Biden addresses national security, border issues

Biden addresses national security, border issues

President Joe Biden reasserted support for Ukraine and vowed to deter Russian aggression in the opening of his State of the Union address Thursday night.

“Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy been under assault here at home as they are today,” Biden told the nation during the address from the U.S. Capitol. “What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack, both at home and overseas, at the very same time.”

It’s been just over two years since Russia attacked Ukraine. Biden vowed to continue U.S. financial support of Ukraine but drew a line when it came to deploying troops.

“My message to President (Vladimir) Putin is simple: We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down,” he said.

Biden also touched on other subjects of interest to veterans, servicemembers and their families. Among them:

• The PACT Act. Calling it “one of the most significant laws ever,” the president said it has helped “millions of veterans who were exposed to toxins and who are now battling more than 100 cancers.”

• The immigration bill stuck in Congress, which would hire 1,500 more border security agents and officers, 100 more immigration judges to process cases and 100 more high-tech drug detection machines to halt the smuggling of fentanyl into America. “This bill would save lives and bring order to the border,” he said. “We can fight about the border or we can fix it.”

• The crisis in the Middle East, which began when Hamas massacred Israeli citizens Oct. 7. The president said both sides have the power to end the violence. He said the U.S. will expand its global efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. “Tonight, I’m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters. No U.S. boots will be on the ground.”

• Containing the threat posed by Iran. “I’ve ordered strikes to degrade Houthi capabilities and defend U.S. forces in the region. As commander in chief, I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and our military personnel.”

Among the president’s guests was Navy Cmdr. Shelby Nikitin, who recently completed her command aboard the USS Thomas Hudner. Under her leadership, the ship deployed to protect maritime shipping from illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Houthi attacks against vessels transiting the Red Sea. For her ship’s actions in this combat zone, Nikitin was awarded the Bronze Star for her extraordinary leadership and bravery in defending lives and protecting the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways.