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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 28, 1995
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
The Roosevelt Room
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to talk to you today about what's at stake for the American people in the great budget debate now taking place in Washington. But first, I've got some good news to report.
Our country is on the move. Our economy is the strongest in the world, and it's growing. Yesterday, the official report on the economy for the last three months showed continued strong economic growth with very low inflation. And this week we also learned that we've cut the budget deficit nearly in half since I became President.
It has dropped for three years in a row for the first time since President Truman was in office. The American people should be proud of their accomplishment.
Now it's time to finish the job and balance the budget, so that we don't pass a mountain of debt on to our children and we free up more funds to be invested in our economy. But we need to do it in a way that reflects our core values: Opportunity for all Americans to make the most of their own lives. Responsibility -- we all must do our part; no more something for nothing. And third, recognizing our community, our common obligations to preserve and strengthen our families, to do our duty to our parents, to fulfill our obligation to give our children the best future possible with good schools and good health care and safe streets and a clean environment.
And finally, a determination to keep our nation the strongest in the world.
I have proposed a balanced budget that secures Medicare into the future, that increases our investment in education and technology, that protects the environment, that keeps our country the strongest in the world. Because working people do deserve a tax break, it includes a tax cut targeted at education and child rearing.
My balanced budget reflects our national values.
It's also in our national interest. We now have three years of evidence that our economic strategy works. Reduce the deficit, sell more American products around the world, invest in education and technology -- it gives you more jobs, more new businesses, more homeowners, a stronger future for all Americans. But this week the Republican Congress voted to enact an extreme budget that violates our values, and I believe is bad for our long-term interest.
All Americans believe in honoring our parents and keeping our pledge that they'll live out their last years in dignity. But the Republican budget cuts $450 billion out of the health care system, doubles premiums for senior citizens. And the House budget actually repeals the rule called spousal impoverishment. What this means is they would let a state say to an elderly couple that if the husband or the wife has to go into a nursing home, the other has to sell the house, the car, and clean out the bank account before there can be any help from the government. They say, we'll then help you, and how you get along afterward is your own problem.
The Republicans say they support Medicare. They say they just want to reform it. But just this week we learned that the Senate Majority Leader is bragging that he opposed Medicare from the beginning, and the Speaker of the House admitted that his goal is to have Medicare -- quote -- "wither on the vine." When they say those things it's clear that the Republicans come not to praise Medicare, but to bury it.
All Americans believe we have a fundamental duty to provide opportunity for our young people, and to protect the world that God gave us. But the Republican budget singles out education and the environment for deep and devastating cuts.
And it's a basic American value to honor hard work. But the congressional Republicans impose billions of dollars in new taxes and fees directly on working people. On average, families who earn less than $30, 000 a year get a tax hike, not a tax cut, under their plan.
Let me put it another way. They want to increase taxes on working families with children living on $20, 000 a year or less, and give people in my income group a tax cut. That is wrong. A country where Medicare withers on the vine, where our children are denied educational opportunity, where pollution worsens, where working people get a tax increase -- that's not the kind of America I want for the 21st century.
I want a nation that promotes opportunity and demands responsibility; that preserves families, increases work; that recognizes the duty we owe to each other; and that still is the strongest country in the world.
The more the American people see of this budget the less they like it. That's why the Republicans in Congress have resorted to extraordinary blackmail tactics to try to ram their program through.
They have said they won't pass a bill letting the government pay its bills unless I accept their extreme and misguided budget priorities.
Well, for more than two centuries, through war and depression, the United States has always paid its bills, always honored its obligations. For all their loose talk, the congressional leaders know that a default would have a severe impact on our country.
By making it more expensive for the government to raise money it would expand the deficit, unsettle financial markets, and increase interest rates. Higher interest rates mean higher mortgage rates for homeowners, especially the 10 million of them whose mortgages are tied to federal interest rates. Higher interest rates means higher credit card rates for consumers and bigger borrowing costs for businesses.
Now, I'm not about to give in to that kind of blackmail.
So Congress should simply stop playing political games with the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They should send me the debt limit bill to sign, as every Congress has done when necessary throughout American history.
Just yesterday, the Secretary of the Treasury once again asked Congress to remove the debt limit from the budget bill, or, at the very least, to extend it through mid-January. That way we can resolve this budget impasse without hurting our economy. Even this offer was brushed aside.
I will not let anyone hold health care, education, or the environment hostage. If they send me a budget bill that says simply, take our cuts or we'll let the country go into default, I will still veto it. And hear this: Before or after a veto, I am not prepared to discuss the destruction of Medicare and Medicaid, the gutting of our commitment to education, the ravaging of our environment, or raising taxes on working people.
So I say to the Republican leaders: Back off your cuts in these vital areas. Until you do, there's nothing for us to talk about. You say your principles are a balanced budget, a tax cut, extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. I want all those things. They're my principles, too. But there are other important principles, the ones that I have outlined. They are morally right for America, and they're good for our economy.
This is a time of genuine promise for our country. We're on the move. Our economy is the envy of the world. No nation on Earth is better positioned for the new century than America, because of the diversity of the economy and our citizens; because of our commitment to excellence; because of our technological advantages.
The 21st century will be ours if we make the right choices and do the right thing for the American people.
Thanks for listening.
The State of the Union Address
The State of the Union address is a speech delivered annually by the President the United States to a joint session of the United States Congress. The State of the Union Address is not, however, delivered during the first year of a new president’s first term in office. In the address, the president typically reports on the general condition of the nation in the areas of domestic and foreign policy issues and outlines his or her legislative platform and national priorities.
Delivery of the State of the Union address fulfills Article II, Sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution requiring that “The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
As a policy of the doctrine of separation of powers, the Speaker of the House must invite the president to present the State of the Union Address in person. In lieu of an invitation, the address can be delivered to Congress in written form.
Since January 8, 1790, when George Washington personally delivered the first annual message to Congress, presidents have "from time to time," been doing just that in what has become known as the State of the Union Address.
The speech was shared with the public only through newspapers until 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge's annual message was broadcast on radio. Franklin D. Roosevelt first used the phrase "State of the Union" in 1935, and in 1947, Roosevelt's successor Harry S. Truman became the first president to deliver a televised address.
Address to the Nation on the First Anniversary of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The President. Good evening, my fellow Americans.
Tonight I'd like to talk to you about where we are as we mark 1 year since everything stopped because of this pandemic. A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked. Denials for days, weeks, then months that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness.
Photos and videos from 2019 feel like they were taken in another era. The last vacation. The last birthday with friends. The last holiday with the extended family. While it was different for everyone, we all lost something. A collective suffering. A collective sacrifice. A year filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us.
But, in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect, and gratitude. Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do. And that's what we've done.
We've seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives—sometimes losing them—to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places. I know it's been hard. I truly know.
As I've told you before, I carry a card in my pocket with the number of Americans who have died from COVID to date. It's on the back of my schedule. As of now, total deaths in America: 527,726. That's more deaths than in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam war, and 9/11 combined. They were husbands, wives, sons and daughters, grandparents, friends, neighbors—young and old. They leave behind loved ones unable to truly grieve or to heal, even to have a funeral.
But I'm also thinking about everyone else who lost this past year to natural causes, by cruel fate of accident or other disease. They, too, died alone. They, too, leave behind loved ones who are hurting badly.
You know, you've often heard me say before, I talk about the longest walk any parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to his child's bedroom to say: "I'm sorry, but I lost my job. Can't be here anymore." Like my dad told me when he lost his job in Scranton.
So many of you have had to make that same walk this past year. You lost your job. You closed your business. Facing eviction, homelessness, hunger, a loss of control, and maybe worst of all, a loss of hope.
Watching a generation of children who may be set back up to a year or more—because they've not been in school—because of their loss of learning.
It's the details of life that matter most, and we've missed those details, the big details and small moments: weddings, birthdays, graduations—all the things that needed to happen, but didn't. The first date. The family reunions. The Sunday night rituals. It's all has exacted a terrible cost on the psyche of so many of us. For we are fundamentally a people who want to be with others: to talk, to laugh, to hug, to hold one another.
But this virus has kept us apart. Grandparents haven't seen their children or grandchildren. Parents haven't seen their kids. Kids haven't seen their friends. The things we used to do that always filled us with joy have become the things we couldn't do and broke our hearts. Too often, we've turned against one another. A mask—the easiest thing to do to save lives—sometimes, it divides us. States pitted against one other instead of working with each other.
Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated. At this very moment, so many of them—our fellow Americans—they're on the frontlines of this pandemic, trying to save lives, and still—still—they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It's wrong, it's un-American, and it must stop.
Look, we know what we need to do to beat this virus: Tell the truth. Follow the scientists and the science. Work together. Put trust and faith in our Government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people—no function more important.
We need to remember, the Government isn't some foreign force in a distant Capital. No, it's us. All of us. "We the People." For you and I, that America thrives when we give our hearts, when we turn our hands to common purpose. And right now, my friends, we are doing just that. And I have to say, as your President, I am grateful to you.
Last summer, I was in Philadelphia, and I met a small-business owner—a woman. I asked her—I said, "What do you need most?" I'll never forget what she said to me. She said—looking me in the eye, she said: "I just want the truth. The truth. Just tell me the truth." Think of that. My fellow Americans, you're owed nothing less than the truth.
And for all of you asking when things will get back to normal, here is the truth: The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track is to beat the virus. You've been hearing me say that for—while I was running and the last 50 days I've been President. But this is one of the most complex operations we've ever undertaken as a nation in a long time.
That's why I'm using every power I have as President of the United States to put us on a war footing to get the job done. It sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it: a war footing. And thank God we're making some real progress now.
In my first full day in office, I outlined for you a comprehensive strategy to beat this pandemic. And we've spent every day since attempting to carry it out. Two months ago, the country—this country didn't have nearly enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all or anywhere near all of the American public. But soon we will.
We've been working with the vaccine manufacturers—Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson—to manufacture and purchase hundreds of millions of doses of these three safe, effective vaccines. And now, at the direction and with the assistance of my administration, Johnson and Johnson is working together with a competitor, Merck, to speed up and increase the capacity to manufacture new Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is one shot.
In fact, just yesterday I announced—and I met with the CEOs of both companies—I announced our plan to buy an additional 100 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines. These two companies—competitors—have come together for the good of the Nation, and they should be applauded for it.
It's truly a national effort, just like we saw during World War II. Now, because of all the work we've done, we'll have enough vaccine supply for all adults in America by the end of May. That's months ahead of schedule. And we're mobilizing thousands of vaccinators to put the vaccine in one's arm. Calling on Active Duty military, FEMA, retired doctors and nurses, administrators, and those to administer the shots.
And we've been creating more places to get the shots. We've made it possible for you to get a vaccine at nearly one—any one of nearly 10,000 pharmacies across the country, just like you get your flu shot. And we're also working with Governors and mayors, in red States and blue States, to set up and support nearly 600 federally supported vaccination centers that administers hundreds of thousands of shots per day. You can drive up to a stadium or a large parking lot, get your shot, never leave your car, and drive home in less than an hour.
We've been sending vaccines to hundreds of community health centers all across America, located in underserved areas. And we've been deploying—and we will deploy more—mobile vehicles and pop-up clinics to meet you where you live so those who are least able to get the vaccine are able to get it.
We continue to work on making at-home testing available. And we've been focused on serving people in the hardest hit communities of this pandemic: Black, Latino, Native American, and rural communities.
So what does all this add up to? When I took office 50 days ago, only 8 percent of Americans after months—only 8 percent of those over the age of 65 have gotten their first vaccination. Today, that number is [nearly]* 65 percent. Just 14 percent of Americans over the age 75, 50 days ago, had gotten their first shot. Today, that number is well over 70 percent.
With new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the CDC—that came out on Monday, it means simply this: Millions and millions of grandparents who went months without being able to hug their grandkids can now do so. And the more people who are fully vaccinated, the CD [CDC]* will continue to provide guidance on what you can do in the workplace, places of worship, with your friends, and as well as travel.
When I came into office, you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was, kind of, way over the top. I said I intended to get a hundred million shots in people's arms in my first hundred days in office. Tonight I can say we are not only going to meet that goal, we're going to beat that goal. Because we're actually on track to reach this goal of a hundred million shots in arms on my 60th day in office. No other country in the world has done this. None.
Now I want to talk about the next steps we're thinking about. First, tonight I'm announcing that I will direct all States, Tribes, and Territories to make all adults—people 18 and over—eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1. Let me say that again: All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1. That's much earlier than expected.
Let me be clear: That doesn't mean everyone's going to have that shot immediately, but it means you'll be able to get in line beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot.
And, to do this, we're going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December, before I was sworn in, to maintaining—beating our current pace of 2 million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.
Secondly, at the time when every adult is eligible in May, we will launch, with our partners, new tools to make it easier for you to find the vaccine and where to get the shot, including a new website that will help you first find the place to get vaccinated and the one nearest you. No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones.
Thirdly, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan—and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it—and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, we can accelerate the massive, nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal, that I stated at the same time about a hundred million shots, of opening the majority of K-through-8 schools in my first hundred days in office. This is going to be the number-one priority of my new Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.
Fourth, in the coming weeks, we will issue further guidance on what you can and cannot do once fully vaccinated, to lessen the confusion, to keep people safe, and encourage more people to get vaccinated.
And finally, fifth, and maybe most importantly: I promise I will do everything in my power, I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people. I need you. I need every American to do their part. And that's not hyperbole. I need you.
I need you to get vaccinated when it's your turn and when you can find an opportunity and to help your family and friends and neighbors get vaccinated as well.
Because here's the point: If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there's a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn't mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.
After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.
But to get there, we can't let our guard down. This fight is far from order—from over. As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, "I will tell you the truth." A July 4 with your loved ones is the goal. But a goal—a lot can happen conditions can change.
The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread. And we've got work to do to ensure everyone has confidence in the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.
So my message to you is this: Listen to Dr. Fauci, one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world. He's assured us the vaccines are safe. They underwent rigorous scientific review. I know they're safe. Vice President Harris and I know they're safe. That's why we got the vaccine publicly in front of cameras so—for the world to see, so you could see us do it. The First Lady and the Second Gentleman also got vaccinated.
Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors—the people you know best who've gotten the vaccine. We need everyone to get vaccinated. We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC.
Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity. And national unity isn't just how politics and politicians vote in Washington or what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans. Because if we don't stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track. And, please, we don't want to do again.
We've made so much progress. This is not the time to let up. Just as we are emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules.
I'll close with this. We've lost so much over the last year. We've lost family and friends. We've lost businesses and dreams we spent years building. We've lost time, time with each other.
And our children have lost so much time with their friends, time with their schools. No graduation ceremonies this spring. No graduations from college, high school, moving-up ceremonies. You know, and there's something else we lost. We lost faith in whether our Government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people.
But as I stand here tonight, we're proving once again something I have said time and time again until they're probably tired of hearing me say it. I say it foreign leaders and domestic alike: It's never, ever a good bet to bet against the American people. America is coming back.
The development, manufacture, and distribution of the vaccines in record time is a true miracle of science. It is one of the most extraordinary achievements any country has ever accomplished. And we also just saw the Perseverance rover land on Mars. Stunning images of our dreams that are now a reality. Another example of the extraordinary American ingenuity, commitment, and belief in science and one another.
And today I signed into law the American Rescue Plan, an historic piece of legislation that delivers immediate relief to millions of people. It includes $1,400 in direct rescue checks—payments. That means a typical family of four earning about $110,000 will get checks for $5,600 deposited if they have direct deposit or in a check—a Treasury check.
It extends unemployment benefits. It helps small businesses. It lowers health care premiums for many. It provides food and nutrition, keeps families in their homes. And it will cut child poverty in this country in half, according to the experts. And it funds all the steps I've just described to beat the virus and create millions of jobs.
In the coming weeks and months, I'll be traveling, along with the First Lady, the Vice President, the Second Gentleman, and members of my Cabinet, to speak directly to you, to tell you the truth about how the American Rescue Plan meets the moment. And if it fails at any place, I will acknowledge that it failed. But it will not.
About how after a long, dark years—1 whole year—there is hope and light of better days ahead. If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon, our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we'll have proven once again that this country can do anything—hard things, big things, important things.
Over a year ago, no one could have imagined what we were about to go through, but now we're coming through it, and it's a shared experience that binds us together as a Nation. We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we're also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.
My fervent prayer for our country is that, after all we have been through, we'll come together as one people, one Nation, one America. I believe we can, and we will. We're seizing this moment. And history, I believe, will record: We faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this Nation's history, darkest we've ever known.
I promise you, we'll come out stronger, with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities, and to our country. This is the United States of America, and there is nothing—nothing—from the bottom of my heart, I believe this—there is nothing we can't do when we do it together.
So God bless you all. And please, God, give solace to all those people who lost someone. And may God protect our troops.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. I look forward to seeing you.
Q. President Biden, do you consider this a new phase of the pandemic?
Address to the Nation by the President
**Please see below for a correction, marked with an asterisk.
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. On Wednesday, 14 Americans were killed as they came together to celebrate the holidays. They were taken from family and friends who loved them deeply. They were white and black Latino and Asian immigrants and American-born moms and dads daughters and sons. Each of them served their fellow citizens and all of them were part of our American family.
Tonight, I want to talk with you about this tragedy, the broader threat of terrorism, and how we can keep our country safe.
The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know. The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their coworkers and his wife. So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses -- from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas -- disrupting safe havens in several different countries, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.
Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009 in Chattanooga earlier this year and now in San Bernardino. And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.
For seven years, I’ve confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing. And since the day I took this office, I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.
Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.
Here’s how. First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. In Iraq and Syria, airstrikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies -- including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom -- have ramped up their contributions to our military campaign, which will help us accelerate our effort to destroy ISIL.
Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we’re deploying Special Operations Forces who can accelerate that offensive. We’ve stepped up this effort since the attacks in Paris, and we’ll continue to invest more in approaches that are working on the ground.
Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations -- to disrupt plots, cut off their financing, and prevent them from recruiting more fighters. Since the attacks in Paris, we’ve surged intelligence-sharing with our European allies. We’re working with Turkey to seal its border with Syria. And we are cooperating with Muslim-majority countries -- and with our Muslim communities here at home -- to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online.
Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process -- and timeline -- to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian war. Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country, including our allies, but also countries like Russia, to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL -- a group that threatens us all.
This is our strategy to destroy ISIL. It is designed and supported by our military commanders and counterterrorism experts, together with 65 countries that have joined an American-led coalition. And we constantly examine our strategy to determine when additional steps are needed to get the job done. That’s why I’ve ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa *Waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that’s why I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.
Now, here at home, we have to work together to address the challenge. There are several steps that Congress should take right away.
To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies -- no matter how effective they are -- cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do -- and must do -- is make it harder for them to kill.
Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve traveled to warzones. And we’re working with members of both parties in Congress to do exactly that.
Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.
My fellow Americans, these are the steps that we can take together to defeat the terrorist threat. Let me now say a word about what we should not do.
We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.
The strategy that we are using now -- airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country -- that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.
Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world -- including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.
That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.
But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans -- of every faith -- to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes -- and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.
My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity -- that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.
Even in this political season, even as we properly debate what steps I and future Presidents must take to keep our country safe, let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear that we have always met challenges -- whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks -- by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.
Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Here Are The Key Moments From Biden’s Speech To Congress
President Joe Biden gave his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, highlighting the accomplishments of his first 100 days and his proposals for accomplishing future goals.
The president’s first 100 days in office have been marked by crises that have come from all angles, from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change to racial injustice to the recovering economy. Biden spoke to lawmakers about how he’s managed the crises so far and what he wants Congress to help him achieve.
“I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” Biden said. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
Here are some of the key moments from Biden’s address:
Harris And Pelosi Make History
Wednesday marked the first time two women, the vice president and the speaker of the House, have shared the stage behind the president during a speech to a joint session of Congress.
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had already made history as the first woman sworn in as House speaker in 2007. During Biden’s presidency, Harris became the first woman, Black American and Indian American to become vice president.
“Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President,” Biden said, gesturing to the women. “No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.”
During a president’s address to Congress, it is customary for the vice president and the House speaker to sit behind him. Though Pelosi has previously taken that seat as speaker, now that Kamala Harris is vice president, it created the first time a president had been joined on the House dais by two women.
Proposing To Fund Education By Raising Taxes On The Rich
Biden formally introduced his American Families Plan, which includes a proposal to spend $1.8 trillion over the next decade on the nation’s education system.
According to the president, the plan addresses four major challenges facing American families: access to a good education, access to affordable child care, paid family and medical leave and tax credits for the middle class.
The proposal has an uncertain political path ahead as Biden proposed a number of tax hikes for some of the wealthiest Americans as a way of paying for the plan.
“We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share ― and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from. And we’re going to reward work, not wealth,” he said, adding that those making $400,000 or more will see their tax rate go back up to 39.6%.
Calling For Drug Pricing Legislation
Biden asked Congress to pass legislation this year that would give the federal government the power to negotiate prescription drug prices.
“We all know how outrageously expensive they are,” he said of prescription drugs. “In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world right here in America ― nearly three times as much as other countries. We can change that.”
During his speech, the president talked about giving Medicare the power to save “hundreds of billions of dollars” by negotiating to lower drug costs, with the money saved going to strengthen the Affordable Care Act without costing taxpayers more.
Opening Food Benefits To People Convicted Of Felonies
Part of Biden’s American Families Plan includes a provision that slightly improves access for those who’d been convicted of drug felonies to access the federal government’s existing safety net.
“One of the defining images of this crisis has been cars lined up for miles waiting for a box of food to be put in the trunk. Did you ever think you’d see that in America?” he said. “That’s why the American Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger ― and hunger is down sharply already.”
The 1996 welfare reform law prohibited people with felony drug convictions from receiving federal welfare or food benefits, even if they had completed their sentences and were reentering society. The president’s proposal would lift the felony restriction for nutrition assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, one of the federal government’s biggest anti-poverty programs.
Demanding That Congress Pass Police Reform
Biden called for Americans to “root out systemic racism,” pressuring Congress to pass police reform legislation in the name of George Floyd, whose murder by a police officer in Minneapolis last year sparked a nationwide reckoning on police brutality and racial injustice.
“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America. Now is our opportunity to make some real progress,” he said.
Biden said he wants Congress by next month to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which the Democratic-led House passed earlier this year. The bill would ban police chokeholds and no-knock warrants, require data collection on police encounters and end qualified immunity for police officers.
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION - History
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio. (2)]
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and television networks for the opportunities they have given me over the years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go to them for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.
Three days from now, after half century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor. This evening, I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other -- Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nation good, rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling -- on my part -- of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts, America is today the strongest, the most influential, and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches, and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace, to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity, and integrity among peoples and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension, or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insiduous [insidious] in method. Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defenses development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of threat and stress.
But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. Of these, I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. Our military organization today bears little relation to that known of any of my predecessors in peacetime, or, indeed, by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States cooperations -- corporations.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations -- past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of disarmament -- of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent, I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So, in this, my last good night to you as your President, I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and in peace. I trust in that -- in that -- in that service you find some things worthy. As for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I, my fellow citizens, need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations' great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full that all who yearn for freedom may experience its few spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibility that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity and that the sources -- scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance will be made [to] disappear from the earth and that in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it.
Audio Source: The Mills Center for Public Affairs -- Scripps Library and Multimedia Archive
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION - History
This is the prayer originally entitled "Let Our Hearts Be Stout" written by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Allied troops were invading German-occupied Europe during World War II. The prayer was read to the Nation on radio on the evening of D-Day, June 6, 1944, while American, British and Canadian troops were fighting to establish five beach heads on the coast of Normandy in northern France.
The previous night, June 5th, the President had also been on the radio to announce that Allied troops had entered Rome. The spectacular news that Rome had been liberated was quickly superceded by news of the gigantic D-Day invasion which began at 6:30 a.m. on June 6th. By midnight, about 57,000 American and 75,000 British and Canadian soldiers had made it ashore, amid losses that included 2,500 killed and 8,500 wounded.
My Fellow Americans:
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee faith in our sons faith in each other faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944
Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Immigration
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, tonight, I&rsquod like to talk with you about immigration.
For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It&rsquos kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities &ndash- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.
But today, our immigration system is broken -- and everybody knows it.
Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.
It&rsquos been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven&rsquot done much about it.
When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it&rsquos been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.
Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn&rsquot perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.
Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.
Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President &ndash- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -&ndash that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.
Tonight, I am announcing those actions.
First, we&rsquoll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.
Second, I&rsquoll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.
Third, we&rsquoll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.
I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we&rsquore also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -&ndash especially those who may be dangerous. That&rsquos why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that&rsquos why we&rsquore going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who&rsquos working hard to provide for her kids. We&rsquoll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.
But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let&rsquos be honest -&ndash tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn&rsquot realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn&rsquot being straight with you. It&rsquos also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: &ldquoThey are a part of American life.&rdquo
Now here&rsquos the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we&rsquore going to offer the following deal: If you&rsquove been in America for more than five years if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you&rsquore willing to pay your fair share of taxes -- you&rsquoll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That&rsquos what this deal is.
Now, let&rsquos be clear about what it isn&rsquot. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -&ndash only Congress can do that. All we&rsquore saying is we&rsquore not going to deport you.
I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it&rsquos not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -&ndash millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.
That&rsquos the real amnesty &ndash- leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I&rsquom describing is accountability &ndash- a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you&rsquore a criminal, you&rsquoll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.
The actions I&rsquom taking are not only lawful, they&rsquore the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.
I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don&rsquot let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That&rsquos not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn&rsquot shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose &ndash- a higher purpose.
Most Americans support the types of reforms I&rsquove talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don&rsquot like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.
I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they&rsquove gotten the raw deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that&rsquos not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it&rsquos important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other&rsquos character.
Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It&rsquos about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.
Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?
Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents&rsquo arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?
Are we a nation that educates the world&rsquos best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?
That&rsquos what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration. We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears. I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it.
Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I&rsquove seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn&rsquot have the right papers. I&rsquove seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love.
These people &ndash- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends &ndash- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America&rsquos success.
Tomorrow, I&rsquoll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn&rsquot speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mom cleaned other people&rsquos homes. They wouldn&rsquot let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn&rsquot love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant &ndash- so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows &ndash- until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn&rsquot travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.
Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger &ndash- we were strangers once, too.
My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -&ndash that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.
That&rsquos the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That&rsquos the tradition we must uphold. That&rsquos the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.
Who delivered the longest State of the Union and other trivia
On Jan. 8, 1790, George Washington stood before a joint session of Congress to deliver the nation’s first State of the Union address. In his speech, Washington reflected on the first year of his presidency and laid out his policies for the still-new United States. In so doing, he set the tone for all future presidents to discuss pressing domestic and foreign issues of the day and promote policy ideas to combat those problems.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, here’s a look at the history of the speech along with its various traditions and rituals.
- Washington delivered his first annual address to Congress on Jan. 8, 1790 at Federal Hall in New York City. At the time, it was not yet referred to as the State of the Union.
- President Washington began each address by saying, “Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives…” In comparison, during the 2015 State of the Union, former President Barack Obama started his speech with, “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans…”
- President Lyndon Johnson was the first president to use the phrase, “My Fellow Americans” in his State of the Union introduction.
- The annual address was not officially called the “State of the Union” until 1947. It was in 1942 that people began informally using that name. Before that, it was simply known as the “Annual Message,” or “Annual Address.”
- The first State of the Union set in Washington, D.C. was delivered by President John Adams in his final annual address in 1800.
- Only two presidents failed to deliver a single State of the Union address, but they both had a good excuse. William Henry Harrison was in office exactly one month when he died of pneumonia, and James Garfield was assassinated six months into his presidency.
President Bill Clinton during his last State of the Union Address before Congress. Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. Photo by Larry Downing-Pool/Getty Images
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly implied that John F. Kennedy was the first president to use the term, “My Fellow Americans.”
Podcast special: On Wednesday morning, Feb. 6, 2019, join the PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz, Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor and Daniel Bush as they share their thoughts on President Donald Trump’s 2019 State Of The Union address. They’ll dig into what really mattered in the speech and the Democratic response which statements have traction and which are just rhetoric. As always, you can expect smart analysis, useful insights and the kind of conversation you won’t get anywhere else. Find the special episode in our existing podcast feeds, on our website or wherever you subscribe to podcasts.
Left: President Woodrow Wilson addresses Congress in December 1915 during the State of the Union address.. Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address
He is acting like a parent, attempting to calm the fears of the public about the state of the country, as a parent would calm the fears of a child.
By using "we" he avoids a patronizing tone that might be inferred otherwise.
This statement means that the American people should only be afraid of allowing their fear to impede their efforts to fix the economic problems facing the country.
They must overcome this psychological roadblock before they can begin to take physical action.
In the military sense, to retreat means to back away or move away from an enemy or conflict. To advance is to move forward, acquire territory, or engage the enemy.
The connotation of "retreat" is defeat the connotation of "advance" is victory or success.
Roosevelt suggests that the American people need to change their belief from a sense of defeat or failure into a movement in a more positive direction.
Roosevelt plans to "wage a war" on the economic crisis impacting the United States.
Roosevelt's use of "common" suggests that he and many others are facing the concerns of rising taxes, declining wages, and national output of industrial and agricultural goods.
He is using the rhetorical appeal of ethos because he lists events that many, if not all, Americans have dealt with before his election.
In the story, swarms of locusts eat everything in sight, leaving the impacted country destroyed and without resources.
Roosevelt is assuring citizens they are not experiencing God's wrath and are not destined for collective punishment.
Unscrupulous means without morals or dishonest.
The term "money changer" is another biblical allusion it refers to people who loaned money for interest (early bankers). In the New Testament, Jesus goes into the temple and physically throws out the money changers and admonishes them for conducting business in God's house.
He is implying that the status of the country is the result of certain poor decisions and dishonest actions of a few, not a statement about the inadequacies of the American people.
He is blaming the bankers and their policies for the nation's economic problems.
Roosevelt goes on to say that the money changers will be held accountable for their actions by "the court of public opinion." They will not go unpunished for the problems they caused.
He wants to distance the common people from those who caused the problems—to establish an "us vs. them" relationship. (Ethos)
Ethos: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution