President Joe Biden delivered his 2023 State of the Union address on Feb. 7, where he celebrated the political achievements of his administration as he prepares to face the challenge of passing legislation through a divided — and obstreperous — Congress.
Biden’s one-hour address featured several contentious moments between himself and select Republican members of Congress. He was interrupted several times, and on a few occasions, he responded to the loudest members.
Biden began his speech at 9:09 p.m. after a six-minute walk to the rostrum. He celebrated the United States’ economic recovery since the pandemic, as ten million Americans have applied to start small businesses since 2021. The unemployment rate has dropped to a 50-year low at 3.4%, and the manufacturing sector has added 800,000 jobs.
His first slight at Republicans was in response to those who voted against the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. He told opponents of the legislation, “I’ll see you at the groundbreaking.”
He introduced Saria Gwyn-Maye, “a proud member of the Ironworkers Local 44,” who is about to begin work on a new bridge above the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
Transitioning to the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden addressed the financial hardships Americans with diabetes face due to the costs of insulin. As of Jan. 1, seniors on Medicare will only pay $35 per month for insulin.
“Big Pharma has been unfairly charging people hundreds of dollars … and making record profits. Not anymore,” Biden said.
The first spat with Republican legislators began when he claimed some members are “threatening to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.” He wished any opposing member “lots of luck in your senior year.”
While on the topic of “Big Oil,” Biden said he tells individuals working in those companies, “We’re going to need oil for at least another decade.”
Republicans erupted in laughter before Biden asked Congress to “quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks and encourage long-term investments.”
In the most raucous encounter of the night, Biden addressed his support for lifting the debt ceiling to avert immediate economic turmoil and chastised Republicans who “want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.”
Upon this suggestion, Republicans jeered. As a back-and-forth argument began, Biden asked, “Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?” Without a response, Biden said, “All right. We’ve got unanimity.”
Tyre Nichols’ parents attended Biden’s address. Nichols was killed during an encounter with five Memphis police officers on Jan. 7. The officers involved face several charges, including second-degree murder.
Biden said Nichols’ mother told him after her son’s death, “Something good will come of this.”
“Imagine how much courage and character that takes,” Biden said.
Brandon Tsay stopped a gunman from entering his grandparents’ dance studio in Monterey Park on the weekend of Lunar New Year. He was another guest for Biden’s address, and Biden celebrated his heroism before asking Congress to ban assault weapons.
Biden called the Russo-Ukrainian War “a test for America; a test for the world.” He welcomed Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova and pledged the United States’ support for “as long as it takes.”
Doug Griffin’s daughter died eight years ago after overdosing on fentanyl. Griffin “has turned pain to purpose” since his daughter’s death, but after Biden cited the 70,000 annual fatalities from fentanyl overdoses, Rep. Andy Ogles interrupted and shouted, “It’s your fault.”
Maurice and Kandice Barron are the parents of Ava Barron, a 3-year-old who was diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was one year old. Despite previously having a 5% chance of survival, she “is on her way to being cured.” The parents were recognized, and Ava was at the White House during the speech.
Paul Pelosi, the spouse of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was Biden’s final guest. He was assaulted in his home by “an unhinged Big Lie assailant.” Biden called the attack “a heinous act (that) should have never happened.”
After an hour rife with division, Biden ended the speech with an attempt to promote unity. He described his vision of the American ethos and his belief “that all of us, every one of us, is created equal in the image of God.”
“We’re the United States of America,” he said, “and there’s nothing, nothing, beyond our capacity if we do it together.”
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