President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address

By Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Tori B. Powell, Amir Vera, Melissa Macaya and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 12:11 PM ET, Wed February 8, 2023
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1:04 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Biden’s second State of the Union clocked in at nearly 1 hour 13 minutes

From CNN's Annette Choi and Sean O'Key

We tracked the approximate length of President Joe Biden’s second State of the Union speech. By CNN’s tally, the president was about 15 minutes shy of Bill Clinton’s 2000 address, the longest in recent history.

Here is how Biden's address compares to past presidents:

2:05 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Biden concludes his address with key message: "The state of the union is strong"

President Joe Biden concluded his second State of the Union address with a message about the current state of the country.

"So I've come to fulfill my constitution obligation to report the state of the union and here's my report: Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, the state of the union is strong," Biden said to applause.

During the more than hourlong speech, Biden appealed to bipartisanship, telling Republicans he wants to work together instead of “fighting for the sake of fighting."

1:04 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Biden: If China threatens our sovereignty we will act to protect our country — and we did

President Joe Biden addressed US-China relations following last week's incident involving a suspected Chinese spy balloon — and he gave Beijing a warning.

"Today, we are in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world — anyone else in the world. And I am committed —I am committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world advance — but make no mistake about it, as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty we will act to protect our country — and we did," the President said referencing how the US shot down the suspected spy balloon.

More background: US military fighter jets shot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed Saturday.

The operation ended a remarkable public drama that prompted a diplomatic fallout between Washington and Beijing, as the American public tracked the balloon from Montana all the way to the Carolinas.

Biden approved the downing of the balloon, Austin said in a statement, which a US official previously told CNN was a plan that was presented and supported by US military leaders.

CNN's Zachary Cohen, Kevin Liptak, Oren Liebermann and Phil Mattingly contributed reporting to this post. 

10:40 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Biden says violent attack on Paul Pelosi "never should have happened"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Attendees, including US First Lady Jill Biden and US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, applaud Paul Pelosi, husband of US Representative Nancy Pelosi as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address.
Attendees, including US First Lady Jill Biden and US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, applaud Paul Pelosi, husband of US Representative Nancy Pelosi as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden reiterated his calls for Americans to bolster democracy and speak out against extremism, discussing how a recent politically motivated attack against Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "never should have happened."

In the room where he was speaking, Biden recalled, democracy "has been threatened and attacked, put at risk," when insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Just a few months ago, Biden said, an assailant "unleashed political violence" in Pelosi's home, using "the very same language the insurrectionists used as they stalked these halls and chanted on January 6th."

The attack "never should have happened," Biden said.

Pelosi, who was severely injured during the attack, sat above the House chamber as a guest in the first lady's box during the State of the Union.

"We must all speak out. There is no place for political violence in America," the president continued, later adding that "we must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor."

"Democracy must not be a partisan issue. It's an American issue," Biden added.
10:20 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Fact check: Biden's claim on manufacturing investments 

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

President Biden claimed that a new law, the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, will produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs. He said, “That’s going to come from companies that have announced more than $300 billion in investment in American manufacturing over the next few years.” 

Facts First: Biden’s prediction about future job creation is obviously beyond the scope of a fact check. But his claim about companies having announced $300 billion in manufacturing investments during his presidency is accurate; the White House provided CNN with a list of these publicly announced investments. (It’s worth noting that companies sometimes end up investing less than they initially announce.)    

The majority of the manufacturing investments that have been publicly announced under Biden to date have been investments in semiconductor facilities. The Biden administration has emphasized the importance of US semiconductor manufacturing, and Biden signed a bill in August that has helped to generate major investment.  

10:29 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Republicans heckle Biden over accusations of wanting to cut Social Security

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene yells in the chambers as President Joe Biden speaks during the State of the Union address.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene yells in the chambers as President Joe Biden speaks during the State of the Union address. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

President Joe Biden regained control of an increasingly rowdy House chamber – and even managed to quickly turn heckles into a standing ovation from most Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. 

The president was speaking about the national debt – a debt he said took “200 years to accumulate,” but was increased by 25% under the last administration. 

“Those are the facts, check it out,” Biden said, as boos and chatter started in the chamber. “Check it out!,” he continued over the ruckus. 

“How did Congress respond to all that debt?” Biden asked. “They did the right thing, they lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis.” 

Democrats cheered while Republicans quieted. But when the president accused some Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare, the protests erupted again. 

“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage, I get it, unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are,” Biden said. “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I'm not saying it's a majority,” he said to a rising chorus of boos. 

"Anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.” 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green appeared to stand and shout, “you lie.” 

The White House has repeatedly accused Republicans of wanting to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but McCarthy explicitly said recently that those cuts were off the table. 

The president said he was “glad to see” the reaction, adding, “I enjoy conversion.”

“I’m not saying it’s a majority of you, I don’t think it’s even a significant – but it’s being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them but it’s being proposed by some of you,” Biden said. Someone from the crowd shouted “liar,” among other heckles.

McCarthy shook his head and appeared to shush his members. 

The president continued, saying he wasn’t going to “be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don’t respond.”

“Folks – as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be touched,” he said, to what turned into claps. “We’ve got unanimity!” 
“Let’s all agree, and apparently we are, let’s stand up for seniors,” he said, encouraging lawmakers to stand up. “Stand up and show them! We will not cut Social Security; we will not cut Medicare.” 

He added: “if anyone tries to cut Social Security – which apparently no one is going to do – I’ll stop them. I’ll veto it.”  

“Apparently it’s not going to be a problem,” he said. 

Biden then said when he brings his budget proposal to Congress, he wanted to “sit down together and discuss our mutual plans together. Let’s do that.” McCarthy stood and clapped.

10:19 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Biden's kitchen table focus viewed by advisers as politically critical, even if aspirational

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address.
President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

The new House Republican majority has constructed a figurative wall in front of President Joe Biden’s legislative priorities.

But White House officials made a point of including the most politically salient of them in his State of the Union address anyway.

Junk fees. Non-compete agreements. Labor organizing. Paid family leave and an expanded Child Tax Credit. Expanding the cap on insulin prices to all Americans after enacting a cap for Medicare recipients last year.

Each of these policies is viewed inside the White House as widely popular across the country. They have reams of polling data to prove it. They rally Democrats and elevate the party’s close union allies.

They also have little to no prospects of getting to Biden’s desk to be signed into law in the 118th Congress.

But they mark a clear contrast for Biden to highlight, even as he seeks to underscore his desire to extend an olive branch of bipartisanship to his Republican counterparts.

White House officials are well aware of the aspirational nature of the proposals. But they view the contrast as critical for the months ahead. There is, after all, another election coming up in 2024. And it won’t just be lawmakers in the chamber up for reelection.  

All signs point to Biden’s name being on the ballot as well.

10:12 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Fact check: Unemployment among demographic groups

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

President Joe Biden said there is “near record unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers.” 

Facts First: Biden’s claims are accurate.  

The Black or African American unemployment rate was 5.4% in January 2023, just above the record low of 5.3% set in August 2019. (This data series goes back to 1972.) The rate was 9.2% in January 2021, the month Biden took office.   

The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate was 4.5% in January 2023, not too far from the record low of 4.0% that was set in September 2019 — though the 4.5% rate in January 2023 was a jump from the 4.1% rate in December 2022. (This data series goes back to 1973.) The rate was 8.5% in January 2021. 

10:15 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Fact check: Biden's claim about Trump and the national debt 

From CNN’s Katie Lobosco and Daniel Dale 

President Biden criticized the fiscal management of former President Donald Trump’s administration — saying that “nearly 25% of the entire national debt, a debt that took 200 years to accumulate, was added by just one administration alone – the last one.” 

Facts First: Biden’s claim is correct. The national debt, now more than $31 trillion, increased by just under $8 trillion during Trump’s four years in office, in part because of Trump’s major tax cuts. It’s important to note, though, that some of the increase in the debt during the Trump era was because of the trillions in emergency Covid-19 pandemic relief spending that passed with bipartisan support. The national debt spiked in the first half of 2020 after increasing gradually during Trump’s first three years in office, and because of spending required by safety-net programs that were created by previous presidents. A significant amount of spending under any president is the result of decisions made by their predecessors.  

Charles Blahous, a researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University who authored the 2021 paper “Why We Have Federal Deficits,” wrote that the impact of recent legislation on the long-term structural fiscal imbalance is dwarfed by the creation of Medicare and Medicaid and increases to Social Security, all of which occurred between 1965 and 1972.   

"Despite all the political rhetoric expended today to cast blame for skyrocketing federal deficits on either the Joseph R. Biden Jr. administration or the Donald J. Trump administration, on either congressional Democrats or congressional Republicans, the largest drivers of the structural federal fiscal imbalance were enacted roughly a half-century ago," Blahous wrote.