President Joe Biden delivered his first address to Congress on the night of April 28, and it was historic in a number of ways. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber was virtually empty — only 200 members and guests in attendance — and everyone was socially distanced and masked. For the first time ever, the address was livestreamed, and an American Sign Language interpreter was on hand to translate the speech for Deaf viewers.
Though the issues addressed by the president were ones everyone had expected — infrastructure, sustainable energy, increasing minimum wage, police reform — some of his remarks were still eye-opening. He declared, “White supremacy is terrorism,” and announced his support for the transgender community, particularly trans youth. One of the biggest reactions of the night, though, occurred right at the beginning of the address. As he greeted the assembled members, he turned to Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said, “Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium; no president has ever said those words. And it’s about time.”
The acknowledgement was met with applause from the House floor, and even more acclaim online.
Two women stood behind the president for the first time in American history
Even without President Biden’s shout-out, seeing the two most prominent women of the U.S. government standing behind him was an emotional moment for viewers. Among the reactions on Twitter was one proud day who wrote, “Witnessing Vice President Harris and Speaker Pelosi sit next to one another during President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress is an event I won’t forget. Witnessing it with my wife and daughter is a gift all of us will hold near and dear to heart forever.” Other reactions included, “A monumental night in women’s history,” and, “I immediately was covered in chills and I started to weep with joy and relief.”
First lady Dr. Jill Biden, tweeting from her seat on the Congress floor, summed up her thoughts with one well-chosen word: “Proud.”
But perhaps the most thought-provoking reaction was Meena Harris’ tweet. The vice president’s niece watched the address with her children, and wrote, “My kids are asking if ‘the women get to talk too’.” Watching the historic moment, it seemed clear that it won’t be much longer before a woman will indeed get her chance behind that podium.
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