There was a reduced number of attendees at Joe Biden's address to Congress and by the end of the night he had chatted to almost of all of them.

As he left the House Chamber fists and elbows were bumped. Shoulders and arms were gripped. One woman gave the president her business card, another gave him a white envelope.

Due to the pandemic, Joe Biden has not been able to "work a room" in quite some time.

He is a politician who likes to meet people and take time to talk to them face-to-face, but that was not possible for the last year.

Vaccines and masks allowed him to let down his guard a little and, in his address, he called on more Americans to get their shots.

The speech began with a reference to the two women sitting behind him.

"Madam Speaker. Madam Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it's about time," he said.

The president outlined his plans for jobs, infrastructure, increased benefits for families and tackling climate change.

He vowed to reform tax laws to ensure corporations who avail of overseas tax loopholes pay their fair share

In the area of foreign policy, he said the US is not seeking conflict with China and Russia, and he repeated his commitment to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

There were references to the storming of the Capitol in January.

"We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy, of pandemic and pain, and "We the People" did not flinch. At the very moment our adversaries were certain we would pull apart and fail, we came together, united," he said.

But in the Republican response to the address, Senator Tim Scott accused Joe Biden of driving the country further apart rather than being the unifier that he promised he would be.

In his speech, the US president urged Congress to pass police reform legislation and gun control laws. His multi-trillion-dollar economic plans will also require bipartisan support.

Right now, Joe Biden is struggling to attract Republican backing. He will have to replace fist bumps with arm-twisting to get his opponents on side.