Biden address live updates: President starts address to joint session of Congress by giving nod to Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi

Biden address live updates: President starts address to joint session of Congress by giving nod to Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi

April 29, 2021

President Joe Biden started his speech before a joint session of Congress, saying, “Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity.”

“While the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is just a little bit different – a reminder of the extraordinary ties we are in,” he said, referring to the reduced crowd in attendance because of the pandemic.

When he entered office 100 days ago, he said he inherited the worst pandemic in a century, an economic crisis and “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

“Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again.”

‘It’s about time’: Biden praises Harris, Pelosi ahead of speech

President Biden acknowledged Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the first two women to preside together over a president’s joint address to Congress — in the opening remarks of his joint address to Congress.

“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President,” Biden said at the outset of his speech. “No president has ever said those words from this podium and it’s about time,” Biden declared to applause from lawmakers.

– Matthew Brown

President Joe Biden greets Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts watches as Biden arrives to speak to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

Biden takes to podium

After winding his way through the socially distanced audience, President Joe Biden took his place at the podium.

Biden sat through eight joint addresses as vice president and many more during his 36 years in the Senate.

Tonight, he was the one greeted with applause as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she had the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting the president of the United States.

– Maureen Groppe

President Biden enters House chamber for address

President Joe Biden entered the House chamber for his address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday. Biden waded his way through the socially distanced crowd.

– Matthew Brown

Nancy Pelosi calls House to order

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the House to order just as Vice President Kamala Harris entered the chamber. Harris and Pelosi made their way through the crowd as lawmakers organized themselves ahead of the president’s speech.

The two lawmakers will sit behind the president during his address to Congress, the first time two women will be seated together at the dais during a presidential address.

– Matthew Brown

Biden to turn up pressure on Congress to act on gun violence

Among the issues President Joe Biden will raise during his address to a joint session of Congress is the need to act on gun violence prevention legislation, according to a White House official.

The president is expected to repeat his calls for Congress to pass two House bills that strengthen background checks for gun buyers and reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines – a measure he helped pass as a senator in 1994.

The comments come weeks after Biden declared gun violence an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” as he announced six executive actions that cracked down on the use of so-called ghost guns, or untraceable weapons that can be constructed from parts purchased online.

Though none of what Biden will say is new, gun safety advocates say his decision to discuss gun safety in his first joint address signals to Congress that it has a responsibility to break the political stalemate and that gun violence prevention remains a top priority in the White House. 

– Courtney Subramanian

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (L) greets Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden addressing a joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Jim Watson, Pool)

24 lawmakers tapped to escort Biden

COVID-19 restrictions are preventing Joe Biden from getting a packed House tonight for his address to a joint session of Congress, but he will get a robust escort into the chamber.

Twenty-four lawmakers – 12 senators and 12 House members evenly split between the two parties –have been designated as members of the president’s escort committee.

The list of escorts includes three of the four top congressional leaders – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. It also includes several rank-and-file members, including Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks, the Iowa Republican who squeaked out a hotly contested victory by six votes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not part of the escort because she will be on the dais welcoming the president into the chamber.

– Ledyard King

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