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Key moments from Biden's 2024 State of the Union address you may have missed

President Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 7.
Shawn Thew/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 7.

In his annual State of the Union address Thursday, President Biden highlighted key achievements of his first term in office and made the case that voters should give him a second.

The address comes as Biden heads into general election season, and days after former President Donald Trump became the last major candidate in the Republican presidential primary.

The State of the Union is one of the biggest television audiences the president will have all year. Here are six standout moments you might have missed.

Biden calls for support for Ukraine

Biden opened his remarks by saying that "this is no ordinary moment." He drew parallels to President Franklin Roosevelt's State of the Union address in January 1941, as World War II was raging in Europe, and "freedom and democracy were under assault."

Biden said it is critical for the U.S. to stand by Ukraine in its war against Russia, more than two years after Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion. And he urged Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to provide aid to Ukraine, which is currently idling in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

A spotlight on reproductive rights, and a pledge to enshrine Roe

Biden didn't say the word "abortion" once during his remarks. But reproductive rights were a focus of the speech.

One of his guests was Kate Cox, a Texas woman who was forced to travel out of state for an abortion when her fetus was diagnosed with a genetic condition that is almost always fatal. Another was Latorya Beasley, an Alabama woman whose IVF treatments were paused after the state's Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are legally children.

He pledged to enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established the right to an abortion before it was overturned in 2022, in federal law, "if Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose."

Biden and Republicans spar over the border

Biden also called on Congress to revive a bipartisan deal that would have paired foreign assistance with border security measures. That deal fell apart after Trump and House Republicans came out against it.

Later in the speech, Biden got into a back-and-forth with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene about Laken Riley, a University of Georgia student who was killed last month. An undocumented Venezuelan immigrant has been arrested in connection with her death.

In the exchange, Biden said Riley had been "killed by an illegal," which drew criticismfromprogressives.

Biden revives call for assault weapons ban, with Uvalde girl in attendance

Biden called for a slate of gun reforms, including an assault weapons ban and universal background checks, during his remarks.

He did so with Jazmin Cazares, whose 9-year-old sister Jackie was killed during a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, sitting in his box.

Empathy for Gazans but not a permanent cease-fire

Exactly five months after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, Israel's counteroffensive has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians. Biden expressed empathy for the rising civilian death toll, and called on Israel to do more to allow aid into Gaza. But he stopped short of calling for a permanent cease-fire, which some congressional Democrats and voters have been pushing for.

Biden also announced the U.S. military will establish a new temporary pier on the Mediterranean coast of Gaza to help deliver food, water, medicine and other aid to the territory.

Biden addresses concerns over his age

Voters of both parties have voicedconcerns about the president's age.On Thursday night, he acknowledged those concerns with a wink and a nod, saying, "I know it may not look like it, but I've been around a while."

He continued: "When you get to be my age certain things become clearer than ever. ... My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy future based on core values that have defined America: honesty, decency, dignity, equality. To respect everyone, to give everyone a fair shot, to give hate no safe harbor."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lexie Schapitl is a production assistant with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces and digital content. She also reports from the field and assists with production of the NPR Politics Podcast.
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