President Joe Biden, 79, addressed the nation on the pressing issue of defunding the police during his State of the Union on Tuesday March 1. The president received a standing ovation from both Republicans and Democrats, as he called for providing police with further funding necessary to fight crime in their communities.
Police funding has been a hot button issue since Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer of 2020. Biden highlighted police reforms that have been made, including banning chokeholds and requiring body cameras. “Let’s not abandon our streets or choose between safety and equal justice. Let’s come together and protect our communities, restore trust and hold law enforcement accountable,” he said. “We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them!”
As the applause settled down Biden continued, “Fund them with resources and training. Resources and training that they need to protect our communities.” He then moved on to more calls for stricter gun control laws, including stronger background checks.
The State of the Union came after a tumultuous week for the president. Biden imposed further sanctions on Russia in wake of President Vladimir Putin‘s attack on Ukraine on Thursday February 24. The president denounced the attack, and showed support for the Ukrainian people in an impassioned speech on Thursday. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bare the consequences,” he said, as he laid out the plan for sanctions. “The entire world sees clearly what [Putin] and his Kremlin allies are really all about. This was never about a genuine security concern on their part. It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary.”
In the midst of the continued crisis in Ukraine, Biden also announced his nominee to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s empty Supreme Court seat on Friday. The president named Ketanji Brown Jackson as his pick for the job, making her the first Black woman to be nominated for the nation’s highest court.
As Biden’s first State of the Union, he has much to reflect on from throughout his first year as president. After being inaugurated, one of the chief issues has been addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and getting a steady vaccine rollout. Biden’s speech came as many states loosened COVID restrictions. Prior to the speech, Biden spoke about loosening restrictions in a February 11 interview with NBC News. “There is a relationship between the number of cases you have in your community, and the need to wear masks,” he said. “I’ve tried to make sure we have all the vaccines needed, all the boosters needed, all the masks needed, all the protection that’s needed.”
Throughout his first year in office, Biden has also addressed other pressing issues in the nation, including calling on the Senate to end the filibuster and pass bills to protect voting rights. He’s also spoken out against former President Donald Trump, and his continued pushing of the Big Lie that the election was stolen. Biden called out his predecessor during a special speech given to commemorate the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection.