President Biden’s first formal State of the Union address focused on Ukraine, inflation, the coronavirus pandemic and a four-point “Unity Agenda.”
He urged world unity in standing up to Russia, listed ways he’s trying to address rising prices (even if they will likely have limited to no effect in the short term) and offered an optimistic outlook about the end of the pandemic.
Biden made mention of some progressive policy items, such as the need for robust voting-rights legislation and stood up for transgender and abortion rights (while leaving out some other topics such as climate change).
And he also touted some of his accomplishments of his first year, such as the COVID-19 relief bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. But the speech’s emphasis on many of Biden’s centrist policy positions, like not defunding the police, was a clear choice in an election year. It was reminiscent, in some ways, of Bill Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union address made after Republicans’ historic gains in the 1994 midterm elections. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, only a limited number of lawmakers were in the chamber.