Credit: US House of Representatives | Courtesy

President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on March 1 at the US Capitol.

Biden opened the State of the Union by addressing the current war between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, escalating the war between the two nations which began in 2014. At least nine thousand people have died and at least one million have been displaced as of Wednesday night, according to Reuters.

Biden praised the Ukrainian people for their resilience and promised the United States and other NATO nations would continue to support Ukraine. Biden also condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest attack on Ukraine, calling it “premeditated and unprovoked.”

The United States and its allies are “enforcing powerful economic sanctions” to damage the Russian economy and its war efforts, Biden said. The United States has also given more than $1 billion in direct relief to Ukraine.

“I think Biden’s comments and actions against Russia are appropriate,” political science junior Alex Cambra said. “The world is moving toward the conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, and we should be on the side of democracy.”

Biden also praised the American Rescue Plan, a 2021 act intended to provide stimulus checks to working Americans and emergency grants to small businesses. The plan created more than 6.5 million new jobs and contributed to the economy’s recent growth, Biden said.

The American Rescue Plan also provided $350 billion to cities, states and counties, which was intended to fund police hiring and policing strategies like community violence interruption. 

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police, the answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities,” Biden said.

Biden also discussed his three-pronged plan to fight inflation and improve the American economy. He intends to decrease the costs of prescription drugs, energy for families and childcare. 

These initiatives are helping the economy recover from the shock of COVID-19, Biden said.

The nation as a whole is also recovering, he said. He mentioned the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decision to alter mask guidelines so that most Americans are no longer required to wear masks in public. 

Biden also encouraged Americans to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. 

“We will never give up on vaccinating more Americans,” Biden said.

He also announced that Americans who have already ordered free COVID-19 tests can order more tests from starting the week of March 7.

“In regard to COVID, I thought President Biden painted an optimistic image of the country,” Cambra said. “The mostly maskless room among both Democrats and Republicans reveals how the paradigm of the pandemic has truly shifted.”

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