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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9:16 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Members of Congress show support for Ukraine with blue and yellow ribbons

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Rep. Steve Scalise, left, and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, right, talk with Ukrainian-American Rep. Victoria Spartz, before President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address, Tuesday, March 1.
Rep. Steve Scalise, left, and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, right, talk with Ukrainian-American Rep. Victoria Spartz, before President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address, Tuesday, March 1. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AP)

In a show of support and solidarity with Ukraine, the Ukraine caucus on Capitol Hill encouraged members to pick up and wear blue and yellow ribbons for the State of the Union tonight.

This comes as many members have taken it upon themselves to display their support by wearing blue and yellow suits, dresses and ties. The effort was organized by Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Chicago and co-chair of the Ukraine caucus. 

Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from California, tweeted a picture of himself in a navy suit with light blue shirt and yellow tie saying “I stand with Ukraine.” 

 U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to the media at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC.
 U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to the media at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa who spent time in Ukraine in college studying in an agricultural program, made herself a knitted sunflower pin in blue and yellow she is wearing this evening. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. 

And Sen. Patrick Leahy, the President pro tempore of the Senate, told CNN's Ted Barrett today that he spent some time this morning really looking through his closet to find the right tone of yellow to wear in support of Ukraine. 

Expect to see more of these displays tonight.

12:50 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Manchin is seated on the GOP side of the chamber between Romney and Wicker

From CNN's Lauren Fox 

Sen. Joe Manchin, a key swing vote and Democrat from West Virginia, has bucked tradition and is seated on the GOP side of the House chamber for the State of the Union speech, sitting between Sens. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, and Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi.

A spokesperson for Manchin said he sat with Romney tonight “to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the US Senate.”

 

 

8:53 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Republicans and Democrats have ditched the masks this evening

From CNN's Lauren Fox

One stark change in the chamber this State of the Union is the lack of face masks in the House of Representatives.

Just 48 hours after the attending physician issued guidance saying masks were optional, members on both the Republican and Democratic side have been spotted meandering and catching up with colleagues, taking selfies, shaking hands, and touching without masks.

It’s largely a normalized scene, an echo of the message the President is expected to deliver tonight about America’s pivot away from letting the virus dominate American life. 

Masking — especially on the House floor — had become a massive partisan lightning rod here with some Republicans refusing so often to wear a mask over the last several months that they racked up thousands in fines. 

There are still a handful of members that can be seen with masks including Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, and others, but Republicans and Democrats alike seem very comfortable shedding them after a long two years. 

One thing that does remain this evening is the metal detectors outside the House floor. House members still expected to go through them. I am told senators, who will come over as one group, will not. 

 

12:51 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

"We stand with Ukraine," Harris tells reporters

From CNN's Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

As she crossed the rotunda leading senators to the House floor at the US Capitol, Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters "We stand with Ukraine." 

It was in response to a question about her message to that the country.

12:51 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Here's a look at tonight's sequence of events

From CNN's Ethan Cohen and Melissa DePalo

President Biden will soon deliver the first State of the Union address of his presidency.

Last year’s address, was technically an “annual message” because it was Biden’s first. Since 1977, new presidents have not called their first speech before a Joint Session of Congress a "State of the Union." They are often referred to as an "annual message" or a message/address on a particular topic

The State of the Union is traditionally delivered in the chamber of the House of Representatives before members of both the House and the Senate, as well as justices of the Supreme Court, members of the president's Cabinet and the diplomatic corps.

Traditionally, the President is escorted into the House chamber by members of both the House and the Senate.

The arrival of the president is announced by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives.

The speaker of the House then introduces the president (In 2019, President Trump did not wait for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's introduction before beginning his remarks – it’s unclear whether this was an intentional breach of protocol or not).

Biden’s second address, like his first, comes in front of a united Democratic Congress.

Former Presidents Trump, Obama and Clinton all had complete control of Washington for their first two years in office before their respective parties lost control of at least one chamber of Congress during the midterm elections.

8:46 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is the designated survivor, source says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Betsy Klein

(Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
(Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is the designated survivor for President Biden’s first State of the Union address, a source tells CNN, staying away from the Capitol in an undisclosed location during Biden’s remarks.  

What this means: Every year the administration appoints one member of the Cabinet to remain outside the House chamber during the State of the Union in case disaster strikes. 

Last year, when Biden gave an address to a joint session of Congress, there was no designated survivor, with Cabinet members viewing the address from afar due to Covid restrictions. 

Raimondo, the former governor of Rhode Island, became the Secretary of Commerce in March 2021. 

A member of the President’s “Jobs Cabinet,” she has been an active surrogate for the administration on topics including a bipartisan push to expand economic competition with China and address global semiconductor shortages and the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last November, as well as Biden’s stalled Build Back Better agenda. 

Raimondo’s department works to promote job creation and economic growth. Raimondo is 10th in the presidential line of succession.

The presidential line of succession is outlined in the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, which was updated during the Truman administration in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. 

The current line of succession is: 

  1. Vice President Kamala Harris
  2. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 
  3. President Pro Tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy
  4. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  5. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen
  6. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
  7. Attorney General Merrick Garland
  8. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
  9. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
  10. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
  11. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh
  12. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra
  13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge
  14. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
  15. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona
  16. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough

Note: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was born in Cuba and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was born in Canada. Both were naturalized as US citizens, but they are ineligible to serve as President and therefore cannot be the designated survivor.

8:33 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden just left the White House and is heading to the US Capitol

President Biden just left the White House and is now on his way to the US Capitol to deliver his first State of the Union address.

His remarks are expected to begin at 9 p.m. ET.

8:24 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

These are the members of the escort committee for tonight's State of the Union address

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Ahead of tonight's State of the Union address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven people to serve on the Congressional Escort Committee.

Those members are:

  • House Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland
  • Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina
  • Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts
  • Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York
  • Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus 
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware

8:10 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden's State of the Union address begins soon. Here's a look at the key topics he will discuss.

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Kate Sullivan

(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/Getty Images)
(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/Getty Images)

The worsening Russian invasion of Ukraine will likely be a key focus of President Biden’s first State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

Biden had hoped to use the speech as a political reset and an opportunity to highlight his economic agenda, but CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Maegan Vazquez, and Jeremy Diamond report the President and his team have revised portions of his speech to reflect the crisis. Between his frequent meetings and briefings about the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Biden has been preparing for his address by working with speechwriters and members of his policy team to adjust his message.

Here’s what we’re expecting the President’s speech to focus on tonight: 

  • The crisis in Ukraine: The crisis in Ukraine will play an outsize role in his remarks. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, "There's no question that this speech is a little different than it would have been just a few months ago." Biden is expected to lay out the efforts the President has taken on ��to rally the world to stand up for democracy and against Russian aggression.” He will talk about steps the US has taken so far, the global coalition, and the impact on the global and US economies, Psaki said.
  • Touting accomplishments: Biden is still expected to tout his major accomplishments from his first year in office: the nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, the national Covid-19 vaccination program, the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law.
  • Recalibrating his economic message: The President will seek to acknowledge the hardships many Americans are facing amid rising consumer prices. That message, officials previewing Biden's remarks have said, will focus on a new plan to lower costs for American families and his administration's efforts in the labor market's recovery. He will announce two specific initiatives as part of this plan, one on the ocean shipping sector and another in nursing homes. 
  • The Covid-19 pandemic: The President will focus on the pandemic’s evolution as his team works to develop a strategy for the next phase. The release of a new strategy document, CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports, was delayed amid the situation in Ukraine, but he is expected to highlight the “tremendous progress” in the fight against Covid-19.
  • Action on climate: Expect Biden to call on Congress to take action on climate with bipartisan support from Americans, a senior official said, adding that he will call for renewed investment in and tax credits for domestic energy manufacturing and deployments. The administration says it could save Americans an average of $500 a year in energy costs.     

As CNN's Stephen Collinson writes this morning, it will be a balancing act: Biden must recognize the fatigue, suffering and pessimism in a nation exhausted by the Covid-19 pandemic, rocked by rising inflation and high gas prices and now suddenly thrown by Russia's invasion of Ukraine into the worst geopolitical crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then he must somehow conjure optimism about better times to come ahead of this year's midterms as he faces ebbing confidence among Americans that he has the plans, skills and endurance to end the crises.