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Monday November 29th, 2021 1:20AM

The Latest: Security tight, crowd thin for Biden's address

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Joe Biden's first joint address to Congress (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Security is tight and crowd is thin at the Capitol under strict coronavirus restrictions for President Joe Biden’s address to Congress.

The first address by a president to Congress is usually an electrifying evening. But this time it's a more subdued affair.

A few dozen lawmakers milled about the House chamber not long before Biden's speech, and a reduced crowd of about 200 is expected. That's compares with an audience of 1,600 members of Congress, officials and guests who typically gather for the event.

Face masks are mandatory in the House chamber. Place cards marked the seats, with just one or two lawmakers per row. Some are sitting high in the visitors’ galleries. No guests were invited.

National Guard troops protecting the Capitol since the Jan. 6 insurrection are stationed in and around the building

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN'S JOINT ADDRESS TO CONGRESS:

President Joe Biden is using his first joint address to Congress to declare the nation is “turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity.” He is celebrating progress against the coronavirus and urging a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform roles the government plays in American life.

Read more:

— Watching from afar, Congress will make or break Biden agenda

— A closer look at Biden’s $1.8 trillion plan for families and education

— South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, in Republican response, seeks to credit GOP for ‘joyful springtime’

— First lady holds virtual reception for guests not at speech

— Harris, Pelosi to making history seated behind Biden at speech

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READ MORE:

5:30 p.m.

The White House says President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress will call on lawmakers to lower prescription drug costs by acting this year to empower Medicare to negotiate prices.

A White House official confirmed Biden’s plan on condition of anonymity in advance of the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

Medicare’s prescription drug benefit is delivered through private insurers, and the program is currently barred by law from negotiating prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

As a candidate, Biden promised to change that, but he has yet to submit legislation to Congress. The official says Biden remains committed to working for reduced prescription drug prices.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving ahead with her plan to use expected savings from lower spending on drugs to expand Medicare benefits, capping prescription drug bills for seniors.

But Republicans are solidly opposed to Medicare negotiations, and some Senate Democrats have qualms. It’s unclear if Pelosi’s approach can get through the Senate.

— Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

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5:20 p.m.

In his first address to Congress, President Joe Biden will declare that the nation is “turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity.”

The White House released brief excerpts of Biden’s Wednesday night speech, which comes on the eve of his 100th day in office.

Biden is to say that he inherited the White House amid “the worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

Biden will add: “Now — after just 100 days — I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”

Biden plans to use the address to unveil his push for a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform the roles the government plays in American life. He is also expected to address his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, as well as call on Congress to pass gun control legislation and reforms to the nation’s immigration system.

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