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Thursday October 21st, 2021 1:56AM

The Latest: Biden says he intends to raise taxes on richest

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):

9:55 p.m.

President Joe Biden says he’s “not looking to punish anybody” but does plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Biden wasn’t shy about saying during a joint address to Congress that he'll pay for his $1.8 trillion spending package by raising taxes on the rich. He attacked the Republican-backed, 2017 tax cuts, saying they created large deficits while most benefiting the richest Americans.

Biden says his plan will most help the American middle class. He's also pledging not to raise taxes on the middle class. He says most Americans have already “paid enough.”

But the president also says that the huge increase in spending he's backing will require more money coming into the government, and he says it should come from CEOs and the rich.

___

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

___

READ MORE:

9:35 p.m.

President Joe Biden is making a direct appeal to blue-collar workers as he pitches his massive spending package during his joint address to Congress on Wednesday night.

Biden is telling Americans that his infrastructure proposal will help “millions of people get back to their jobs and their careers.” Biden is emphasizing blue-collar roles as he outlines the plan, saying it will create jobs in everything from modernizing America’s roads, bridges and highways to replacing the nation’s lead pipes.

Biden says his plan will provide opportunities for engineers, construction workers, electrical workers and farmers. He promises the plan will create “jobs Americans can raise their families on.”

That appeal to blue-collar workers has shaped Biden’s entire political career. Biden made a pitch to moderate, rural white voters as a centerpiece of his 2020 campaign.

___

9:30 p.m.

President Biden is marking his first 100 days in office by highlighting passage of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief legislation known as the American Rescue Plan and he’s noting that his administration has provided more than 220 million COVID-19 vaccine shots.

Biden says he inherited a nation in crisis and now he can report that “America is on the move again.”

In his first address to Congress as president, Biden says the United States is already seeing the results of “one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.” He’s emphasizing that the package included $1,400 checks to 85% of U.S. households. And he says more than 160 million checks are already out the door.

As to the vaccine, he says it is available in nearly 40,000 pharmacies and more than 700 community health centers.

Now, 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccination site, and Biden’s message is, “Go get vaccinated America.”

Biden is also emphasizing that the economy is on the mend under his watch.

___

9:25 p.m.

It was an unusual scene when President Joe Biden arrived in the House of Representatives for his first speech to Congress on Wednesday night. There were only about 200 lawmakers in attendance in the large chamber. They were spaced part and favored elbow bumps over the usual back slaps because of COVID-19 protocols.

There wasn’t the usual roar of applause or crush of center-aisle lawmakers shaking hands with the president. Biden’s arrival was a more subdued affair.

Still, the president did greet lawmakers when he walked down the center aisle, even if he had to wave at some of them from afar. He fist-bumped Chief Justice John Roberts. And Biden hugged his former presidential rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Some members of Congress violated some of the evening’s strict health protocols, by shaking hands and sitting right next to each other to chat.

Biden served decades in the Senate, and when he reached the rostrum, he smiled and greeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and said, “It’s good to be back.”

___

9:05 p.m.

President Joe Biden is marking his 100th day in office with a prime-time address to Congress and he’s declaring that the United States is “turning peril into possibility.”

Biden is using his nationally televised speech to promote a $1.8 trillion spending package. He says it will fundamentally transform and expand government’s role in the lives of everyday Americans.

If Congress approves the plan, it would provide universal preschool, two years of free community college, $225 billion for child care and monthly payments of at least $250 to parents.

The president is also presenting a vision for post-pandemic life nationwide. He’s working to showcase the hundreds of millions of vaccinations and relief checks his administration has delivered, even as the coronavirus remains dangerous and deadly. The pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 574,000 Americans.

___

8:55 p.m.

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are making history as the first women to share center stage in Congress during a presidential address.

Harris and Pelosi are seated behind President Joe Biden on Wednesday night for his joint address to Congress. When they greeted each other before Biden’s arrival, Harris and Pelosi clasped hands before giving each other a COVID-19-friendlier elbow bump.

Pelosi has sat at the rostrum in the House chamber before but always next to a male vice president: Dick Cheney, Biden and Mike Pence. Harris is the first female vice president in U.S. history.

Women’s advocates have said seeing Harris and Pelosi seated together behind Biden will be a “beautiful moment.” But they noted that electing a woman to sit in the Oval Office remains to be achieved, along with the addition of an equal rights amendment to the Constitution.

___

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

___

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

___

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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