President Joe Biden focused on Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. economy during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
What happened: Before a joint session of Congress, Biden spent the bulk of his hourlong speech speaking about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in starting an attack on Ukraine.
- “Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And he thought he could divide us here at home,” Biden said.
- “Putin was wrong. We were ready.”
Here’s a breakdown of three major highlights from Biden’s speech.
Biden spoke directly about the Ukrainian crisis: The president opened his speech with a direct message about Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, saying the United States would not stand for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. He said the U.S. stands with Ukraine and would send troops to Europe to support NATO allies in case Putin plans to move West across Europe. Biden said the Ukrainian crisis will impact Americans, but it's a worthy cause because democracy is at stake.
- “Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people,” he said.
The economy became a major subject: Biden opened up about the economy, saying he hoped to do his best to keep prices low. He called on businesses to lower their costs and keep wages high. At the same time, Biden talked about the need for companies to buy American and support American industry. Biden also spoke about lowering the cost of child care, expanding the Child Tax Credit and making sure that middle-class families do not pay more taxes than they already are.
- “But with all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth and higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills. Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise be able to feel,” Biden said. “I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.”
WATCH: President Biden lays out his plan to combat inflation.https://t.co/xTVEAqOVF1 pic.twitter.com/Q9dMnvyDZI— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 2, 2022
The future of the COVID-19 pandemic: The coronavirus pandemic became a hot-button issue for Biden in his speech. He said that the United States had halted COVID-19 for the moment, though the pandemic could flip on a dime. He said there could be a new COVID-19 variant on the way. But the United States has developed tools to confront any new variants that might arise, Biden said. The president announced that Americans could order new COVID-19 tests through the covidtests.gov website. He also announced the new “Test to Treat” initiative, which will allow people to get tested at a pharmacy. And if someone tests positive there, they will receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost. Though he stopped short of saying the pandemic was over, Biden signaled that America has entered a new phase of the pandemic that might be a little closer to normalcy.
- “I cannot promise a new variant won’t come. But I can promise you we’ll do everything within our power to be ready if it does,” he said.