Biden address live updates: President to focus on American Families Plan, COVID during speech to Congress

President Biden will use his first speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to unveil a $1.8 trillion proposal for national paid family leave, subsidized child care, universal prekindergarten and free community college.

The president’s American Families Plan is the second piece of his “Build Back Better” economic agenda following the release of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan last month.

The plan would spend $225 billion to create a national three-month, paid family leave policy; $225 billion to cover child-care expenses for low- and middle-income families; $200 billion to make pre-K available for all three- and 4-year-olds, and $109 billion to make two years of community college free for all students.

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To pay for the sweeping expansion in social programs, Biden wants to increase taxes on income earned from selling stocks and other assets by nearly doubling the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 39.6%, for households making more than $1 million, among other increases. His administration also said it would crack down on tax loopholes used by high-income tax-filers. The jobs plan would be paid primarily by raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.

– Joey Garrison

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President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks April 20, 2021, at the White House after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

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What Biden will say

President Joe Biden will tell a joint session of Congress on Wednesday “America is on the move again” as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and will boost his legislative priorities.

Here’s some of what Biden will say, according to excerpts provided in advance of the primetime speech, which begins at 9 p.m. ET:

  • “One hundred days since I took the oath of office – lifted my hand off our family Bible – and inherited a nation in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” Biden plans to say. “Now – after just 100 days – I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
  • He’ll say his $2.3 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan is a “blue-collar blueprint to build America” that “recognizes something I’ve always said: Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class.”
  • On the COVID-19 vaccine: We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives. Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.”

– Joey Garrison

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2 women will flank the president during the address for first time ever

For the first time in history, two women will sit behind a president during an address to a joint session of Congress.

The historic image during Joe Biden’s speech Wednesday is 245 years in the making.

American presidents are flanked by the Speaker of the House and the vice president during such high-profile speeches to Congress, each sitting behind and on either side of the commander in chief.

For the first time, both of those positions are now held by women: Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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The chamber of the House of Representatives is seen at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 3, 2021.

This is not a State of the Union address

Biden’s speech Wednesday evening before a joint session of Congress may seem like a State of the Union address. It is not.

The Constitution says the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,” but Biden isn’t billing his as such in keeping with tradition.

Since the inauguration of former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, presidents have not delivered the State of the Union the year they left office or were inaugurated, primarily because a president can’t really speak about the state of the country just a few weeks in office. That same year is when the new tradition began where the new president addressed Congress without the State of the Union title.

– Jordan Mendoza

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