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Biden in SOTU address to build on efforts on fentanyl, cancer, veterans affairs: White House

Biden to emphasize disrupting trafficking of fentanyl through U.S.-Mexico border at State of the Union as House GOP turns up the heat on the administration's handling of border security

Published: February 7, 2023 2:32pm

Updated: February 7, 2023 8:45pm

President Biden on Tuesday night, in his second State of the Union address, will attempt to build on the successes of his first two years and focus his attention on the next two years on issues like stopping the influx of fentanyl into the U.S., helping military veterans and building on efforts to stop cancer, the White House said hours before Biden speaks.

Biden is expected to propose ways the U.S. can stop fentanyl from getting into the U.S. at the southwest border ports of entry, including providing 123 new large-scale scanners at land points of entry along the southwest border by fiscal year 2026.

Illegal drugs like fentanyl that come across the border continue to cause thousands of deaths into the U.S. Some House Republicans have called on the White House to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction. Republican leaders, who have been critical of Biden's handling of border security, pledged to secure the border as part of their Commitment to America agenda that was rolled out before the November midterm election took place. 

The White House also said Biden will discuss efforts to build on his Cancer Moonshot initiative and urge Congress to reauthorize the National Cancer Act, which 52 years ago set up the National Cancer Institute in its current form.

The continued funding to advance research and pay for similar efforts will help "to end cancer as we know it," the White House also said.

In addition, the White House said Biden plans to point out that his efforts to help veterans struggling with mental health issues has decreased the number of suicides but "more needs to be done."

The president will call for expanding access to peer support, including mental health services.

The White House, in its pre-speech fact sheet, said the Department of Veterans Affairs is on track, by the end of this year, to meet its 2022 pledge to hire an additional 280 peer specialists.

The agency, under Biden, will increase the number of peer specialists working across VA medical centers by 350 over the next seven years, the White House also announced.

Biden is also expected to call for a minimum tax on billionaires. 

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