AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening, and welcome to this special "PBS NewsHour" coverage of President Biden's State of the Union address.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
GEOFF BENNETT: And I'm Geoff Bennett.
In just a few moments, President Biden will be walking into a very different House chamber than from his speech a year ago.
For the first time, he will be addressing a divided Congress and a new Republican majority in the House that has already launched several investigations and hearings into his administration's policies during his first two years.
AMNA NAWAZ: You will see there the new House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, sitting next to Vice President Kamala Harris during the speech.
That is expected to draw sharp contrasts between the president's own agenda and Republican priorities.
But President Biden will also try to highlight some areas where he believes both parties can work together.
Joining us here in the studio, watching alongside with us, Amy Walter, editor in chief of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter, David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times, and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor of The Washington Post.
GEOFF BENNETT: But let's go first to congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins, who is inside the House chamber.
And, Lisa, we should explain to our audience that you are in the chamber in the Press Gallery above the House floor just behind the rostrum where President Biden will be speaking.
What are you seeing?
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, that's right, Geoff.
This is certainly a crowd that has -- the atmosphere here is very upbeat.
I would not say it's electric.
I think this is a Congress that is still determining its own identity.
Is this a place where we're going to see bitter divide and anger, or is this a group that is going to be more collegial with each other?
The speech is going to be part of that conversation.
Tonight, we do see most Republicans on one side, most Democrats on the other, but, so far, a very upbeat mood in the crowd.
GEOFF BENNETT: And there's the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Pelosi alongside Steny Hoyer -- Amna.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, we're watching an eye -- keeping an eye on the House chamber there.
And, of course, we will let you know as soon as we watch President Biden enter that room.
In the meantime, we have our own White House correspondent, Laura Barron-Lopez, who is also watching from Capitol Hill.
She joins us now as well.
Laura, we know you have been talking to your White House sources, getting a preview of what we expect to hear from President Biden tonight.
Give us a sense of what we should hear.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: That's right, Amna.
So, the White House officials I have been talking to say that President Biden is going to talk about finishing the job that he started when he took office two years ago.
And he's going to focus heavily on the economy, trying to express some empathy, but also optimism about the road ahead.
He's going to specifically refer to the 12 million jobs that he says have been created - - that a recent analysis says has been created since he took office in 2021.
And he is also going to say, according to excerpts that we received from the White House not long ago, that COVID... GEOFF BENNETT: And we should say here is William McFarland, the House sergeant at arms, announcing President Biden's arrival.
WILLIAM MCFARLAND, U.S. House Sergeant at Arms: Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) GEOFF BENNETT: Laura, forgive me for stepping in there, but pick up where you left off, please.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: That's right.
So, the president is also going to say, according to excerpts, that COVID is -- that COVID no longer controls our lives.
And he's going to make a plea to Republicans about finishing the job that he started, saying that the midterms ultimately decided that they should work together, given that it resulted with a split Congress, with Democrats still controlling the Senate, Republicans taking control of the House.
And he's going to say that there's no reason that he cannot work with this new Congress and that Republicans cannot work with him.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Amy Walter, as President Biden sort of ticks through the laundry list of his objectively historic achievements, this is coming at a time when there is growing dissatisfaction in this country.
There was a recent poll that found more than six in 10 Americans believe that President Biden hasn't done very much.
How does the White House confront that?
How do they change that narrative?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: I mean, this is the era we're living in right now, one in which it's not just that the president is having a challenge in trying to speak to those folks who say that they're feeling bad about the direction of the country, but our country, partisans feel very differently about what the priorities should be.
So, sometimes, we talk about, well, we need more bipartisanship, we need more compromise.
But the reality is, when you look at the priorities that Americans say they think Congress and the president should work on, very few priorities from Democrats are the same priorities as Republicans.
In fact, the Pew poll that came out this week found there was just one of the top four for Republicans showed up on the top four for Democrats.
GEOFF BENNETT: What was it?
AMY WALTER: The economy, not surprisingly.
But, in 2019, there were zero overlaps.
So, this is -- for the president, he can't fix that, right?
And that is part of this -- the system that is in place right now where, actually, being a compromiser, doing unity, as the president will talk about tonight, it might sell in terms of making a speech, but in terms of selling it as a political strategy, it doesn't.
It's not -- it's not going to work as well.
AMNA NAWAZ: David and Jonathan, I know you're both watching, and we're waiting to see what the president says here.
Bipartisanship is a big part of what we know he will be talking about.
But, also, a lot of folks are watching to see if this is sort of a soft launch for a reelection campaign.
David, what are you watching out for tonight?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, that 62 percent who think he hasn't done much that Geoff mentioned, the administration believes that they can sort of fix that.
A lot of the infrastructure spending that was passed last year, those projects are actually going to happen this coming year.
And so expect to see Joe Biden, if somebody's filling a pothole in front of your street, Joe Biden will be there.
AMNA NAWAZ: He will be there, shovel in hand.
DAVID BROOKS: He will be cutting the ribbon, putting up the sign "Joe Biden did this for you."
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And so he -- when he talks about what the campaign is going to be, he sounds like he's running for mayor.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And so I think he will be laying up, no, I really did do this.
And here's the real result.
AMNA NAWAZ: And we know he's hitting the road immediately after this to do exactly some of that.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan, what are you looking out for tonight?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: I'm looking for the president, in addition to him laying out all of the accomplishments, I'm looking -- I'm looking for tone.
I'm looking for him to speak to the hearts of the American people, not just, I fixed your roads and I fixed your bridges and I have done all these things, but I understand the pain and frustration that you have vis-a-vis the economy, but, also, I understand the fear that you have vis-a-vis law enforcement and the cops.
We know that there are going to be, I think, 16 family members of people who have died at the hands of police.
We know that Tyre Nichols' parents will be in the audience.
So I'm looking forward to what the president might say with regard to not just directly to the Nichols family, but to all those families around the country, particularly African American families, for whom interaction with law enforcement is not usually a positive thing.
GEOFF BENNETT: To the point about tone, we know the president is going to emphasize bipartisanship.
There has been an internal debate among his advisers, I'm told, about how tough he should be on Republicans, as the president is about to take the microphone there.
I guess we will find out.
Hold that thought.
(LAUGHTER) AMNA NAWAZ: I believe the president will first hand copies of his speech to both Speaker McCarthy and to Vice President Kamala Harris, as is tradition.
They will hold onto copies of those speeches.
That itself has made for some memorable moments in the past.
GEOFF BENNETT: That's right.
And the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said he's not going to rip up the speech this year.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Hello, hello, hello.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor to present to you the president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) JOE BIDEN: Mr. Speaker, thank you.
You can smile.
It's OK. (APPLAUSE) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(APPLAUSE) Thank you.
Mr. Speaker, Madam Vice President, our First Lady and Second Gentleman, good to see you guys up there.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Members of Congress.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And by the way, Chief Justice, I may need a court order.
She gets to go to the game next week.
I have to stay home.
(LAUGHTER) Got to work something out here.
Members of the Cabinet, leaders of our military, Chief Justice, Associate Justices, and retires Justices of the Supreme Court, and to you, my fellow Americans.
You know I start tonight by congratulating the 118th Congress and the newest Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Speaker, I don't want to ruin your reputation but I look forward to working with you.
And I want to congratulate the new leader of the House Democrats, the first African-American Minority Leader in history, Hakeem Jeffries.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) He won in spite of the fact I campaigned for him.
Congratulations to the longest serving Leader in history of the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell.
Where are you, Mitch?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And congratulations to Chuck Schumer, another - - you know another term as Senate Minority Leader.
You know I think you -- only this time, you have a slightly bigger majority, Mr. Leader, and you're the majority leader.
About that much bigger?
Yes, well I will tell you what, I want to give special recognition to someone who I think is going to be considered the greatest Speaker in the history of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Folks, the story of America is a story of progress and resilience.
Of always moving forward.
Of never ever giving up.
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.
Look folks, that's what we are doing again.
Two years ago the economy was reeling.
I stand here tonight, after we have created with the help of many people in this room, 12 million new jobs, more jobs created in two years than any president has created in four years because of you all.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Because of the American people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools were robbed us of so much.
And today, COVID no longer controls our lives.
And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War.
And today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) As we gather here tonight, we are writing the next chapter in the great American story, a story of progress and resilience.
When world leaders ask me to define America, and they do believe it or not, I say I can define it in one word and I mean this; Possibilities.
We don't think anything is beyond our capacity.
Everything is a possibility You know, we're often told that Democrats and Republicans can't work together.
But over the past two years we proved the cynics and the naysayers wrong.
Yes, we disagreed plenty.
And yes, there were times when Democrats went alone.
But time and again, Democrats and Republicans came together.
Came together to defend a stronger and safer Europe.
We came together to pass a one in a -- one-in-a-generation - - once-in-a-generation infrastructure law, building bridges to connect our nation and people.
We came together to pass the most significant law ever, helping victims exposed to toxic burn pits.
And in fact ... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And in fact, I signed over 300 bipartisan laws since becoming President.
From reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, to the Electoral Count Reform Act, the Respect for Marriage Act that protects the right to marry the person you love.
And to my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can't work together and find consensus on important thing in this Congress as well.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I think - (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Folks, you all as informed as I am, but I think the people sent us a clear message, fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict gets us nowhere.
That's always been my vision of our country and I know it's many of yours.
To restore the soul of this nation.
To rebuild the backbone America, America's middle class and unite the country.
We've been sent her to finish the job, in my view.
For decades the middle class has been hollowed out in more than -- and not no one administration but for a long time.
Too many good-paying manufacturing jobs move overseas.
Factories close down.
Once thriving cities and towns that many of you represent became shadows of what they used to be.
Along the way something else we lost, pride, our sense of self-worth.
I ran for president to fundamentally change things.
To make sure our economy works for everyone.
So, we can all feel that pride in what we do.
To build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.
Because when the middle class does well the poor have a ladder up and the wealthy still do very well.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We all do well.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I know a lot of our always kid me for always quoting my dad, but dad used to say, Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck.
He really would say this.
It's about a lot more than a paycheck.
It's about your dignity.
It's about respect.
It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be OK, and mean it.
And folks, so let's look at the results.
We're not finished yet, by any stretch of the imagination.
But unemployment rate is at 3.
4 percent, a 50-year low.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) A near record - (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) A new record unemployment.
Near record unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers.
We've already created, your help, 800,000 good paying manufacturing jobs.
The fastest growth in 40 years.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And where is it written -- where is it written that America can't lead the world in manufacturing.
And I don't know where that's written.
For too many decades we imported projects and exported jobs.
Now, thanks to what you've all done, we exporting American products and creating American jobs.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Folks, inflation -- inflation has been a global problem because the pandemic disrupted our supply chains and Putin's unfair and brutal war in Ukraine disrupted energy supplies as well as food supplies, blocking all that grain in Ukraine.
But we're better positioned than any country on earth right now.
But we have more to do.
But here at home inflation is coming down.
Here at home gas prices are down $1.
50 from their peak.
Food inflation is coming down.
Not fast enough, but coming down.
Inflation has fallen every month for the last six months, while take-home pay has gone up.
Additionally, over the last two years a record 10 million Americans applied to start new businesses, 10 million.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And by the way, every time -- every time someone starts a small business is an act of hope.
And Madam Vice President, I want to thank you for leading that effort to ensure that small business have access to capital and the historic laws we enacted that are going to just coming to be.
Standing here last year I shared with you a story of American genius and possibilities, semiconductors.
Small computer chips the size of a fingerprint that power everything, from cell phones to automobiles and so much more.
These chips were invented in America.
Let's get that straight, they were invented in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And we used to make 40 percent of the world's chips.
In the last several decades we lost our edge.
We're down to only producing 10 percent.
We all saw what happened during the pandemic when chip factories shut down overseas.
Today's automobiles need 3,000 chips, each of those automobiles.
But American automobiles couldn't make enough cars because there weren't enough chips.
Car prices went up.
People got laid off.
So did everything from refrigerators to cell phones.
We can never let that happen again.
That's why - (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) That's why we came together to pass the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Folks, I know I have been criticized for saying this, but I'm changing my view.
We're going to make sure the supply chain for America begins in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) The supply chain begins in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And we've already created.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We've already created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs without this new law, before the law kicks in.
With this new law, we're going to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country, and I mean all across the country throughout not just the coast but through the middle of the country as well.
That's going to come from companies that have announced more than $300 billion in investment in American manufacturing over the next few years.
Outside of Columbus, Ohio, Intel is building semiconductor factories on a thousand acres.
Literally a field of dreams.
It's going to create 10,000 jobs that one investment.
7,000 construction jobs.
3,000 jobs in those factories once they're finished.
They call them factories.
Jobs paying an average of $130,000 a year, and many do not require a college degree.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And jobs -- because we work together, these jobs where people don't have to leave home to search for opportunity.
It's just getting started.
Think about the new homes, the small business, the big, the medium-sized businesses.
So much more that's going to be needed to support those 3,000 -- those 3,000 permanent jobs and he factories that are going to be built.
Talk to mayors and governors, Democrats and Republicans, and they'll tell you what this means for these communities.
We're seeing these fields of dreams transform to the heartland, but to maintain the strongest economy in the world we need the best infrastructure in the world.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And folks, as you all know, we used to be number one in the world in infrastructure.
We've sunk to 13th in the world.
The United States of America, 13th in the world in infrastructure -- modern infrastructure, but now we're coming back because we came together and passed the bipartisan infrastructure law, the largest investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower's interstate highway system.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And folks, already we've funded over 20,000 projects, including major airports from Boston to Atlanta to Portland, projects that are going to put thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, our bridges, our railroads, our tunnels, ports, airports, clean water, high-speed Internet all across America.
Urban, rural, tribal.
And folks, we're just getting started.
We're just getting started.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And I mean it sincerely.
I want to thank my Republican friends who voted for the law and my Republican friends who voted against it as well, but I'm still - - I still get asked to fund the projects in those districts as well, but don't worry.
(LAUGHTER) I promised I would be a president for all Americans.
We're funding these projects.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And I will see you at the groundbreaking.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, this law -- this law will further you and I know of America.
Projects like Brent Spence Bridge in Kentucky over the Ohio River built 60 years ago badly in need of repairs.
It's one of the nation's most congested freight routes carrying $2 billion worth of freight every single day across the Ohio River.
And folks have been talking about fixing it for decades, but we're really finally going to get it done.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I went there last month with Democrats and Republicans and from both states to deliver a commitment of $1.
6 billion for this project.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And while I was there, I met a young woman named Sarah who's here tonight.
I don't know where Sarah is.
Is she up in the box?
I don't know.
Sarah, how are you?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Well Sarah, for 30 years.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) For 30 years I learned -- she told me she'd been a proud member of the Iron Workers Local 44 known as ... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Known as the Cowboys in the Sky.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) The folks who built -- built Cincinnati skyline.
Sara said she can't wait to be 10 stories above the Ohio River building that new bridge.
God Bless here.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) That's pride.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And that's what we're also building, we're building back pride.
Look, we're also replacing poisonous lead pipes that go into 10 million homes in America; 400,000 school and childcare centers, so every child in America -- every child in American can drink the water instead of having permanent damage to their brain.
Look ... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're making sure ... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're making sure that every community -- every community in America has access to affordable, high-speed Internet.
No parent should have to drive by a McDonald's parking lot to help do their homework online with their kids, which many thousands are doing across the country.
And when we do these projects, and again I get criticized for this but I make no excuses for it, we're going to Buy American.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're going to buy American.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And it's totally -- it's totally consistent with international trade rules.
Buy American has been the law since 1933.
But for too long, past administrations, Democrat and Republican, have fought to get around it.
Tonight, I'm also announcing new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Made in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I mean it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Lumber, glass, drywall, fiber optic cables.
And on my watch, American roads, bridges, and American highways are going to be made with American products as well.
Folks, my economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten.
So many of you listening tonight, I know you feel it.
So many of you felt like you've just simply been forgotten.
Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind and treated like they're invisible.
Maybe that's you, watching from home.
Remember the jobs that went away, you remember them don't you.
And folks at home remember them.
You wonder whether the path even exists anymore for your children to get ahead without having to move away.
Well that's why -- I get that.
That's why we're building an economy where no one is left behind.
Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back, because choices we made in the last several years.
You know this is my view of blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives at home.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) For example, too many of you lay in bed at night like my dad did staring at the ceiling, wondering what in god name happens if -- if your spouse gets cancer or your child gets deadly ill sick or something happens to you.
What are you -- you going to have the money to pay for those medical bills or are you going to have sell the house or try to get a second mortgage on it.
I get it.
I get it.
With the Inflation Reduction Act that I have signed into law, we're taking on powerful interest to bring health care cost down so you can sleep better at night with more security.
You know we pay more for prescription drugs than any nation in the world.
Let me say it again.
We pay more for prescription drugs than any major nation on Earth.
For example, one in 10 Americans has diabetes.
Many of you in this chamber do and in the audience.
But everyday millions need insulin to control their diabetes so they can literally stay alive.
Insulin's been around for over 100 years.
The guy who invented it didn't even patent it because he wanted it to be available for everyone.
It cost the drug companies roughly $10 a vial to make that insulin.
Packaging and all you may get up to $13.
But big pharma has been unfairly charging people hundreds of dollars, 4 to $500 a month, making record profits.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Not anymore.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) So many things that we did are only now coming to fruition.
We said we were doing this, and we said we'd pass the law to do it.
But people didn't know because the law didn't take effect until January 1 of this year.
We capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And people are just finding out.
I'm sure you're getting the same calls I'm getting.
Look, there are millions of other Americans who do not -- are not on Medicare, including 200,000 young people with Type 1 diabetes and need this insulin to stay alive.
Let's finish the job this time.
Let's cap the cost of insulin for everybody at $35.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Folks, and big pharma is still going to do very well.
I promise you all.
(LAUGHTER) I promise you they're going to do very well.
This law also -- this law also caps, and won't even go into effect until 2025, the cost of out-of-pocket drug cost for seniors on Medicare at a maximum of $2,000 a year.
You don't have to pay more than $2,000 a year no matter how much your drug costs are because you know why?
You all know it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Many of you, like many in my family, have cancer.
You know the drugs can range from, $10,000, $11,000, $14,000, $15,000 for the cancer drugs.
And if drug prices rise faster than inflation, drug companies are going to have to pay Medicare back the difference.
And we're finally... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're finally giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.
Bringing down... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Bringing down prescription drug cost doesn't just save seniors money.
It cuts the federal deficit by billions of dollars.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) By hundreds of billions of dollars because these prescription drugs are drugs purchased by Medicare to make -- keep their commitment to the seniors.
Well guess what?
Instead of paying 4 or 500 bucks a month, you're paying $15.
That's a lot of savings for the federal government.
And by the way, why wouldn't we want that?
Now some members here are threatening -- and I know it's not an official party position, so I'm not going to exaggerate -- are threatening to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) As my coach -- that's OK. That's fair.
As my football coach used to say, lots of luck in your senior year.
(LAUGHTER) Make no mistake!
If you try anything to raise the cost of prescription drugs, I will veto it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I'm pleased to say that more Americans have health insurance now than ever in history.
A record 16 million people are enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, and thanks... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) ... thanks to the law I signed last year saving millions or saving $800 a year on their premiums.
And by the way, that law was written and the benefit expires in 2025.
So my plea to some of you at least in this audience, let's finish the job and make these savings permanent.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Expand coverage on Medicaid.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, the Inflation Reduction Act is also the most significant investment ever in climate change.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Lower utility bills, paying -- American jobs, leading the world to a clean energy future.
I visited the devastating aftermath of record floods, droughts, storms and wildfires from Arizona, New Mexico, and all the way up to the Canadian border.
More timber has been burned that I have observed from helicopters than the entire state of Missouri.
And we don't have global warming?
Not a problem.
In addition to emergency recovery, from Puerto Rico, to Florida, to Idaho, we're rebuilding for the long term.
New electric grids that are able to weather the major storm and not -- prevent those fire - - forest fires.
Roads and water systems to withstand the next big flood.
Clean energy to cut pollution and create jobs in communities too often left behind.
We're building 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations installed, that will cross the country across the country by tens of thousands of IBEW workers.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And, we're helping families save more than $1,000 a year with tax credits to purchase electric vehicles and efficient -- and efficient appliances, energy-efficient appliances.
Historic conservation efforts to be responsible stewards of our lands.
Let's face reality.
The climate crisis doesn't care if your state is red or blue.
It is an existential threat.
We have an obligation, not to ourselves, but to our children and grandchildren to confront it.
I'm proud of how the -- how America, at last, is stepping up to the challenge.
We're still going to need oil and gas for a while.
But guess what?
(YELLING) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) No, we do.
But there's so much more to do.
We've got to finish the job.
And we pay for these investments in our future by finally making the wealthiest and the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Just begin.
Look, I'm a capitalist -- I'm a capitalist, but pay your fair share.
I think a lot of you at home -- a lot of you at home agree with me and many people that you know, the tax system is not fair.
It is not fair.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, the idea that in 2020, 55 of the largest corporations in America, the Fortune 500, made $40 billion in profits and paid zero in federal taxes.
(BOOING), (YELLING) Folks, it's simply not fair.
But now, because of the law I signed, billion-dollar companies have to pay a minimum of 15 percent.
God love them.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Fifteen percent.
That's less than a nurse pays.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And let me be crystal clear, I said at the very beginning, under my plans, as long as I'm president, nobody earning less than $400,000 will pay an additional penny in taxes.
Nobody, not one penny.
But let's finish the job.
There's more to do.
We have to reward work, not just wealth.
Pass my proposal for the Billionaire Minimum Tax.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) You know, there's 1,000 billionaires in America, it's up from about 600 in the beginning of the term.
But no billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a school teacher or firefighter.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I mean it.
Think about it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I mean, look, I know you all aren't enthusiastic about that, but think about it.
Think about it.
Have you noticed Big Oil just reported its profits, record profits?
Last year they made $200 billion in the midst of a global energy crisis.
(OFF-MIC) I think it's outrageous.
They invested too little of that profit to increase domestic production.
And when I talked to a couple of them, they say we're afraid you're going to shut down all the oil wells and all the oil refineries anyway so why should we invest in them?
I said we're going to need oil for at least another decade.
And that going to exceed - (LAUGHTER) - -and beyond that, we're going to need it.
Production, if they had, in fact, invested in the production to keep gas prices down.
Instead, they used the record profits to buy back their own stock, rewarding the CEOs and shareholders.
Corporations ought to do the right thing.
That's why I propose we quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks and encourage long -- long-term investments.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) They'll still make considerable profit.
Let's finish the job and close the loopholes that allow very wealthy to avoid paying their taxes.
Instead of cutting the number of audits for wealthy taxpayers, I just signed a law to reduce the deficit by $114 billion by cracking down on wealthy tax cheats.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) That's being fiscally responsible.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) In the last two years, my administration has cut the deficit by more than $1.
7 trillion, the largest deficit reduction in American history.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Under the previous administration, the American deficit went up four years in a row.
Because of those record deficits, no president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor.
Nearly 25 percent of the entire national debt that took 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone, the last one.
Those are facts.
Check it out.
(MIX OF APPLAUSE, BOOS, AND HECKLING) Check it out.
How did Congress respond to that debt?
They did the right thing.
They lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis.
They paid American bills to prevent an economic disaster in the country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) So tonight, I'm asking the Congress to follow suit.
Let's commit here tonight to the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned.
Some of my -- many -- some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage, I get it, unless I agree to their economic plans.
All of you at home should know what those plans are.
Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.
I am not saying it's a majority.
(MIX OF APPLAUSE BOOS, AND HECKLING) Let me give you -- anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I will give you a copy.
I will give you a copy of the proposal.
That's means Congress doesn't vote -- well, I'm glad you see it.
No, I will tell you, I'm -- I enjoy conversion.
(LAUGHTER) You know, it means if -- if Congress doesn't keep the programs the way they are, they'd go away.
Other Republicans say, I'm not saying it's a majority of you, I don't even think it's even a significant... (HECKLING) But it's being proposed by individuals.
I'm not -- I'm politely not naming them.
But it's being proposed by some of you.
(HECKLING) Look, folks, the idea is that we're not going to be -- we're not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don't respond.
Folks... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) So, folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?
They're not to be touched.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) All right.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We got unanimity!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Social Security and Medicare are a lifeline for millions of seniors.
Americans have to pay into them from the very first paycheck they started.
So tonight, let's all agree, and we apparently are, let's stand up for seniors.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security.
We will not cut Medicare.
Those benefits belong to the American people.
They earned it.
And if anyone tries to cut Social Security, which apparently no one is going to do... (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) And if anyone tries to cut Medicare, I will stop them.
I will veto it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And, folks, I'm not going to allow them to take away -- be taken away, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
But apparently it's not going to be a problem.
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) Next month when I offer my fiscal plan, I ask my Republican friends to lay down their plan as well.
I really mean it.
Let's sit down together and discuss our mutual plans together.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Let's do that.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I can tell you, the plan I am going to show you is going to cut the deficit by another $2 trillion.
And it won't cut a single bit of Medicare or Social Security.
In fact, we're going to extend the Medicare trust fund at least two decades.
Because that's going to be the next argument, how do we make -- keep it solvent, right?
Well, I will not raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000.
But we will pay for it the way we talked about by making sure that the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, look, folks, here's the deal.
They are not just taking advantage of the tax code, they are taking advantage of you, the American consumer.
Here's my message to all of you out there: I have your back.
We're already preventing Americans from receiving surprise medical bills, stopping $1 billion surprise bills per month so far.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're protecting seniors' life savings by cracking down on nursing homes that commit fraud, endanger patient safety, prescribe drugs that are not needed.
Millions of Americans can now save thousands of dollars because they can finally get a hearing aid over the counter without a prescription.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, capitalism -- without competition it's not capitalism.
Last year I cracked down with the help of many of you on foreign shipping companies that were making you pay higher prices for every good coming into the country.
I signed bipartisan bill to cut shipping cost by 90 percent, helping American farmers, businessmen and consumers.
Let's finish the job.
Pass the bipartisan legislation of strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) My administration is also taking on junk fees, those hidden surcharges too many companies use to make you pay more.
For example, we're making airlines show you the full ticket price up front, refund your money if your flight is canceled or delayed.
We've reduced exorbitant bank overdrafts by saving consumers more than $1 billion a year.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're cutting credit card late fees by 75 percent from $30 to $8.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most other folks in homes like the one I grew up in, like many of you did.
They add up to hundreds of dollars a month.
They make it harder for you to pay your bills and afford that family trip.
I know how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it.
We've written a bill to stop it all.
It's called the Junk Fee Prevention Act.
We're going to ban surprise resort fees that hotels charge on your bill.
Those fees can charge up to $90 a night in hotels that aren't even resorts.
(LAUGHTER) The idea that cable Internet and cell phone companies can charge you $200 or more if you decide to switch to another provider, give me a break.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We can stop service fees on tickets to concerts and sporting events and make companies disclose all the fees up front.
And we'll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round-trip for family just to be able to sit together.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Baggage fees are bad enough.
Airlines can't treat your child like a piece of baggage.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Americans are tired of being -- we're tired of being played for suckers.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) So pass the Junk Free Prevention Act so companies stop ripping us off.
For too long workers have been getting stiffed, but not anymore.
We're beginning to restore the dignity of work.
For example, I should have known this, but I didn't until two years ago.
30 million workers have to sign non-compete agreements for the jobs they take.
So a cashier at a burger place can't walk across town and take the same job another burger place and make a few bucks more.
(BOOING) It just changed.
But they changed it because they exposed it.
That was part of the deal, guys.
Look it up.
But not anymore.
We're banning those agreements where companies have to compete for workers and pay them what they're worth.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And I must tell you this is bound to get a response from my friends on my left with the right.
I'm so sick and tired of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing.
Pass the PRO Act.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Because businesses have a right -- workers have a right to form a union.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And let's guarantee all workers have a living wage.
Let's make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family medical leave.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Affordable childcare.
That's going to enable millions of more people to go and stay at work.
And let's restore the full Child Tax Credit.
Which gave tens of millions of parents some breathing room and cut child poverty in half to the lowest level in history.
And by the way, when we do all these things we increase productivity, we increase economic growth.
So let's finish the job and give more families access to affordable quality housing.
Let's get senior who want to stay in their homes the care they need to do so.
Let's give more breathing room to millions of families with caregivers looking after their loved ones.
And pass my plan so we can get seniors and people with disabilities the home care and services they need.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And support the workers who are doing god's work.
These plans are fully paid for and we can afford to do them.
Restoring the dignity of work means making education an affordable ticket to the middle class.
You know when we made public education, 12 years of it universal in the last century, we made the best educated, best paying -- we became the best educated, best paid nation in the world.
The rest of the world's caught up.
It's caught up.
Jill, my wife, who teaches full-time has an expression, I hope I get it right, kid.
Any nation that out educates us is going to out compete us.
Any nation that out educates is going to out compete us.
Folks, we all know 12 years of education is not enough to win the economic competition of the 21st Century.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We want to have the best educated work force, let's finish the job.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) By providing access to preschool for 3 and 4-years-old.
Studies show that children that got to preschool are nearly 15 percent more likely to finish high school and go on to earn a two or four year degree, no matter their background they came from.
Let's get public school teachers a raise.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We're making progress by reducing student debt, increasing Pell Grants for working and middle class families.
Let's finish the job and connect student to career opportunities starting in high school, provide access to two years of community college, the best career training in America in addition to being a pathway to a four year degree.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Let's off every American a path to good career whether they go to college or not.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And folks -- folks, in the midst of the COVID crises when schools were closed and we were shutting down everything, let's recognize how far we came in the fight against the pandemic itself.
While the virus is not gone, thanks to the resilience of the American people and the ingenuity of medicine we've broken the COVID grip on us.
COVID deaths are down by 90 percent.
We've saved millions of lives and opened up our -- we opened our country back up.
And soon we'll end the public health emergency.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) But that's called the public health emergency.
But we'll remember the toll and pain that's never going to go away.
More than a million Americans lost their lives to COVID.
Families grieving, children orphaned, empty chairs at the dining room table constantly reminding you that she used to sit there.
Remembering them we remain vigilant.
We still need to monitor dozens of variants and support new vaccines and treatments.
So Congress needs to fund these efforts and keep America safe.
And as we emerge from this crisis stronger, we're also going to double down on prosecuting criminals who stole relief money meant to keep workers ... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Before I came to office you remember during that campaign the big issue was about inspector generals who would protect tax payer dollars who were sidelined, they were fired.
Many people said we don't need them and fraud became rampant.
Last year I told you the watch dogs are back.
Since then -- since then we've recovered billions of tax payers' dollars.
Now let's triple the anti-fraud strike force going after these criminals double the statue of limitations on these crimes and crack down on identity fraud by criminal syndicates stealing billions of dollars -- billions of dollars from the American people (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And the data shows that for every dollar we put into fighting fraud the taxpayer gets back at least ten times as much.
Look, COVID left its scars, like the spike in violent crime in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.
We have an obligation to make sure all people are safe.
Public safety depends on public trust, as all of us know.
But too often that trust is violated.
Joining us tonight are the parents of Tyre Nichols.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) They had to bury Tyre last week.
As many of you personally know, there's no words to describe the heartache or grief of losing a child.
But imagine, imagine if you lost that child at the hands of the law.
Imagine having to worry whether your son or daughter came home from walking down the street, playing in the park or just driving a car.
Most of us in here have never had to have the talk, the talk that brown and black parents have had to have with their children.
Beau, Hunter, Ashley, my children, I never had to have the talk with them.
I never had to tell them if a police officer pulls you over, turn your interior lights right away.
Don't reach for your license.
Keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Imagine having to worry like that every single time you kid got in the car.
Here's what Tyre's mother shared with me when I spoke to her.
When I asked her how she finds the courage to carry on and speak out.
The faith of God, she said her son was, quote, "A beautiful soul.
And something good will come of this."
Imagine how much courage and character that takes.
It's up to us, to all of us.
We all want the same thing.
Neighborhoods free of violence, law enforcement who earns the community's trust.
Just as every cop, when they pin in that badge in the morning has a right to be able to go home at night, so does everybody else out there.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Our children have a right to come home safely.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Equal protection under the law is a covenant we have with each other in America.
We know police officers put their lives on the line every single night and day.
And we know we ask them, in many cases, to do too much.
To be counselors, social workers, psychologists responding to drug overdoses, mental health crises and so much more.
In one sense we ask much too much of them.
I know most cops and their families are good, decent honorable people, the vast majority.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) But they risk - (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (CHEERING) And they risk their lives every time they put that shield on.
But what happened to Tyre in Memphis happens too often.
We have to do better.
Give law enforcement the real training they need.
Hold them to higher standards.
Help them succeed in keeping us safe.
We also need more first responders and professionals to address the growing mental health, substance abuse challenges.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) More resources to reduce violent crime and gun crime.
More community intervention programs.
More investment in housing, education and job training.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) All this can help prevent violence in the first place.
And when police officers or police departments violate the public trust they must be held accountable.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (CHEERING) With the support -- with the support of the families of victims, civil rights groups on law enforcement, I signed an executive order for all federal officers, banning choke holds, restricting no-knock warrants and other key elements of the George Floyd Act.
Let's commit ourselves to make the words of Tyler's mom come true, "Something good must come from this."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And all of us... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) All of us... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Folks, it's difficult, but it's simple.
All of us in this chamber, we need to rise to this moment.
We can't turn away.
Let's do what we know in our hearts that we need to do.
Let's come together to finish the job on police reform.
That was the plea of parents who lost their children in Uvalde.
I met with every one of them.
Do something about gun violence.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Thank God.
Thank God we did, passing the most sweeping gun safety law in three decades.
That includes things like that the majority of responsible gun owners already support: enhanced background checks for 18 to 21-year-olds, red flag laws, keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) But we know our work is not done.
Joining us tonight is Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old hero.
Brandon put his college dreams on hold to be at his mom's side, his mom's side when she was dying from cancer.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And Brandon... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Brandon now works at the dance studio started by his grandparents, and two weeks ago during the Lunar New Year celebration he heard the studio door close and he saw a man standing there pointing a semi-automatic pistol at him.
He thought he was going to die, and he thought about the people inside.
In that instant he found the courage to act and wrestle the semi-automatic people away from the gunman who had already killed 11 people in another dance studio.
He saved lives.
It's time we do the same.
Ban assault weapons now!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Ban them now!
Once and for all.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I lead the fight to do that in 1994.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And in 10 years that ban was law and mass shootings went down.
After we let it expire in the Republican administration, mass shootings tripled.
Let's finish the job and ban these assault weapons, and let's also come together on immigration.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Make it a bipartisan issue once again.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We know we now have a record number of personnel working to secure the border, arresting 8,000 human smugglers, seizing over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We've launched a new border plan last month on lawful migration on Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela has come down 97 percent as a consequence of that.
But American border problems won't be fixed until Congress acts.
If we don't pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, essential workers.
Here in the people's house, it's our duty to protect all the people's rights and freedoms.
Congress must restore the right and the... (CROSSTALK) Congress must restore the right that was taken away in Roe v. Wade and protect Roe v. Wade.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (CROSSTALK) The Vice President and I are doing everything to protect access to reproductive health care and safeguard patient safety, but already more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans.
Make no mistake about it.
If Congress passes a national ban, I will veto it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) But let's also pass... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Let's also pass the bipartisan Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, can live with safety and dignity.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Our strength is not just the example of our power, but the power of our example.
Let's remember the world's watching.
I spoke in this chamber one year ago, just days after Vladimir Putin unleashed his brutal attack against Ukraine.
A murderous assault, evoking images of the death and destruction Europe suffered in World War II.
Putin's invasion has been a test for the ages.
A test for America.
A test for the world.
Would we stand for the most basic of principles?
Would we stand for sovereignty?
Would we stand for the right of people to live free of tyranny?
Would we stand for the defense of democracy?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) For such a defense matters to us because it keeps peace and prevents open season on would-be aggressors that threaten our prosperity.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) One year later, we know the answer.
Yes, we would and we did.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And together, we did what America always does at our best.
We united NATO.
We built a global coalition.
We stood against Putin's aggression.
We stood with the Ukrainian people.
And tonight, we're once again joined by Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States.
She represents not just her nation, but the courage of her people.
Ambassador -- our Ambassador is here, united in our -- we're -- and united in support of your country.
Would you stand so we can all take a look at you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Because we're going to stand with you as long as it takes.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Our nation is working for more freedom, more dignity, and more -- more peace, not just in Europe, but everywhere.
Before I came to office, the story was about how the People's Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world.
We made clear and I made clear in my personal conversation, which there have been many, with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict.
But I will make no apologies that we're investing to make America stronger.
Investing in American innovation, in industries that will define the future that China intends to be dominating.
Investing in our alliances and working with our allies to protect advanced technologies so they will not be used against us.
Modernizing our military to safeguard stability and deter aggression.
Today, we're in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world.
Anyone else in the world.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) And I'm committed ... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I'm committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world.
But make no mistake about, as we made clear last week, if China's threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country.
And we did.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Look, let's be clear, winning the competition should unite all of us.
We face serious challenges across the world.
But in the past two years, democracies have become stronger, not weaker.
Autocracies have grown weaker, not stronger.
Name me a world leader who'd change places with Xi Jinping.
Name me one.
Name me one.
America is rallying the world to meet those challenges from climate to global health, to food insecurity, to terrorism, to territorial aggression.
Allies are stepping up, spending more and doing more.
Look, the bridges we're forming between partners in the Pacific and those in the Atlantic.
And those who bet against America are learning how wrong they are.
It's never, ever been a good bet to bet against America.
Never (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) When I came to office, most assured the bipartisanship assumed was impossible.
But never believed it.
That's why a year ago I offered a Unity Agenda for the nation as I stood here.
We've made real progress together.
We passed a law making it easier for doctors to prescribe effective treatments for opioid addiction.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We passed the gun safety law, making historic investments in mental health.
We launched the ARPA-H drive for breakthroughs in the fights against cancer, Alzheimer's and Diabetes and so much more.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We passed the Heath Robinson Pact Act, named after the late Iraq War veteran whose story about exposure to toxic burn kits I shared here last year.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I understand something about those burn pits, but there's so much more to do.
We can do it together.
Joining us tonight is a father named Doug, from Newton, New Hampshire.
He wrote Jill, my wife, a letter and me as well about his courageous daughter Courtney, a contagious laugh, his sister's best friend - - her sister's best friend.
He shared a story all too familiar to millions of Americans and many of you in the audience.
Courtney discovered pills in high school, it spiraled into addiction, and eventually dead from a fentanyl overdose.
She was just 20 years old.
Describing the last eight years with her, Doug said, there's no worse pain.
Yet their family has turned pain to purpose, working to end the stigma an change laws.
He told us he wants to start a journey toward American recovery.
Doug, we're with you.
Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year.
(YELLING) Big -- you got it.
(OFF-MIC) So, let's launch a major surge to stop fentanyl production and the sale and trafficking with more drug detection machines, inspection cargo, stop pills and powder at the border.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Working with couriers like FedEx to inspect more packages for drugs.
Strong penalties to crack down on fentanyl trafficking.
Second, let's do more on mental health, especially for our children.
But millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma.
We owe them greater access to mental health care at their schools.
(OFF-MIC) We must finally hold social media companies accountable for experimenting or doing running children for profit.
It's time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop big tech from collecting personal data on our kids and teenagers online.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Ban targeted advertising to children.
And impose stricter limits on the personal data that companies collect on all of us.
Third, let's do more to keep this nation's one fully sacred obligation, to equip those we send into harm's way and care for them and their families when they come home.
Job training, job placement for veterans and their spouses as they come to -- return to civilian life.
Helping veterans afford their rent because no one should be homeless in America, especially someone who served the country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Denis McDonough, he's here, of the VA, We had our first real discussion when I asked him to take the job.
I'm glad he did.
We were losing up to 25 veterans a day to suicide.
Now we're losing 17 a day to the silent scourge of suicide, 17 veterans a day are committing suicide.
More than all the people being killed in the wars.
Folks, VA's doing everything it can, including expanding mental health screening, truant programs that recruits veterans to help other veterans understand what they're going through, get them the help they need.
We got to do more.
And fourth, last year Jill and I reignited the Cancer Moonshot that I was able to start with President Obama who asked me to lead our administration on this issue.
Our goal is to cut the cancer death rates at least by 50 percent in the next 25 years.
Turn more cancers from death sentences to treatable diseases.
Provide more support for patients and their families.
It's personal to so many of us.
So many of us in this audience.
Joining us are Maurice and Kandice, an Irishman and a daughter of immigrants from Panama.
They met and fell in love in New York City and got married in the same chapel as Jill and I got married in New York City.
He wrote us a letter about his little daughter Ava.
And I saw her just before I came over.
She was just a year old when she was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, cancer.
After 26 blood transfusions, 11 rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemo, one kidney removed, given a 5 percent survival rate.
He wrote how in the darkest moments he thought, if she goes, I can't stay.
Many of you have been through that as well.
Jill and I understand that like so many of you.
If you've read Jill's book describing our family's cancer journey and how we tried to steal moments of joy where we could with Beau, for them, that glimmer of joy was the half-smile of their baby girl.
It meant everything to them.
They never gave up hope.
Little Ava never gave up hope.
She turns four next month.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) They just found out Ava is beating the odds, is on her way to being cured of cancer.
And she's watching from the White House tonight, if she's not asleep already.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) For the lives we can save... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) For the lives we can save and the lives we have lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and prove that we can still do big things.
Twenty years ago, under the leadership of President Bush and countless advocates and champions, he undertook a bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to transform the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
It's been a huge success.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) He thought big, he thought large, he moved.
I believe we can do the same thing with cancer.
Let's end cancer as we know it.
Cure some cancers once and for all.
Folks, there's one reason why we have been able to do all of these things, our democracy itself.
It's the most fundamental thing of all.
With democracy, everything is possible.
Without it, nothing is.
For the last few years our democracy has been threatened and attacked, put at risk.
Put to the test in this very room, on January the 6th.
And then just a few months ago, an unhinged big lie assailant unleashed political violence in the home of the then-speaker of this house of representatives.
Using the very same language the insurrectionists used as they stalked these halls and chanted on January 6.
Here tonight in this chamber is the man who bears the scars of that brutal attack.
But is as tough and strong and as resilient as they get.
My friend, Paul Pelosi.
Paul, stand up.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) But such a heinous act should have never happened.
We must all speak out.
There is no place for political violence in America.
We have to protect the right to vote, not suppress that fundamental right.
Honor the results of our elections, not subvert the will of the people.
We have to uphold the rule of the law and restore trust in our institutions of democracy.
And we must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Democracy must not be a partisan issue.
It's an American issue!
Every generation of Americans has faced a moment where they have been called to protect our democracy, defend it, stand up for it.
And this is our moment.
My fellow Americans, we meet tonight at an inflection point.
One of those moments that only a few generations ever face where the direction we now take is going to decide the course of this nation for decades to come.
We are not bystanders to history.
We are not powerless before the forces that confront us.
It is within our power, of, we, the people.
We are facing the test of our time.
We have to be the nation we have always been at our best, optimistic, hopeful, forward-looking, a nation that embraces light over dark, hope over fear, unity over division, stability over chaos.
We must see each other not as enemies, but as fellow Americans.
We are good people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) The only nation in the world built on an idea and only one.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Other nations are defined by geography, ethnicity, but we're the only nation based on the idea that all of us, every one of us is created equal in the image of God, a nation that stands as a beacon to the world, a nation in a new age of possibilities.
So I have come to fulfill my constitutional obligation to report in the state of the union, and here's my report.
Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, the state of the union is strong.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I'm not new to this place.
I stand here tonight having served as long as about any one of you have ever served here.
(LAUGHTER) But I have never been more optimistic about our future, about the future of America.
We just have to remember who we are.
We're the United States of America, and there's nothing -- nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together!
God bless you all and may God protect our troops.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) AMNA NAWAZ: And we have been listening to President Biden's State of the Union address.
He's just wrapped up his remarks.
You see him shaking hands there with Vice President Kamala Harris.
The president will now make his way out of the chamber.
And, in a few minutes, we will have the Republican response to the president's remarks as well, but the president covering a wide range of topics, hitting notes of bipartisanship, touting the economic success he says we have been seeing so far, and pleading with members of Congress to finish the job, as he said repeatedly in his remarks.
We are watching here alongside our panelists in the studio, as we see President Biden shaking hands with members of Congress on his way out.
Jonathan Capehart is here with us as well.
Jonathan, give me a sense of what stood out to you from what the president had to say tonight.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, what we saw was a president on fire, a president who has a strong record to tout, lots of accomplishments, things that have been passed that he can talk about, numbers, facts and figures that he can already talk about, projecting into the future of more things to come that haven't been implemented yet.
You brought up the thing that stood out to me: "Let's finish the job."
And then he brought the tone that I was looking for, and he ended his speech in the way he has -- he ends basically all of his big speeches.
And that is when he gets to the point where he says, we are the United States of America.
He almost growls it in a very forceful, passionate way to remind us, in word and in tone, that this is a nation that, when we put -- put our minds to it, we can get a lot of things done.
And so by repeating that line at the end of every speech, he is trying to move us to a place that we're still seemingly reticent to move to, just because of the polar -- sheer polarization of the country right now.
AMNA NAWAZ: David Brooks, President Biden hit a number of notes, hit -- talking about bipartisanship, appealing directly to Republicans, saying: "My friends, if we have worked together before, we can still work together."
There were some raucous back-and-forths a little bit during the proceedings tonight.
But he came right out in a very disarming way and congratulated Speaker McCarthy for being there as well.
What did you make of the way he spoke to folks across the aisle?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, he -- if you look at his policies, a lot of them are going to Republicans.
There's a lot of money that goes to high school-educated folks in some of the red states.
And that's pretty Joe Biden.
The economy that he cares about is the woman making -- repairing bridges in Cincinnati.
That's sort of the core of where his heart of America is.
I thought, just politically, a lot of Democrats will be heartened.
If they thought he was getting too old and tired, I think this speech will be an antidote to that.
They will say, oh, yes, I feel comfortable with this guy.
I thought the phrase that leapt out, blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.
That's really the core of who he is.
And so I do think it was, as Jonathan said, quite a strong speech for a Congress that did a lot.
And then, finally, we began to see some of the Marjorie Taylor Greene, some of the House of common fracases going on.
And that's a sign that the tongues of extremism are still in the -- in that room.
And he dealt with them, I thought, pretty well, actually.
AMNA NAWAZ: And a sign of the challenge for Speaker McCarthy ahead as well, right?
AMY WALTER: Yes.
GEOFF BENNETT: President Biden speaking for an hour and 12 minutes, we're told.
And you can see him right there.
That is President Biden in his element, Amy Walter.
AMY WALTER: Exactly.
GEOFF BENNETT: We don't know how long he's going to stay on that House floor talking to members of the Cabinet and members of the military there.
AMY WALTER: And the way he introduced his speech, he went through every single one of the leaders, right?
And he literally -- he loves this place.
He loves being in Congress and around -- obviously, right now, he's around a lot of military officials as well.
I think that David's point is a really good one about the fact that he came out as sort of forcefully, energetically.
And I don't think we have ever seen a president and Congress negotiate in real time... GEOFF BENNETT: That was remarkable.
AMY WALTER: ... during a State of the Union about the debt ceiling.
That's definitely a brand-new thing we have never seen before.
GEOFF BENNETT: It was an active point of debate, this matter of cutting Social Security or Medicare... AMY WALTER: That's right.
GEOFF BENNETT: ... overall, in terms of this debt limit debate.
And he's saying, well, fine, we can both agree that we're going to stay on the side of seniors.
AMY WALTER: That's right.
And if you look at your Twitter timeline, Democrats on the timeline, to David's point, are really excited by what they saw, right, because here they saw, oh, look, Biden's getting them, right?
He still has it.
The other thing I thought was interesting is, how he ended his -- his State of the Union address is a lot like how he ended his -- the 2022 campaign, how he got into his campaign in 2020, about protecting democracy, light against darkness, this idea of being optimistic, hopeful, but centering so much of what he talks about as a contrast to the previous four years.
And, certainly, he brought up January 6 as well, but a contrast to that.
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes.
David Brooks, the one area of this speech that I'm told was being changed up until the last minute was the part that focused on China.
President Biden talks all the time about how his organizing principle of the world is how the U.S. is locked in this battle, this sort of intractable battle between autocracies and democracies, and that we have to prove that democracies can work.
In the speech, he said: "I made clear with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict."
That struck me as an effort to sort of de-escalate a bit.
What was your takeaway?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, their phrase these days is guardrails, that we want -- we're going to have conflict with China, and we have -- they're going to send balloons, apparently, over our country, but they want guardrails, so, when there's a real crisis, we're not going to each step outside our bounds, there's going to be a floor of stability that we're not going to sink below, and really risk of conflict.
And so I do -- he made a vague reference to something I have heard him say, which is he thinks Xi is now so pummeled by problems, by demographic decline, by a slowing economy, by COVID, that he worries a little more about what a weak China might do more than what we used to worry about maybe two, three years ago, which was this dominant China force.
GEOFF BENNETT: We have Lisa Desjardins with us, still there at her -- with her -- at her perch atop the House floor there in the House Gallery.
Lisa, give us a sense of what you saw.
It was a very active crowd, at times an unruly House chamber there.
Fill us in.
LISA DESJARDINS: So many thoughts.
At the beginning, I think the section where he was talking about a lot of statistics, a lot of numbers, bragging about his accomplishments, that's when we saw the crowd here listening, but not as emotional.
As it got into sections about the border, in particular, about China, then we saw the eruptions from the Republican side.
And I have to say, I'm still digesting on whether I witnessed something like a House of the British Parliament or was it more like a barroom?
There was a real lack of restraint on the House -- on the part of many Republicans, not just the ones who usually suspect, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has had outbursts today and in the past, but other Republicans who I have not seen burst out before, yelling on the floor of the chamber.
It makes me think there is this underlying political lack of ability, not only for discourse, but they are erring on the side of shouting in a way I have not really felt before, not major, but this was different than other speeches, more people yelling at different points in the speech.
Otherwise, Republicans collectively had a number of eye rolls, a number of big question marks where they just felt President Biden was out of line.
They didn't seem to understand him.
As he exits the chamber now and, as you can see him, I have to say there aren't that many members those who have waited to speak to him.
There are a few, as you see right now.
But, mostly, he spoke to Cabinet members, members of the military and the Supreme Court.
Most of the members of Congress have exited.
This is probably the smallest crowd of members of Congress waiting to speak to any president that I have seen at a State of the Union at this point.
GEOFF BENNETT: Lisa... AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, we should note, as we were watching here on our screens, we could see behind the president Speaker McCarthy looked to be shushing some of the members, the Republican members who were yelling out in real time at some of those moments you just noticed.
But we also saw some moments in which Republicans were applauding for a few lines that President Biden delivered, specifically around the economy.
What do you notice in the chamber?
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, there clearly is a separation over the facts and numbers between Democrats and Republicans that they will use.
Republicans -- and we think we will hear this more probably in the coming days -- just believe the economy is a great problem.
But I think they had bigger problems here with issues on the border, the president, in particular, when he said he wanted money for more Border Patrol agents.
That was when I saw even moderate members of the Republican side raise their hands and some of them say, what are you talking about, people that I have never heard speak out loud in a speech like this.
It just felt that he was really out of line on those kinds of issues, as far as depicting what they had to say.
Also, though, I was surprised.
A number of times when he said he wanted to work with Republicans, I saw most of the Republican Conference sitting down, not applauding, not saying they wanted to work with him.
Just one time when he reached out to them did I see the entire Republican Conference stand and say, yes, we want to work with you too.
AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa Desjardins, congressional correspondent, who is in the chamber as President Biden makes his way out after delivering the State of the Union.
Our White House correspondent, Laura Barron-Lopez, is also on Capitol Hill, has been watching all of this unfold.
Laura, give us your takeaway.
What stood out to you about the president's remarks?
I know you have been previewing them earlier, speaking to White House officials.
I noticed also a lot of empathy coming from the president, repeated use of the line, "I get it," speaking directly to middle-class Americans.
What stood out to you?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Amna, a few things stood out here.
Specifically, to your point about empathy and to trying to tell Americans that he understands that they may not be necessarily feeling this good economic picture that he says is out there for the public, specifically saying he understands it Americans may not know what was passed in some of the laws that he signed last year, because they didn't take effect until January of this year.
That was something that wasn't in his prepared remarks, and that he ad-libbed on, saying, people didn't know because it hasn't taken effect yet, and that, in that instance, he was specifically talking about the cap on insulin prices, capping it at $35 for seniors on Medicare.
And he called on Congress to go further and to cap insulin costs for all Americans.
The other thing that stood out, Amna, was when the president talked about combating inflation through specifically junk fees.
This is something that the White House has been focused on a lot lately, this proposal and the bill that they have issued on junk fees, talking about trying to go after bank overdraft fees, credit card late fees, as well as this line that stood out saying that Americans -- that airlines are treating your children like baggage.
This is him trying to clearly show that he hears that not all Americans are feeling as though they're getting help in their pocketbooks.
And this has been a key element for the White House in recent months.
And then, lastly, Amna, of course, when President Joe Biden talked about the -- quote -- "the talk," which is the talk that Black and brown families have with their kids about police and their interactions with police, and to hear President Biden talk about that, a white president.
Especially after he worked as vice president for President Barack Obama, it reminded me of when Obama specifically talked about the person -- the personal feelings that he felt when Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012, and that, if he had had a son, his son would have looked like Trayvon Martin.
President Biden, this is an issue that has - - police brutality, as well as the racial reckoning that the country has faced through all of these killings of Black people, is something that he struggled with during the 2020 presidential campaign.
He came under fire from fellow Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker, including Senator Kamala Harris, for the way that he talked about how he worked with segregationists when he was in the Senate.
And so this is something, to hear him come full circle and to very aggressively talk about what it was like and that empathetic tone that you mentioned,Amna, was really striking.
AMNA NAWAZ: It was a powerful moment there, and, of course, acknowledging as well the parents of Tyre Nichols in the chamber watching all of that tonight.
Amy Walter here in the studio with us.
Amy, the other thing we noted as the president was talking in many cases to directly to middle-class Americans, right, talking about his -- repeating the promise that people making under $400,000 a year would not see any increase in taxes, there was also a listing of sorts of everyday frustrations we hear from Americans all the time, right, things -- I did not expect to hear about resort fees... AMY WALTER: I did not either.
AMNA NAWAZ: ... or junk fees... AMY WALTER: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: ... or credit card late fees.
AMY WALTER: That's right.
AMNA NAWAZ: But this is a man who lives in the details.
AMY WALTER: Well, also, in the day-to-day lives of people, right?
Most Americans are not engaged on policy in the way that the people around this table and the people in that room are, right?
Their day-to-day existence is about, what is government doing to make my life a little bit better, a little less challenging?
No, it's not changing the world.
It's not turning the world on its axis to take a resort fee out.
But what it suggests is, it's the little things that start to add up, the family economy, the budget that you're worried for every one of these little expenses.
Now, if you're Republicans, you say, yes, the reason that they're worried about these low expenses is because everything's more expensive now.
The inflation that people are feeling is because of Joe Biden's reckless spending.
That's the argument we're going to -- you should expect to hear, I think, from Republicans after the president leaves the chamber and over the course of the campaign in 2024.
But I think the fact that the president spent most of his time talking about what he had already accomplished, the administration had already accomplished, the 300 bipartisan bills that were already passed, rather than trying to focus on big, huge things we're going to get done in the next two years, is a nod to the reality of a divided Congress and also a nod to the fact that he's going to be spending a lot more time these next year-and-a-half talking about what has happened, as opposed to what could happen.
GEOFF BENNETT: Jonathan Capehart, can we talk about the new urgency that Democrats are trying to inject into this police reform effort?
I just saw Congressman Al Green on the floor there.
And he has a button we saw a number of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus wearing, these 1870 pins, marking the year that the first unarmed, at the time, first free Black man was killed by a police officer.
We heard President Biden invoked the words of Tyre Nichols' mom, saying that he was a beautiful soul and something good will come of this.
I certainly wish Mrs. Wells grace and peace.
That something good might not come in the form of police reform legislation, because the underlying fundamentals haven't changed a bit since the George Floyd bill was tanked.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right.
The -- what we have now is -- before, you had a Democratic-controlled House, Democratic-controlled Senate, and a Democratic president in the White House.
It passed the House, but then went down in a ball of flames in the Senate because Cory Booker, New Jersey Democrat, and Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, couldn't come to an agreement, with the help of now Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, when she was a member of Congress, who helped shepherd it through.
And it all fell apart over qualified immunity and other things.
But now the idea that you would get a George Floyd Justice in Policing Act or any kind of police reform through the Congress that is there now is wishful thinking.
I do think that the White House, the president, in particular, and certainly, the majority leader, Schumer, and Minority Leader Jeffries in the House, they are also very well aware of the reality that they face.
But I think they also know that they can't not try, that they must do something, that we saw Tyre Nichols.
Before Tyre Nichols, there was Walter Scott in South Carolina.
There have been many.
And so, if they give up, even in the face of the impossibility, then they're -- they are saying to Americans, they're saying to Black Americans, we don't care.
And from all the meetings that I have been to today, from listening to the president of the United States, there is no doubt in my mind that they care, and that they want to do something.
It's just too bad that folks on the other side of the aisle can't meet them even halfway.
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, to your point, I mean, on this issue, Republicans -- it's Republicans that hold all the cards.
Understanding the point you make about the imperative to not give up, as Democrats see it, the Democrats risk falsely inflating people's hopes who -- people who care about this issue that something can get done, when it looks like nothing can get done.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, no, I mean, sure, you can blame them if Democrats in their message don't say, we're on board, but the Republicans aren't.
You have to talk about the issue and then talk about the impediment to the solution.
And the impediment to the solution are the Republicans.
And so keep hammering away at the topic, at the issue, because, unfortunately, there is going to be another Tyre Nichols.
We just don't know where.
We just don't know when.
And it breaks my heart that I even can say that with supreme confidence, but that's where we are.
AMNA NAWAZ: As we're watching now President Biden make his way out of the chamber, we are joined for some reaction by Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey.
She serves on the Armed Services Committee and on the new Select Committee on China.
Congresswomen Sherrill, thank you for joining us.
Just give us your quick takeaway in terms of what you heard from the president in those remarks.
He came out with a strong message of bipartisanship, but then there were some raucous moments in which he had some back-and-forth with Republican members in that chamber.
What did you make of that?
REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): Well, I think it's the president's focus on bipartisanship that is so important as we go into this new divided Congress.
I also think he made some strong statements about what we have achieved and how it's going to impact the future, and then made some pleas to people in the chamber to continue this work, to make sure we continue to move forward on infrastructure and reshoring American manufacturing and our strategic competition with China.
And it was good to hear the president stand up to that, because I know, within the caucus, we have a lot of bipartisan support to move forward on our new China Committee.
AMNA NAWAZ: One of the key Republican criticisms we have heard, specifically in the last few days, of course, has been the administration's response to the discovery of that spy balloon from China, a lot of Republicans accusing him of not moving fast enough.
Do you think the president did enough to quell some of those concerns?
REP. MIKIE SHERRILL: You know, I was just in the House Armed Services Committee hearing this morning on China.
And that question was presented to the former INDOPACOM admiral, did we act quickly enough?
And he seemed very pleased with that situation.
He complimented the administration on being thoughtful, from everything we have seen, and certainly recovering the information from that surveillance equipment since we shot it down over the water.
So, I am still delving into the situation and getting more information tomorrow morning from a classified briefing.
But, from what I have heard to date, it seems as if there was a thoughtful reaction, as long as we can assure ourselves that that surveillance balloon was being jammed during the whole time it was over our country.
AMNA NAWAZ: Congresswoman, there were clearly some areas of disagreement between the president and Republican members in that chamber.
But we did see some Republicans applauding at certain moments of the president's remarks as well, specifically things like supply chain and economic policies and steps he was proposing and touting.
As you look ahead to this divided Congress, where do you see the shared areas of interest where you believe Democrats and Republicans can work together to get something done?
REP. MIKIE SHERRILL: Well, you certainly laid out some of the obvious ones, right?
I was on the Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force.
My base, Picatinny Arsenal, does so much with our munitions supply chain, and we look at rare earth minerals and where we are receiving goods into the supply chain, making it more resilient.
So, that's an area, defense and otherwise, that we can all work together and we all agree must be addressed.
There are other things, like rebuilding our nation's infrastructure, reshoring American manufacturing.
There was a lot of support in that chamber for made in America and building with American-made goods.
I think these are areas of broad bipartisan support.
And then there are areas where I will be looking, if we can't come together and build that bipartisan support, for example, on childcare.
As a working mom of four kids, we know that investments in childcare are going to be investments in strengthening our economy.
The president discussed Head Start, such a key piece of how we impact the future and the future of our children.
So, those are areas that might not be as obvious, but when you lay out the case of how important they are to the economy and how important they are to getting people back in our work force, every single member of Congress right now is hearing about work force shortages with this -- these fantastic jobs numbers.
We need people back in the work force.
So, childcare will be an area I will be looking for bipartisan support on.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey joining us tonight.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for your time.
REP. MIKIE SHERRILL: Thanks for having me.
GEOFF BENNETT: Amy Walter, in many ways, this State of the Union address can be viewed as a soft launch of President Biden's reelection campaign.
We don't know when he's going to announce.
I don't think, Amna, we have certainly not talked to a White House official yet who has said the president's not going to run for office.
AMNA NAWAZ: Right.
GEOFF BENNETT: He used the phrase in the speech tonight "finish the job."
He used that phrase 12 times about implementing infrastructure, the infrastructure law, shoring up Medicare, expanding education access, police reform, gun reform.
This seems like, if he's not able to get this done in the next two years, this was him saying, hold on, folks.
AMY WALTER: That's my reelection campaign theme, right.
GEOFF BENNETT: That's the reelection pitch, yes.
AMY WALTER: And I think what you're going to hear from Republicans, especially what we're already starting to hear from people like Nikki Haley, like Ron DeSantis, is, we're going to make a generational change, right?
So he may want to finish the job.
We think another generation needs to step in to be able to do that.
So, that's going to be -- you can already sort of see the battle lines drawing up then on what the two contrasting messages are going to be, absolutely.
GEOFF BENNETT: We're set to hear shortly from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Arkansas governor.
I'm told one of the reasons why Republicans selected her was to make this contrast of age.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
GEOFF BENNETT: She's 40 years old.
AMY WALTER: That's right.
GEOFF BENNETT: She's half President Biden's age.
She is also, we should say, half of Donald Trump's age, for that matter.
(LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: Right.
GEOFF BENNETT: But it was also important to have a Republican who is not going to run for office -- for the presidency.
AMY WALTER: It's that, and also somebody who comes from a red state who is not feeling at all encumbered by worrying about what is this going to do for her own sort of chances.
Usually, these responses had been given to the rising star, the person that they think, OK, this is somebody on the bench who we're going to see run for much higher office.
But it never has worked out that well for that person.
So, now it seems like they're -- what they're putting up front is the generational change, and also somebody who has been in and around the Trump orbit and knows how to fight very well with Democrats.
AMNA NAWAZ: And we're going to listen to that message in just a moment.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new governor of Arkansas, is delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union tonight from Little Rock.
She's no stranger to a presidential address.
Sanders previously served as the White House press secretary for the first two years of the Trump administration.
Let's go live now to Governor Sanders.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS (R-AR): ... Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Being a mom to three young children taught me not to believe every story I hear, so forgive me for not believing much of anything I heard tonight from President Biden.
From out of control inflation and violent crime to the dangerous border crisis and threat from China, Biden and the Democrats have failed you.
They know it and you know it.
And it's time for a change.
Tonight let us reaffirm our commitment to a timeless American idea that government exists not to rule the people but to serve the people.
Democrats want to rule us with more government control, but that's not who we are.
America is the greatest country the world has ever known because we're the freest country the world has ever known with a people who are strong and resilient.
Five months ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
It was a hard time for our family, particularly our kids, Scarlett, Huck, and George.
But we kept our faith and persevered.
Thanks to exceptional doctors here in Arkansas, a successful surgery, and the grace of God, I am cancer-free.
Through it all I couldn't help but think about my mom.
She was 20-years-old and in her first year of marriage when she was diagnosed with spinal cancer.
The doctors told her she might not live, and if she did live they said she'd never walk again.
And if she did walk, she'd definitely never have children.
The daughter she was told she'd never have was just sworn in as the new Governor of Arkansas and is speaking to you tonight.
Adversity and fear of the unknown can paralyze us, but faith propels us to charge boldly ahead.
We can't stand still in the face of great challenges.
You and I were put on this Earth for such a time as this, to charge boldly ahead.
I will be the first to admit President Biden and I don't have a lot it common.
I'm for freedom.
He's for government control.
At 40, I'm the youngest governor in the country, and at 80 he's the oldest president in American history.
I'm the first woman to lead my state, and he's the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can't even tell you what a woman is.
In the radical left's America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country.
Whether Joe Biden believes this madness or is simply too weak to resist it, his administration has been completely hijacked by the radical left.
The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left.
The choice is between normal or crazy.
It's time for a new generation of Republican leadership.
Upon taking office just a few weeks ago, I signed executive orders to ban CRT, racism and indoctrination in our schools.
Eliminate the use of the derogatory term Latinx in our government, repealed COVID orders and said never again to authoritarian mandates and shutdowns.
Americans want common sense from their leaders.
But in Washington, the Biden administration is doubling down on crazy.
President Biden inherited the fastest economic recovery on record.
The most secure border in history.
Cheap, abundant, homegrown energy.
A rebuilt military.
And a world that was stable and at peace.
But over the last two years, Democrats destroyed it all.
Despite Democrats' trillions in reckless spending and mountains of debt, we now have the worst border crisis in American history.
As a mom, my heart breaks for every parent who has lost a son or daughter to addiction, 100,000 Americans a year are now killed from drug overdoses.
Largely from fentanyl pouring across our southern border.
Yet, the Biden administration refuses to secure the border and save American lives.
And after years of Democrat attacks on law enforcement and calls to defund the police, violent criminals roam free while law-abiding families live in fear.
Beyond our border from Afghanistan to Ukraine, from North Korea to Iran, President Biden's weakness puts our nation and the world at risk.
And the president's refusal to stand up to China, our most formidable adversary, is dangerous and unacceptable.
President Biden is unwilling to defend our border, defend our skies and defend our people.
He is simply unfit to serve as Commander in Chief.
And while you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies that the hard reality Americans face every day.
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.
Every day we are told we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols, all while Big Government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is, your freedom of speech.
That's not normal.
It's crazy and it's wrong.
Make no mistake, Republicans will not surrender this fight.
We will lead with courage and do what's right, not what's politically correct or convenient.
Republicans believe in an America where strong families thrive in safe communities.
Where jobs are abundant and paychecks are rising.
Where the freedom our veterans shed their blood to defend is the birthright of every man, woman and child.
These are the principles Republican governors are fighting for and in Washington under the leadership of Senate Republicans and Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
We will hold the Biden administration accountable.
Down the street from where I sit is my alma mater, Little Rock Central High.
As a student there I will never forget watching my dad, Governor Mike Huckabee and President Bill Clinton, hold the doors open to the Little Rock Nine.
Doors that 40 years earlier had been closed to them because they were black.
Today, those children once barred from the schoolhouse are now heroes, memorialized in bronze at our state house.
I'm proud of the progress our country has made.
And I believe giving every child access to a quality education regardless of their race or income, is the civil-rights issue of our day.
Tomorrow, I will unveil an education that would be the most far-reaching, bold conservative education reform in the country.
My plan empowers parents with real choices, improves literacy and career readiness and helps put a good teacher in every classroom by increasing their starting salary from one of the lowest to one the highest in the nation.
Here in Arkansas, and across America, Republicans are working to end the policy of trapping kids in failing schools and sentencing them to a lifetime of poverty.
We will educate, not indoctrinate our kids and put students on a path to success.
It's time for a new generation to lead.
This is our moment.
This is our opportunity.
A new generation born in the waning decades of the last century, shaped by economic booms and stock market busts.
Forged by the triumph of the Cold War and the tragedy of 9/11.
A generation brimming with passion and new ideas to solve age-old problems.
A generation moored to our deepest values and oldest traditions, yet unafraid to challenge the present order and find a better way forward.
If we seize this moment together, America can once again be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
During my two and a half years at the White House, I traveled on every foreign trip with the president.
A trip I will never forget was on December 25th of 2018.
My husband Brian and I had just cleaned up wrapping paper that was shoved into every corner of our house thanks to our three kids, when I had to walk out on my own family's Christmas, unable to tell them where I was going that night, because the place I would be traveling was so dangerous they didn't want anybody to know that the president was going to be on the ground even for a few hours.
We boarded Air Force One in complete and total darkness.
There were no lights on the plane, no lights on the runway.
Our phones and computers shut down and turned in.
We were going completely off the grid.
Nearly 12 hours later, in the pitch black of night, we landed in the war-torn part of western Iraq.
It was again a similar scene.
No lights on the plane, no lights on the runway.
The only thing you could see was coming from about a mile away in a dining hall where hundreds of troops who were in the fight against ISIS had gathered expecting to celebrate Christmas with senior military leadership from around the region.
They had absolutely no idea that the president and first lady were about to walk into that room.
And when they did, it was the sight and a scene and a sound I hope I never forget.
The room erupted.
Men and women from every race, religion and region, every political party, every demographic you can imagine started chanting in perfect unison, over and over and over again, "USA!
It was an absolutely perfect picture of what makes our country great.
One of the young soldiers yelled from the back, "Mr. President, I reenlisted in the military because of you."
And he president said, "And son I'm here because of you."
Shortly after, that young soldier came up to me and he said, Sarah, you have a tough job.
I told him, what I do is nothing.
You take bombs and bullets.
That's a tough job.
In a moment that I know I will cherish for the rest of my life, that soldier reached up and he pulled the brave rifles patch he wore on his shoulder and he placed it into my hand, a sign of ultimate respect.
Overwhelmed with emotion and speechless, I just hugged him with tears in my eyes and a grateful heart for our heroes who keep us free.
That young man and everyone who has served before him, all of those who serve alongside him and the thousands we know who will be called upon to serve after him deserve to know they have a country and a community back home doing our part in the fight for freedom.
America is great because we are free, but today our freedom is under attack, and the America we love is in danger.
President Biden and the Democrats have failed you and it's time for a change.
A new generation of Republican leaders are stepping up not to be caretakers of the status quo but to be change makers of the American people.
We know not what the future holds, but we know who holds the future in his hands.
And with God as our witness, we will show the world that America is still the place for freedom reigns and liberty will never die.
God bless you, and God bless America.
GEOFF BENNETT: And we have been listening to Republican Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary for former President Donald Trump, the youngest governor in the country, the first female governor in Arkansas, seeking to undercut President Biden's State of the Union address, saying that he's weak, that he's beholden to -- quote -- "woke fantasies" and that he's untethered from the mainstream.
David Brooks, there's quite some asymmetry there.
We saw President Biden extend his hand to Republicans, suggest that he wants to work with them however he can.
And we heard from Sarah Huckabee Sanders that Americans want common sense from their leaders, but, in Washington, she said the Biden administration is doubling down on crazy.
What are we to make of that?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, she hit some issues which are good Republican issues.
I mean, the cultural issues are good Republican issues.
They have won some elections off that.
Fentanyl and the border is a good issue.
We legitimately have problems at the border.
China is an issue they're trying to get mileage out.
I'm not sure they are getting my mileage out of -- education reform has suddenly become a good Republican issue.
After decades in which Democrats had huge advantages in education, now it's sort of dead even.
And so those are some issues I was not surprised to see her hit.
I think the one asymmetry is, Biden spent most of his speech on economic policy, and she spent zero percent on economic policy.
And I think Republicans just have to have to an economic -- I mean, it's the number one issue.
And if you don't have an economic policy, you're really lagging behind.
And what's interesting to me is, what is going to be the Republican economic policy?
The guy he -- she served really shifted them away from being a corporate party.
But in the Biden speech, when he's attacking corporations, Republicans are reflexively not going along with him, seeming to slip back into, oh, yes, we're the corporate party again.
And so they really have to make up their mind, are they a populist party or are they the old Republican Party?
GEOFF BENNETT: Amy, I hear you saying, that's right, that's right.
AMY WALTER: Yes, I just -- I thought the exact same thing, that this was very similar to what we heard in the 2022 campaign.
It was very heavy on culture war.
Also, they did talk a lot about inflation and trying to attach Biden to it.
But what I heard from many Democrats and Republican strategists after -- especially after the election was over was, we didn't have a message.
We said Biden has an inflation problem.
We tried to make it all about Biden.
And yet what voters were telling us back was OK, we get it.
We don't think Joe Biden is doing a very good job on the economy.
But what is your answer to that?
And there's not -- there hasn't been an answer to that.
That's not clearly what Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the governor of Arkansas, was doing.
What will be very interesting to see, though, are, how some of the other Republican governors or former governors going to talk about the economy, especially since they are the ones now in charge of running as an executive and how that gets played in?
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan Capehart, I saw you scribbling furiously as Governor Sanders was speaking there.
(LAUGHTER) AMNA NAWAZ: It also strikes me there was this message she repeatedly hit about a new generation of leaders.
She wanted to hit that contrast between the place she holds and President Biden, as she presented it.
At the same time, she did serve as press secretary for the previous Republican president, whose name she did not mention in those remarks.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Trump.
AMNA NAWAZ: But what was your takeaway?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Who is also 79 years old.
David, I'm glad you brought up the fact that one thing she didn't talk about was the economy.
You took her speech seriously in a way I couldn't the moment she said that he is a man who can't say what a woman is.
This speech, I'm trying not to levitate from my chair, because there were so many -- she leaned so hard into the culture wars, that she just slid right into ignorance.
And for her to say, to revel in the fact that she is an alum of Little Rock Central High School, and lauding the Little Rock Nine and their statue, they're memorialized, when the Republicans, particularly in Florida, but I guess now in Arkansas, are going to make it illegal for students to learn about why the Little Rock Nine are significant and are in bronze in Little Rock.
This speech was entirely offensive.
When she talks about Republicans are there for freedom and Americans, which Americans and what freedoms?
What about the trans kids whose targets -- they have got targets on their backs, or kids -- LGBTQ kids in schools, or Black kids in schools who can't learn their history because government is making it illegal?
I -- wonderful, she's the youngest governor in the -- in Arkansas, and she's drawing these contrasts with an 80-year-old president.
But thank goodness we have an 80-year-old president who just gave a speech to the nation, the entire nation, about what he wants to do for them.
There was that moment when the president said, look, I don't -- you guys, you voted against the infrastructure bill, but then you show up and take credit for the projects and the jobs that come, and I look forward to you guys doing it again.
She doesn't have that message.
The message that she just -- she just gave to the nation, and on behalf of the Republican Party, just proves to me that the Republican Party is lost -- not lost.
And if they're going to keep digging themselves into these cultural war issues, great.
More power to them.
It's great for the -- for the Republican primary - - the Republican base, I guess.
But the country, in the last midterm election, said that, we don't like, that that's not right.
That's not fair.
And so that's why, when Joe Biden says, when he growls at the end of his speech, we are the United States of America, it always moves me, because I know he's talking to me.
And I know that there are millions of Americans, whether they voted for him or not, feel probably to their bones that, even though I don't -- I might not like the guy, I might not like his policies, but at least I know he's thinking about trying to make my life better.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders did the opposite tonight.
GEOFF BENNETT: Let's bring in Lisa Desjardins, who is still on the Hill for us tonight.
Lisa, I know from speaking with you earlier today that you have some reporting, talking to people close to Governor Huckabee Sanders, about how that speech came together.
Fill us in.
LISA DESJARDINS: Right.
They felt that she, as someone who had been - - helped a former president write a State of the Union, that she was in a better position perhaps to deliver one.
I brought up this idea that, in the past, these response speeches have not gone well, especially for governors, but for all kinds of different people making the response.
They said their approach was that she was not going to try and compete with President Biden, but instead try and lay out the Republican agenda on its own.
I have to say, listening to her remarks immediately after leaving the chamber and listening to President Biden's remarks, it was really a startling contrast in political approach.
And I think that what we may find is, from Governor Huckabee Sanders' remarks, is that she has probably set the tone for the 2024 Republican primary race.
And potentially, these two speeches, both of them, could set sort of the approach of both parties.
Now, I think what I heard in her speech was really going beyond laying out the Republican agenda, not just saying that Joe Biden is a failure or bad for this country, but instead trying to lay out the idea that somehow he is not just anti-American, but also anti-God.
This is really a speech that has gone kind of a farther distance than I think we have seen before from Republicans, laying out the stakes, not just as a country that can better or worse.
President Biden saying, our country's doing better, give us more time, let's finish the job.
To that, I heard Governor Huckabee Sanders saying, rather, no, we are on the edge of an abyss, of a moral and societal, civilization kind of crisis, a very dark picture she was painting, laying at the feet of Democrats, without using the same kind of numbers or backup evidence, using just ideas and putting out this idea of cultural differences.
I just am thinking about what's coming next.
I'm thinking about the faces I saw in the chamber tonight, both below me.
I was sitting about the Republican side.
I saw the Republican side at first kind of politely clapping, embracing the idea of thanking all of the leadership from all of the parties, and then moving toward a time when I saw many different members yelling out at the president, even as I saw the VIP guests around me, sometimes with tears in their eyes as their stories were being told, especially Black Americans I saw in the chamber, talking about police reform.
I saw two different young Black men with tears in their eyes.
Nobody else was watching them.
In the top row of the chamber, you could tell they were moved, and they were concerned about safety of people like them, the deaths of people like them.
So, all of these emotions swelling, and I'm really struck by Governor Sanders' speech that I think pushes all of that even farther.
We will see.
We will see how Republicans react.
But I think this was a speech that promotes ideas that President Trump has been -- former President Trump has been talking about.
And I think that we're going to see more of this as we get closer to the 2024 election.
GEOFF BENNETT: Lisa Desjardins, our thanks to you and, of course, to Laura Barron-Lopez as well.
AMNA NAWAZ: David Brooks, I'm curious to hear your take on Lisa's reporting there.
If this -- if the State of the Union address was seen as a potential sort of preview of what President Biden's reelection campaign could look like, do you take Governor Sanders remarks as a potential preview of what the Republican nominee will be messaging on?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think so.
I mean, I mean, the -- whether it's DeSantis or Trump or somebody else, the culture is going to be a big issue.
The Republicans' number one issue -- look, I'm a journalist.
I just try to understand.
We're in an evenly divided country.
I try to understand what the other side is thinking.
And I think, if you look at how DeSantis has approached this, how Trump approached this, how Ted Cruz approaches this, I think their number one issue is that a lot of Republicans think there's a coastal cultural elite that looks down on them and that is way to their left on them on values issues.
And that's a legitimate point of view.
And so she's going heavy on that.
Is it a successful fight against Joe Biden, who's not really part of the coastal cultural elite?
I think probably not.
But it's what Republicans have gone to and what -- and what populists around the world have gone to.
And so it doesn't surprise me she's going there.
AMY WALTER: I guess the difference is that, after 2020, where President Trump leaned into his base -- I mean, he talked almost exactly like this.
It was about turning out the base, engaging the base, enraging the base, and coming up short, and candidates on the Republican side who have only engaged their base in swing states -- and we saw it in 2022 in the Senate - - coming up short.
So, it is -- as a general election message, it is not likely to be as powerful as it will be in a Republican primary.
And this has been the challenge for Republicans since Donald Trump came onto the scene, which is, how do you win over independent voters, people who identify themselves not as strong partisans?
They aren't interested in these same fights.
They don't put those same issues on the top of their agenda.
The economy, their day-to-day existence, how they feel about somebody, does this person seem to look or address issues in the same way?
The final point, in going to where we are, I thought it was really telling that, after the last election, 80 percent of voters who said they voted for Trump or Biden, 80 percent of those people said to Pew, not only do we have different priorities, but we fundamentally disagree about core American values.
That is, at its challenge, what our polarization is about, core American values.
That's where the difference is, not just on, should we talk about jobs or the economy or immigration?
GEOFF BENNETT: Jonathan, you have 30 seconds left, friend.
You have the final word.
AMY WALTER: Sorry.
(LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: Look, the great thing about the State of the Union is that we hear what the president has to say, his vision for the country, and then we get to watch what he does after.
And so, tomorrow, he's going to Wisconsin.
And the vice president's going out.
Everyone's going out around the country.
Will they maintain this energy that the president showed tonight?
Will they maintain that, not just tomorrow, but through the end of the year?
AMNA NAWAZ: We will watch, and we will see.
Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, Amy Walter, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
And that concludes our special live coverage of the president's State of the Union address.
We hope you will join us back here tomorrow night on the "NewsHour," when Judy Woodruff will have an exclusive interview with President Biden as he heads to Wisconsin to discuss some of those priorities he emphasized tonight.
And don't forget you can find much more reporting and analysis anytime online, PBS.org/NewsHour.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
GEOFF BENNETT: I'm Geoff Bennett.
Thanks for joining us.
For all of us here at "PBS NewsHour," have a great night.