In wide-ranging State of Union address, Biden touts democracy, women's rights

President also called for lower healthcare costs, higher taxes for ultra rich

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Pool Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI
1 of 16 | President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Pool Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- Talking about historical threats to democracy, President Biden launched his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Thursday evening, during which he listed his achievements, set his future agenda, and forcefully made his case to voters to elect him for a second term.

He began by promising Ukrainians that the U.S. would not back away from defending them in the face of the ongoing oppression and war by Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying of the Russian president's actions: "It's outrageous. It's dangerous. It's unacceptable."


"We have to stand up to Putin," Biden said. "We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down. In a literal sense, history is watching."


He also talked early about threats closer to home, referencing the January 6th, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth of January 6th. I will not do that," Biden said. "This is a moment to speak the truth and bury the lies. And here's the simplest truth. You can't love your country only when you win."

The president also vowed to restore Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

"In its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court majority wrote 'Women are not without electoral or political power,'" Biden said in the House chamber. "No kidding. Clearly those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women in America. But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot and won in 2022, 2023, and they will find out again in 2024. If Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose I promise you: I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again."

Kate Cox, who attended as first lady Jill Biden's guest, was more than 10 weeks pregnant when she learned of her fetus' fatal anomalies. Cox sued Texas for the right to terminate the nonviable pregnancy and later had to leave the state to receive abortion care.


An Indiana doctor who provided abortion care for a 10-year-old girl after she was raped and was denied an abortion in Ohio is also scheduled to attend.

Broader healthcare issues also were also a centerpiece of the president's speech.

"Americans pay more for prescriptions drugs than anywhere in the world," Biden said. "It's wrong and I'm ending it."

Biden also called for lowering insulin costs to a maximum of $35 a year and capping drug and other costs for seniors on Medicare.

He also called on wealthy Americans and corporations to pay additional taxes, but promised his administration would work to make the tax code more equitable, taking a swipe at former President Donald Trump.

"Do you really think the wealthy and big corporations need another $2 trillion in tax breaks?" Biden said, referring to a tax break enacted by the Trump administration. "I sure don't. I'm going to keep fighting like hell to make it fair! Under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 will pay an additional penny in federal taxes. Nobody. Not one penny."

Biden jokingly sparred with Republicans who openly disagreed with some of his points about Trump's previous actions.


"Oh, you won't want another $2 trillion tax cut? That's good," Biden chided GOP members, looking at their side of the chamber while responding.

Some in the chamber seemed to ignore Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson's pleas for decorum, which he had laid out for his party rank and file on Wednesday.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, wearing a red MAGA hat, openly yelled and gestured toward Biden during a part of his speech. Biden seemingly ignored her.

Security officers arrested at least one protester after that person shouted over Biden at one point.

Biden also addressed the war in Gaza an different parts of his address.

The president officially announced the construction of a temporary port along the coast of Gaza to allow more humanitarian aid into the region as the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza continues.

"No U.S. boots will be on the ground," he said. "This temporary pier would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day. But Israel must also do its part. Israel must allow more aid into Gaza and ensure that humanitarian workers aren't caught in the crossfire."


Also Thursday night, the families of American hostages being held in Gaza attended the speech to call attention to their loved ones who have been held by Hamas since Oct. 7. Many wore white and the number 153, the number of days the hostages have been held.

Biden also put forth his proposal on immigration and border security issues. Biden said his proposal would give him emergency authority to close the border when the number of migrants at the crossing is "overwhelming."

It would add 1,500 more border security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges to help focus on a back load of 2 million cases, and 4,300 more asylum officers, allowing the judicial system to address cases "in 6 months instead of 6 years," Biden said.

Biden also said his proposal would add 100 more high-tech drug detection machines to increase the ability to screen and stop vehicles from smuggling fentanyl into America.

"This bill would save lives and bring order to the border," Biden continued.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the the U.S. Border Patrol both endorsed the bill, Biden continued. Republicans, at the behest of Trump, have refused to vote for the bill.


The president's speech largely served as the kickoff for Biden's presidential re-election campaign against the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump, who won sweeping victories in primaries on Super Tuesday this week.

President Joe Biden delivers 2024 State of the Union address

President Joe Biden prepares to deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 7, 2024. Pool photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

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