By Chuck Merlis
President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address on Feb. 10, 2023, to a joint session of Congress and a national audience. The address was a crucial moment for the president, as he laid out his vision for the future of the United States and outlined his priorities for the following year.
The president began the speech by touting the successes of his first year in office, citing the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the strengthening of the economy, and the creation of millions of jobs. He also discussed the progress in addressing racial and social justice issues, and the passage of a wide-ranging infrastructure bill passed last year.
Biden’s State of The Union address also made headlines due to interactions he had with Republican lawmakers in real-time during his speech, which is unheard of during The State Union address.
Biden was heckled multiple times by Republicans in attendance, but none more notable than when speaking on the issues of social security, medicare, and Medicaid. Biden seemed to turn the tables on the hecklers when it appeared he got Republican lawmakers, at least for the time being, to stop advocating for cuts to the controversial social programs.
Republicans’ heckling of Biden has become a contentious issue in and of itself. According to The Hill, newly minted House minority leader Hakeem Jefferies (D) stated after the speech that lawmakers who heckled the President during his address are unfit for public office. At the same time, Speaker of The House Kevin McCarthy (R) scoffed at the criticism, saying that the real-time reactions from his colleagues showed how passionate they are.
Matthew Weiland, a senior at The University of Tampa studying political science, thought the speech hit the right notes.
“I loved it. I loved the actual content of the speech, but it was also good to see Biden still has some fight in him,” Weiland said. “I hope to see more of that energy from him and the party as a whole.”
Moving forward, Biden emphasized the importance of tackling climate change and announced a new plan to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2035. He also outlined his plans to invest in research and development, create new jobs in the clean energy sector, and help the country transition to a more sustainable future.
The president also touched on immigration, calling for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He announced plans to increase support for families, including affordable child care and paid family leave, and to strengthen the safety net for those in need.
Biden emphasized the importance of working together and finding common ground, regardless of political differences.
He stressed the need for unity and cooperation, saying, “We can disagree, fiercely, on policy, but we must not be disagreeable in our discourse.”
The President also addressed the issue of gun violence and called for a ban on assault weapons and expanded background checks.
He urged Congress to act, saying, “The time to act is now.”
President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address attempted to lay the groundwork for his reelection campaign and the future of his presidency.
The speech was well received among members of his party, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) calling the speech “a great success” in a statement released by Senate Democrats.