“President Biden’s optimism for our country was front and center, along with his desire to work with Congress to do right by the American people.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate committees on Finance, Foreign Relations and Environment and Public Works, responded to President Joe Biden’s first address to a Joint Session of Congress with the following remarks.
“Being in the audience for tonight’s speech was different from any other presidential speech I have witnessed in my many years on Capitol Hill. Beyond the sparse audience owing to social distance requirements, there was a sense of relief that America was getting back on track. We were transported to a time when the president of the United States wanted to talk to the whole country about the policies that will make life better for all. President Biden’s optimism for our country was front and center, along with his desire to work with Congress to do right by the American people, especially those who have been systemically cut off from basic rights and opportunities.
“It was breathtaking to hear the herculean steps that have been taken over the last 100 days to pull our nation out of the COVID-19 global health crisis. Nearly 40 percent of adults in this country have been fully vaccinated. The federal government also has injected immense resources through the American Rescue Plan at all levels of government to help those individuals, families and small businesses most harmed by the pandemic, including the economic and social damage left in its wake.
“President Biden was clear that there is much work to be done, but that America can meet every challenge, if we work together and support each other. We will continue to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. We also will have a generational opportunity to tackle so many of the systemic issues that have held back Americans from success.
“I stand ready to help formulate a bipartisan plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure that creates jobs and respects our environment. We will continue to help our small businesses, a growth engine of our economy, with support and resources so they can survive and innovate well beyond the pandemic. We need to value the people who make our country work, ensuring that no one who has a full-time job lives in poverty, wants for stable housing or wonders when they will get their next meal. Women should no longer be forced to make decisions on whether to stay home or reenter the workforce due to the high cost of child care. Education stretching from Pre-K to college is essential and must be affordable. Quality health care and paid family leave are essential and must be a right for everyone in this country, not only those with greater means. In addition to supporting American families, Congress should also take up the president’s challenge to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Compassion is an American value that has been missing in our immigration system for far too long. We also should work together to finally address the pandemic of gun violence that claims too many victims daily, along with reforms to our justice system that would hold police accountable and rebuild trust with communities who have seen too many young men and women struck down without justification. As a nation, we simply must do more to ensure that the basic human rights of Americans are protected at all times.
“Joe Biden has only been president for 99 days. His record of accomplishment and his ability to work with Congress has been remarkable. There will be policy differences ahead, but I urge all my colleagues to set partisanship aside and work together for the good of our nation.”