U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday delivered his first address to a socially-distanced joint session of Congress, sending once again a message to the world that “America is back”, vowing to “root out systemic racism” in the United States and calling on lawmakers to enact police reforms in the name of George Floyd. The president also asserted that America will not go it alone but will work with allies to solve global challenges and face threats.
Floyd was a 46-year-old African American man who was murdered late last year by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department. Chauvin was terminated by the Department and found guilty of murder by a 12-man jury over a week ago, and his sentence will be announced in the coming months.
“After the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was,” Biden said, recalling the words of Floyd’s daughter Gianna, who told him last year “my daddy change the world.”
President Biden’s speech, 99 days after he was sworn into office on January 20, 2021, came later than most previous presidents who delivered their first speeches in February.
The first speech of an American President to a joint session of Congress is not referred to as “a state of the union address” because it is believed the President is too new and may not know much about the union at that stage of their presidency. However, some Democrats have pointed out that President Biden was more than qualified to deliver “a state of the union address” for several reasons, including that he waited for 99 days to deliver his first speech at the end of April, and that he has been in Washington DC for almost four decades.
President Biden’s first address focused mainly on domestic issues, including how he has tackled the coronavirus pandemic, accelerated the delivery of vaccines, rescued the economy and provided help to the American people with his American Rescue Plan.
The Biden administration has delivered almost 220 million vaccine shots within its first 100 days in office. Almost half of all adults in America have received at least one shot of the vaccine and most people live within five miles of a vaccination center.
During his speech, Biden described the distribution of vaccine as “one of the greatest logistical achievements that this nation has ever seen.”
On his foreign policy directions, Biden called for Americans to come together and for bipartisanship in Congress to compete against a rising China and face other threats around the world.
He said world leaders who hear him say “America is back” often ask him “for how long?” and called on his countrymen to show that America is “back to stay.”
Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina delivered the Republican response to President Biden’s address, saying the president was pushing a partisan agenda, referring to his policies as a “power grab” in Washington.
Scott who is black, said President Biden was dividing the country, and claimed that America “is not a racist country.”