Biden to deliver first primetime address as president, will mark anniversary of coronavirus shutdowns
President Biden is expected to deliver his first primetime address since taking office on Thursday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki previewed the president’s remarks during the press briefing on Monday.
"The president will deliver his first primetime address to commemorate the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown on Thursday," Psaki said. "He will discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year, and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered."
Psaki said the president "will look forward, highlighting the role that Americans will play in beating the virus and moving the country toward getting back to normal."
The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Biden’s address Thursday will be his first major address since Inauguration Day. The president has yet to hold a formal press briefing and has yet to schedule a date for his first joint session address to Congress.
"We certainly intend on the president delivering a joint session speech, not a State of the Union, in the first year that they are in office," Psaki said Friday.
"But we don’t have a date for that or a timeline at this point in time," she continued. "And we have been engaged closely with leaders in Congress about determining that."
Psaki was also asked about the delay earlier in the week, and she said Biden will wait to address a joint session of Congress until after lawmakers decides on the American Rescue Plan, his coronavirus relief package.
"When it became clear, which it should have been from the beginning, that the American Rescue Plan would take until about, hopefully, about mid-March to get passed and signed into law, we made a decision internally that we weren't going to have the president propose his forward-looking agenda beyond that," Psaki said, noting that parts of Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda are "still being determined" and that there are still discussions ongoing "internally."
Psaki maintained, though, that he would not deliver his address "until after that bill is signed, until after those checks are going out to Americans, until after that vaccine money is going out, and after the money is going out to schools."
The House passed a version of the package last weekend, and the Senate passed its version of the bill over this weekend.
The House is expected to consider the Senate-approved legislation this week.
Lawmakers are racing to send the legislation to Biden's desk before March 14, when more than 11 million Americans will lose their jobless aid when two key federal jobless aid programs created a year ago under the CARES Act — and extended in the $900 billion relief package that Congress passed in December — lapse.
Meanwhile, Psaki said Monday that the president will hold a formal press conference before the end of the month.