When President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, he was greeted with a raging pandemic, economic downturn and racial unrest. Now 100 days in, he’s “proved to be bolder in policy, more partisan in politics and more disciplined in pronouncements,” writes USA TODAY’s longtime politico and Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.
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From the start, the Biden administration made fighting COVID-19 its top priority. But more issues have needed immediate attention: A series of mass shootings, continued killings of Black people by police and an increase in migrants at the border.
How does that affect Biden’s roadmap? From increasing taxes on the rich to urging Congress to take action on gun violence, Biden has an ambitious vision for the future. In this newsletter, we’ll dig in to what he said and what it means.
Biden’s big speech was unique. We were there.
THE SCENE | A nearly empty chamber. No special guests. Everyone in masks. President Joe Biden’s subdued address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday was unlike any in modern history, thanks to a year unlike any in modern history.
“This was emblematic of Joe Biden in a way,” said Ledyard King, a Washington Correspondent for USA TODAY, who was in the room where it happened. “Usually the first [speech] that the president gives, there’s a lot of warm feelings, there’s an energy, there’s a tradition about it.”
The pandemic may have dampened some excitement, but the the calmness was also a reflection on our new president: “It was just lower key because that’s who he is compared to [Donald] Trump.” Read the full story here.
MAKING HISTORY | That set the stage for the big story of the night: For the first time in U.S. history, the president could say, “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President.” It was a moment 245 years in the making. “No president has ever said those words from this podium and it’s about time,” Biden said.
STRONG OPINIONS | Time for the report card. Critics are reflecting on the impact of Biden’s 100 days in office and opining on what needs to change. Dig deeper with these views:
- De-Trumpifying America will take longer than 100 days, but Biden is off to a good start.
- Biden’s 100-day gamble on big government leaves little room for failures.
- With COVID vaccinations, Biden should practice unity, not preach it.
- Biden’s first 100 days in office have been a complete failure, writes Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.
The best subscriber-only stories of the week
NEWS | Reaction to the historic verdict of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd was as swift and massive as it was complex and varied. To understand how the country processed the conclusion of the trial, USA TODAY analyzed statements from Congress, social media posts and data on traffic to news media websites around the country. This is what we found. By Aleszu Bajak, Javier Zarracina and Dan Keemahill.
SPORTS | Phillip Adams, a 32-year-old former NFL player, was once known for his mild-mannered behavior off the field. Then, he shot to death six people — including two young children — before killing himself. His family wants to know if football was the reason. By Josh Peter.
ENTERTAINMENT | Lil Nas X, JoJo Siwa and Zaya Wade are teaching the next generation about diversity and inclusion the only way they know how: by being their out and proud selves. Experts say their example can help children and teenagers embrace who they are, as well as encourage adults to foster an environment that promotes acceptance. By David Oliver.
OPINION | “I’m a retired, Black police sergeant who spent nearly 30 years on the Chicago force. Since my retirement, I’m busier than ever,” writes Shawn Kennedy on the struggles that Black cops face. “Officers of color have to honor their sworn oath to serve and protect their community (including from rogue cops), and learn how to navigate the “blue wall” (which frequently goes hand in hand with racial favoritism).”
More of the week’s must-reads
- “Apocalyptic” second wave of COVID-19 in India leaves families hunting for oxygen.
- “Within our own walls”: Employees at federal civil rights watchdog describe their own workplace discrimination and retaliation in Texas.
- State lawmakers opposed to COVID vaccine mandates have filed a flurry of bills this session. Some worry about the message they send.
- Is the office back? COVID-19 created a work-from-home culture but companies are trying to make the office appealing again.
- Three states lose residents as U.S. sees slowest growth since the Great Depression, Census data shows.
USA TODAY visual journalists Jarrad Henderson and Harrison Hill spent eight weeks in Minneapolis during Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. For the next two weeks we will share some of their portraits of community members fighting for justice and unity in a city searching for healing and understanding. View them on our Instagram.
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