For more than two years, Covid has impacted every decision in our lives and the life of this nation. And I know you’re tired, frustrated and exhausted. That doesn’t even count the close to a million people who sit at a dining room table or a kitchen table looking at an empty chair because they lost somebody. But I also know this: Because of the progress we’ve made, because of your resilience and the tools that we have been provided by this Congress, tonight I can say we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines. We’ve reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19, where severe cases down to a level not seen since last July. Just a few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new mask guidelines. Under these new guidelines, most Americans in most of the country can now go mask free. And based on projections, more of the country will reach across that point across the next couple of weeks. Thanks to the progress we have made in the past year, Covid-19 no longer need control our lives. I know some are talking about living with Covid-19. But tonight I say that we will never just accept living with Covid-19. We’ll continue to combat the virus as we do other diseases. And because this virus mutates and spreads, we have to stay on guard. And here are four common sense steps as we move forward safely, in my view. First, stay protected with vaccines and treatments. We know how incredibly effective vaccines are. If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you have the highest degree of protection. We will never give up on vaccinating more Americans. Now, I know parents with kids under 5 are eager to see their vaccines authorized for their children. The scientists are working hard to get that done, and we’ll be ready with plenty of vaccines if and when they do. We’re also ready with anti-viral treatments. If you get Covid-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90 percent. I’ve ordered more of these pills than anyone in the world has. Pfizer is working overtime to get us one million pills this month and more than double that next month. And we’re launching the “test to treat” initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they prove positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost. If you’re immunocompromised or have some other vulnerability, we have treatments and free high-quality masks. We’re leaving no one behind or ignoring anyone’s needs as we move forward. On testing, we have made hundreds of millions of tests available, and you can order them for free to your doorstep. And if you already ordered free tests tonight, I’m announcing you can order another group of tests. Go to covidtest.gov starting next week and you can get more tests. Second, we must prepare for new variants. Over the past, we’ve gotten much better at detecting new variants. If necessary, we’ll be able to develop new vaccines within 100 days instead of maybe months or years. And, if Congress provides the funds we need, we’ll have new stockpiles of tests, masks, pills ready if needed. I cannot promise a new variant won’t come. But I can promise you we’ll do everything within our power to be ready if it does. Third, we can end the shutdown of schools and businesses. We have the tools we need. It’s time for America to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again with people. People working from home can feel safe and begin to return to their offices. We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person. Our schools are open. Let’s keep it that way. Our kids need to be in school. And with 75 percent of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77 percent, most Americans can remove their masks and stay in the classroom, and move forward safely. We achieved this because we provided free vaccines, treatments, tests and masks. Of course, continuing this costs money. So I’ll not surprise you, I’ll be back to see you all. And I’m going to soon send Congress a request. The vast majority of Americans have used these tools and may want again, we may need them again, so I expect Congress and I hope you’ll pass that quickly.Fourth, we’ll continue vaccinating the world. We’ve sent 475 million vaccine doses to 112 countries, more than any nation on earth. We won’t stop. Because you can’t build a wall high enough to keep out a vaccine — the vaccine can stop the spread of these diseases. You know, we’ve lost so much to Covid-19. Time with one another. And worst of all, much loss of life. Let’s use this moment to reset. So stop looking at Covid as a partisan dividing line. See it for what it is: a God-awful disease. Let’s stop seeing each other as enemies, and start seeing each other for who we are: fellow Americans. We can’t change how divided we’ve been. It was a long time in coming. But we can change how to move forward — on Covid-19 and other issues that we must face together.
I recently visited the New York City Police Department days after the funerals of Officer Wilbert Mora and his partner, Officer Jason Rivera. They were responding to a 911 call when a man shot and killed them with a stolen gun. Officer Mora was 27 years old. Officer Rivera was 22 years old. Both Dominican Americans who grew up on the same streets they later chose to patrol as police officers. I spoke with their families and I told them that we are forever in debt for their sacrifices, and we’ll carry on their mission to restore the trust and safety of every community deserves. Like some of you that have been around for a while, I’ve worked with you for on these issues a long time. I know what works: Investigating crime prevention and community policing. Cops who’ll walk the beat, who know the neighborhood and who can restore trust and safety. Let’s not abandon our streets, or choose between safety and equal justice. Let’s come together and protect our communities, restore trust and hold law enforcement accountable. That’s why the Justice Department has required body cameras, banned chokeholds and restricted no-knock warrants for its officers. That’s why the American Rescue Plan that you all provided $350 billion that cities, states and counties can use to hire more police, invest in proven strategies. Proven strategies like community violence interruption — trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma and giving young people some hope. We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training. Resources and training they need to protect their communities. I ask Democrats and Republicans alike to pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe. And we’ll do everything in my power to crack down on gun trafficking, of ghost guns that you can buy online, assemble at home — no serial numbers, can’t be traced. I ask Congress to pass proven measures to reduce gun violence. Pass universal background checks. Why should anyone on the terrorist list be able to purchase a weapon? Why? Why? And folks, ban assault weapons with high-capacity magazines that hold up to a hundred rounds. You think the deer are wearing Kevlar vests? Look, repeal the liability shield that makes gun manufacturers the only industry in America that can’t be sued. The only one. Imagine had we done that with the tobacco manufacturers. These laws don’t infringe on the Second Amendment. They save lives.
The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote — and have it counted. And look, it’s under assault. In state after state, new laws have been passed, not only to suppress the vote — we’ve been there before — but to subvert the entire election. We can’t let this happen. Tonight, I call on the Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And while you’re at it, pass the Disclose Act so Americans know who is funding our elections.
Look, tonight, I’d like to honor someone who has dedicated his life to serve this country: Justice Breyer — an Army veteran, constitutional scholar, retiring justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Breyer, thank you for your service. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I mean it. Get up. Stand up so they can see you. Thank you. We all know — no matter what your ideology — we all know, one of the most serious constitutional responsibility a president has is nominating someone to serve on the United States Supreme Court. As I did four days ago, I’ve nominated the Circuit Court of Appeals Ketanji Brown Jackson. One of our nation’s top legal minds, who will continue in Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence. A former top litigator in private practice. A former federal public defender. From a family of public school educators and police officers. She’s a consensus builder. Since she’s been nominated, she’s received a broad range of support — including the Fraternal Order of Police and former judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans.
Folks, if we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure our border and fix the immigration system. And as you might guess, I think we can do both. At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling. We’ve set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers. We’re putting in place dedicated immigration judges in significant larger number so families fleeing persecution and violence can have their cases heard faster and those who don’t legitimately here can be sent back. We’re screening, we’re securing commitments and supporting partners in South and Central America to host more refugees and secure their own borders. We can do all this while keeping lit the torch of liberty that has led the generation of immigrants to this land — my forebears and many of yours. Provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, essential workers. Revise our laws so businesses have workers they need and families don’t wait decades to reunite. It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s economically smart thing to do. That’s why immigration reform is supported by everyone from labor unions to religious leaders to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Let’s get it done once and for all.
Folks, advancing liberty and justice also requires protecting the rights of women. The constitutional right affirmed by Roe v. Wade — standing precedent for half a century — is under attack as never before. If you want to go forward — not backwards — we must protect access to health care. Preserve a woman’s right to choose. And continue to advance maternal health care for all Americans. And folks, for our L.G.B.T.Q.+ Americans, let’s finally get the bipartisan Equality Act to my desk. The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is simply wrong. I’ve said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I’ll always have your back as your president, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.
Folks, as I’ve just demonstrated, while it often appears that we do not agree, and that — we do agree on a lot more things than we acknowledge. I signed 80 bipartisan bills into law last year. From preventing government shutdowns to protecting Asian Americans from still-too-common hate crimes to reforming military justice. And we’ll soon be strengthening the Violence Against Women Act that I first wrote three decades ago. It’s important, it’s important for us to show the nation that we can come together and do big things. So tonight I’m offering a unity agenda for the nation. Four big things we can do together, in my view. First, beat the opioid epidemic. There is so much we can do. Increase funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery. Get rid of outdated rules that stop doctors from prescribing treatments. Stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to go after the trafficker. And if you’re suffering from addiction, you know, you know you’re not alone. I believe in recovery, and I celebrate the 23 million, 23 million Americans in recovery. Second, let’s take on mental health. Especially among our children, whose lives and education have been turned upside down. The American Rescue Plan gave schools money to hire teachers and help students make up for lost learning. I urge every parent to make sure your school, your school does just that. They have the money. We can all play a part — sign up to be a tutor or a mentor. Children were also struggling before the pandemic. Bullying, violence, trauma and the harms of social media. As Frances Haugen, who is here with us tonight, has shown, we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit. Folks — thank you, thank you for the courage you showed. Thank you. Thank you for the courage you showed. It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children. And let’s get all Americans the mental health services they need. More people they can turn to for help, and full parity between physical and mental health care if we treat it that way in our insurance. Look, the third piece of that agenda is support our veterans. Veterans are the backbone and the spine of this country. They’re the best of us. I’ve always believed that we have a sacred obligation to equip those we send to war and care for those and their family when they come home. My administration is providing assistance in job training and housing, and now helping lower-income veterans get V.A. care debt-free. And our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced many dangers. One being stationed at bases, breathing in toxic smoke from burn pits. Many of you have been there. I’ve been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 40 times. These burn pits that incinerate waste, the waste of war — medical and hazardous material, jet fuel and so much more. And they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same.Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know. One of those soldiers was my son Maj. Beau Biden. I don’t know for sure if the burn pit that he lived near, that his hooch was near, in Iraq and earlier than that in Kosovo is the cause of his brain cancer, or the diseases of so many of our troops. But I’m committed to find out everything we can. Committed to military families like Danielle Robinson from Ohio. The widow of Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson. He was born a soldier. Army National Guard. Combat medic in Kosovo and Iraq. Stationed near Baghdad, just yards from burn pits the size of football fields. Danielle is here with us tonight. They loved going to Ohio State football games. And he loved building Legos with their daughter. But cancer from prolonged exposure to burn pits ravaged Heath’s lungs and body.Danielle says Heath was a fighter to the very end. He didn’t know how to stop fighting, and neither did she. Through her pain, she found purpose to demand that we do better. Tonight, Danielle, we are going to do better. The V.A. is pioneering new ways of linking toxic exposures to disease, already helping more veterans get benefits. And tonight, I’m announcing we’re expanding eligibility to veterans suffering from nine respiratory cancers. I’m also calling on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and the comprehensive health care that they deserve. And fourth and last, let’s end cancer as we know it. This is personal — to me and to Jill and to Kamala, and so many of you. So many of you have lost someone you loved: husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, dad. Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in America, second only to heart disease. Last month, I announced a plan to supercharge the “cancer moonshot” that President Obama asked me to lead six years ago. Our goal is to cut cancer death rates by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years. I think we can do better than that. Turn cancers from death sentences into treatable diseases. More support for patients and their families. To get there, I call on Congress to fund what I call ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. Patterned after DARPA and the Defense Department, projects that led in DARPA to the internet, GPS and so much more to make our forces more safer and be able to wage war with more clarity ARPA will have a singular purpose — to drive breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes and more.
A unity agenda for the nation. We can do these things. It’s within our power, and I don’t see a partisan edge to any one of those four things. My fellow Americans, tonight, we have gathered in this sacred space — the citadel of democracy. In this Capitol, generation after generation, Americans have debated great questions amid great strife, and have done great things. We fought for freedom, expanded liberty, debated totalitarianism and terror. We built the strongest, freest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known. Now is the hour. Our moment of responsibility. Our test of resolve and conscience, of history itself. It is in this moment that our character of this generation is formed. Our purpose is found. Our future is forged. Well, I know this nation. We’ll meet the test. Protect freedom and liberty, expand fairness and opportunity. And we will save democracy. As hard as those times have been, I am more optimistic about America today than I’ve been my whole life. Because I see the future that’s within our grasp. Because I know there is simply nothing beyond our capacity. We are the only nation on earth that has always turned every crisis we faced into an opportunity. The only nation that can be defined by a single word: possibilities. So on this night, on our 245th year as a nation, I have come to report on the state of the nation — the state of the union. And my report is this: the state of the union is strong because you, the American people, are strong. We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we’ll be stronger a year from now than we are today. This is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time. And we will, as one people. One America. The United States of America.God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you. Go get ’em.
Summary of President Biden’s State of the Union Address:
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine: President Biden vowed to make Vladimir V Putin pay a heavy price for invading Ukraine
- Transform America in the 21st century: by creating good jobs for millions of Americans, modernizing roads, airports, ports, waterways all across America, increasing Pell Grants, passing PRO-Act
- In dealing with inflation & economy: by cutting cost on prescription drugs, energy, and child-care
- Dealing with COVID-19: stay protected with vaccine and treatments, prepare for new variants, end the shutdown of schools & businesses, continue vaccinating the world
- Important to fund the police
- Unity Agenda for the Nation: Beat the opioid epidemic, take on mental health, support our veterans, end cancers!
Overall it is a hopeful and optimistic speech. It is important for all legislators to think bipartisan, placing nation before party.
The Morning Joe panel gives its initial thoughts on President Biden’s first State of the Union address, in the video published on March 2, 2022, “Joe: A Return To Normalcy For The State of the Union Address