President Biden revisited many of the policy debates of the last three years in his State of the Union address on March 7.

President Biden revisited many of the policy debates of the last three years in his State of the Union address on March 7. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Biden uses State of the Union to paint Republicans as barriers

The president scolded former President Trump and House GOP lawmakers for scuttling a bipartisan plan to boost border agency staffing, and frequently touted governmental investments enacted without Republican support.

President Biden touted the continued progress of governmental investments made during the first two years of his administration, paired with repeated rebukes of Republican lawmakers for blocking further reforms, in a pugnacious State of the Union speech aimed at distinguishing him from his 2024 campaign opponent, Donald Trump.

Biden revisited many of the policy debates of the last three years, heralding the results of the bipartisan infrastructure law, including numerous transportation projects and removing lead pipes from sewer systems, and reforms like allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, though frequently including jabs at the opposition party.

“Thanks to our bipartisan infrastructure law, 46,000 new projects have been announced across your communities, and by the way, I noticed that some of you who’ve strongly voted against it are there cheering on that money coming in—I’m with you,” Biden said. “Now, if any of you don’t want that money in your district, just let me know.”

And he took great pains to rehash the scuttling of a bipartisan Senate proposal to authorize $118 billion for border security, including a hiring surge that would support thousands of asylum officers, U.S. Border Patrol and customs officers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, as well as 100 immigration judges and support staff. The measure died after Trump reportedly pressured House Republicans, despite endorsements from both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Border Patrol Council.

“In November, my team began serious negotiations with a bipartisan group of senators,” he said amid boos. “The result was a bipartisan bill with the toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen in this country—oh, you don’t think so? Oh, you don’t like that bill, huh, that conservatives got together and said was a good bill? I’ll be darned, that’s amazing.”

Biden also continued to tout health care reforms like the PACT Act, whose passage allowed veterans to receive VA care for conditions associated with military base pollutants like burn pits, and the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health as part of his Cancer Moonshot. He urged lawmakers to approve a new plan that would take a similar approach to women’s health.

“Women are more than half of our population, but research on women’s health has always been underfunded,” he said. “That’s why we’re launching the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, led by Jill, who is doing an incredible job as first lady. Pass my plan for $12 billion to transform women’s health research and benefit millions of lives across America.”

And he doubled down on a new program aimed at preparing young Americans to work in green industries, the American Climate Corps, stating that he plans to triple its enrollment from the current 20,000 people to 60,000.

Biden defended diversity initiatives, contrasting himself with congressional Republicans, who have in recent months sought to root out at federal agencies, including by capping the pay of chief diversity officers at federal agencies. And in the clearest reference to the 2024 presidential campaign amid more than a dozen references to his “predecessor,” he called for policies that are forward-looking and compassionate rather than backward and retributive.

“My lifetime taught me to embrace freedom and democracy, a future based on the core values that have defined America: honesty, decency, dignity, equality,” he said. “To respect everyone, to give everyone a fair shot. To give hate no safe harbor. Now, some other people my age see a different story, an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That’s not me.”