American President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin will “pay a price” for invading Ukraine in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.
Biden appeared before the traditional joint session of the United States Congress. He called the war in Ukraine “premeditated and unprovoked.” He said Putin “rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home.”
“Putin was wrong. We were ready,” he added.
The president praised Ukrainians for their fearlessness, courage, and determination. He said, “Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees, teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland.”
“Please rise if you are able and show that, Yes, we the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people,” he added.
Biden spoke to people watching television around the world at a time when Russian missiles are targeting Ukrainian cities. A 64-kilometer-long line of hundreds of Russian tanks and vehicles were reportedly heading toward Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv. The U.S. president also spoke earlier in the day with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who called the Russian attack “state terrorism.”
Biden announced a ban on all Russian aircraft in U.S. airspace to standing applause from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. The move is the latest in a series of economic measures, or sanctions, from the United States and European allies to punish Russia.
Speech centered on the economy
Biden made the speech before a crowd of lawmakers, cabinet secretaries, military leaders, and Supreme Court justices. It was the first such gathering in which cloth face coverings were not required since the start of the pandemic.
The president recognized the moment saying, “Last year COVID-19 kept us apart. This year we are finally together again.”
A January survey from Pew Research Center, however, said Americans were more concerned about “strengthening the economy.” It said they also are more worried about “reducing healthcare costs” than dealing with the new coronavirus.
Energy prices and the cost of goods were already high because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons. The international sanctions could send inflation to higher levels around the world, including in the U.S.
Biden addressed the issue, saying: “I have a better plan to fight inflation.” He said, “Lower your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America…More jobs where you can earn a good living in America.”
And, instead of depending on foreign suppliers, he added, “let’s make it in America.”
On Tuesday, Biden cheered the bipartisan effort to pass legislation to repair the country’s infrastructure. He said, “It is going to transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st Century that we face with the rest of the world—particularly with China.”
And the president appealed to lawmakers in Congress to consider other legislative proposals to lower healthcare, childcare and housing costs. He asked for a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour for workers and a 15 percent minimum tax rate for businesses. Other proposals included action on new election laws, gun control, and police reform.
In addition, Biden asked the Senate to confirm his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Before Biden spoke, Republican lawmakers said “crisis” is the word to describe the state of the union under Biden.
“We’re going to push the president to do the right thing,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds presented the official Republican answer to Biden’s speech.
She said: “Instead of moving America forward, it feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time to the late ’70s and early ’80s, when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing on our cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map.”
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
courage –n. the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous
determination –n. a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult
semiconductor –n. a material or object that allows some electricity or heat to move through it and that is used especially in electronic devices
infrastructure –n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to operate
bipartisan –adj. relating to or involving members of two political parties
hammer –v. (informal) to harm or damage severely
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