On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union Address. Throughout his highly anticipated speech, several domestic and international issues such as rising inflation, the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and a four-point "Unity Agenda."
To recap the President’s key points of emphasis, here are five takeaways from the State of the Union Address.
1. The U.S. and Its Allies Stand With Ukraine Against Russia’s Invasion of Its Country
Biden's first State of the Union comes at a time of international crisis as Russia has invaded Ukraine. One of the themes of the speech was that democracies must self-defend against authoritarianism and dictatorships.
“In the battle between democracy and autocracies, democracies are rising to the moment and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security. This is the real test,” Biden said, addressing the Ukraine crisis.
“While it shouldn’t have taken something so terrible for people around the world to see what’s at stake, now everyone sees it clearly,” he added.
Biden reassured the country that the U.S. would not send troops on the ground in Ukraine, reassuring Americans of their safety.
“I know news about what is happening can seem alarming to all Americans. What I want you to know, we’re going to be okay. We’re going to be OK,” Biden said, garnering applause from both sides of the aisle.
2. He Pushed His Economic Agenda Despite Inflation Concerns
The President laid out a new four-point plan for lowering costs on Americans, who have grown anxious about inflation as one of the critical components of his address.
The plan includes points like making more products in America and increasing competition in different industries as a response to Americans’ economic anxieties.
“Too many families are struggling to keep up with their bills. Inflation is robbing them of gains they thought otherwise they would be able to feel. I get it,” Biden said.
Biden’s “Unity Agenda” also featured his plan for “beating the opioid epidemic, improving mental health (especially for children online), aiding veterans sickened by burn pits and cutting the national cancer death rate by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years.”
3. The Nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Biden made history by nominating D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to succeed Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is set to retire this summer. If confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
“No matter your ideology, one of the most serious constitutional responsibilities a president has is nominating someone to serve on the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said. “And I did that four days ago, when I nominated Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of our nation’s top legal minds, who will continue Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence.”
The president described Jackson as a “consensus builder.”
4. A Shift in the COVID-19 Pandemic
In his speech, Biden emphasized a new approach to the COVID-19 pandemic as mandates are being eased around the country. Evidence of this shift is that there were no mask mandates at the State of the Union. Biden spoke about how the country is moving back to a normal way of life.
“Tonight I can say we’re moving forward safely back to a more normal routine,” Biden noted. “We have lost so much to COVID-19. Time with one another. And worst of all, so much loss of life. Let’s use this moment to reset. Stop looking at COVID-19 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,” he added.
5. He Called for Better Funding of the Police
While Biden earned some bipartisan applause for saying "fund the police" he received criticism from some activists and politicians.
Biden mentioned that the American Rescue Plan provided $350 billion for local governments to hire more police officers and to invest in "proven strategies like community violence interruption."
"Let’s not abandon our streets. Or choose between safety and equal justice," Biden argued. "We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. The answer is to fund the police. Fund them with resources and training they need to protect our communities.”