By Nicholas Carpenter || Contributing Writer

On February 7, 2023, President Biden addressed a joint session of Congress for his third State of the Union speech as president. This was his first time addressing a divided Congress, with the Republican Party flipping the House last fall in the 2022 midterm elections. Kevin McCarthy was recently elected Speaker of the House, replacing Nancy Pelosi. Throughout his speech, President Biden emphasized unity and called for Democrats and Republicans to work together to strengthen America. However, he made it clear that he would not back down and will continue to fight for his beliefs, such as protecting and expanding social security, abortion rights, and the Affordable Care Act.

President Biden began his speech by mentioning the many hardships the United States have faced over the last few years and the resilience of the country. He focused on the drastic effects of the  COVID-19 pandemic, the damaged economy, and the Capitol insurrection of January 6, 2021—which Biden said was the greatest threat to democracy since the Civil War. As a call to action for the newly ruptured Congress, Biden stated that the division between Democrats and Republicans only hurts America: “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.” The President needs to appeal to and compromise with the Republican Party if he wants to pass his agenda through Congress. 

Biden then discussed the economic issues that the U.S. has faced throughout his term, and how the country has made great progress toward solving them. The President was criticized for his handling of the economy leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, especially for the expensive gas prices caused by high inflation rates. He argued that America is now “better positioned than any country on earth right now,” citing the record-low unemployment rate and how America’s supply chain is getting stronger, particularly with computer chips. Biden used the economic issues to segue into discussing the importance of infrastructure, and how crucial his $1 trillion dollar infrastructure bill was for the country. He also spoke about high insulin prices and appealed to Congress to fully cap insulin at $35, arguing that it would reduce the federal deficit. To reassure a key part of his audience, Biden promised that he would work to expand coverage of the Affordable Care Act, but would need bipartisan support from Congress. 

The President gave a strong message to Congress, encouraging cooperation  to fight the climate crisis, stating, “The climate crisis doesn’t care if you’re in a red or blue state. It’s an existential threat.” To allocate funds for green-energy infrastructure and to reduce the national deficit, Biden argued that taxes should be increased on billionaires and large corporations, rather than cutting personal benefits such as Social Security and Medicare — he threatened to put a stop to any efforts to cut those two benefits. Biden then promised to “crack down” on high costs forced onto citizens by corporations, such as airline tickets and cable bills, and emphasized the importance of education and paying teachers more. He delivered a powerful statement on the state of capitalism in the United States, stating that “capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It’s extortion. It’s exploitation.”

Biden addressed the recent murder of Tyre Nichols, who was pulled over and beaten to death by police in Memphis back in January. He expressed his strong concerns about violence from law enforcement in the United States and appealed to Congress to invest more resources into police training and to hold law enforcement accountable for their crimes. Biden spoke about the gun safety bill he passed last year and how big of a step that was towards eliminating gun violence. The President then strengthened his stance on abortion, telling Congress that he would veto any bill that would ban abortion on a national level. He also appealed to Congress to protect immigrants and strengthen LGBTQ+ rights.

This was Biden’s first State of the Union since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last winter. The President stated that he was proud of the U.S. for coming together to stand for democracy and stand against Putin’s aggression. He also spoke  about the United States’ relationship with China, committing to “work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world,” but promising to “protect America should China threaten our sovereignty.” Biden expressed his strong faith in America and its allies, stating, “It’s never, ever been a good bet to bet against America. Never.” After mentioning several other issues, including mental health and cancer, the President closed his speech with a call to the American people and Congress to “remember who we are.”

First-Year Nicholas Carpenter is a contributing writer. His email is