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Biden to deliver primetime address this week

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President Joe Biden will deliver his first primetime address as commander-in-chief to the nation Thursday evening to commemorate one year since the start of the coronavirus shutdowns.

At Monday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced the planned address and teased what the president will say.

“The president will deliver his first primetime address to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown on Thursday,” Psaki said. “He will discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year, and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered.”

“The president will look forward, highlighting the role that Americans will play in beating the virus and getting the country back to normal,” she added.

It was on March 11 of last year that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Since then, 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 525,000 Americans have died from it, according to Johns Hopkins University. Currently, the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 6.2%, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“The American people know that the reason why we have a recession, the reason why so many families are concerned about putting food on the table, the reason why parents around the country are worried about the impact of closed schools on their kids’ mental health and their learning because of the pandemic,” Psaki also said.

“And it is the number-one issue and priority on the mind of the president, the vice president and our entire team,” Psaki added. “Of course, this week marks one year since the country was essentially shut down as a result of a pandemic, and it’s important to note, of course, what steps have been taken and what progress has been made.”

Biden’s Thursday address will be his first major speech since his January 20 inaugural address. He has yet to hold a formal press briefing where he takes questions from reporters and has yet to set a date to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress.

“We certainly intend on the president delivering a joint session speech, not a State of the Union, in the first year that they are in office,” Psaki said Friday. 

“But we don’t have a date for that or a timeline at this point in time,” the press secretary continued. “And we have been engaged closely with leaders in Congress about determining that.”

Earlier that week, Psaki was also asked about the delay and she said the president will wait to address a joint session of Congress until after lawmakers voted on the American Rescue Plan, Biden’s COVID-19 relief package.

“When it became clear, which it should have been from the beginning, that the American Rescue Plan would take until about, hopefully, about mid-March to get passed and signed into law, we made a decision internally that we weren’t going to have the president propose his forward-looking agenda beyond that,” Psaki said, mentioning that portion’s of the president’s “Build Back Better” agenda are “still being determined” and that there are still discussions taking place “internally.”

She asserted, however, that he would not deliver his address “until after that bill is signed, until after those checks are going out to Americans, until after that vaccine money is going out, and after the money is going out to schools.”

On Saturday, after grueling negotiations, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the $1.9 trillion package along party lines. This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the Senate-approved legislation.

On Friday, Psaki also said that Biden will hold his first formal press briefing before the end of March.

RELATED: Psaki: Biden to hold his first presser by end of month

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Last surviving WW2 Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams dies at 98

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On this Fourth of July we honor the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Marine veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams died Wednesday at 3:15 a.m. and was 98 years old. Williams died at the Huntington, West Virginia, Veterans Affairs hospital named after him, according to a statement from his foundation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Sunday that Williams will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol.

The Marine Corps Times writes about the honorable veteran and his Medal:

Born in 1923 on a dairy farm in Quiet Dell, West Virginia, Williams was the youngest of 11 children, according to the Weirton, West Virginia, Daily Times.

Initially disqualified for being too short, Williams enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943, according to his biography. The demolition sergeant landed on Iwo Jima on Feb. 21, 1945, with 1st Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

Two days later, on Feb. 23, 1945, he famously destroyed enemy emplacements with a flamethrower, going forward alone into machinegun fire, covered only by four riflemen.

His citation states, “he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers,” before wiping out one enemy position after another.

On one occasion, he “daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent,” which killed all enemy occupants and silenced its gun.

Williams received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman at the White House in October 1945 for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

 

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