Speed Reads

Not counting Ukraine

President Biden ends his State of the Union with a 4-point 'unity agenda'

President Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday night was structured as sort of a unity sandwich, starting with a bipartisan standing ovation for Ukraine and against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and ending with what Biden called his four-point "unity agenda." In between, he got bipartisan applause for calling to "fund the police" and "secure our border and fix our immigration system," and pledged to "buy American" and go after the yachts and other "ill-begotten gains" of Russian oligarchs.

"While it often appears that we never agree, that isn't true," Biden said. "I signed 80 bipartisan bills into law last year. From preventing government shutdowns to protecting Asian Americans from still-too-common hate crimes to reforming military justice. And soon, we'll strengthen the Violence Against Women Act that I first wrote three decades ago. It is important for us to show the nation that we can come together and do big things. So tonight I'm offering a Unity Agenda for the Nation. Four big things we can do together."

Biden's first unity agenda item was beating the opioid epidemic, followed by taking on mental health, "especially among our children, whose lives and education have been turned upside down," including through social media. "Third, support our veterans," he said. "Veterans are the best of us." It was in this section, when he was talking about veterans dying of cancer, that Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) interjected one of the night's biggest moments of disunity. "And fourth, let's end cancer as we know it," Biden said.

Biden ended his speech, which clocked in at an hour and two minutes, with his status update on the state of the union, which traditionally leads the annual speech. "The State of the Union is strong because you, the American people, are strong," Biden said. "We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we'll be stronger a year from now than we are today. This is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time."