The nation is still digesting President Biden's first speech to Congress on Wednesday night. It was a rather unusual one with only 200 people in the Capitol gallery as opposed to the normal 1,600 for an event like this. Plus, everyone was masked and socially distant.
Still, the president spoke for one hour and four minutes, spending the vast majority of his time talking about infrastructure, both physical and social. First, though, he touted America's progress in battling the pandemic.
"Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again," Biden began.
Right out of the gate the president launched into a 100-day laundry list of highlights, but not before recognizing the visual history of the two people seated behind him, both women. "Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President," Biden said. "No President has ever said those words from this podium and it's about time!"
From there, Biden rehearsed his pandemic playlist, capping it off with a plea.
"Together we passed the 'American Rescue Plan', one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history," he said. "We're already seeing the result. After I promised we'd have 100 million shots in 100 days, we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in those hundred days. Go get vaccinated America, go and get the vaccination!"
Then came his infrastructure plans, beginning with the $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan that he says addresses infrastructure, jobs, and the environment in one fell swoop.
"There's no reason the blades for wind turbines can't be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing," Biden said. "No reason why American workers can't lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries."
Next, Biden laid out his second infrastructure layer, the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. It would provide universal preschool, two years of free community college, and extend family leave.
"So how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plans?" Biden rhetorically questioned. "I've made clear that we can do it without increasing deficits. Let's start with what I will not do. I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year. It's time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share."
Biden's huge spending proposals were targeted by Republican Sen. Tim Scott in part of his official response.
"It's a liberal wish list," Scott said. "Big government waste and the biggest job-killing tax hikes in a generation. Tonight, we heard about a so-called family plan even more taxing, spending, to put Washington in the middle of your life from cradle to college."
"They want to take us to 28 percent, that would be more than what China pays on a corporate level, it would make us fundamentally uncompetitive we would have a harder time attracting businesses to come and stay in this country," said Former OMB Director Russ Vought.
Speaking of China, the president says he's spent plenty of time with President Xi Jinping and he's aware of the communist leader's desire for world dominance.
"In my discussions with President Xi, I told him we welcome the competition, we're not looking for conflict," Biden said. "But I made absolutely clear that we will defend America's interest across the board."
Another international topic, Afghanistan. Biden doubled down on his decision to remove U.S. troops from there by September.
"American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan," Biden said. "After 20 years of American valor and sacrifice, it's time to bring our troops home."
Biden also urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act, which critics say would lead to a federal takeover of state's rights when it comes to elections.
Biden also called for legislation that would protect the rights of Dreamers, and he pushed for the George Floyd Policing Act. "Let's get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death," Biden said.
In his response, Scott said the president is heading in the wrong direction, saying, "A president who promised to bring us together should not be pushing agendas that tear us apart."
Scott also pointed out how he himself offered solutions on race and police reform that were rejected by Democrats.
"I've also experienced a different kind of intolerance. I get called 'Uncle Tom' and the N-word — by 'progressives'! By 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 our healing is not finished," Scott said.
"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 them amendments. But Democrats used the 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 still hopeful."
Noticeably missing from Biden's speech was much elaboration on the crisis at the southern border. He simply urged Congress to pass his immigration bill.
It was clearly an address designed to pitch his American Families Plan, and next he will hit the road to try and sell it to the American People with stops in Georgia and Pennsylvania.