August 15, 2022

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AP FACT CHECK: Biden’s claims in his State of Union tackle

By ZEKE MILLER and COLLEEN LONG

WASHINGTON (AP) — Addressing a involved nation and anxious world, President Joe Biden vowed in his first State of the Union tackle Tuesday night time to examine Russian aggression in Ukraine, tame hovering U.S. inflation and take care of the fading however nonetheless harmful coronavirus.

Biden declared that he and all members of Congress, no matter their political variations, are joined “with an unwavering resolve that freedom will all the time conquer tyranny.” He requested the lawmakers crowding the Home chamber to face and salute the Ukrainians as he started his speech. They stood and cheered.

It was a notable present of unity after a protracted 12 months of bitter acrimony between Biden’s Democratic coalition and the Republican opposition.

Biden’s 62-minute speech, which was cut up between consideration to struggle overseas and worries at house — mirrored the identical balancing act he now faces in his presidency. He should marshal allied resolve towards Russia’s aggression whereas tending to inflation, COVID-19 fatigue and sagging approval rankings heading into the midterm elections.

Biden highlighted the bravery of Ukrainian defenders and the dedication of a newly reinvigorated Western alliance that has labored to rearm the Ukrainian army and cripple Russia’s economic system by means of sanctions. He warned of prices to the American economic system, as effectively, however warned ominously that with out penalties, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine.

“All through our historical past we’ve realized this lesson – when dictators don’t pay a value for his or her aggression, they trigger extra chaos,” Biden stated. “They hold shifting. And, the prices and threats to America and the world hold rising.”

As Biden spoke, Russian forces have been escalating their assaults in Ukraine, having bombarded the central sq. of nation’s second-biggest metropolis and Kyiv’s fundamental TV tower, killing no less than 5 folks. The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial was additionally broken.

Biden introduced that the U.S. is following Canada and the European Union in banning Russian planes from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. He additionally stated the Justice Division was launching a job pressure to go after crimes of Russian oligarchs, whom he referred to as “corrupt leaders who’ve bilked billions of {dollars} off this violent regime.”

“We’re coming in your ill-begotten positive factors,” he stated, pledging that the U.S. and European allies have been coming after their yachts, luxurious residences and personal jets.

“Putin might circle Kyiv with tanks, however he won’t ever acquire the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian folks,” Biden stated. “He won’t ever extinguish their love of freedom. He won’t ever weaken the resolve of the free world.”

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Even earlier than the Russian invasion despatched vitality prices skyrocketing, costs for American households had been rising, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to harm households and the nation’s economic system.

Biden outlined plans to deal with inflation by reinvesting in American manufacturing capability, dashing provide chains and decreasing the burden of childcare and eldercare on staff.

“Too many households are struggling to maintain up with the payments,” Biden stated. “Inflation is robbing them of the positive factors they could in any other case really feel. I get it. That’s why my high precedence is getting costs below management.”

Biden entered the Home chamber with no masks, in a mirrored image of the declining coronavirus case counts and new federal steering meant to nudge the general public again to pre-pandemic actions. However the Capitol was newly fenced because of safety considerations after final 12 months’s rebel.

Set towards disquiet at house and hazard overseas, the White Home had conceived Tuesday night time’s speech as a chance to focus on the enhancing coronavirus outlook, rebrand Biden’s home coverage priorities and present a path to decrease prices for households grappling with hovering inflation. Nevertheless it took on new significance with final week’s Russian invasion of Ukraine and nuclear saber-rattling by Putin.

As is customary, one Cupboard secretary, on this case Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, was stored in a safe location in the course of the tackle, able to take over the federal government within the occasion of a disaster.

In an interview with CNN and Reuters, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated he urged Biden to ship a robust and “helpful” message about Russia’s invasion. In a present of unity, Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova joined first girl Jill Biden within the gallery.

In a uncommon discordant second, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado yelled out that Biden was guilty for the 13 service members who have been killed throughout final August’s chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“You place them in. 13 of them,” Boebert yelled as Biden talked about his late son Beau, a veteran who died from mind most cancers and served close to poisonous army burn pits, used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden is pursuing laws to assist veterans struggling publicity and different accidents.

Rising vitality costs because of Russia’s struggle in Ukraine threat exacerbating inflation within the U.S., which is already on the highest degree in 40 years, consuming into folks’s earnings and threatening the financial restoration from the pandemic. And whereas the disaster in Jap Europe might have helped to chill partisan tensions in Washington, it didn’t erase the political and cultural discord that’s casting doubt on Biden’s means to ship.

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A February AP-NORC ballot discovered that extra folks disapproved than authorised of how Biden is dealing with his job, 55% to 44%. That’s down from a 60% favorable score final July.

Forward of the speech, White Home officers acknowledged the temper of the nation was “bitter,” citing the lingering pandemic and inflation. Biden, used his remarks to focus on the progress from a 12 months in the past — with the vast majority of the U.S. inhabitants now vaccinated and tens of millions extra folks at work — but additionally acknowledged that the job shouldn’t be but performed, a recognition of American discontent.

“I’ve come to report on the state of the union,” Biden stated. “And my report is that this: The state of the union is powerful—since you, the American folks, are robust. We’re stronger in the present day than we have been a 12 months in the past. And we will probably be stronger a 12 months from now than we’re in the present day.”

Earlier than Biden spoke, Home Republicans stated the phrase “disaster” describes the state of the union below Biden and Democrats — from an vitality coverage that lets Russia promote oil overseas to challenges at house over jobs and immigration.

“We’re going to push the president to do the proper factor,” stated Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy.

At the least a half dozen lawmakers, together with Reps. Jamie Raskin and Pete Aguilar, each members of the committee investigating final 12 months’s Capitol riot, and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., had examined constructive for COVID-19 and weren’t anticipated on the Capitol for the speech.

“Tonight I can say we’re shifting ahead safely, again to extra regular routines,” Biden stated, outlining his administration’s plans to proceed to fight COVID-19 and saying “It’s time for People to get again to work and fill our nice downtowns once more.” He introduced that folks will have the ability to order one other spherical of free checks from the federal government and that his administration was launching a “take a look at to deal with” initiative to supply free antiviral drugs at pharmacies to those that take a look at constructive for the virus.

The place his speech to Congress final 12 months noticed the rollout of an enormous social spending package deal, Biden this 12 months largely repackaged previous proposals searching for achievable measures he hopes can win bipartisan assist in a bitterly divided Congress earlier than the elections.

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The president additionally highlighted investments in every little thing from web broadband entry to bridge building from November’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure legislation for example of presidency reaching consensus and delivering change for the nation.

He additionally appealed to lawmakers to compromise on rival competitiveness payments which have handed the Home and Senate, each meant to revitalize high-tech American manufacturing and provide chains within the face of rising geopolitical threats from China.

“As a substitute of counting on overseas provide chains – let’s make it in America,” Biden stated.

As a part of his pitch to voters, he additionally put a brand new emphasis on how proposals like extending the kid tax credit score and bringing down baby care prices might carry aid to households as costs rise. He was stated his local weather change proposals would lower prices for lower- and middle-income households and create new jobs.

Biden referred to as for reducing well being care prices, pitching his plan to authorize Medicare to barter prescription drug costs, in addition to an extension of extra beneficiant medical health insurance subsidies now briefly obtainable by means of the Inexpensive Care Act marketplaces the place 14.5 million folks get protection.

He proposed initiatives on psychological well being that dovetail with rising bipartisan curiosity in Congress amid proof that the pandemic has broken the nationwide psyche, and mentioned new methods to enhance entry to well being advantages for veterans sickened by publicity to the burning of waste throughout their service.

Biden additionally appealed for motion on voting rights, which has did not win GOP assist. And as gun violence rises, he returned to calls to ban assault weapons, a blunt request he hadn’t made in months. He referred to as to “fund the police with the sources and coaching they should defend our communities.”

As well as, Biden led Congress in a bipartisan tribute to retiring Supreme Courtroom Justice Stephen Breyer and pressed the Senate to substantiate federal decide Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the primary Black lady on the excessive court docket to exchange him. He nominated her final week.

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Related Press writers Darlene Superville, Fatima Hussein, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Lisa Mascaro in Washington and Jason Dearen in New York contributed to this report.