He returned repeatedly to common ground, making the case that both parties can back US factories, new businesses being formed and the funding of 20,000 infrastructure projects.
When Mr Biden hit each of these themes, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy politely clapped, even standing to applaud at one point.
“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress,” said the president, who has previously been accused by his opponents of divisive rhetoric. “We’ve been sent here to finish the job!” he added.
However despite his calls for unity, the president was at points heckled by opposition lawmakers.
In his 73-minute speech, Mr Biden sought to portray a nation dramatically improved from the one he took charge of two years ago: from a reeling economy to one prosperous with new jobs; from a crippled, pandemic-weary nation to one that has now reopened, and a democracy that has survived its biggest test since the Civil War.
Mr Biden delivered the address to a packed chamber and high-profile guests - including U2’s Bono - as well as Supreme Court justices.
“Folks, the story of America is a story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward. Of never, ever, giving up,” Biden said. “It’s a story unique among all nations. We’re the only country that has emerged from every crisis we’ve ever entered stronger than when we got into it.”
“We’re not finished yet by any stretch of the imagination,” he declared.
He vowed to defend US sovereignty in the wake of an incursion by an alleged Chinese spy balloon.
Mr Biden aired his political wish-list, calling for an assault weapons ban, a minimum tax for billionaires, and access to pre-school for three and four-year-olds - though many of the proposals are likely to go nowhere in Congress.
He also condemned “outrageous” profits by oil companies, but drew scorn from Republicans in the chamber when he said: “We’re going to need oil for at least another decade.”
Following the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis last month, Mr Biden also challenged lawmakers to pass long-stalled reforms to policing, saying: “Do something.”
Among his guests at the event were the parents of Mr Nichols, the 29-year-old black man whose beating death at the hands of Memphis, Tennessee, police has reignited a national debate on policing.
Mr Biden expressed awe at the grace of Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, who following his death has talked of her son’s “beautiful soul” and hopeful certainty that “something good will come from this”.
Mr Biden paid tribute to Ukraine, addressing one of his guests, Ambassador Oksana Markarova, as representing “not just her nation but the courage of her people”.
He also applauded Congress for giving Ukraine what it needed to face Russia’s brutal aggression, with the United States already having committed nearly 30 billion dollars (£25 billion) in security assistance since the start of the war.
In private, administration officials have made clear to Ukrainian officials that Congress’ patience with the cost of the war will have its limits.
But with Tuesday’s address, Mr Biden offered an optimistic outlook about the prospects of long-term American support.
Among his guests at the event were the parents of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old black man whose beating death at the hands Memphis, Tennessee, police has reignited a national debate on policing.
Efforts to reduce police excesses have been sharply restricted by resistance in Congress and there is little prospect of federal action.
Still, Mr Biden expressed awe at the grace of Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, who following his death has talked of her son’s “beautiful soul” and hopeful certainty that “something good will come from this”.
Mr Biden uttered the phrase “finish the job” at least a dozen times during his address - with political commentators suggesting it had the makings of a slogan he might employ for a re-election campaign.