America needs more Congress

Biden before the US Congress : "America is on the rise again"

US President Joe Biden paints a bright future for the United States in his first address to Congress. "Now, after just 100 days in office, I can report to the nation: America is on the rise again by converting threats into opportunities, crises into opportunities and setbacks into strength," Biden told Congress on Wednesday.

He said he had assumed the office of president in the worst pandemic of the century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the worst attack on democracy since the civil war, with a view to the storming of supporters of his predecessor Donald Trump on the Capitol in January . But there is no giving up in America.

[If you want the latest news from Berlin, Germany and the world live on your mobile phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]

In his speech, Biden used the need for reconstruction after the pandemic to promote aid worth billions of dollars for American families and education, the fight against racism and police violence, a reform of migration and tax policy and the arming against China. The country is on the move, "we cannot stand still now." "America is ready to take off."

Biden also called for bipartisan efforts to overcome structural racism. "We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of black America," he said. Biden was alluding to the killing of the African American George Floyd, who died in a brutal arrest in the US city of Minneapolis last year. A now convicted white ex-police officer knelt on Floyd's neck for minutes.

President promotes new police law after Floyd's murder

Biden campaigned for a bill in the US Congress named after Floyd. The police reform provides, among other things, that the federal government creates incentives to ban strangleholdings during police operations.

Here you can see Biden's speech to the US Congress in the video:

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, has approved the law; the Senate would also need the votes of some Republicans, which is not yet foreseeable.
It takes courage to achieve change, Biden said. After the conviction of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin for killing Floyd, "real progress" can now be achieved. For this, the parties would have to work together in Congress to find consensus.

[Every Thursday the most important developments from America straight to your mailbox - with the "Washington Weekly" newsletter from our USA correspondent Juliane Schäuble. You can register for free here.]

With thousands of Americans killed each year, Biden also promised an intensified fight against gun violence. "I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence." Biden affirmed that he wanted to ban so-called ghost weapons without registration.

Fight against rampant gun violence in the USA

There must also be a ban on large assault weapons with extensive magazines with around 100 rounds. It is also up to Congress to act, Biden continued. "We need more Republicans in the Senate who join the vast majority of their Democratic counterparts." The vast majority of Americans are in favor of gun control reforms, Biden said.

At the beginning of the month, the US President took the first steps in the fight against the rampant gun violence in the USA and announced that he would take action against “ghost weapons”, among other things. These can be bought on the internet and quickly assembled, but they do not have a serial number, making it difficult to prosecute in the event of a crime.

For a fundamental tightening of the gun laws, the president is dependent on the Congress and above all the Senate. Many Republicans oppose tightening gun laws. The gun lobby is very powerful in the United States.

In competition with the autocracies of the world, the US would have to exemplify the strength of democracy, Biden continued. "We have to prove that democracy still works," said Biden. America's enemies believed the United States was divided and full of anger. "They see the pictures of the mob who attacked this Capitol as evidence that the sun is setting on American democracy." Biden was convinced that this was wrong.

Biden wants to realign relations with Beijing and Moscow

Biden went on to say that he would not seek any conflict with China and Russia. Biden told MPs and senators on Wednesday evening (local time) that he told the Chinese head of state Xi Jinping that the USA would welcome "competition" with China and "are not looking for a conflict". "But I made it absolutely clear that we will defend America's interests."

To the address of Russian President Vladimir Putin he said that the US would "not seek escalation", Biden said. He also made it clear that "their actions will have consequences". The US recently imposed new sanctions on Russia and expelled several diplomats over alleged Russian interference in US elections and a large-scale hacker attack.

Biden wants to realign the relationship between the USA and its rivals China and Russia. He takes a hard line on conflict issues, but at the same time seeks cooperation on issues such as climate protection and arms control. On Wednesday, the eve of his 100th day in office, the President made his first address to the US Congress. The focus was on domestic politics and its reform projects.

According to Biden, the USA will supply other countries with corona vaccines as soon as there are sufficient doses for their own population. America will be an "arms dump for vaccinations" for the world, just as the US was the arsenal of democracy during World War II, Biden said.

Biden emphasized that no country could cope with the pandemic on its own. "There is no wall high enough to hold any virus out," he said.

Biden's government has promised to have enough vaccine for all adults in the country by the end of May. More than half of all adults in the United States have received at least one dose of vaccine. Around 235 million vaccine doses have been administered since vaccination started in mid-December. (Agencies)

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page