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State of the Union: Biden faces high stakes during address tonight

State of the Union: Biden faces high stakes during address tonight

Biden to deliver latest State of the Union on Thursday

President Joe Biden will seek to lay out the case for his re-election and address a range of pressing issues both domestic and international when he delivers his latest State of the Union address to a joint-session of Congress on Thursday evening.

The Democrat is expected to tout his achievements in the White House, allay concerns about his age and warn of the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump and hard-right Republicans across the country as he readies for a crucial election year.

The president’s address is likely to cover the economic recovery and infrastructure wins he has overseen from the Oval Office and feature a call for greater cooperation in the House of Representatives on spending deals to avert another looming government shutdown and to resolve the illegal immigration crisis at the southern border.

He is also expected to stress the need for international unity in the face of conflicts raging in Ukraine and Gaza.

House speaker Mike Johnson has meanwhile said he has sent a “very clear” message to his fellow Republicans to “turn the temperature down” and show “decorum” to avoid some of the more raucous scenes of recent years.

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Stefanik ridiculed for claiming US was better off during Covid: ‘Do these people have amnesia?’

Trump vice presidential wannabe Elise Stefanik is rightly being ridiculed for claiming on Wednesday that the US was “better off” four years ago at the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic that killed tens of thousands of people and slammed the planet into lockdown.

Kelly Rissman has this report on her witless grandstanding as the House of Representatives passed a $460bn package of spending bills to keep the money flowing to key federal agencies through the remainder of the budget year.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 16:50

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State of the Union: Nikki Haley’s 2016 GOP rebuttal resurfaces

Ready for a throwback to a simpler, gentler time?

Well I’m not sure that 2016 qualifies but here is a resurfaced clip of a younger Nikki Haley, then governor of South Carolina, delivering the Republican rebuttal to Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.

Unfortunately, the “loudest voice in the room” drowned her out yet again just yesterday.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 16:20

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State of the Union: Biden gets advice on speech from Hollywood’s ‘presidents’

The president has been on Zoom with a number of actors who have played American presidents in movies, including Morgan Freeman (Deep Impact), Geena Davis (Commander in Chief) and Michael Douglas (The American President), Bill Pullman (Independence Day), to get their advice on how best to deliver his speech tonight.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 15:50

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Trump makes belated appeal to Haley supporters – in competition with Biden

Also over on the former president’s social media channel, he’s been deriding Nikki Haley after she finally dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination yesterday and belatedly making an appeal to her supporters, whom he has previously worked pretty hard to alienate – as the Never Trump campaign ad below helpfully illustrates.

President Biden also wasted no time in offering disappointed Haley boosters a home yesterday.

Here’s more on the carve up from Gustaf Kilander.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 15:20

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Watch live: Federal Reserve chief Powell questioned by Senate committee

You can watch a live feed of Fed boss Jerome Powell taking questions from senators on the US economy below via IndyTV’s YouTube channel.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 14:50

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State of the Union: Senator Katie Britt to deliver Republican response

The youngest Republican woman to serve in the Senate will deliver the response to President Biden’s State of the Union address today.

Alabama Senator Katie Britt is set to give the remarks – a rebuttal speech to the president’s address made by the opposing party – which she has promised will be a “candid discussion about the future of our nation”.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 13:50

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State of the Union: Family of US hostages held by Hamas to attend

Family members of Americans held hostage by Hamas are expected to attend president Joe Biden’s State of the Union address tonight as he faces mounting pressure over his handling of the conflict.

“It’s a living hell. A living hell from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed,” Jonathan Dekel-Chen, father of American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, told NBC News.

He is hopeful that his presence in the Capitol will remind Americans of the horrific situation of the hostages, as they continue efforts to secure their release.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 12:50

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State of the Union: Biden to unveil new healthcare and tax relief plans

President Joe Biden will use his State of the Union address today to tout his administration’s progress in lowering prices for consumers and to push for Congress to expand efforts to lower healthcare costs and reform America’s tax code, according to administration officials familiar with his plans.

President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress — his third since taking office in 2021 — comes as he gears up for a tough general election rematch against the man he defeated in 2020, former president Donald Trump, amid lagging poll numbers and questions over whether he, at age 81, is too old to serve.

Here’s the very latest from Andrew Feinberg on a speech of huge significance.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 12:20

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Trump demands Biden debates after refusing to take part in GOP contests and pledges to live-troll State of the Union

Donald Trump has expressed a sudden enthusiasm for debating President Joe Biden, despite having previously refused to take part in televised Republican Party face-offs against his GOP challengers, insisting there was no advantage in it for him as the front-runner.

“It is important, for the Good of our Country, that Joe Biden and I Debate Issues that are so vital to America, and the American People,” the Republican nominee-presumptive wrote on Truth Social after his last remaining rival, Nikki Haley, dropped out of the race, leaving the two men to battle it out for her supporters and, ultimately, November’s presidential election.

“I am calling for Debates, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, ANYPLACE!”

Biden’s likely debate performance was also the subject of spirited debate between Fox News reporter Peter Doocy and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre yesterday:

The president’s spokesman Michael Tyler has since responded to the challenge by saying: “I know Donald Trump’s thirsty for attention and struggling to expand his appeal beyond the MAGA base — and that’s a conversation we’ll have at the appropriate time in this cycle.

“But if he’s so desperate to see President Biden in prime time, he doesn’t have to wait! He can join the tens of millions of Americans who will tune in to watch the State of the Union tomorrow night. He might even learn a thing or two about bringing people together and actually delivering for the American people.”

Trump has in fact already promised to deliver a “play by play” response to President Biden’s address this evening, effectively an act of live-trolling that will see him” fact-check” the commander-in-chief.

“It is important for the Country to get the TRUTH!” he declared, with a frankly breathtaking lack of self-awareness.

Here’s more from Mike Bedigan and Andrew Feinberg.

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 11:50

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House passes $460bn package of spending bills, with Senate expected to act before shutdown deadline

The House of Representatives passed a $460bn package of spending bills on Wednesday that would keep money flowing to key federal agencies through the remainder of the budget year.

The Senate is expected to take up the legislation before the latest shutdown deadline at midnight on Friday.

Lawmakers are negotiating a second package of six bills, including defence, in an effort to have all federal agencies fully funded before a 22 March deadline. In the end, total discretionary spending set by Congress is expected to come in at about $1.66tn for the entire year.

A significant number of House Republicans have lined up in opposition to the spending packages, forcing House speaker Mike Johnson to use an expedited process to bring the bill up for a vote. That process requires two-thirds of the House to vote for the measure for it to pass.

The House passed the measure by a vote of 339-85.

The non-defence spending in this year’s bills is relatively flat compared to the previous year. Supporters say that keeping that spending below the rate of inflation is tantamount to a cut, forcing agencies to be more frugal and focus manpower on top priorities. Johnson cited a 10 per cent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 7 per cent cut to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a 6 per cent cut to the FBI.

But many Republican lawmakers were seeking much steeper cuts and more policy victories. The House Freedom Caucus, which contains dozens of the GOP’s most conservative members, urged Republicans to vote against the first spending package and oppose the second one being negotiated.

“Despite giving Democrats higher spending levels, the omnibus text released so far punts on nearly every single Republican policy priority,” the group said.

Johnson countered that House Republicans have just a two-vote majority in the House while Democrats control the Senate and White House.

“We have to be realistic about what we’re able to achieve,” he said.

Democrats staved off most of the policy riders that House Republicans sought to include in the package. For example, they beat back an effort to block new rules that expand access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

Democrats also said the bill would fully fund a nutrition programme for low-income women, infants and children, providing about $7bn for what is known as the WIC programme. That’s a $1bn increase from the previous year.

As part of those negotiations, House Republicans pushed to give a few states the ability to disallow the purchase of non-nutritious food, such as sugary drinks and snacks, in the food stamp programme known as SNAP. The GOP’s effort was unsuccessful for now, but supporters say they’ll try again in next year’s spending bills.

House Republicans were able to achieve some policy wins, however. One provision, for example, will prevent the sale of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. Another policy mandate prohibits the Justice Department from investigating parents who exercise free speech at local school board meetings.

Another provision strengthens gun rights for certain veterans.

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty)

Joe Sommerlad7 March 2024 10:50


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