Biden focuses on Ukraine conflict in State of the Union address

Christine Rousselle   By Christine Rousselle for CNA

 

U.S. President Joe Biden departs after delivering the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol House Chamber on March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. / Saul Loeb – Pool/Getty Images

Washington D.C., Mar 1, 2022 / 22:44 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden focused on the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the economic recovery in the United States, and the need to be a united American people in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Biden, speaking from the U.S. Capitol on March 1, praised the resolve of the Ukrainian people after their country was invaded by Russian forces.

“Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways,” said Biden. “But he badly miscalculated. He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined.”

“He met the Ukrainian people,” he said. Many present at the State of the Union wore the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, and First Lady Jill Biden had an embroidered sunflower, a symbol of Ukraine, on the sleeve of her dress.

Biden reaffirmed that NATO, the European Union, and other countries, are supporting the people of Ukraine and “inflicting pain” upon Russia’s elites.

“Together with our allies we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom,” said Biden. “Military assistance. Economic assistance. Humanitarian assistance.”

The United States would be giving “more than $1 billion” in direct assistance to Ukraine, said Biden, but said that U.S. troops “are not engaged and will not be engaged” with Russian forces.

Biden and the Department of Justice are going to move to seize the “ill-begotten gains” of wealthy Russians.

“Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: no more,” said Biden, who announced that a task force will be assembled by the Department of Justice to “go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs.”

“We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets,” said the president.

Biden also announced that U.S. airspace would be closed to all Russian flights, in a move designed to “further isolate” the country.

Pivoting to the economy and the coronavirus pandemic, Biden noted that the country has gone through “two of the hardest years this nation has ever faced.”

“That’s why one of the first things I did as president was fight to pass the American Rescue Plan,” said Biden. “Because people were hurting. We needed to act, and we did. Few pieces of legislation have done more in a critical moment in our history to lift us out of crisis.”

The president said that his plan “worked” and that “lots of jobs” were created as the economy began to recover in 2021.

“Our economy grew at a rate of 5.7% last year, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years,” said Biden. “The first step in bringing fundamental change to an economy that hasn’t worked for the working people of this nation for too long.”

As the pandemic recedes and inflation increases, Biden said that his “top priority” as of now is “getting prices under control.”

“Look, our economy roared back faster than most predicted, but the pandemic meant that businesses had a hard time hiring enough workers to keep up production in their factories,” he said.

The president pledged to make “record investments” in manufacturing in the United States, in an effort to spark the “revitalization of American manufacturing.”

“All told, we created 369,000 new manufacturing jobs in America just last year,” said Biden.

While the State of the Union was relatively mum on social issues, the president, who is Catholic, praised the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and said there is a need to “preserve a woman’s right to choose.”

“​​The constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade—standing precedent for half a century—is under attack as never before,” he said.

Biden also said there is a need to “fund the police,” rather than defund law enforcement. He said efforts should be taken to provide the police with “ the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”

“I ask Democrats and Republicans alike: Pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe,” said Biden.

“The State of the Union,” Biden said, “is strong. Because you, the American people, are strong.”

“We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today,” he said. “Now is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time.”

“And we will, as one people.”


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