1/ During his first State of the Union speech, Biden condemned President Vladimir Putin, called on the world to support Ukraine, and made his case to Americans that his administration is working to overcome the coronavirus pandemic and return to a time of prosperity and normalcy. The first half of the hourlong speech focused on the war in Europe, while the second half was mostly about Biden’s domestic agenda. Biden said Putin “badly miscalculated” when he invaded Ukraine, and that he would make Putin “pay a price” for attacking Russia’s neighbor. “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over,” Biden said. “Instead, he met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.” There were several instances of bipartisan applause throughout the speech, but also moments where members of the GOP — Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene — interrupted or heckled Biden, including while Biden was reflecting on the life of his late son, Beau. Biden also renewed his calls for Congress to pass pieces of the failed “Build Back Better” domestic policy agenda, including expanded child care, elder care, prekindergarten education, climate change initiatives and prescription-drug price cuts. (New York Times / Rolling Stone / Daily Beast / New York Times / NPR / The Independent / Washington Post)
2/ Biden announced a new task force to go after the U.S.-based assets of Russian oligarchs. The task force, dubbed Task Force KleptoCapture, will seize yachts, luxury apartments, and other vestiges of wealth parked in the U.S. by Russian billionaires. “We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” Biden said during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Biden also announced that the U.S. will close its skies to Russian aircraft in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the U.S. is expected to announce new sanctions against Putin’s financial allies in the coming days. (CNBC / Reuters / Washington Post / Business Insider / NBC News)
3/ Biden declared that his administration has a new plan for a pandemic reset, and that it’s time to stop letting COVID-19 “dictate how we live.” Biden pointed to the wide availability of vaccines, treatments and tests, and vowed that the country is moving toward “more normal routines.” He also touted a new “test to treat” plan that would see local pharmacies provide free antiviral pills to people who test positive for the virus. The 96-page plan is part of a broader White House strategy to move away from a state of crisis and convince Americans that they can return to normal, especially as Biden’s approval ratings remain dangerously low. (Washington Post Associated Press / NPR)
4/ Trump called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “a holocaust” and urged Russia to end its attacks. During an interview with Fox News, Trump said Russia has “stop killing these people” and suggested that some kind of deal should be worked out in order to bring the conflict to an end. “They don’t respect the United States and the United States is like, I don’t know, they’re not doing anything about it,” Trump said. “This is a — this is a holocaust.” (The Hill)
5/ Trump’s border wall has been breached more than 3,200 times by smugglers, according to Customs and Border Protection records. Mexican smuggling gangs have breached new segments of the wall 3,272 times over the last three years, which the government has spent $2.6 million to repair during that period. CPB maintenance records show the damage has been more widespread than previously known, pointing to the wall as an ineffective impediment to unauthorized border crossings. (Washington Post)
poll/ 68% of people who watched last night’s State of the Union said Biden’s speech made them feel optimistic, while 53% said it made them feel proud. More than half said the speech made them feel like the coronavirus pandemic is mostly behind us. 78% of Americans who watched said they approved of Biden’s remarks, while 22% said they disapproved. (CBS News-YouGov)
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