Biden said US adversaries see the images from the Capitol riot ‘as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy’

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look on.

  • President Joe Biden gave his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
  • Biden called the Capitol riot an “existential crisis” for America that “desecrated our Democracy.”
  • He also called for ambitious economic recovery plans on jobs, infrastructure, and childcare.
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During his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Joe Biden called the attack at the US Capitol on January 6 an “existential crisis” for America.

Biden was speaking Wednesday evening from the Capitol, where a few months ago, a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the building, forcing lawmakers to evacuate and disrupting the certification of a free and fair democratic election.

“As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol – desecrating our democracy – remain vivid in our minds,” Biden said. “Lives were put at risk. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned.”

Read more: Congressional staffers are burned out and heading for the exits after a hellish year

Multiple people died during and after the Capitol riot, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick and Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter and QAnon believer, who was shot and killed by police while participating in the riot.

“The insurrection was an existential crisis-a test of whether our democracy could survive. It did,” Biden said.

The Capitol was secured hours after being breached, allowing Congress to reconvene and certify Biden’s win.

“But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent. As old as our Republic. Still vital today,” he said, asking whether our democracy can deliver on its original promises. “Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?”

He continued: “America’s adversaries – the autocrats of the world – are betting it can’t. They believe we are too full of anger and division and rage. They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.”

“They are wrong. And we have to prove them wrong,” he said. “We have to prove democracy still works.”

In his address, Biden called for ambitious plans related to economic recovery, including jobs, infrastructure, and childcare. He also called for civil rights legislation, gun control policy, and immigration reform.

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Republicans shake their heads, doze off, and live-tweet during Biden’s first joint address to Congress

rep lauren boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) during U.S. President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021.

  • Many Republicans seemed unmoved during Biden’s joint address to Congress on Wednesday.
  • Rep. Lauren Boebert live-tweeted criticism of Biden during the speech.
  • Cameras caught Sen. Ted Cruz dozing off while Biden addressed immigration reform.
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Several Republican lawmakers appeared impassive and even displeased throughout most of President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress on Wednesday night.

Freshman firebrand Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado live-tweeted criticism of Biden while he spoke about his administration’s agenda, covering items such as the economy, health care, and the criminal justice system.

“I miss President Trump,” Boebert tweeted shortly into Biden’s address. About halfway through the speech, Boebert pulled out a space blanket and draped it over her lap, according to reporters in the chamber.

“The Biden regime is an existential crisis,” she tweeted toward the end of the night.

When Biden touched on the economy, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio looked visibly troubled and began shaking his head vigorously, PBS NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins observed.

Cameras in the House chamber showed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas appearing to struggle to stay awake as Biden discussed immigration reform. Cruz put out a statement summing up his feelings after the speech concluded, calling it “boring, but radical.”

As Biden addressed issues including clean water, job creation, and child poverty, many Republicans, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, remained stone-faced.

Once Biden wrapped up, McCarthy plainly said: “This whole thing could have just been an email.”

Republicans piled on the attacks on Twitter, labeling Biden’s speech “pathetic,” accusing him of “virtue-signaling,” and calling out Democrats for violating COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing.

Only around 200 people were allowed in the House chamber for Wednesday’s address, as the event was scaled back due to coronavirus restrictions.

During his speech, Biden highlighted his infrastructure proposal, called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and outlined parts of his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would invest in child care and education.

Democrats repeatedly rose from their seats and applauded the president as he spoke, while Republicans largely remained seated with their hands in their laps.

However, there were some bipartisan moments of the evening. When Biden briefly acknowledged first lady Jill Biden teaching as a community college professor, she received a standing ovation from Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Boebert was the only person who did not clap, according to the Capitol Hill pool.

Several GOP lawmakers also applauded after Biden encouraged Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina offered the GOP’s response to Biden’s address on Wednesday night.

“Our president seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words,” Scott said. “But three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart.”

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