President Biden will outline a sweeping series of proposals to use the power of government to solve problems and create opportunity when he addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night. He'll ask members of both parties to support a broadening of support and benefits for Americans, paid for by higher taxes on the nation's wealthiest, the New York Times reports. "We have to prove democracy still works," say Biden's prepared remarks, which were released in advance by the White House. The expansion of government involvement would build on the momentum created by its role in battling the coronavirus and economic shutdown. The president sees it as a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families, and education.
Other advance word on the speech includes:
- Biden will call on Congress to empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, per AP, in an effort to cut consumer costs.
- Gun control legislation and immigration changes will be proposed.
- For the first time, the two people seated behind the president during his speech will be women, per the Washington Post—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. "He'll certainly note that," Biden's press secretary said.
- The Supreme Court's only representative will be Chief Justice John Roberts. And only Gen. Mark Milley will attend, not the usual lineup of Joint Chiefs.
- The audience will be about 200, far fewer than is usual for a State of the Union or other presidential addresses, because of the pandemic. Spectators will be socially distanced.
- The first lady will not sit with her guests, as is customary. The White House said five "virtual guests" will attend.
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