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Biden declares "it's good to be back" in speech that highlights ambitious plans

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Analysis: Biden's first address to Congress
Analysis: Biden's first address to Congress 40:10

Jobs. Infrastructure. Police reform. Gun control. Ending cancer. President Biden delivered a hopeful message to America in his first address before a joint session of Congress as he touted his recovery plans and even more ambitious proposals. 

"It's good to be back," the former senator told his former colleagues, although the eerily quiet House Chamber had an audience of just 200, compared to the normally boisterous 1,600 who usually attend this address — COVID-19 forced the smaller guest list.

Mr. Biden pushed forward with the message that "In America, we always get up" though "100 days ago, America was on fire." He highlighted the vaccination rate; the American Recovery Plan, the nearly $2 trillion stimulus plan; his infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and his latest bold proposal, the American Families Plan.

He argued for another $4 trillion in spending on top of the COVID relief bill that's already been passed and asked for GOP input, up to a point.

"We welcome ideas," Mr. Biden said. "But, the rest of the world isn't waiting for us. Doing nothing is not an option."

He called for unity against the threat of autocratic countries whose leaders think that the assault on the Capitol in January is proof that "the sun is setting on American democracy."

"They are wrong. And we have to prove them wrong," Mr. Biden said. "We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works — and can deliver for the people."

In addition to plans to "build America back better," Mr. Biden extended a handful of olive branches: calling for a cure for cancer, universal pre-K and more limited provisions on gun control. 

Mr. Biden called on Congress to pass the police reform bill by the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death, as well as to move forward with voting rights legislation. He also pushed his immigration and gun control bills.

He also had the opportunity to tout a first: He was flanked by two women on the dais, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

At times, Pelosi's presence seemed like the only holdover from former President Trump's final State of the Union, a contentious speech that ended with Pelosi ripping it up on camera behind Mr. Trump.

Senator Tim Scott, a rising star in the Republican party, delivered the GOP rebuttal. Scott declared Mr. Biden's infrastructure proposal a "liberal wishlist of big government waste" and offered an alternative vision for the future as the country begins to emerge from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shaken the economy and resulted in the deaths of more than half a million Americans.

A CBS News poll after the speech found that viewers described the president as "Presidential, "Caring," "Inspiring" and "Bold." Eighty-five percent of Americans who watched Mr. Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress approved of his speech. Fifteen percent disapproved.

Latest Updates:

President Biden Delivers First Address To Joint Session Of Congress
President Biden addresses a joint session of congress as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi look on in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021.  Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
 

Watch Biden's speech in full

Watch: Biden gives first address to Congress 01:11:16

Read the full text here.

 

CBS News poll: Most viewers approve of Biden's speech

Most viewers who tuned in to watch President Biden's speech liked what they heard and came away feeling optimistic about America.

Speech viewers described the president as "Presidential, ""Caring," "Inspiring" and "Bold."

And history was made tonight with two women seated behind the president during an address to Congress, and a big majority of those who watched felt proud to see that. 

biden-words-describe.png

Read more here.

Jennifer De Pinto, Kabir Khanna, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto  

 

Fact check: Americans pay nearly three times as much as other countries for prescription drugs

CLAIM: Americans pay three times as much as other countries for prescription drugs.

"We pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America — nearly three times for the same drug — nearly three times what other countries pay."

FACT CHECK: MOSTLY TRUE.  

Rand found that American prescription drug pricing is 2.56 times higher overall than 39 other countries. But certain drugs, like the generic ones used by many Americans, are lower on average.

—  DeLon Thornton and Arthur Jones II

 

Fact check: 2 million women lost jobs during the pandemic

CLAIM: Two million women dropped out of the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Two million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic, too often because they couldn't get the care they need for their family, their children."

FACT CHECK: True

January 2021 jobs data indicated that 275,000 women left the work force that month, the National Women's Law Center noted. This raises the number of women who had left the work force since March 2020 to 2.3 million and bringing the women's labor force participation rate to 57%. 

By Gabrielle Ake
 

Fact check: Economy created over 1.3 million jobs in Biden's first 100 days

CLAIM: The economy created over 1.3 million jobs in Biden's first 100 days

"The economy created more than one million three hundred thousand new jobs in 100 days...more jobs in the first 100 days than any president on record."

FACT CHECK: True

In February and March 2021 alone, 1,384,000 jobs were added, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' March 2021 report. By comparison, during Donald Trump's first year in office, the economy added 317,000 jobs in February and March 2017.

In the Obama administration, during the Great Recession, employment continued to decline, and 663,000 jobs were lost in February and March in 2009. In 2001, President George W. Bush saw the economy lose 86,000 jobs. The BLS began recording monthly employment numbers in 1994, one year after President Bill Clinton's first term began.

Aaron Navarro and Arthur Jones III  

 

Scott delivers GOP rebuttal, calling American jobs plan a "liberal wishlist of big government waste"

Watch: GOP response to Biden's address 14:26

Republican Senator Tim Scott delivered a speech responding to President Biden's first address before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening. The response provides an opportunity for Scott, a rising star in the Republican Party, to outline an alternative to the president's ambitious legislative agenda.

Scott began his speech by saying that Mr. Biden "seems like a good man," but argued that his policies were divisive.

"Our president seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words. But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership," Scott said. "Our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. We need policies and progress that bring us closer together. But three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart."

Scott noted that five bipartisan coronavirus relief packages had passed under former President Donald Trump in the past year, but Congress passed the nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan without any Republican votes.

Scott delivered his response after Mr. Biden concluded his speech, which included details about his American Families Plan, a tax and spending bill focused on health care, child care and education. Between this and the American Jobs Plan, his infrastructure proposal, Mr. Biden is calling on Congress to pass over $4 trillion in spending on major projects. 

Scott called the American Jobs Plan a "liberal wishlist of big government waste." Republicans have balked at the price tags for these proposals, questioned their relevancy, and criticized Mr. Biden's plan to raise certain taxes to pay for them.

Scott also spoke about his experience with discrimination as a Black man, and noted that he had proposed a police reform bill last year that had been blocked by Democrats. Democrats argued that the bill did not go far enough.

Scott also discussed some of the social issues that are motivating voters on the right, such as recent efforts to center the history of slavery and discrimination in the current political conversation. Scott, like other Republicans, argued that Democrats are invoking racism to score political points.

"America is not a racist country," Scott said. "Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue like one side wants."

But while he mentioned issues that motivated Republican voters, he only referred to Mr. Trump in passing.

Scott offered an alternative vision for the future as the country begins to emerge from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shaken the economy and resulted in the deaths of more than half a million Americans.

"I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans' optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families," Scott said in a statement announcing his response last week.

Scott told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that he would "try to keep it simple," and that he had been practicing his remarks "a bunch."

"From my perspective, you figure out who your audience is, you figure out what you want to say, you try to find a way to say it well. And you lean into who you are," Scott said.

By Grace Segers
 

Biden meeting with Capitol employees

After the joint session of Congress, the president and first lady are participating in a photo line with 23 employees of the U.S. Capitol. 

The assault on the Capitol was only a little over 100 days ago. 

By Fin Gómez
 

"We have to prove that democracy still works," Biden says in closing

Biden on preserving democracy 04:49

President Biden wrapped his speech by saying autocrats and skeptical nations look at America and think it's too divisive to succeed. 

"They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy," the president said, referencing the assault on the nation's Capitol on January 6. 

America has to "prove that democracy still works," he said. 

He said those autocrats are wrong. And America needs to prove it by coming together and leading, he said. 

It's time Americans remembered that here, "We the People are the government." 

Mr. Biden said he reminds other world leaders of one thing in conversation: "It's never ever ever ever been a good bet to bet against America, and it still isn't."

Read more here.

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden calls for Congress to pass immigration reform bill

Biden on passing immigration reform 02:35

Mr. Biden called on Congress to pass his immigration reform proposal in response to the increased criticism from Republicans amid the influx of migrants crossing the border.

"If you believe we need a secure border — pass it," Mr. Biden said. "If you believe in a pathway to citizenship — pass it."

Mr. Biden's proposal would allow millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to apply for legal status, increase aid to Central America, refocus border control measures and expand legal immigration. House Democrats have introduced a bill based on this framework, but it has yet to pass in Congress. The House did pass two immigration reform bills last month that would legalize certain subsects of the illegal immigrants in the country.

"If you don't like my plan, let's at least pass what we all agree on. Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure citizenship for Dreamers," Mr. Biden said, referring to migrants who came to the country as children.

He also said that the "root causes" of migration, such as gang violence and political instability, must be addressed.

"The country supports immigration reform. We should act," Mr. Biden said.

By Grace Segers
 

Biden says gun safety reforms "shouldn't be a red or blue issue"

Mr. Biden tackled the topic of gun control, something he campaigned on but can do very little about without the aid of Congress. 

The president said he'll do everything he can to address gun violence, but it's "time for Congress" to address gun violence as well. He urged Republicans to join him in expanding background checks and in banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

The White House flag has been flying at half staff for the eight victims of the mass shooting in Georgia and for the 10 lives taken in a mass shooting in Colorado. 

"I need not tell anyone this, but gun violence has become an epidemic in America."

The country "supports reform, and Congress should act."

"This shouldn't be a red or blue issue," he said. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden calls on Congress to pass comprehensive police reform

Biden urges gun safety reforms 08:28

Mr. Biden addressed police brutality and racial violence against Black Americans, saying that the country "must come together to heal the soul of this nation." He referenced George Floyd, a Black man who was killed last year after a police officer pinned his knee on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes. The officer was found guilty of murder last week.

"It was nearly a year ago before her father's funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd's young daughter," Mr. Biden said, referring to Gianna Floyd's comment that her father changed the world. "After the conviction of George Floyd's murderer, we can see how right she was – if we have the courage to act."

The president said that the time had come to address "the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America" by passing a police reform bill.

"We have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd's name that passed the House already," Mr. Biden said, referring to a reform bill approved by the House last month.

However, that legislation has stalled in the Senate, as Republicans oppose a provision that would overhaul qualified immunity, making it easier to bring litigation against law enforcement officers. Mr. Biden referenced ongoing discussions between Republican Senator Tim Scott and Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Karen Bass on potential legislation.

"We need to work together to find a consensus. Let's get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death," Mr. Biden said.

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden says America will lead "with our allies"

President Biden said he's made it clear to other world leaders in his conversations with them that America is back. 

"I've made it known. I've made it known that America's back," he said, repeating a message he's said often before. 

Their most common response, he said, is, "but for how long?" It's important that the U.S. show unity, and that the United States will lead not just alone, but "with our allies."

That's why it's important for the U.S to lead on climate, he said. 

Mr. Biden said that in his conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping,  he says the U.S. welcomes the competition, but will absolutely defend its interests. Mr. Biden said he also told Xi the U.S. will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific to prevent conflict. 

"And, I told him what I've said to many world leaders – that America won't back away from our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. I pointed out to him, no responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated. An American president has to represent the essence of our country stands for," he said. "America is an idea. The most unique idea in history. We are created, all of us equal. It's who we are. And we cannot walk away from that principle." 

Mr. Biden said he also made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. won't seek escalation, but won't tolerate aggression.  

"He understands, we will respond," Mr. Biden said of Putin. 

The U.S. will also work closely with allies to address threats posed by Iran and North Korea, he said. 

And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan, Mr. Biden said, to applause. 

Mr. Biden said the U.S. delivered justice to Osama Bin Laden, and after 20 years of valor and sacrifice, "it's time to bring those troops home." 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden calls for raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for proposals

Biden on taxes and building the economy 04:58

Mr. Biden laid out his plan to pay for the multi-trillion investment represented by the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, arguing that it was possible to fund the proposals without raising the deficit.

The president promised that he would not impose any tax increases on Americans making under $400,000 per year, but argued that "it's time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to just begin to pay their fair share."

"We're going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well," Mr. Biden vowed.

He also proposed raising the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans to 39.6%, noting that this was the rate when George W. Bush became president. The president suggested getting rid of the loopholes that allow those who make more than $1 million a year pay a lower rate on their capital gains, saying that it will only affect three tenths of 1% of all Americans.

"I'm not looking to punish anybody. But I will not add an additional tax burden of the middle class of this country. They're already paying enough," Mr. Biden said. "I believe what I've proposed is fair. It's fiscally responsible."

He also slammed the $2 trillion tax cut passed by the Republican Congress and signed by former President Trump in 2017, calling it a "huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top."

Mr. Biden's plan is opposed by most Republicans, who have expressed opposition to raising any taxes.

By Grace Segers
 

Biden pushes for free preschool and two years of free community college

Biden on American Families Plan and education... 04:31

The president then launched into a pitch for his American Families Plan, a roughly $1.8 trillion investment in education for children and young adults, and childcare assistance. 

The plan calls for free preschool for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, regardless of their family income, as well as two years of free community college for all Americans. 

"We can't be so busy competing with each other that we forget the competition is with the rest of the world to win the 21st Century," Mr. Biden said, noting his conversations with the Chinese president, who is bent on becoming the most consequential leader in the world. 

"To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families — in our children. That's why I've introduced the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families," he said. 

At one point, America's investment in 12 years of free education made it the best nation in the world. That's no longer enough in the 21st Century. 

"But the world's caught up or catching up. They're not waiting," he said. 

Mr. Biden explained that's his reasoning for adding free preschool and two years of free community college. The plan would also guarantee that low-income and middle-income families pay no more than 7% of their income toward child care for children up to age 5. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden calls on bipartisan action by Congress

Mr. Biden sought to burnish his bipartisan credentials by praising a group of Republicans who have offered their own counter-proposal to the American Jobs Plan, a $538 billion proposal that does not address some of the issues covered by the president's proposal.

"Vice President Harris and I meet regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the American Jobs Plan. And I applaud a group of Republican Senators who just put forward their proposal," Mr. Biden said. He said that "we welcome ideas," but argued that inaction was not an option.

Congressional Democrats may opt to use budget reconciliation to pass Mr. Biden's plan, a complicated procedure that allows legislation to pass with a simple majority in the Senate. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan through reconciliation, without any Republican votes.

Republicans have balked at the price tag for the American Jobs Plan, and it is unclear whether they will be willing to accept some of the terms proposed by Mr. Biden.

By Grace Segers
 

Biden calls for $15 minimum wage

Biden on raising minimum wage 01:11

Mr. Biden explicitly called for a $15 federal minimum wage, although it's something Congress would need to enact. 

"No one, no one working 40 hours a week, no one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line," he said. 

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 hasn't changed since 2009. 

But a $15 minimum wage isn't likely to sit well with even some Democratic members of Congress. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has already put his foot down on a minimum wage that high, saying something more like $11 might be doable. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden promotes the American Jobs Plan

Biden on impact of American Rescue Plan 03:58

Mr. Biden promoted the American Jobs Plan, his ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, calling it a "once-in-a-generation investment in America itself" and "the largest jobs plan since World War II."

The plan would upgrade transportation infrastructure, such as roads, highways, railroads, airports and ports. It would also invest in infrastructure for clean water.

"The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100% of the nation's lead pipes and service lines so every American, so every child — can turn on the faucet and be certain to drink clean water," Mr. Biden said.

The president also announced that Harris would lead the effort to help expand broadband, another critical portion of the American Jobs Plan. The president said the proposal "will create jobs to lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid."

Mr. Biden addressed some of the more controversial parts of the plan among Republicans, including investing in green jobs and improving home care for the elderly and disabled. The president framed his focus on climate change as a way to create new opportunities for workers.

"For me, when I think about climate change, I think jobs. The American Jobs Plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy efficient buildings and homes," Mr. Biden said. "There's no reason the blades for wind turbines can't be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. No reason. None."

Biden says jobs can help curb climate crisis 01:51
By Grace Segers
 

Biden hypes American Rescue Plan

The president addressed the impact of the American Rescue Plan, the stimulus package Congress passed and he signed to help stimulate the economy and fight the virus. 

The package translated to more than 160 million checks to Americans for direct financial relief. The president shared the story of a grandmother in Virginia who immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor, a task she'd put off for months, because she didn't have the money. 

He also touted that it meant nutrition assistance to families in need.

"That's why the American Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger — and hunger is down sharply already," Mr. Biden said. 

Largely because of the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. is on track to cut child poverty in half, he said. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden touts number of vaccinations in his first 100 days

Biden touts COVID vaccination numbers 03:29

Mr. Biden touted his administration's accomplishments in his first 100 days, particularly the number of vaccine shots that have been administered. He noted that 220 million vaccine shots have been provided, and said that 90% of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site.

He also urged Americans to get vaccinated, now that all adults over age 16 are eligible to receive a shot.

"Go get vaccinated, America," Mr. Biden said to applause.

The president said that 70% of seniors are now fully vaccinated, compared to the 1% vaccinated when he took office. He also noted that senior deaths are down by 80% since he was inaugurated.

By Grace Segers
 

"America is on the move again," Biden says

Biden discusses crisis and opportunity 03:07

The president began his remarks by recognizing how familiar the Capitol is to him.

"It's good to be back," Mr. Biden said to applause. 

Then he recognized the two women seated behind him — the first female vice president, and the first female speaker of the House. 

"No president has ever said those words, and it's about time," he said. 

Mr. Biden recognized how past presidents have used this same podium and chamber, to announce wars, to announce achievements, and to address challenges. 

"Tonight I come to talk about crisis and opportunity. About rebuilding a nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America," he said. 

The president alluded to some of the accomplishments he's achieved over the last 100 days.

"America is on the move again," he said. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden enters the House chamber

 Mr. Biden entered the House chamber just after 9 p.m., preceded by several members of the House and Senate and justices of the Supreme Court. Given the sparse attendance, and the spacing out of seats for lawmakers across the House floor and the balconies, Mr. Biden did not spend as much time greeting members of Congress as is typical for a president ahead of a joint address.

Mr. Biden is flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, marking the first time that two women have stood behind a president as he delivered his address.

By Grace Segers
 

Biden arrives at the Capitol

The president arrived at the Capitol at 8:40 p.m., after leaving the White House at 8:30 p.m.

Reporters traveling with the president did not see him exit the motorcade. Members of the National Guard saluted the motorcade as it passed. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Senators travel to House side of chamber

The senators attending Mr. Biden's address gathered in the Senate chamber and then walked to the House side of the Capitol together. Presidential addresses are typically held in the House chamber because it is larger, and able to accommodate senators and representatives. Vice President Kamala Harris escorted the senators into the chamber.

Although there would typically be upwards of 1,500 attendees at a presidential address, a limited number of lawmakers were invited due to the coronavirus pandemic.

By Grace Segers
 

Biden to unveil American Families Plan during address to Congress

Biden to unveil details of American Families ... 13:13

President Biden is delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night on the eve of his 100th day in office. CBSN Washington reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns and Associated Press White House reporter Zeke Miller join CBSN's "Red & Blue" host Elaine Quijano with analysis. 

 

Biden to bring up police reform negotiations

President Biden is expected in his speech to Congress to express support for the negotiations taking place on Capitol Hill over police reform legislation, two people familiar with the Wednesday-evening speech told CBS News.  

Congresswoman Karen Bass, who re-introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act this year, has been leading informal, bipartisan discussions with fellow Democrat New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Carolina Sen. Tim, a Republican, who introduced his own police reform bill last year. Scott is also delivering his party's rebuttal speech to the president this evening. 

Mr. Biden has already said he supports the proposed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but there is acknowledgement across the Hill that all the tenants of the bill as it is currently written may not be able to find bipartisan support, as the same bill did not pass last summer when it was originally introduced after Floyd's death.  

Bass recently told CBS News that this latest round of conversations about police reform is different because when it was debated last, it was "too close to the election, which took up all the oxygen in the room."  

At that time, Bass said she was also consulting with the police reform group within the bipartisan House Problem Solvers caucus. 

A sticking point of the proposal is ending "qualified immunity," which largely prevents civilians from suing public servants like police officers. There has been some discussions on the Hill of how this could be tweaked to make police departments—and not individual officers—open to lawsuits.  

Bo Erickson, Arden Farhi and Ed O'Keefe   

 

White House deputy press secretary on Biden's speech and plans for jobs and families

White House previews Biden speech 07:50

White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" host Elaine Quijano ahead of President Biden's first address to Congress on Wednesday. They spoke about the plans for the speech as well as the president's efforts to sell lawmakers on his infrastructure and family spending plans.

 

Biden to face fight over rescue plans totaling $4 trillion

Biden to face fight over rescue plans 01:39

President Biden will try and sell his massive recovery plan to Congress. Nancy Cordes takes a look at how tough of a sell it's going to be. 

 

Biden to promote policy agenda in address to Congress

Biden to promote policy agenda in Congress ad... 03:43

President Biden will address a joint session of Congress, where he will lay out the top priorities on his agenda. Ed O'Keefe has more details.

 

How to watch President Biden's address before the joint session of Congress

  • What: President Joe Biden addresses the joint session of Congress
  • Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2021
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location:  U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
  • TV: CBS broadcast stations (Full list of CBS stations here)
  • Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device
By Caroline Linton
 

Biden to hold bipartisan meeting with leadership from both chambers in May

A White House official has confirmed that Mr. Biden will meet with the leadership of both parties from both chambers on May 12. The meeting follows his speech and after he has hosted 130 members of Congress in his first 100 days.

The official said Mr. Biden is eager to talk in-person with the congressional leadership about how we can partner on the goals of restoring trust in government, ensuring that government delivers for the American people, and keeping the nation safe and competitive in the world - especially as the nation continues to sacrifice to defeat the pandemic and to turn our economy around after the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

By Fin Gómez
 

Biden to say Americans have the opportunity to turn "peril into possibility"

Four hours ahead of Mr. Biden's speech, the White House released excerpts of Mr. Biden's speech. The excerpts show how Mr. Biden will highlight that in the first 100 days, the he has "acted to restore the people's faith in our democracy to deliver."

"100 days since I took the oath of office—lifted my hand off our family Bible—and inherited a nation in crisis," Mr. Biden will say. "The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 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. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength."

Mr. Biden will also tout his "American Jobs Plan," which he will say is a "blue-collar blueprint to build America."

By Caroline Linton
 

Republican senators skeptical about American Families Plan

Mr. Biden has yet to deliver his address announcing the American Families Plan, but Republican senators are already criticizing the proposal as too expensive. GOP lawmakers had previously balked at the price tag for the American Jobs Plan, Mr. Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, and expressed opposition to raising any taxes to pay for these measures.

"In his first 100 days, he's asked for $100 trillion in spending. To put that in context, our total federal budget that we vote on every year is $1.4 or $1.5 trillion," GOP Senator Mitt Romney told reporters. "So it's a massive amount of spending. So I think maybe if he were younger I'd say his dad needs to take away the credit card."

The Biden administration is considering raising the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, up from the current 37%, and nearly doubling the capital gains rate for those making more than $1 million a year to pay for the American Families Plan. To fund the American Jobs Plan, the president is proposing raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and negotiating a global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations.

"I think that he's going to run into real political risk," Senator Mike Braun told reporters on Wednesday, arguing that spending such a significant amount would increase the debt significantly. "It doesn't take a real deep background in economics to know that there'll be repercussions."

Republican Senator John Thune predicted to reporters that proposals that may initially seem popular among voters will become a "hard sell" once people realize tax increases are involved.

"Even if the spending is popular, and a lot of it probably will be, the tax increases I think are going to be a hard sell, not just with people in the country or with Republicans, but I think for some Democrats too," Thune said.

By Grace Segers
 

Tim Scott to deliver GOP rebuttal to Biden's speech

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is delivering a speech responding to President Joe Biden's first address before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening. The response provides an opportunity for Scott, a rising star in the Republican Party, to outline an alternative to the president's ambitious legislative agenda.

Scott is expected to offer an alternative vision for the future as the country begins to emerge from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shaken the economy and resulted in the deaths of more than half a million Americans.

"I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans' optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families," Scott said in a statement announcing his response last week.

Scott told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that he would "try to keep it simple," and that he had been practicing his remarks "a bunch."

"From my perspective, you figure out who your audience is, you figure out what you want to say, you try to find a way to say it well. And you lean into who you are," Scott said.

By Grace Segers
 

What is in the American Families Plan?

The president's proposal would cost roughly $1.8 trillion, and would fund free prekindergarten and community college, extend the child tax credit and create a national paid leave program.

The plan includes four years of free education: Two years of preschool for 3- to 4-year-olds, and two years of community college that would be open to everyone, regardless of income. The plan also calls for $1,400 in additional assistance to low-income students by expanding the maximum Pell Grant. Investments would be made in historically Black and historically tribal colleges and universities as well as in completion and retention programs at colleges and universities. There are also allocations for teacher training.

As for child care, the plan includes assistance programs for low- and middle-income families so that they have to spend no more than 7% of their income on childcare. It also calls for ensuring a $15 minimum wage for early childhood staff, improved training for child care workers and for national comprehensive paid family leave and medical leave programs.

The plan also includes an expansion of lunch benefits to all eligible children nationwide, making it so that children who receive the benefit during the school year can also receive it in the summer. It would also expand the number of schools that can provide free and reduced meals.

The plan would also extend certain key tax cuts in the American Rescue Plan, including the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and the child and dependent care tax credit. The plan calls for extending the child tax credit through 2025 and making it permanently refundable.

Read more here.  

By Kathryn Watson
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