President Biden's State of the Union address

By Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Jason Kurtz and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 5:35 PM ET, Wed March 2, 2022
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7:06 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Kremlin: Putin unlikely to watch Biden's State of the Union speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to watch President Biden’s State of the Union address, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN late Tuesday evening.

“The President usually does not watch TV addresses”, Peskov said in response to a question from CNN.
“He prefers reading reports afterwards," Peskov added.

Biden is scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union address at the Capitol on Tuesday evening. He is expected to focus heavily on the conflict in Ukraine.

Follow our live coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine here.

7:03 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

White House prepared for split-screen if Kyiv is under siege during State of the Union

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

White House officials are mindful that tonight's speech will reflect a figurative — and likely literal — split-screen with continued violence in Ukraine. The 9 p.m. ET speech will occur around the same time that shelling and strikes typically begin in the early morning hours in Ukraine.

President Biden's team has been closely monitoring the column of Russian forces that had been advancing toward Kyiv, and are aware of Russian warnings that it plans to carry out strikes on facilities in the Ukrainian capital.

Biden's speech is already expected to heavily address the situation in Ukraine, so his team is not concerned that his remarks will appear out of touch or detached from the situation on the ground there.

But they are bracing for the prospect of renewed violence in Ukraine happening at the same time he is speaking, and believe they have written a speech that can reflect those realities.

Biden has rehearsed portions of his speech over the past few days and is expected to continue today. As is typical, Biden and his team have been tweaking elements and wording of the speech today. 

Events on the ground in Ukraine could prompt further changes in the hours and moments before he delivers it, according to one official.

You can follow our live coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine here.

6:38 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador to the US will be in first lady's box for State of the Union

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Ukrainian Amb. Oksana Markarova meets with Senate Ukraine Caucus co-chairs Sen. Dick Durbin, and Sen. Rob Portman at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, February 28.
Ukrainian Amb. Oksana Markarova meets with Senate Ukraine Caucus co-chairs Sen. Dick Durbin, and Sen. Rob Portman at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, February 28.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, will be in first lady Jill Biden's box for tonight's State of the Union address.

The list of guests from first lady at tonight’s State of Union address also includes educators, a union representative, members of the tech community, an organizer of Native American causes, a healthcare worker, and a military spouse. 

Read more about the guests here.  

8:41 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Official: Biden will call on Congress to deliver on legislative agenda for clean energy and climate action

From CNN's DJ Judd

In his first State of the Union Address Tuesday, President Biden “will call on Congress to deliver on a legislative agenda for clean energy and climate action that has overwhelming support from the American people—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents,” according to a senior administration official. 

During his remarks, the White House said, Biden will specifically call for renewed investment in and tax credits for domestic energy manufacturing and deployments, steps the administration says could save Americans an average of $500 a year in energy costs. 

“As part of the President’s unwavering support for climate solutions, these investments will reduce emissions, lower costs for families, create good-paying jobs for workers, and advance environmental justice,” the official told reporters Monday, previewing the President’s speech. 

The President is also expected to point to a slew of actions in the first two months of 2022 aimed at tackling the climate crisis, including steps to cut methane emissions, shore up supply chains for critical minerals, and increase domestic production of electric vehicles. 

Biden’s focus on his administration’s climate goals comes as some advocates have accused the administration of slow action on the climate crisis.

6:33 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Read excerpts from Biden's first State of the Union address 

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Biden is set to deliver his first State of the Union address of his term tonight and is expected to touch on critical issues the US is facing on both the domestic and foreign fronts.

The White House released the following excerpts from his address as prepared for his delivery:

On the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

"Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson — when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.
That’s why the NATO Alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War 2. The United States is a member along with 29 other nations.
It matters. American diplomacy matters.
Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home. 
Putin was wrong. We were ready."

On inflation and the US economy:

"We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation.
Lower your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. And, instead of relying on foreign supply chains — let’s make it in America.
Economists call it 'increasing the productive capacity of our economy.' I call it building a better America.
My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit."

Biden will deliver his remarks at 9 p.m. ET tonight.

11:20 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Here's why presidents deliver a State of the Union address

From CNN's Ethan Cohen and Melissa DePalo

President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union tonight at 9 p.m. ET and his second address to a joint session of Congress.

While all US presidents are constitutionally obligated to deliver an annual update on the state of the country to Congress, for most of American history they were delivered as written messages.

This will be the 105th time a president has delivered either address as an in-person speech before Congress.

The US Constitution requires the president to brief Congress on the state of the union. Article II, Section 3, Constitution says:

"He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

The idea for a State of the Union address originated from a ritual from the British monarchy. The king or queen gives a speech from the throne at the opening session of the British Parliament.

The US State of the Union address used to be known as "the President's Annual Message to Congress." Franklin Roosevelt titled his 1934 speech, "Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union," according to his papers.

According to the House Clerk's office, the speech was informally referred to as "the State of the Union" from 1942 to 1946. It was first officially called the "State of the Union" address in 1947 under Truman.

George Washington delivered the first "annual message" on Jan. 8, 1790, at Federal Hall in New York.

The first televised State of the Union/annual message was delivered by President Harry Truman on Jan. 6, 1947.

6:34 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver tonight's GOP response. Here are some key topics expected in her speech.

From CNN's Clare Foran

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)
(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver the Republican response to President Biden's upcoming State of the Union address.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy announced last week that Reynolds will give the Republican address to the nation from Des Moines, Iowa, after the conclusion of Biden's speech.

The speech will give Reynolds a prominent national platform to speak to the country and counter Biden's message. It comes as Republicans work to make their case to the American public ahead of pivotal midterm elections that will determine which party controls the House and Senate.

In a preview of one of the themes the Iowa governor is likely to touch on in her rebuttal speech, McConnell and McCarthy both praised her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has drawn national attention and sparked controversy and push back from Democrats.

Reynolds signed legislation into law last year that blocks mask mandates from being implemented in K-12 schools and prohibits cities and counties from requiring facial coverings in businesses. She also signed a bill into law last year that grants unemployment benefits to those who lose their jobs because they refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

"She handled COVID by choosing freedom over lockdowns and personal responsibility over mandates — leading to real economic recovery from the pandemic," McCarthy said in a statement.

"She fought COVID without forgetting common sense and protected Iowans' health and their rights at the same time," McConnell said.

"I am thrilled the American people will hear directly from Gov. Reynolds," he added. "The President and his team should take notes."

11:20 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden will announce plan to lower costs for American families during speech

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, DJ Judd and Kevin Liptak

When President Biden discusses the state of the US economy during tonight’s State of the Union address, he will focus his comments on a new plan to lower costs for American families and his administration’s efforts in the labor market’s recovery, senior administration officials told reporters on a call previewing the remarks. 

While he'll tout economic gains over the past year, Biden will underscore there is "more work" to do toward lowering costs — a reflection that despite a strong recovery, many Americans are still pessimistic about the economy.

The President will specifically discuss price increases impacting Americans, laying out a four-point plan to lower costs for American families and continue on the US’ economic recovery amid the Covid pandemic. The four-point plan will focus on: 

  1. Making more things in America, strengthening our supply chains, and moving goods faster and cheaper; 
  2. Reducing the cost of everyday expenses working families face and reducing the deficit; 
  3. Promoting fair competition to lower prices, help small businesses thrive, and protect consumers; and 
  4. Eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs for workers all across America. 

As part of his plan to lower costs, Biden is expected to announce two new specific initiatives in a pair of disparate industries: the ocean shipping sector and nursing homes.

He’ll use the shipping example to illustrate corporate consolidation the administration says is driving up prices; three conglomerates now control 80% of global container ship capacity. Biden is launching a new initiative between the Federal Maritime Commission and the Justice Department to promote greater competition. He’ll also highlight the toll Covid has taken on nursing homes, and announce new steps to improve conditions in those facilities. 

Explaining that 23% of all US Covid deaths occurred in nursing homes, Biden will decry the lack of accountability in facilities with back track records. The administration plans to establish a new minimum staffing ratio and expand penalties for badly performing homes.

“He'll talk about the progress that we've made in the last year in face of deep challenges and he'll talk about his optimism for the future … And he'll remind the country that our best days lie ahead,” an official on the call said. The President will also “underscore that during his first year in office, in large part thanks to the American Rescue Plan, entrepreneurship and business investment has rebounded, the economy achieved its fastest job growth in American history, the fastest economic growth in nearly 40 years, and a faster recovery than every other advanced economy in the G7.” 

During the speech, the official said, Biden is expected to “make clear that there's more work to do that there's more work to rebuild the economy, towards resilience, security and sustainability.” 

The President is also expected to announce specific goals for implementation of his landmark bipartisan infrastructure law. 

“The President will make clear that he believes one of the best ways to lower costs over the long run is to increase the productive capacity of our economy. Put simply, that means make more things in America with more American workers contributing and earning a good living,” one official on the call said, later adding that “the President will also call on Congress to send him bipartisan competitiveness legislation.” 

He’ll also tout the labor market’s recovery, according to an official on the call, specifically highlighting how the American Rescue Plan played a role “in positioning employers to hire and workers to rejoin the labor force and find higher quality jobs to further our economic recovery and increase the productive capacity for our economy.” 

On the President’s signature social spending legislation, Build Back Better, which has stalled in Congress since West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced he’d oppose the bill, an official said to expect Biden will “say that it's time for Congress to act, it's time for Congress to get him a piece of legislation that addresses those core challenges for families right now.”

Still, the official wouldn’t say if Biden would call explicitly for passage of Build Back Better by name, just one month after Manchin told reporters the legislation was “dead.”

“It’s not about the name of the bill, it's about the ideas, it's about lowering costs for families,” the official told reporters on Monday’s call. “And I think you can expect to hear the President talk about those ideas — he's going to talk about lowering prescription drug costs, lowering health care premiums, lowering families’ utility bills, lowering the cost families pay to care for their children and parents.”

And while another official said to expect the President to address rising costs and his plans to lower prices, they declined to say whether he’d address inflation, even as the consumer price index hits a 40-year high.

11:20 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine will be part of Biden's State of the Union address, White House says

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Biden will talk about the situation in Ukraine during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jenn Psaki confirmed Monday.

“Every State of the Union address is an opportunity for the President delivering it to speak directly to the American people about what is happening in that moment, the progress that's being made, and also the challenges we're facing,” Psaki told MSNBC, “and certainly what we're seeing on the ground in Ukraine.”

She said Biden would talk about “the fact that the President has built a coalition of countries around the world to stand up to Russian aggression to stand up to President Putin to put in place crippling sanctions, that will be a part of what people will hear in the speech. That wouldn't have been the case three months ago.”

“If we look back at history,” she continued, “President Obama gave a speech during the worst financial crisis of our lifetime. President Bush gave a speech shortly after the worst terrorist attack on our homeland ever. It's always about expressing how you're going to leave the country.” 

She said there would be new policy proposals in the speech.

Psaki also said the Biden administration wants to “reduce the rhetoric and deescalate” after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his country’s deterrence forces – which include nuclear arms – be placed on high alert.

“We've seen this pattern from President Putin over the course of the last several months and even before then where he manufactures the threat in order to justify a greater aggressive action,” Psaki said. “The Russians – President Putin included as the leader of Russia – have committed to taking steps to reduce nuclear threats.”

“Everybody knows that that is not a war that can be won,” she added.

Psaki said the US has its “own preparations” and “own ability and capacity to defend the United States,” but has not changed alert levels.

“We have not changed our own alerts, and we have not changed our own assessment in that front, but we also need to be very clear eyed about his own use of threats,” she said. “What we want to do right now is reduce the rhetoric and deescalate.”