Biden’s Address to Congress Will Call For New Era of Spending.
The president will urge lawmakers from both parties to embrace a sweeping new vision for public benefits, financed by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.,
Biden’s address to Congress, where he served for 36 years, will call for a new era of government spending.
- April 28, 2021, 5:18 p.m. ET
President Biden will call for a broad reshaping of American society Wednesday night, using his first formal address to Congress to urge a vast expansion of safety net and educational programs while promising to harness the government to create jobs and opportunity for those often left behind.
On Wednesday evening, Mr. Biden will return to Capitol Hill, where he served for more than three decades as a senator, to seek greater spending to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure by imposing new taxes on businesses and corporations. And he will urge lawmakers from both parties to embrace a sweeping new vision for public benefits, financed by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works — and can deliver for the people,” Mr. Biden will declare Wednesday night, according to brief excerpts from the prepared remarks released by the White House.
If he succeeds, Mr. Biden could usher in a new era that fundamentally expands the size and role of the federal government, powered in part by the government’s efforts combating the health and economic crises caused by a pandemic that has killed more than 573,000 people and upended work, recreation and schooling across the country.
According to the excerpts, the president will offer optimism in the face of the pandemic, saying that “America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.” He will also describe his spending proposals as “a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”
But the president faces a Congress — and a country — that remains deeply divided about how much to increase government spending and who should pay for it. In his speech, Mr. Biden will say that the moment of crisis demands a sufficiently bold response from both sides of the political aisle, according to aides. But he will make clear that he is prepared to act without Republican support if necessary.
Mr. Biden’s address will take place against a backdrop that is both familiar and new. Like his predecessors, he will deliver it in the House chamber, standing before lawmakers and in front of the House speaker and the vice president. But it will be the first time in American history that the two officials behind the president are both women.
Because of the pandemic, Mr. Biden will be speaking to no more than 200 socially-distanced lawmakers and officials, a fraction of the packed audience that is typically on hand to witness the president’s use of the ultimate bully pulpit. There will be no guests of the first lady sitting in the House gallery, though the White House announced five “virtual guests” who officials said “personify some of the issues or policies that will be addressed by the president in his speech.”
Mr. Biden will give his address in the same building where supporters of former President Donald J. Trump staged a deadly riot more than three months ago in the hopes of stopping lawmakers from certifying the election results. Security at the Capitol will be extraordinarily tight as the president faces lawmakers who hid for their lives during the siege on January 6.
Aides said that Mr. Biden would use his speech to lay out his broader foreign policy and domestic agenda, describing his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11 as a way to make good on his promise to end America’s “forever wars” even as he warns that the United States still faces a range of other threats.
Advisers previewing Mr. Biden’s speech said he would renew his call for Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system that would provide a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented people and urge Congress to pass a federal policing overhaul named after George Floyd, who was killed last year by a police officer in Minneapolis. He will repeat his call for Congress to pass new laws to tighten background checks on gun purchases and will say global warming demands that the United States take action to prevent climate change.
But Mr. Biden’s focus will be on selling his plans for spending that would total more than $6 trillion over the next decade. His proposals include spending $1.8 trillion on universal prekindergarten, federal paid leave, more affordable child care, free community college, and new spending on health care and poverty.