President Joe Biden declared Wednesday night in his first address to a joint session of Congress that the nation is “turning peril into possibility,” celebrating progress against the coronavirus and urging a US$1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform roles the government plays in American life, AP reports.
“It’s been 100 days since I took the oath of office, lifted my hand off our family Bible and inherited a nation, we all did, that was in crisis, the worst pandemic in a century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst attack on our democracy, since the Civil War,” said the President.
“Now, after just 100 days I can report to the nation, America is on the move again,” continued Biden, receiving standing ovation. “Turning peril into possibility, crisis into the opportunity, setbacks into strength.”
Biden marked his first 100 days in office as the nation emerges from a confluence of crises, making his case before a pared-down gathering of mask-wearing legislators because of pandemic restrictions. The speech took place in a U.S. Capitol still surrounded by fencing after insurrectionists in January protesting his election stormed to the doors of the House chamber where he gave his address.
The nationally televised ritual of a president standing before Congress for the first time was one of the most watched moments of Biden’s presidency, raising the stakes for his ability to sell his plans to voters of both parties, even if Republican lawmakers prove resistant.
This year’s scene at the front of the House chamber had a historic look: For the first time, a female vice president, Kamala Harris, was seated behind the chief executive. And she was next to another woman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both clad in pastel.
The first ovation came as Biden greeted, “Madame Vice President.”
The entire House setting was unlike that for any of Biden’s predecessors, with members of Congress spread out, a sole Supreme Court justice in attendance and many Republicans citing “scheduling conflicts” to stay away. There was no need for a “designated survivor,” with so many Cabinet members not there, and the chamber was so sparsely populated that individual claps could be heard echoing off the walls.