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Biden Issues Wake-Up Call for Americans on Threats to Democracy

President Joe Biden used the State of the Union speech last night to wake up Americans to the challenges against democracy abroad and at home.

President Joe Biden stands at a lectern in front of a U.S. flag and Vice President Kamala Harris applauds behind him.
State of the Union
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, March 7, 2024.
Photo By: White House
VIRIN: 240307-D-D0439-101

Biden delivered a fiery speech at the U.S. Capitol, calling on Congress to pass legislation that will funnel weapons and ammunition to Ukraine as it battles against Russia's illegal invasion of the country. 

Biden said the times are perilous, with democracy facing attacks from Russian President Vladimir Putin and from Americans who espouse violence instead of votes.  

He said that not since the American Civil War has the U.S. faced such a moment. "My purpose tonight is to both wake up this Congress and alert the American people that this is no ordinary moment either," the president said. 

"Overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond," he said. "If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you he will not." 

Service members push cargo into the back of a plane.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey
Airmen with the 730th Air Mobility Squadron and Government of Japan move humanitarian aid cargo into the cargo deck of a C-17 Globemaster III at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 16, 2022. In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden urged Congress to continue security assistance for Ukraine.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey
VIRIN: 220316-F-HU835-1072Y

Biden reiterated that Ukraine is not asking for U.S. troops to defend the nation, but tools so Ukrainian service members can repel the invaders. "There are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine," the president said. "And I am determined to keep it that way. But now assistance for Ukraine is being blocked by those who want us to walk away from our leadership in the world." 

The president also highlighted the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in maintaining peace between great powers since the end of World War II. This year marks 75 years since the signing of the Washington Treaty establishing NATO, and the defensive alliance continues to grow.  

During the State of the Union speech, Biden noted that Finland joined the alliance last year, and "Just this morning, Sweden officially joined NATO, and their prime minister is here tonight. Both nations joined NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.  

"I say this to Congress: We must stand up to Putin," Biden said. "Send me the Bipartisan National Security Bill. History is watching. If the United States walks away now, it will put Ukraine at risk. Europe at risk. The free world at risk, emboldening others who wish to do us harm. My message to President Putin is simple: We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down." 

Biden also addressed the situation in Gaza more than five months after Hamas launched raids into Israel that killed more than 1,400 people and resulted in Hamas holding hostages in Gaza. "We've been working nonstop to establish an immediate cease-fire that would last for at least six weeks," he said.  

Biden said more than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza, and he is working to ensure that aid gets to the civilian population. "I'm directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters," he said. "No U.S. boots will be on the ground. This temporary pier would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day." 

The pier would complement ongoing efforts to get food and medical supplies into the embattled region via road and via airdrop missions. 

The president called on Israeli leaders to do their parts in this situation. "Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip; protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority," he said.

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