State of the Union 2023: Biden urges bipartisanship, touts economic plan



President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., applaud. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

By Lillie Davidson, PolitiFrog Editor

Amelia Crowley and Alexis Peck contributed reporting.

President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union Address to Congress on Thursday night.

In his first address since Republicans won control of the House in the November midterms, the president stressed the importance of bipartisanship, provided commentary on key social issues and offered up his plans for economic growth.

Legislative cooperation and economic agenda emphasized

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward. Of never giving up,” Biden said.

The president’s address centered around bipartisan cooperation and named several recent pieces of legislation as examples. The speech focused heavily on economic progress, citing the current 3.4% unemployment rate, which is the lowest in 50 years.

American manufacturing and infrastructure also took center stage, as Biden announced plans for new standards on federal projects.

“On my watch, American roads, American bridges and American highways will be made with American products,” Biden said.

Biden called on Congress to pass several key pieces of his agenda, including his long-held vision of universal pre-K.

“Studies show that children who go to preschool are nearly 50% more likely to finish high school and go on to earn a 2- or 4-year degree,” the president claimed in his appeal.

Among other campaign points, Biden urged the divided Congress to institute a minimum tax on billionaires, pass legislation banning “junk fees” from service providers and move to codify abortion access.

Biden’s foreign policy agenda took a notable back seat with limited mentions of Chinese relations and the Russia/Ukraine war.

Republican reaction: ‘The choice is between normal or crazy’

While Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged Republicans to remain civil, a few moments drew jeers from the assembled members and prompted a response from the president.

“Let me tell you, I enjoy conversation,” Biden said after some Republicans audibly objected to his claims about the federal deficit, Social Security and Medicare.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the GOP’s official response, speaking from the governor’s mansion in Little Rock. Sanders, who served as a press secretary in the Trump administration, labeled President Biden unfit to serve and devoted a portion of her speech to recounting a Christmas visit to active-duty service members in Iraq during her tenure in the Trump administration.

“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,” Sanders said.

Monterey Park shooting survivor and others recognized

RowVaughn Wells, third from left, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, and her husband Rodney Wells, second from left, are recognized by President Joe Biden as he delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP)

Among the guests recognized at this year’s address were the parents of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man killed last month in a traffic stop by Memphis, Tennessee police.

President Biden’s mention of Nichols’s parents drew applause from both sides of the aisle.

26-year-old Brandon Tsay was also recognized for his effort to disarm the gunman in last month’s Monterey Park, California shooting, which left 11 dead and nine injured.

“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,” Biden said.