Tuesday evening of last week, President Biden delivered his second State of the Union Address and his first with a divided Congress. Beginning with the recognition of two newly elected leaders of the 118th Congress—House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the first African American House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)—President Biden largely focused his address on unity and bipartisanship but placed the onus on House Republicans over the course of its delivery.
Although President Biden’s approval rating at the time of this address was considered one of the worst for a second-year president, he used this opportunity to remind lawmakers, the audience, guests, and the general population of how much was accomplished over the course of the first two years of his Administration.
Specifically, President Biden highlighted economic growth; education; combating climate change; pandemic response; data privacy; and national security; amongst other areas. He also emphasized several key issues in need of national attention such as mental health, gun reform, housing affordability, drug trafficking, access to medical care, police reform and the recent killing of Tyre Nichols, and political violence.
Throughout the first half of his Address, the President defined our nation with one word: “possibilities.” He asserted that his Administration alone has signed over 300 bipartisan laws, including the Violence Against Women Act, the Electoral Count Reform Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act. He also called upon Republicans to continue working together with Democrats in the same fashion that they have been over the past year—passing several landmark pieces of legislation including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, President Biden reaffirmed that America’s stance on the situation is the same as it was during his first State of the Union Address one year ago—America stands with the Ukrainian people. Both Chambers also joined in recognizing Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States during Biden’s Address.
Correspondingly, Zurich continues its strong commitment to alleviating suffering in Ukraine, and the Z Zurich Foundation’s major fundraising effort mobilizes support across our businesses globally for humanitarian relief efforts. We will monitor developments as Zurich prioritizes compliance with applicable laws and regulations as the conflict continues.
Also of note for Zurich was President Biden’s mention of the implementation of new electric grids and 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country, which will shape the future of the automotive market and the way Direct Markets serves auto dealers and their customers. He also highlighted increased climate change mitigation efforts included in the Inflation Reduction Act, all of which coincide with Zurich’s ongoing commitment to climate and sustainability efforts.
Contrastingly, Republican Congressional leaders chose Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders to provide their response to his State of the Union Address. Her primary focus was refuting President Biden’s touted accomplishments over the course of the past year. Huckabee Sanders also tailored her response to the idea that there is no need for environment, social, governance policies (ESG). As she put forth different policy arguments, including border security and freedom of speech protection, she layered each one with an appeal that it is her party’s personal responsibility to be “changemakers” in the political space.