State of the Union 2023: Joe Biden urges Congress to finish 'the job' on rebuilding economy

Joe Biden has not said if he is running for renomination but his speech last night sounded like he is, ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

Joe Biden called on Republicans to help him “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation as he used his second State of the Union address to also urge for action on police reform and climate change.

The US president used his 73 minute address to highlight the value of bipartisanship to a divided Congress with a Republican majority now in the lower chamber.

Mr Biden sought to portray a nation dramatically improved from the one he took charge of two years ago: from a reeling economy to one prosperous with new jobs as the country emerged from the pandemic.

He made note of his legislative accomplishments, pointing to states’ vital infrastructure projects and high-tech manufacturing as examples.

“Folks, the story of America is a story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward. Of never, ever, giving up,” the Democrat said as he delivered the address to a packed chamber which included Supreme Court justices.

“It’s a story unique among all nations. We’re the only country that has emerged from every crisis we’ve ever entered stronger than when we got into it.” “We’re not finished yet by any stretch of the imagination,” Mr Biden, who is thought to be preparing for a likely re-election bid in 2024, added.

Vice President Kamala Harris stands with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of California. Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The US president opened up the remarks by congratulating the newly installed House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, seated behind him.

Mr Biden drew bipartisan applause when he praised most law enforcement officers as “good, decent, honourable people” but added that “when police officers or police departments violate the public’s trust, they must be held accountable.”

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus invited family members of those involved in police incidents, as they sought to press for action on police reform in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ death.

The US president also discussed Republican efforts to repeal the Democrats’ 2022 climate change and healthcare law and their reluctance to increase the federal debt limit, the nation’s legal borrowing authority that must be raised later this year or risk default.

He said the phrase “finish the job” 13 times, challenging lawmakers to complete the work of his administration on capping insulin costs for all Americans, confronting climate change, raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations and banning assault-style weapons.

The speech came days after Mr Biden ordered the military to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew brazenly across the country, captivating the nation and serving as a reminder of tense relations between the two global powers.

Despite the US president's optimistic tone, just a quarter of American adults say things are headed in the right direction, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track, and a majority of Democrats don’t want Mr Biden, 80, to seek another term.

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders waits to deliver the Republican response to Joe Biden's State of the Union address. Credit: Al Drago/Bloomberg, Pool

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who gained a national profile as former President Donald Trump’s press secretary, delivered the Republican response to Mr Biden’s speech. She focused much of her comments on social issues, including race in business and education and alleged big-tech censorship of conservatives. “While you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day,” she said.

“Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.” “The choice is between normal and crazy,” she added.

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