Joe Biden pressed lawmakers to prove that “democracy still works” in his primetime address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, as he outlined an ambitious domestic policy agenda around his first 100 days in office.
He argued that his administration inherited a “nation in crisis” recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and a deadly Capitol assault that amounted to “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”
“Now – after just 100 days – I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” the president said. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
Mr Biden a his pitch for his sweeping infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan. He called it a “blue-collar blueprint to build America”, as he made a direct appeal to Americans who feel “left behind” in the economic fallout from the public health crisis, growing income and wealth inequality, and the administration’s shift towards a more sustainable energy sector.
“Now, I know some of you at home wonder whether these jobs are for you,” Mr Biden said. “You feel left behind and forgotten in an economy that’s rapidly changing. Let me speak directly to you.”
He argued that a majority of infrastructure jobs that the $2.2 trillion plan will help create won’t require a four-year college or associate’s degree, and they will be “good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.”
“Wall Street didn’t build this country,” he said. “The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class.”
He also outlined his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan and revived his calls to Congress to act on gun control reform, immigration and voting rights – in addition to his multi-trillion economic agenda – as congressional Democrats draft legislation that is uniformly opposed by Republicans.
“We have to prove democracy still works,” Mr Biden said. “That our government still works – and can deliver for the people.”
He pointed to legislative progress made with the passage of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package in March, and argue that the government has worked to “restore the people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.”
“We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives,” he said. “Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.”
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