Biden's Speech to Congress, and the Reactions to It

For first time, address delivered before a female VP, female House speaker
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2021 12:14 AM CDT
What Biden Said, and More From His Speech to Congress
Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look at each other as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.   (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – President Biden addressed Congress for the first time since taking office Wednesday night, calling for America "to do more than just build back. We have to build back better." How so: by making sure corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans are paying their fair share, CNN reports. The network says he laid out an economic and infrastructure plan that amounted to "a far more progressive agenda than his 2020 campaign would have suggested." More from the address, reactions to it, and the Republican rebuttal from Sen. Tim Scott:

  • The New York Times and CNN have more on what was included in the address, which also touched on foreign policy, immigration, coronavirus vaccination, the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, and more.
  • Scott, the only Black GOP senator, said in his response that Biden's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan is "big government waste." The Times also has more on his rebuttal, which also called out coronavirus shutdowns and the growing divide over systemic racism: "America is not a racist country," he said.

  • The AP fact-checks both Biden's and Scott's speeches. It finds a number of issues with Biden's address, including his claim that "There’s a broad consensus of economists—left, right, center—and they agree that what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth." The statement "glosses over the naysayers," some of whom say the spending is too much. It also finds misleading statements from Scott's response; more here.
  • The AP also has details on the "diminished mood" of what is typically a more "electrifying evening," but was much less so this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also notes that many Republican lawmakers simply didn't attend. Those who did, including Mitch McConnell, rarely stood up to applaud. But Biden name-dropped McConnell poignantly, recalling that "it meant a lot" when McConnell suggested Biden name a cancer research bill after his late son, Beau.
  • A poll conducted after the address found that 71% of respondents felt more optimistic after hearing it, CNN reports.
  • WTVY rounds up some of the reactions that have come in from lawmakers. The Daily Beast notes that on Fox News, Chris Wallace was predicting the speech would be popular with Americans while Ben Domenech argued it would be a quickly-forgotten "blip."
(Read more President Biden stories.)

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