Washington: President Joe Biden in his first speech to Congress vowed to challenge China, Russia, and other rivals on security matters, outlined his jobs plan to revive the American economy, and called on lawmakers to pass gun control, police and immigration reform legislation.
Biden also talked about working with the world community to take on shared challenges such as climate change and the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Biden during Wednesday night’s speech said the United States seeks no escalation with Russia and believes both countries can cooperate where their interests converge.
“With regard to Russia, I made very clear to President [Vladimir] Putin that while we don’t seek escalation, their actions have consequences,” Biden said according to the transcript provided in advance by the White House.
The US president took credit for responding “in a direct and proportionate way” to Russia’s alleged interference in US elections and cyberattacks – accusations Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Biden pointed out the United States and Russia can cooperate in areas of mutual interest, such as already done by extending the New START Treaty on nuclear arms and on climate change.
In addition, Biden said he notified Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States will keep a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific region as a means to prevent a conflict from sparking in the region.
“I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific just as we do with NATO in Europe – not to start conflict – but to prevent conflict,” Biden said.
Biden added that the United States is consulting closely with its allies to address threats posed by Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs through diplomacy and deterrence.
The president also said White Supremacy is terrorism and represents the most lethal threat to the US homeland.
Biden said the US economy had created more than 1.3 million new jobs during his first 100 days in office.
“More new jobs in the first 100 days than any president on record,” Biden said.
Biden told Congress his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan to renovate US infrastructure will add millions of job and trillions of dollars in economic growth in the United States. The plan would expand education and child care, financed partly through higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans
Biden also outlined his American Families Plan, which consists of about $1 trillion in investments over a 10-year period and $800 billion in tax cuts for American families and workers. This is the second phase of the $2.3 trillion package.
The US president called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
“Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration,” Biden’s speech read on Wednesday night. “On day one of my Presidency, I kept my commitment and I sent a comprehensive immigration bill to 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.”
The Biden administration is attempting to improve economic and security issues in the Northern Triangle countries that are driving hundreds of thousands of migrants to seek asylum in the United States.
US government data revealed that US southern border apprehensions soared by more than 70 percent in March. The 172,331 migrant encounters recorded represents the highest monthly total in more than two decades, with the Biden administration on pace to top the previous annual record set in 2019 of over 977,000 apprehensions.
Biden urged Congress to approve in May a police reform bill that would address the issue of racially motivated brutality.
“Let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The country supports this reform. Congress should act,” Biden said in a speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening.
Floyd, an African American resident of Minneapolis, died in police custody last May. Earlier this month former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the Floyd case.
The police reform bears Chauvin’s name and has already passed the House of Representatives, but faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Biden called on Democrats and Republicans to find common ground.
Biden also called on Congress to work together to pass stricter background checks, and to ban the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
The United States has constantly been plagued by mass shootings. Several deadly mass shootings have taken place under the Biden administration’s first 100 days in the states of Texas, Colorado, Georgia, and Indiana.
OTHER DOMESTIC ISSUES
Biden in his address to Congress called for the creation of a new health research agency that would be able to develop breakthroughs to treat disease like diabetes and cancer.
“The National Institutes of Health, the NIH – should create a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency for health to develop breakthroughs – to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer,” Biden said.
Biden touted his administration’s efforts to provide more than 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the United States in his first 100 days. He said the United States will soon provide the world with vaccines once needs are met for Americans.
The president also proposed adding two free years of pre-school for 3 and 4 year olds in the United States, then providing two free years of community college.