Biden proposes four-part unity agenda during State of the Union

Julia Nikhinson

President Biden on Tuesday proposed a “unity agenda” of four items he urged Congress to pass on a bipartisan basis: Addressing the opioid epidemic, providing resources for children’s mental health, supporting veterans and ending cancer.

“A unity agenda for the nation,” Biden said. “We can do this.”

Each agenda item Biden rattled off received significant applause in the House chamber. The proposals were significant for Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to turn down the temperature in Washington but has run into fierce Republican resistance and at times personal attacks.

Biden called for Congress to increase funding for prevention and treatment of those struggling with addiction to opioids.

He urged lawmakers to strengthen privacy protections and outlaw targeted advertising to children as part of an effort to improve children’s mental health.

In a personal appeal, Biden called on Congress to pass a law to ensure care for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden has said he believes the chemicals from burn pits may have contributed to the brain cancer that ultimately killed his son, Beau.

Biden also called for funding to help “end cancer as we know it” by providing money for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, an agency that would seek cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other diseases.

Biden’s “unity agenda” came during a night when bipartisanship was only periodically on display. Lawmakers stood and applauded in unison when Biden recognized the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, and members of both parties cheered when Biden said he supported funding for law enforcement.

But the evening was also marked by tensions. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a firebrand conservative who is in hot water for speaking at a white nationalist gathering over the weekend, chanted “Build that wall” when Biden spoke about immigration.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) shouted out about the deaths of U.S. service members in Afghanistan just as Biden was invoking the death of his son. 

And several Republican lawmakers declined to attend entirely, citing the COVID-19 testing requirement to get into the room.

Tags Joe Biden Lauren Boebert Marjorie Taylor Greene
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