President Joe Biden addressed Congress and the nation Wednesday night to tout his policies, highlight his actions over his first 100 days in office, and push his legislative agenda.
In the president's first joint address on Capitol Hill, Biden said America is making progress in the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming victory for doubling his original goal of 100 million shots into the arms of Americans.
"After I promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days – we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in 100 days," Biden said. "We're marshaling every federal resource. We've gotten the vaccine to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centers. We're setting up community vaccination sites, and are deploying mobile units into hard-to-reach areas."
"Today, 90% of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site. Everyone over the age of 16, everyone – is now eligible and can get vaccinated right away. So get vaccinated now," he said.
Biden touched the highlights of his administration, including the $1,400 COVID checks, the American Rescue Plan, fighting the opioid crisis, and 1.3 million jobs regained in 100 days.
"America is moving. Moving forward. And we can't stop now," he said. "We're in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better."
Biden also laid out the two parts of his overall infrastructure plan, which will need congressional approval.
The first part is the $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan, the largest jobs plan since World War II.
"It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Jobs modernizing roads, bridges and highways. Jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors and transit lines. It's clean water," Biden explained.
He said the American Jobs Plan would create jobs replacing 100% of the nation's lead pipes and service lines so every American can be certain of clean drinking water. It would also build 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 winter storms," he said. "The American Jobs Plan will create jobs to lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid."
Watch the President's Address and CBN News LIVE Analysis Below:
Biden stressed all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: "Buy American."
"Now, I know some of you at home wonder whether these jobs are for you. You feel left behind and forgotten in an economy that's rapidly changing. Let me speak directly to you," the president said.
"Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic growth for years to come," he said. "These are good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced. Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan don't require a college degree. 75% don't require an associate's degree."
"The Americans Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America," he pitched.
Touching briefly on health care, Biden said he would work with Congress on priorities for families, including the Affordable Care Act, and lowering prescription drug costs.
On the subject of cancer, the president said, "This is personal to so many of us. I can think of no more worthy investment. And I know of nothing that is more bipartisan. Let's end cancer as we know it. It's within our power."
The second part of Biden's infrastructure plan, known as the American Family Plan would cost another $1.8 trillion over 10 years. The plan proposes universal preschool, two years of free community college, $225 billion for child care and monthly payments of at least $250 to parents.
The president proposes to fund this part of the plan by a series of taxes on the wealthy. He would raise the top tax rate on the most affluent families from 37% to 39.6%. People earning in excess of $1 million a year would see their rate on capital gains — the profits from a sale of a stock or home — nearly double from 20% to 39.6%.
"It's time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share," Biden said.
"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," he continued.
He also reiterated his promise not to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year.
"We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works—and can deliver for the people," Biden said. "In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people's faith in our democracy to deliver. We're vaccinating the nation. We're creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We're delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives. Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice."
Republican lawmakers in Congress so far have balked at the price tag of both the "families" plan and infrastructure package, complicating the chances of passage in a deeply divided Washington.
Biden also called on Congress to pass legislation for a ban on so-called assault weapons, police reform, LGBTQ rights, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and securing protection for the Dreamers.
The president also called out lawmakers on his immigration bill, telling Congress, "If you believe we need a secure border – pass it. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship – pass it. If you actually want to solve the problem – I have sent you a bill, now pass it."
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) Offers Republican Response
In the Republican response to Biden's address, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) drove hard the point that the White House is not listening to science in regards to COVID protocols like the president promised he would.
"Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future. Our public schools should have opened months ago," Scott said. "Other countries did. Private and religious schools did. Science has shown for months that schools are safe."
The South Carolina Republican senator also reminded the nation of what the country was like before the pandemic, as well as President Trump's hard work to fast-track safe vaccines.
"This should be a joyful springtime for our nation. This administration inherited a tide that had already turned. The coronavirus is on the run!" he exclaimed. "Thanks to Operation Warp Speed and the Trump administration, our country is flooded with safe and effective vaccines."
Scott cited low unemployment rates for minorities before the pandemic struck last year, calling it "the most inclusive economy in my lifetime." He also praised GOP efforts including tax breaks to encourage business investments in low-income communities.
"So why do we feel so divided and anxious?" he asked. "A nation with so much cause for hope should not feel so heavy-laden."
"Just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime. The lowest unemployment ever recorded for African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans. The lowest for women in nearly 70 years. Wages were growing faster for the bottom 25 percent than the top 25 percent."
"That happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans," he explained.
Scott also reminded Americans that their best future won't come from being dependent on the federal government.
"Our best future won't come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams. It will come from you -- the American people," he said.
Scott also cited scripture and concluded by mentioning a worship song, saying, "May the Lord bless you and keep you."
That comes from Numbers 6: 24-26:
"The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."