Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., stand and applaud as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

President Joe Biden declared Wednesday night in his first address to a joint session of Congress that “America is rising anew,” and pointed optimistically to the nation’s emergence from the pandemic as a vital moment to rebuild the U.S. economy and fundamentally transform government roles in American life.

Biden marked his first 100 days in office as the nation pushes out of a menacing mix of crises, making his case before a pared-down gathering of mask-wearing legislators because of pandemic restrictions.

Speaking in highly personal terms while demanding massive structural changes, the president urged a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education to help rebuild an economy devastated by the virus and compete with rising global competitors.

He speech took place in a setting unlike any other presidential address in the familiar venue, with the U.S. Capitol still surrounded by fencing after the building was stormed in January by insurrectionists protesting his election. The nationally televised ritual of a president standing before Congress for the first time was one of the most watched moments of Biden’s presidency so far, a chance to sell his plans to voters of both parties, even if Republican lawmakers prove resistant.

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