WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday night delivered his first prime-time address to the nation. His message focused on how the nation can work together to beat the coronavirus pandemic. 

What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden delivered his first prime-time address to the nation Thursday

  • President Biden balanced a solemn tone with a hopeful one

  • California Democratic Congressmen said it was a perfect moment for the president to come before the American people

  • Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said using this moment to explain the bill is crucial

The president officially directed states to make vaccinations available to all adults by May 1, although it might take longer for individuals to receive the vaccine.

"I know it's been hard. I truly know. I have told you before I carry a card in my pocket. The number of Americans who've died from COVID-19 to date," Biden said during his speech.

Biden balanced a solemn tone with a hopeful one.

"Beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity," he said.

It was a perfect moment for the president to come before the American people, said Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, adding the president reached out to all people, no matter their politics.

"How we're all in this together," Gomez said. "How we have to help the less fortunate, the ones that are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."

The timing of the speech capitalized on the major political victory for the president: the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit, and increased funding for vaccine distribution.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said using this moment to explain the bill is crucial.

"I do think the Obama administration made a mistake when we were dealing with a similar recession, not even as deep a one, and we passed recovery legislation, but the president didn't go out and promote it and tell people what was in it," Schiff said. "I think President Biden, having been vice president at the time, learned that lesson, and he has intent on not repeating it."

As Biden celebrates the stimulus package, which includes billions to reopen schools and businesses, Republicans like Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, stood united against it, citing it was too costly and could cripple family wallets later.

"Government lockdowns have devastated America's prosperity," McClintock said. "The answer is to end the lockdowns, not rob Americans of their futures by crushing their families under debt that will destroy their opportunity, independence, and prosperity in the years ahead."

For Democrats, this relief plan marks a turning point in the pandemic, especially as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to drop.

"Monumental week," Gomez said. "This week is going to help us get through this pandemic, and I believe it's going to help raise the spirits of the American people." 

For Biden, this speech marked the beginning of an end.

"After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus," Biden said.

Biden is readying a victory lap.

He has plans to travel around the nation with the first lady and vice president to share directly with the American people what is all in the COVID-19 relief bill.

On Tuesday, the president will travel to Delaware County, a suburb of Philadelphia, while Vice President Kamala Harris will travel Monday to Las Vegas. It is the first trip in a string of upcoming travel plans for the two leaders.

In his speech Thursday, the president said he would "acknowledge" it if this relief bill or his plans were to fail, although he also reassured everyone that they would not.