government was in a position to make. time and again they propel us into the future. that's why i proposed the american jobs plan, a once-in-a-generation in america itself. this is the largest jobs plan since world war ii. it creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. jobs modernizing our roads, bridges, highways. jobs building ports and airports, rail carters, transit lines. it's clean water, and today up to 10 million homes in america and more than 400,000 schools and child care centers have pipes with lead in them including drinking water, a clear and present danger to our children's health.
american jobs plan creates jobs replacing 100% of the nation's lead pipes and service lines so every american can drink clean water. [ applause ] >> and the process will create thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs. it creates jobs connecting every american with high-speed internet including 35% of the rural america that 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 it would get done. it creates jobs building a modern power grid. our grids are vulnerable to
storms, hacks, and catastrophic failures with tragic results as we saw in texas and elsewhere during the winter storms. american jobs plan will create jobs that will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid. we can do that. [ applause ] >> look, american jobs plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and back to their careers. too many women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic, 2 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. 800,000 families are on a medicare waiting list right now
to get home care for their aging parent or loved one with a disability. if you think it's not important, check out in your own district, democrat or republican -- democrat or republican voters. their great concern and almost as much as the children is taking care of an elderly loved one who can't be left alone. medicaid contemplates it, but this plan will help those families and create jobs for our caregivers with better wages and better benefits, continuing the cycle of growth. for too long, we failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis -- jobs. jobs. jobs.
[ applause ] >> for me, when i think climate change, i think jobs. american jobs plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy-efficient buildings and homes. electrical workers, ibw members installing 5,000 charging stations along our highways so we can own -- so we can own the electric car market. [ applause ] >> farmers -- farmers planting cover crops so they can reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it. [ applause ] >> think about it, there is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can't be built in pittsburgh instead of beijing. no reason. none. no reason. [ applause ] but folks --
[ applause ] >> there's no reason why american -- american workers can't lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries. i mean, there's no reason. we have this capacity. [ applause ] we have the brightest people in the world. the american jobs plan will 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 of the investments in the american jobs plan will be guided by one principle, buy american. buy american. [ applause ] and i might note, parenthetically, that does not -- that does not violate any trade agreement. it's been the law since the '30s, buy 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 to be and it will be in this administration. [ applause ] >> and i made it clear to all my cabinet people, their ability to give exemptions has been strenuously limited. it will be american products. so i know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you. so many of you -- so many of the folks i grew up with feel left behind, forgotten in an economy so rapidly changing it's frightening. i want to speak directly to you because if you think about it, that's what people are most worried about. can i fit in? independent experts estimate the
american jobs plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in the years to come. it is a -- it is an eight-year program. these are good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced. nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the american jobs plan do not require a college degree. 75% don't require an associates degree. american jobs plan is a blue collar blueprint to build america. that's what it is. [ applause ] >> recognize something i've always said in this chamber and the other, good guys and women are on wall street, but wall street didn't build this country. the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class. [ applause ] that's why i'm calling on
congress to pass the protect the to unionize. [ applause ] and by the way, while you're thinking about sending things to my desk, let's raise the minimum wage to $15. [ applause ] no one -- 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. while we're doing this, get the fairness act, equal pay and it's been far too long and if you wonder if it's far too long look behind me and finally, american jobs plan will be the biggest
increase in non-defense increase in development on record. we'll see more technological change. some of you know more about this than i do. we'll see more technological change in the next ten years than the last 50. that's how rapidly artificial intelligence and so much more is changing, and we're falling behind the competition with the rest of the world. decades ago we used to invest 2% of our gross domestic product in america. 2% of our gross domestic product in research and development. today, mr. secretary, that's less than 1%. china and other countries are closing in fast. we have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future, advance pattern, bio
technology, computer chips, clean energy. what the secretary can tell you and those working on nasa security issues now, the defense department has an agency called darpa, the defense advanced research project agency. the people that 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. it's under the defense department. it's led to everything from the discovery of the internet to gps and so much more that's enhanced our security. the national institutes of health, the nih, i believe, should create a similar advanced research project agency for health.
[ applause ] >> and whatever singular purpose to develop breakthroughs to prevent the tech and treat diseases like alzheimer's, diabetes and cancer. i'll still never forget when we passed the cancer proposal in the last year as vice president, almost $9 million going to nih. if you excuse the point of personal privilege, i'll never forget you, mitch, naming it the name of my deceased son. it meant a lot and so many of us have deceased sons, daughters and relatives who 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.
it's within our power to do it. [ applause ] >> investments 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 with republicans and democrats to discuss the jobs plan and i applaud a group of republican senators who 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, that 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.
[ applause ] look -- we can't be so busy competing with one another and forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century. secretary blinken and i spent a lot of time with president xi, traveled over 17,000 miles with him, spent over 24 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, autocrats, think that democracy can't compete in
the 21st century of autocracies. it takes too long to get consensus. to win that competition to 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 four of the biggest challenges facing american families and in turn, america. first is access to good education. this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best educated, best prepared nation in the world and i believe it's the overwhelming reason that propelled us to where we got in the 21st -- in the 20th century, but the world has caught up or catching up. they're not waiting. i would say parenthetically, if
we were sitting down and we set up a bipartisan committee together and say okay, we'll decide what we do in terms of government providing for free education, i wonder whether we'd 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 plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in america starting as early as we can. the great universities in this country have conducted studies of the last ten years and shows that adding two years of universal high-quality preschool for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old no matter what background they come from, puts them in a position to be able to compete all of the way through
12 years. it increases exponentially their prospect of graduating and going on beyond graduation. research shows when a young child goes to school, not day care, 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. [ applause ] >> and we'll increase pell grants and invest in historical 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 about learning about cybersecurity, just as capable about learning -- all of the things that are going on that
provide those jobs of the future. jill is a community college professor who teaches today as first lady. she's long said -- [ applause ] she's long -- [ applause ] >> i've heard it once, i've heard it a thousand times, joe, any country that out educates us is going to out compete us. she'll be deeply involved in leading this effort. thank you, jill. second thing we need, american families plan will provide access to quality, affordable child care. to guarantee --
[ applause ] >> when i proposed the legislation to guarantee that low and middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high quality care for children up to the age of 5. the most hardpressed working families won't have to spend a dime. third, the american families plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave -- family medical leave. [ applause ] we're one of the few industrial countries in the world -- [ applause ] >> no one should have to choose between a job and a paycheck for 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 the tax credit for every child in the family up to $3,000 per child if they're under 6 years of age -- excuse me, over 6 years of age and $3,600 for children over 6 years of age. for two parents and two kids that's $7200 in their pockets to help take care of their family, and that will help more than 65 million children and help cut child care poverty in half. we can afford it. we did that in the last piece of legislation we passed, but let's extend that child care tax credit at least through the end of 2025. [ applause ] >> the american rescue plan lowered health care premiums for
9 million americans who buy their coverage under the affordable care act. i know this is really popular on this side of the aisle, but let's make that provision permanent so their premiums don't go back up. [ applause ] >> in addition to my families plan i will 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 pre-existing conditions and protecting women's health and the pandemic has demonstrated how badly -- how badly it's needed and let's work on the affordable care act and let's lower prescription drug costs. [ applause ] >> we know how to do this.
[ applause ] the last president -- we all 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 do what we talked about for all of the years i was down here in this body in congress. let's give medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices. [ applause ] by the way, it won't just help people on medicare. lower prescription drug costs for everyone and the money we save which is billions of dollars can go to strengthening
the affordable care act and extend benefits without costing taxpayers an additional penny. it's within our power to do it. let's do it now. [ applause ] 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. [ applause ] so how do we pay for my jobs and family plan? i made it clear we can do it without increasing the deficit. let's start with what i will not do. i will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000, but it's time for corporate america and the
wealthiest 1% of americans to begin to pay their fair share. just their fair share. [ applause ] sometimes i have arguments with my friends in the democratic party. i think you should be able to become a millionaire and billionaire, but pay your fair share. recent studies shows that 55 of the nation's biggest corporations paid zero federal tax last year. those 55 corporations made in excess of $40 billion 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 in reductions 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. [ applause ] we're going to reward work, not just wealth. we take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of americans, those making over $400,000 or more back up to where it was when george w. bush was president, when he started, 39.6%. that's where it was when george w. was president. we are going to get rid of the loopholes and allow americans to make more than $1 million a year and pay a lower tax rate on their capital gains on americans who receive a paycheck. it will only affect 0.3% of
americans by that action, 0.3% and it will crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes. it's estimated to be billions of dollars by think tanks that are left, right and center. i'm not looking to punish anybody, but i will not add a tax burden, an additional tax burden to the middle class in this country. they're already paying enough. i believe what i propose is fair. [ applause ] fiscally responsible and it raises revenue to pay for the plans i propose and it 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 tax on the wealthiest 1% or corporate america ask them, whose taxes do you want to raise? instead, whose are you going to cut?
look, the big tax cut of 2017. remember, it was supposed to pay for itself. that was how it was, and generated vast economic growth. instead, it added $2 trillion to the deficit. it was a huge windfall for corporate america and those at the very top. instead of using the tax savings to raise wages to invest in research and 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 320 times what the average worker in a corporation makes. it used to be the low hundred. 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, 650 billionaires in america saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion in the same exact period. let me say it again, 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion in this pandemic and they're now worth more than $4 trillion. my fellow americans, trickle down -- trickle down economics has never worked. it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out. [ applause ] you know, there's a broad consensus of economists, left, right and center, and they agree what i'm proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth. these are among the highest values and 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 to over 38, 40 of them now, i've made it known -- i've made it known that america's back and you 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, but that we're back to stay, and that we aren't going to go alone. [ applause ] 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 experiencing what we're experiencing now with 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's arsenal for democracy for the world and to influence the world. every american will have access before that -- every american will have access and be fully covered by covid-19 from the vaccines that we have. look, the climate crisis, it's not our fight alone. it's a global fight. the united states accounts as all of you know for less than 50% of carbon emissions.
the rest of the world accounts for 85%. that's why i kept my commitment to re-join 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 of all of the major economies of the world, china, russia, india, european union. i said i'd do it in my first hundred 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 inflexion point in history and the consensus is if we act to save the planet we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity and raise the standard of living of almost everyone around the world. if you've watched any of it, and you were all busy, i'm sure you didn't have that 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, that benefits the middle class. that means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy including china. in my discussions with president xi i told him, we welcome the competition. 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 particular tech and intellectual property. i also told president xi that we'll maintain a strong military presence in the indo-pacific
just like nato and europe, not to start a conflict, but to prevent one. [ applause ] >> i told him 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 him, no responsible american president could remain silent when basic human rights are being so blatantly violated. an american president has to represent the essence of what our country stands for. america 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 i concerned some of you, but i made very clear to putin that we're not going to seek -- excuse me, escalation, but their actions will have consequences if they turn out to be true and they turned out to be true so i responded directly and proportionately to russia's interference in our elections and the cyber attacks in our government and our business. they did both of these things, and i told him we would respond and we have. we can also cooperate when it's our mutual interest. we did it when we extended a new s.t.a.r.t. treaty on nuclear arms and we did it on climate change and he understands, we will respond. on iran and north korea, nuclear programs that present serious threats to the american security
and the security of the world. we will be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy as well as stern deterrents. and american leadership means ending the forever war in afghanistan. [ applause ] we have -- [ applause ] >> we have, wide hyperbole the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. i'm the first president in 40 years to know 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 were not yet born on 9/11. the war in afghanistan, as we remember the debates here, were never meant to be multi-generational undertaking
of nation building. we went to afghanistan to get terrorist, the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11, and we said we would follow osama bin laden to the gates of hell to do it, we've seen the gates of hell and we delivered justice to bin laden. we degraded the terrorist threat of al qaeda and afghanistan, and after 20 years of valor and sacrifice, it's time to bring those troops home. [ applause ] look, even as we do we suppress future threats to the homeland. make no mistake. in 20 years terrorism has metastasized. the threats have evolved way beyond afghanistan. those in the intelligence committee, the foreign relations committee, defense committees,
you know well, we have to remain vigilant with the threats against the united states wherever they come from, somalia, other places in africa, the middle east and beyond and we won't ignore what our intelligence agency determines to be the most lethal 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 gianna floyd, george floyd's young daughter. she was a little tyke, and i was kneeling down to talk to her so i could look her in the eye. she looks at me and she said, my daddy changed the world.
well, that's the conviction of george floyd's murderer, we can see how right she was if we have the courage to act in congress. we all have seen the knee of injustice on the neck of black americans. now is our opportunity to make some real progress. the vast majority of men and women wearing the uniform serve our communities and they serve them honorably. i know them. i know they want -- [ applause ] i know -- [ applause ] i know they want to help meet this moment, as well. my fellow american, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve throw out systemic racism and enact reform
in george floyd's name that passed the house already. i know republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in a very productive discussions with the democrats in senate. we need to work together to find a consensus, but let's get it done next month by the first anniversary of george floyd's death. [ applause ] >> 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 americans and american lives in other ways, the chance to live real equity, good job, good school, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, being able to
generate wealth and pass it down to generations because you have the access to purchase a house, real opportunities in the lives of more americans, black, white, latino, native americans and asian-americans. look, i also want to thank the united states senate for voting 94 to 1 to pass covid-19 hate crimes act to protect asian-americans and pacific islanders. [ applause ] they acted decisively. [ applause ] you can see on television the viciousness of the hate crimes we've seen over the past year and for too long. i urge the house to do the same and send that legislation to my desk which i will gladly, anxiously sign. i also hope congress will get to my desk the equality act to protect lgbtq americans. [ applause ]
all transgender americans watching at home especially young people, who are so brave, i want you to know your president has your back. another thing, let's authorize the violence against women act which has been law for 27 years. [ applause ] 27 years ago, i wrote it. it will close the act that has to be authorized now and it will close the boyfriend loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers, a court order said this is an abuser. you can't own a gun, it's to close that loophole that existed. you know, it's estimated that 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner every month in america. 50 a month. let's pass it and save some lives.
[ applause ] i need not tell anyone this, but gun violence has become an epidemic in america. the flag at the white house is still flying at half-mast for the eight victims of the mass shooting in georgia when ten more lives were taken in the mass shooting in colorado and in the week in between those two events, 250 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 check, 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 declined, check out the report
over ten years, but in the early 2000s, the law expired and we've seen daily bloodshed since. i'm not saying if 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 this epidemic. one of them is banning so-called ghost guns. these are home made guns built from a kit that includes directions on how to finish the firearm. the parts have no serial numbers so they show up at crime scenes and they can't be traced. the buyers of these ghost gun kits aren't required to pass any background check. anyone from a criminal or terrorist can buy this kit 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. [ applause ] look -- [ applause ] >> i don't want to become confrontational, but we need more senate republicans to join the overwhelming majority of democrat colleagues and close the loopholes in the background checks for guns and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. don't tell me it can't be done. we did it before and it worked. talk to most responsible gun owners and hunters, they'll tell you there's no possible justification for having a hundred rounds in a weapon. do they think deer are wearing
kevlar vests? they'll tell you that too many people today are able to buy a gun that shouldn't be able to buy a gun. these kinds of reasonable reforms have overwhelming support from the american people including many gun owners. the country supports reform 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 were certain gun, weapons that could not be owned by americans. certain people could not own those weapons ever. we're not changing the constitution. we're being reasonable. i think this is not a democrat or a 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 of 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 in a comprehensive initiative to the united states congress. if you believe we need a bill pass it because it has security. if you believe in citizenship pass it, the vast majority of folks are overstaying visas. pass it. if you actually want to solve a problem, i've sent a bill to talk a close look at it. we all have to get at the root problem of why people are fleeing especially to the southern border from guatemala, honduras and el salvador, gangs, stability, and natural
disasters. when i was president my president -- when i was vice president the president asked me to focus provide help needed to identify the root causes of migration and to help 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 asked vice president harris to lead our diplomatic effort to take care of this. i have absolute confidence she'll get the job done. [ applause ] now, look, if you don't like my plan, let's at least pass what we all agree on. congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for dreamers. the young -- that have only known america as their home. [ applause ] and affirmative protection for immigrants who are here on
temporary protective status who came from countries set by manmade and natural made violence and disasters as well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers that put food on our tables. look, 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 it. let's debate it. let's act, but if we truly want to restore america we need to protect the sacred right to vote. most people -- [ applause ] more people voted in the last presidential election than any time in american history in the middle of the worst pandemic ever.
it should be celebrated. instead, it's being attacked. congress should pass hr-1 and the john lewis voting rights act and send it to my desk right away. the country supports it and congress should act now. [ applause ] look, as we gather here tonight the image of a violent mob assaulting this capitol, desecrating our democracy remain vivid in all our minds. lives were put at risk, many of your lives, lives were lost, extraordinary courage is summoned. insurrection was an existential crisis and it is far from over. the question whether a democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent as old as our republic, still vital today.
can our democracy deliver on its promise, put all of this image of god lead lives with dignity, respect and possibility. can our democracy deliver the most pressing needs of our people? can our democracy overcome the loss, anger, hate and fears that will pull us apart? america's adversary, the autocrats of the world, are betting we can't, and i promise you they're betting we can't. they believe we're too full of anger, division and rage. we 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 it, i know it, but we have to prove them wrong. we have to prove democracy still works and that our government still works and we can deliver for our people. in our first hundred days together we've acted to restore
people's faith in democracy, we vaccine eighted a nation and delivering hundreds of new jobs and they can see it and feel it in their own lives, guaranteeing more fairness and justice. that's the essence of america. that's democracy in action. our constitution, with the opening word, we, the people. it's time to remember that we, the people, are the government, you and i not some force in a distant capital, not some powerful force that we have no control over. it's us! it's we, the people. another era when our democracy was tested franklin roosevelt reminded us in america we do our part. we all do our part. that's all i'm asking, that we do our part, all of us. if we do that we will meet the center challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.
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 what's happening with the american people. we've stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and we, the people, did not flinch. at the very moment our adversaries were certain we'd pull apart and fail. we came together and we united. with light and hope we summoned a 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. folks, i 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 isn't. we're 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. [ applause ] >> president biden delivering a speech of a little over an hour to about 200 people in the house chambers, we've been telling you covid protocols only allowing a small number there for a speech that covered a lot of ground and the whole notion that democracy
itself is being tested and the challenge that we can rise above it i think is the bedrock of this speech and of course, his very large initiatives with large price tags are ambitious, but may ultimately prove very popular. >> it got philosophical at the end saying -- the president saying that democracy itself was on the line right now. there was a refrain we heard many times, the american people support it and congress should act and the president laying out a very ambitious agenda. you heard the price tag, it proposed nearly $6 trillion in new spending and spending that would in some ways remake the american economy and we will see how it goes over not just with the opposing parties with the democrats themselves to hold the majority, but the slimmest of majorities in the house and they tie in the senate and you see the political situation. here's the exit that we always like to watch, but because there aren't so many people in the hall we can actually see --
>> it might be worth listening. it's a very small group. [ inaudible ] >> but then again, he may know we're listening. >> he must have gotten that funny feeling. >> bernie sanders there as part of that conversation and he's actually able to work the room in a much more intimate way than you would typically see in these things. >> let's bring in chuck todd on what he thinks tonight. >> i do think the president was quite comfortable. he hasn't given a ton of speeches over the last two years, normally a first-term president, we've already seen him speak so much, and we have the unusual campaign and this was the most comfortable, i think he's been so far, but on the substance e of this speech d savannah, i want to get at sort of the price tag. the president and the democrats are making a huge bet that basically covid completely has changed the way the american
people want their relationship with government, that covid -- the democrats are betting that covid was this sort of wake-up call that government is part of the answer. government is part of the solution, and i think about, you know, my whole adult life you had both political parties backing away from that, and it really isn't, not since the '40s, '50s and '60s have we had a president advocating some big spending and big projects like this. we'll see if they're right, but they do believe that the american people's mind has sort of changed post-covid and they want more government. our own polling has shown there is an appetite for more government. >> yeah, this is kind of a remarkable moment here as the president holds court with members of congress here before leaving the room and this is what he likes to do. let me bring in andrea mitchell right now, our chief washington correspondent. andrea, he went down the list, i
mean, he ticked virtually every issue, but when you stand back at 30,000 feet and look at it, what are the things that he thinks he can get done? >> he thinks he can get this jobs plan done. he will have to scale it back, but he said jobs more than any other thing in this entire speech. he talked about jobs. he talked about it as a solution to climate change, as a way to compete against china and as a way to build america back, and i also thought, you know, he was so passionate about human rights, that we have not heard in a state of the union for some time in a joint session speech. he also talked about the soul of america and that was so passionate when he talked about the injustice of the knee of injustice is on the neck of black america and talked about george floyd's daughter, his young daughter saying my daddy changed the world. he thinks he can get the george floyd bill passed. he did not take the house position.
he's talking about compromise and he is talking about tim leading the senate on this and he wants to get it done by the first anniversary of george floyd's death, and that is an ambitious goal, but they think they can get this done. they're not paying for these big bills and the tax bill -- getting the tax bill through is a really big reach. they're now betting that the american people are willing to pay for something and believe in government, as well. i thought it was a remarkable speech again also because at his inaugural he spoke about white supremacy being a real threat and the worst terror threat to america and we haven't heard a president say this until this president joe biden. look how comfortable he is, savannah and lester. he loves being home. he said -- it's great to be home again, he is home at the chamber he knows so well. >> he might not well. >> he's with members of congress and that's joe biden in his
natural environment right there and this is an unconventional address to the joint session of he chit-chats with members of congress on the way out the door. andrea, i'm glad you mentioned tim scott and we await the republican response which will be delivered by south carolina's republican senator tim scott. we expect that any minute now. let me go to kasie hunt who is still in the house chamber and can see. she's got a different vantage point and get the feel of the room, kasie, what did you observe? >> exactly what you were talking about, i'll be in this chamber, we all will be here as long as president biden is in here now talking to jim clyburn, one of his closest allies and this speech and being in this room could not have been a more stunning contrast this year than it was last year when former president trump gave a raucous speech that was in many ways
carefully produced for television and only briefly mentioned coronavirus. he said then he was working with china on coronavirus and in that year, covid has utterly changed our politics, our lives, what americans care about. i think what you were discussing about the issues that president biden hit on here and how people are needing to interact with their government has dramatically changed because of the realities that they face in their own lives and in many ways, president biden rose to the moment that we were facing as a country and the experience he brought to the table was, in many way, perhaps more appreciated than it might have been had we not been facing such a dramatic crisis and i think the sense of urgency to do something like that is what is leading this white house to really push forward as andrea said these very big plans. this republican and democratic audience tonight was much, much smaller than normal and biden in the room was almost casual and
there were members that were taking off their shoes and putting their feet up on the chairs in the gallery and very celebratory atmosphere than typically accompanies these speeches and one thing that stood out to me is that there was only one place in the speech where republicans knew president biden in relation to hr-1 with voting rights and that's something that's animated in the republican base especially after former president trump's claims about the election and the lack of vocal opposition from republicans on the floor tonight, you do typically get many times where the opposing party will boo especially in more recent years on both sides of the aisle, depending on who has held the white house and that just didn't really happen here, and i think that underscores in a colorful way, the political dynamics at play here, and that's
is pushing forward with big initiatives and essentially daring republicans to stand in the way of initiatives that are popular. they seemed reluctant to do so here tonight, savannah. >> kasie, thank you. >> as we continue to watch the president taking his time and speaking to others in the chambers. >> the joint sessions of the two houses now dissolved. >> that's almost like the music of the academy awards. >> the speaker is playing out the band. >> i think he'll be able to stay as long as he wants and let's go to peter alexander. is this typically the way things play out, you make the big pitch and the big program and you go sell it. how do they plan to sell it? >> yes, this president will go on the road beginning tomorrow and headed to atlanta and the first stop will be visiting jimmy carter, the former president and his wife rosalynn
carter. senator joe biden -- candidate jimmy carter so many years ago and a show of respect to former democratic president and on that topic, you really are struck by some of these moments that we're seeing here and more traditional politics taking place and the president in his speech tonight with the nod to mitch mcconnell praising him, thanking him for his kindness in naming one of the cancer initiatives back in 2016 after beau biden, the president's late son, just moments earlier just moments ago you saw rob portman, the republican from ohio sharing an extended moment with the president there, but as you hear this speech tonight i am struck by bill clinton in 1996 and 25 years ago saying the era of big government is over and tonight joe biden effectively said that the era of big government is back and another item that's notable is the fact that this took place almost in may really in the eyes of his aides and allies benefited the president. it wasn't just symbolic approaching 100 days and also
strategic that the president would have been in a position, they said or was in a position tonight to demonstrate some of his successes to this point, the shots in the arms, jobs, checks as well because he's going to need all of that fuel going forward to try to accomplish this ambitious agenda, savannah and lester. >> we'll dig into that more, but we await the remarks from the republicans, senator tim scott of south carolina will have his moment at the podium when we this is our block. our place. our people. watch the curb. not having a ride to get the vaccine. can't be the reason you don't get it. you wanna help? donate a ride today. feel the clarity of non-drowsy children's claritin allergy relief. and relief from symptoms caused by over two hundred outdoor and indoor allergens. because to a kid, a grassy hill is irresistabale. children's claritin. feel the clarity and live claritin clear. these are real people, not actors, who've got their eczema under control.
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response from tim scott in just a moment and i want to go to chuck right now. we talked about how the president will sell this. how will he try to sell this to republicans that he thinks he can work with and make this happen. >> i think it will be cutting the bill up into pieces and in piecemeal form. there are -- you heard -- one of the briefings that i was at today with senator schumer and speaker pelosi, he was talking about how their water bill had bipartisan support. the one-half of his big bill has enough bipartisan support. you can split it up into pieces. i think that's one thing that's going to happen and here's the other thing is you already have democratic senators, we've learned tonight, senators like john tester, chris coons and brian shats who are starting to float you don't have to raise taxes to pay for all of this, maybe we should do deficit spending, finance some of this, not all of this with tax hikes. so i think we're already getting some signs and you want another way of perhaps getting republicans onboard? maybe have them be a part of the
deals that won't have tax hikes in them. so i think it will be both cutting it up into pieces and how they finance it will tell us how many republicans get onboard. >> and we got a big hint on how he plans to sell it, chuck, the jobs was mentioned 43 times and in fact he framed the climate change debate in terms of jobs. he said that's how it should be thought of. so it's clear how he thinks this will sell to the american people. let's go to tim scott. >> good evening. 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. his speech was full of good words, but president biden promised you a specific kind of leadership. he promised to unite a nation to lower the temperature to govern for all americans no matter how we voted. this was the pitch. you just heard it again, but our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. we need policies and progress
that brings us closer together, but three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart. i won't waste your time with finger pointing and partisan bickering and you can get that on tv any time you want. 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 mama 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 efforts and your kids. i was also blessed by an operator rob moniz and with a string of opportunities that are only possible here in america. this past year i've watched covid attack every wrung of the ladder that 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 re-opened 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 life times because we know that education is the closest thing to magic in america. last year under republican leadership, we passed five bipartisan covid packages. congress supported our schools and 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. in february, republicans told president biden we wanted to
keep working together to finish this fight, but democrats wanted to go it alone. they spent almost $2 trillion on a partisan bill that the white house bragged was the most liberal bill in american history. only 1% went to vaccinations, no requirement to re-open schools promptly. covid brought congress together five times. this administration pushed us apart. another issue that should unite us is infrastructure. republicans support everything you think of when you think of infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, airports, waterways, high-speed broadband. we're in for all of that, but again, democrats want a partisan wish list. they won't even build bridges to build bridges. less than 6% of 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, they would lower wages of the average american worker and strengthen our economy. tonight, we also heard about a so-called family plan, even more taxing and 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 sense. weakening our southern borders and creating crisis 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. this is not common ground. nowhere do we need common ground more desperately than in our discussions of race. i have experienced the pain of discrimination. i know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason, to be followed around the store while i'm shopping. i remember every morning at the kitchen table my grandfather would open the newspaper and read it, i thought, later i realized he had never learned to read it. he wanted to set the right example. i experienced a different kind of intolerance. i get called uncle tom and the "n" word by progressives and liberals.
just last week a national newspaper suggested my family's poverty was actually privilege because a relative owned land generations before my time. believe me, i know first hand our healing is not finished. in 2015, after the shooting of walter scott, i wrote a bill to fund body cameras. last year after the deaths of breonna taylor and george floyd i built an even bigger police reform proposal, but my democratic colleagues blocked it. 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 and a hundred years ago, kids in classrooms were taught the color of their skin was their most important characteristic and as 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 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 majorities 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 misstatements. the president absurdly claims that this is worse than jim crow. what is going on here? i'll tell you. a washington power grab. this misplaced 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 bipartisan federal elections commission partisan. this is not about civil rights or our racial past. it's about elections in the future and no, the same filibuster that president obama and president biden praised when they were senator, 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. race is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way one side wants. it's far too important. this should be a joyful spring time for our nation. this administration inherited a tide that had already turned. the coronavirus is on the run thanks to operation warp speed and the trump administration, our country is flooded with safe and effective vaccine. 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 laden. a president who promised to bring us together should not be pushing agendas 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-american, hispanics and asians and a 70-year low nearly for women. wages for -- hear me. wages were growing faster at the bottom than at the top. the bottom 25% saw their wages go up faster than the top 25%. that happens because republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all americans. in addition to that we passed opportunity zones, criminal justice reform and permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities for the first time ever. we fought the drug epidemic and rebuilt our military and cut taxes for working families like single moms like the one that raised me. it will not come from washington schemes or socialist dream, it
will come from you, the american people. black, hispanic, white and asian, republican and democrat, brave police officers and 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 in his 94 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 it. 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. may 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 was senator tim scott of
south carolina with the republican response and upbeat address, lasted about ten, 15 minutes or so, and he took on this issue saying that president biden had promised unity, but that in fact, democrats had not demonstrated unity and that was clearly the theme that he was hitting tonight. >> we have heard that theme time and time again, and you will hear it more now as the country and both sides begin to absorb what the president laid out today with this american families bill. again, we keep talking about the price tag is high, but there was a lot in it that people will certainly want to be looking at. >> it's interesting because chuck brought up perhaps the pandemic had changed americans' views about government. the era of big government is over, the question, is it? is it not? tim scott put his finger on the scale and said we do not need the government from cradle to college which is what he said the president was calling for tonight with this american families plan. >> let's go to andrea mitchell right now.
andrea, as we mentioned the word jobs is repeated over and over again. that seems to be what the president believes will sell this, the notion that this will put people to work. >> absolutely, the president focusing on jobs more than 40 times and using the word "jobs," using it as an element of foreign policy against a foreign adversary that we can rebuild america. senator scott, very authentic and a very appealing for the republican party, saying there was only 6% and "the washington post" has fact checked saying that is not the case. as much as 24% of the overall cost and as little as 10%, but not 6%, but in any case, there will be a lot of argument over that, but watt president did in his speech was to really make it
a case of build america, buy america. let's listen to what he had to say. >> i think we have a piece that we'll play right now. >> it will create millions of good-paying jobs that families can have with a little breathing room and all will be guided by one principle, buy american. buy american. [ applause ] >> so he's making it a moment of patriotism to support this bill. i thought he actually sold the bill as anyone could tonight. it's a remarkable speech from this president and also a remarkable response from senator tim scott. >> andrea, thank you, and this was a historic night. it was great from the beginning, two women behind a president on the house deus for the first time. kristin welker is nbc's white
house correspondent. kristin, talk more about that. >> lester, it was a history-making moment that you saw president biden embrace from the very first words that came out of his mouth, he said it's about time as he stood there in front of the first black, the first woman vice president and of course house speaker nancy pelosi who became the first woman house speaker back in 2007, and these are two women who are president biden's closest advisers at the white house and on capitol hill. of course, the vice president is helping to spearhead his efforts particularly when it comes to immigration and then house speaker nancy pelosi has helped to spearhead that first big piece of legislation and she'll be critical in this next push that he is working on, and it comes against the backdrop of this historic moment for women in politics. there are more women in the congress and the senate right now than ever before, 27% in the
house, 24% in the senate. now if you talk to those lawmakers they'd say that's not enough. we are fighting for more women in those slots and of course because of social distancing, they weren't all in the chamber tonight, but it certainly is significant, but it's a different story if you look at women and the economy rid now. women have been disproportionately impacted by covid-19 and by the pandemic. you heard the president mention that, 2.4 million fewer women in the workforce than last year before the pandemic started, 1.8 million fewer men. so that sets the stage and those are numbers that the president is helping to make his argument for why this sweeping jobs plan is necessary, and of course, as i've been talking about all night long republicans say the price tag is just too big. it is worth noting that race, police reform also front and center with president biden laying down a new marker tonight calling for the george floyd
policing bill to be passed by the anniversary of his death, that is may 25th. that really moves that to the top of president biden's agenda if he can get that passed. based on my conversations with sources on capitol hill republicans say there's a real urgency to try to get something done. you heard senator tim scott say that he wants to get something done on policing, as well. of course, the devil is in the details, but broad agreement that now might be the moment, savannah and lester. >> kristin, thank you. >> let's go to stephanie ruhle because as we've been talking about a big issue has to do with jobs and the economy. stephanie, as mentioned, the biden administration has proposed $6 trillion in new spending. about $2 trillion has passed and a relief act that of course, the republicans said tonight had very little to do with covid relief and a lot to do with democratic priorities and that was deficit spending and the other two proposals he plans to raise taxes on the wealthy to
pay for it. do the numbers work? >> well, do the numbers work? the question is going to be will the wealthy actually have to pay for it? he was talking about companies that don't pay taxes at all. we had 55 major corporations in the last year pay no taxes. so whether you're going from 21 to 25% is somewhat irrelevant. are you going to close the loopholes? and this idea that we're going to tax the wealthiest americans it's a great idea, but time and again, we don't see that happen. so joe biden has put forth a huge agenda that there are many, many items that a lot of people would like to have happen, but are we going to pay for it? who's going to pay for it? you said it before, he keeps going back to jobs, job, jobs. let's just show a little bit of that sound. >> for too long we failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis. jobs. jobs. [ applause ] jobs.
>> and that's how he is selling it. he's basically going through every single topic and bringing this back saying long-term, it will create more jobs. he's even comparing this when he talks about child care because child care, even when you say how is this possibly infrastructure, it's fundamental for parents to be able to afford to go back to work. right now we have over a million mothers that haven't returned to work because we don't have child care. he is saying i'm going to invest over $200 billion to have more child care and pay those workers more money and perhaps most importantly, lower child care costs for low and middle income families no more than 7% of the income should go to child care and if you do something like that, there's a good chance you will put more and more americans into the workforce and long term that will create economic prosperity. >> stephanie ruhle who covers business for us, thank you very much. >> we will take a break and continue more of our coverage post-speech to congress after
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♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ welcome back. wednesday night nbc's special coverage of president biden's joint address to congress continues. we had the republican response and now we want to turn to congressman jim clyburn of south carolina, key adviser to president biden and congressman, we've been talking over these last few moments about how bold these plans are, how ambitious they are.
i ask you as a longtime washington hand, how likely do you think that the president can get this across the finish line? >> well, thank you very much for having me. i think the thing we have to remember as the president has made it very clear, he seeks to reach across the aisle. he knows we will negotiate. we will have compromise, and i think that he is doing what i would do, go big and get a lot of a big thing or go small and get some of the little thing. so he's going big. hopefully, we'll find some common ground. he won't get everything he's asking for, but i think he has enough good will on the senate side and among the american people to get a significant portion of what he's trying to get. >> what did you think about his remarks, congressman, with regard to the george floyd policing act, and also what
senator tim scott, republican of south carolina, who you know well and who was key to the negotiations here? do you hear that ring of common ground at all? do you feel like something might happen here by that deadline that the president laid out tonight may in late may which is the one-year anniversary of the death of george floyd? >> well, the president talked about us trying to do something by the anniversary of that death, and i was hoping that tim scott would talk about the legislation that he and karen bass have been working on for a year now, but he seemed to harken back to what had gone on before this legislation got over there, that is, the bill that we passed. the president asked what to do with the legislation that was developed in the name of george floyd and that's what we ought
to do. be respectful of what the house did before or what the senate may have done before. let's look forward, let's go out into the future and let's forget all those things that we may or may not have done last year or in the previous congress. >> congressman james clyburn who people will recall was so central to biden's winning the nomination back in the democratic primary, and thank you for this afternoon -- this evening. this is a late hour for me, sir. >> thank you. >> can i ask you as rich lowery and both are nbc news political analysts and always good to have the two of you here. claire, as the president was selling this ambitious, bold, very expensive plan he seemed like a guy that was playing a stronger hand than he really
has, a slim majority in the house and a divided senate. he will have to give up a lot if there's going to be a compromise here, wouldn't you assume? >> well, yes. i think he'll have to negotiate not just with republicans, which he made clear tonight he welcomed their ideas, but he's also going to have to negotiate with some of the democrats that come from very republican states in order to get a package that will get 50 votes which is their goal and in a reconciliation process, but make no mistake about it, there has not been so far any real effort by the part of the republicans to be anything but against everything that joe biden is trying to do. there was a party line vote on covid relief. everything he's proposed they have not proposed their own plan. so i thought he did a really good job.
i knew this right-wing that they were hiding joe biden because he couldn't talk and couldn't deliver. i thought he gave a strong speech in explaining why he would go big and bold. >> it may be popular to a lot of people, does that tie the republicans' hands to any extent? >> no, i don't think so. i disagree with claire, i think, on infrastructure if you want to go and get ten republicans or so to get a bipartisan accomplishment. what we heard is joe biden relating to fdr. fdr had a 200-vote majority in the house and here is joe biden with single-digit majority in the house and a smallest majority since rutherford b. hayes and a tie in the senate and that's a narrow space to
pursue such an ambitious agenda. i think he'll get a fair amount of spending because of the rules that allow you to do it with just 50 vote, but most of the rest of the things he talked about tonight won't happen. >> this is a president who with that rescue bill felt he had to have a win and had to show that something could be done. the question is can he afford to lose these next big initiatives of the infrastructure with american families. >> can he get any republicans and can he hold anything together? let's go to chuck todd on that question because already, the speech ended less than an hour ago and we're starting to see some of these fault lines even within the democratic party. >> the pre-speech i told you about key democrats saying maybe we shouldn't raise taxes and maybe deficit spend, and mark kelly who is a new democratic senator and because he ran a special he will run again in two years and his one complaint is that he didn't think the president said enough about the crisis at the border.
let me repeat, an arizona representative running again in 2022, savannah. i think that shows you there are going to be democrats that are going to be thinking about their own political future, and not just the president. >> these are very enticing things that he offered and as we said, people are going to be, you know, they might want to pick and choose. i'm wondering if you look at it this way, that we'll get past covid at some point and what will this look like in the rear-view mirror, if this is in fact, an era of big government spending and how will that look two years' past? >> that's the real question. you didn't know that ronald reagan succeeded until bill clinton said the era of big government is over. so we won't know if this big spending if we decided we want government back until a republican president comes in and acts like eisenhower, nixon or ford who were the big spending republicans back in their day. >> the next chapter is to take it on the road which the
president and vice president will do to sell this. >> that's right. the president is back at the white house tonight. he has left capitol hill, but he will hit the road tomorrow and we will continue to watch this as it develops. >> that will do it for nbc news special coverage of president biden's address to a joint session of congress and the republican response. >> we will have much more tomorrow morning on "today," on all of the networks on nbc news and also tomorrow night on "nbc nightly news". >> and craig melvin is sitting down exclusively with president biden to talk about his first 100 days in office and that interview will air friday on "today." i'm lester holt with savannah guthrie and for all of us at nbc news, thank you for joining us. have a good night, everyone.
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