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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10:38 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Fact check: Biden's claim on assistance to Ukraine

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Jeremy Herb 

((Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP)
((Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP)

President Biden said in his address tonight: “We are giving more than $1 billion in direct assistance to Ukraine.” 

Facts First: This is true, but it needs context. The US has given more than $1 billion in total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year. While Biden administration officials have continued to send aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion six days ago, they are not giving the total $1 billion in assistance right now. 

The US has given more than $1 billion in total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Feb. 26. The US is not currently giving Ukraine $1 billion in aid, as the President stated in his speech. 

Blinken authorized the Defense Department to provide $60 million in immediate military assistance to Ukraine in the fall of 2021. In December, Blinken authorized an additional $200 million. After the invasion began, Blinken authorized a third aid package of $350 million for “immediate support to Ukraine’s defense,” Blinken said in the statement, bringing the total security assistance from the US to Ukraine “over the past year to more than $1 billion.” 

Biden administration officials have said they are continuing to send security assistance to Ukraine, even as the Russian invasion continues. 

US security assistance to Ukraine has continued to arrive, a senior defense official told reporters Monday. 

“It continues to arrive. and continues to get to them, including in just the last day or so,” the official said on a call with reporters. “We’re not going to talk about the specifics of how we get stuff in, so we can continue to get stuff in.” 

10:21 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden announces Justice Department prosecutor for pandemic related fraud

From CNN's Allie Malloy

(Saul Loeb/Pool/AP)
(Saul Loeb/Pool/AP)

President Biden in his State of the Union address formally announced a Department of Justice chief prosecutor for pandemic related fraud declaring: “In my administration, the watchdogs are back.” 

Biden also took aim at the Trump administration for undercutting financial watchdogs, saying: “The previous Administration not only ballooned the deficit with those tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations, it undermined the watchdogs. The job of those it was to keep pandemic relief funds from being wasted.”

Biden continued, “In my administration, the watchdogs are back.  We’re gonna go after the criminals who stole billions of relief money meant for small business and millions of Americans.”

The White House announced the new federal efforts to combat identity theft and criminal fraud in pandemic relief programs earlier Tuesday in a fact sheet.

Biden also touted the decrease in the deficit under his administration, saying by the end of this year “the deficit will be down to less than half what it was before I took office.”

“The only president ever to cut the deficit by more than one trillion dollars in a single year. Lowering your costs also means demanding more competition. I’m a capitalist, but capitalism without competition is not capitalism. Capitalism without competition is exploitation—and it drives up profits,” Biden added.

10:22 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden calls for a "reset" to "stop seeing Covid as a partisan dividing line"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

(Saul Loeb/Pool/AP)
(Saul Loeb/Pool/AP)

President Biden outlined his plan to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic during his State of the Union address, calling for a bipartisan “reset” from the polarization of the last two years as the nation begins the return to normal.

As CNN has reported, the administration is expected to announce its strategy for the next phase of the pandemic on Wednesday. 

“We have lost so much to Covid-19. Time with one another. And worst of all, much loss of life. Let’s use this moment to reset, stop looking at Covid-19 as a partisan dividing line. See it for what it is: A God-awful disease. Let’s stop seeing each other as enemies, and start seeing each other for who we are: Fellow Americans,” he said.

Biden conceded that Covid-19 “has impacted every decision in our lives and the life of the nation” over the past two years, acknowledging the frustration and exhaustion as he said that the US is now “moving forward safely, back to — more normal routines.”

He said the US is in a “new moment” in the pandemic with cases coming down, touting new masking guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week.  

“Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, Covid-19 need no longer control our lives. I know some are talking about ‘living with Covid-19.’ But tonight, I say that we will never just accept living with Covid-19,” Biden said, pointing to four steps to “stay on guard.”

He reiterated the importance of vaccines and treatments, including Pfizer’s antiviral pill, announcing a new distribution initiative.

“We’re launching the ‘Test to Treat’ initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they’re positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost,” he said to applause

Biden also said his administration’s scientists are “working hard” to get vaccines authorized for children under five years of age.

He also announced that Americans who ordered free Covid-19 tests from will be able to order additional tests “starting next week.”

Biden also outlined efforts to prepare for new variants and called on Congress to provide funding for additional stockpiles of tests, masks, and pills, if needed. 

The President also touted efforts to vaccinate the world, including 475 million Covid-19 vaccine doses sent to 112 countries over the past year.

10:16 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden recognized outgoing Supreme Court Justice Breyer during his speech

President Biden recognized outgoing US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer during his State of the Union on Tuesday.

"Look, tonight I would like to honor someone who dedicated his life to serve this country. Justice Breyer, an army veteran, constitutional scholar, retiring Justice of the United States Supreme Court," said Biden.

"Justice Breyer, thank you for your service. Thank you, thank you, thank you," he said.

Breyer looked moved by the President's words, and only after Biden instructed, "Get up. Stand up. Let them see you," Breyer did stand, and mouthed the words "Thank You," repeatedly.

Watch the moment:

10:14 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden on SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson: "She is a consensus builder"

Biden looks on as Ketanji Brown Jackson delivers brief remarks as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court during an event in the Cross Hall of the White House February 25, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Biden looks on as Ketanji Brown Jackson delivers brief remarks as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court during an event in the Cross Hall of the White House February 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Biden described his nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, for the Supreme Court as a "consensus builder" during his State of the Union speech tonight.

"We all know, not matter whatever your ideology, we all know one of the most serious constitutional duties a president has is nominating someone to serve on the United States Supreme Court, as I did four days ago. I've nominated Circuit Court of Appeals Ketanji Brown Jackson. One of our nation's top legal minds who will continue in Justice Breyer's legacy of excellence. The former top litigator in private practice, a former federal public defender, from a family of public school educators and police officers. She is a consensus builder. Since she has been nominated she has received a broad range of support including the Fraternal Order of Police and former judges supported by Democrats and Republicans," he said.

1:09 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

"Build the Wall" chant heard when Biden discussed immigration during State of the Union

From CNN's Sam Fossum and Kristin Wilson

((Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AP)
((Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AP)

As President Biden was discussing the border and immigration during his State of the Union remarks, Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert were heard chanting "Build the Wall."

"Folks, if we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure the border and fix the immigration system," Biden said.  

As members in the chamber gave him a standing ovation, Greene and Boebert began chanting "Build the Wall."

10:04 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden on policing and safety: "The answer is not to defund the police. It's to fund the police."

(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP)
(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP)

President Biden said communities shouldn't have to "choose between safety and equal justice" when it comes to policing.

"Let's come together and protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable," he said. 

The President noted that the American Rescue Plan includes "$350 billion that cities, states, and counties can use to hire more police and invest in more proven strategy," like community violence interruption and other groups "breaking the cycle of violence and trauma, giving young people some hope." 

He continued: "We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police. It's to fund the police."

10:06 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden announces new "Test to Treat" initiative and says Americans will get free Covid-19 antiviral pills

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

President Biden announced a new “Test to Treat” initiative and said Americans will be able to get tested for Covid-19 at a pharmacy and receive free antiviral pills “on the spot” if they test positive. 

“If you get Covid-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90%,” Biden said. “I’ve ordered more pills than anyone in the world has. Pfizer is working overtime to get us a million pills this month and more than double that next month.” 

Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalizations and severe illness and was authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration last year.

Upon its authorization, Biden announced a purchase of 10 million courses. The President has since said the federal government will double its order from 10 million to 20 million treatment courses. 

10:12 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Steelworker and 13-year-old boy share heartwarming handshake during Biden's speech


President Biden's State of the Union just offered audiences an impromptu, heartwarming moment.

The occasion came as Biden was discussing infrastructure, during which he recognized a guest in attendance: Joseph "JoJo" Burgess of the United Steelworkers union.

As Biden introduced Burgess — saying, "Thanks Buddy," — the man stood and waved to the room, allowing applause to set in.

It was at this point that Burgess received a warm handshake from an unlikely source: 13-year-old Joshua Davis, a fellow guest seated just to the steelworker's right.

Watch the moment: