Due to pandemic safety measures, President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress had 200 attendees instead of a packed chamber of 1,600.
The president, who entered the chamber wearing a mask, highlighted recent successes in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and his biggest legislative victory, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. He also pitched the final piece of his $4 trillion dollar spending proposal—the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan—which proposes national paid family leave, free community college, universal pre-K education and more.
Biden followed in the footsteps of other new U.S. presidents by delivering the policy speech that was similar to a State of the Union address, but his first official State of the Union will occur next year.
How did Republicans respond? South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott delivered the GOP response. The only Black Republican senator, Scott said Senate Democrats scuttled a police reform bill he authored last year and charged Democrats with weaponizing race for political gain.
Scott also criticized Biden’s big spending plans, saying the plans to raise taxes on upper-income families and corporations would kill jobs and hurt Americans at every income level.