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Honored guest from Ukraine and jokes from Republicans: how Biden's appeal to Congress went

In his February 7 address to the US Congress, Joe Biden touched on China, abortion, the border, Medicare and welfare. He has painted an optimistic picture of the achievements of his administration and Congressional Democrats since he entered the White House in 2021. The Guardian.

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The President of the United States has also entered into a fight with the Republicans on some issues, which has been widely praised as the 2024 race for the White House begins to loom on the horizon.

Here are some key takeaways from the speech.

On China, “the strongest position in decades”

Biden spoke at the Capitol, where Republicans still want to capitalize on the case of a Chinese spy balloon that was shot down on Feb. 4 off the coast of the Carolinas after crossing the country's borders. Right-wingers, including Marjorie Taylor Green, who carried her balloon through the halls before the speech, say Biden moved too slowly.

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Biden dismissed this, saying, “Today we are in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world. I am committed to working with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world. But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did it."

About Threats to Social Security and Medicare

Discussing the looming struggle and possible global crisis due to a US default, Biden targeted Republicans who want to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of (allegedly) balancing the federal budget.

He said: “Instead of making the rich pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to close every five years. This means that if Congress does not vote to keep them, these programs will disappear.”

Amid the screams and jeers of the Republicans, Greene could be seen and heard shouting "Liar!"

Tyre Nichols and police violence

With Republicans holding the House of Representatives, the outlook for major police reform is bleak. Biden delivered the address anyway, citing the horrific case of Tyre Nichols, a black man beaten to death by officers in Memphis, Tennessee, and introducing Nichols' parents, who were applauded.

“Imagine that you lost a child at the hands of the law. I know that most cops are good, decent people,” Biden said. “They risk their lives every time they wear that badge. But what happened to Tyre in Memphis happens all too often. We have to work better."

About weapons: call for a ban on assault weapons

The outlook for gun reform is also bleak. But Biden reiterated his call for a ban on assault weapons, citing the recent shooting in California's Monterey Park. He introduced the survivor, Brandon Tsai, who disarmed the gunman who had killed 11 people. Tsai received applause.

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“Ban assault weapons once and for all,” Biden said. - We've done this before. I led the fight for this ban in 1994 as a senator from Delaware. Within 10 years, the ban became law, and mass executions ceased. After the Republicans allowed the ban to expire, mass shootings tripled. Let's finish the job and ban assault weapons again."


"Congress must restore the right that the Supreme Court took away last year and codify Roe v. Wade to protect every woman's constitutional right to choose," Biden said. “Make no mistake: if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it,” he added.

Congress is unlikely to do so, not least because the court has returned abortion rights to the states. Republicans know this is a toxic issue for them to vote on, and the Senate belongs to the Democrats anyway. But the ballot box was what Biden was really aiming for: attacking abortion rights is the issue Democrats will face in 2024.

More clashes at the border

No wonder Republicans in the House of Representatives chanted "protect the border" when Biden spoke of immigration, including a call for more resources for border guards.

McCarthy was seen to shut up bullies, though not particularly defiantly. Later, when Biden spoke of the need to secure America's borders from an influx of opioid fentanyl and introduced the parents of a woman killed by the drug, at least one Republican yelled, "It's your fault!"

In Ukraine

Nearly a year after Russia invaded the neighboring country, Biden hailed US efforts to support and arm Kyiv. This became the target of criticism from Republicans.

“Together,” he said, “we did what America always does at its best. We were in the lead. We have united NATO and created a global coalition. We opposed Putin's aggression. We stood with the Ukrainian people."

Speaking to Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Makarova, Biden said: "We will support you for as long as it takes." Markarova joined the first lady as a guest for the second consecutive year. The First Lady also invited U2 lead singer Bono, a well-known activist in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

On right-wing threats to democracy

Biden referred to the serious threats of the past few years, almost mentioning by name their main source - Donald Trump. He highlighted the case of Paul Pelosi, the husband of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was attacked by an extremist in his San Francisco home last year.

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“For the past few years, our democracy has been threatened, attacked and at risk. ...Today, here in this hall, there is a man who is scarred from a brutal attack, but he is as strong, strong and enduring as it can be. My friend, Paul Pelosi. But such a heinous act should never have happened,” Biden said.

Biden added: “There is no place for political violence in America. We must protect the right to vote, not suppress this basic right, respect the results of our elections, not undermine the will of the people. We must restore confidence in our democratic institutions."

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