LIVE: Here's what Biden said in his 2023 State of the Union Address

Published February 7, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST

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President Biden's second State of the Union address — and his first before a divided Congress — described a country that has put the pandemic and the Jan. 6, 2021, political violence in the rearview mirror under his tenure.

Here's what we're following:

ICYMI

Looking for a recap?

Posted February 8, 2023 at 12:56 AM EST

This live coverage is winding down for the night, but keep an eye on NPR.org and an ear on your local NPR member station for more analysis and coverage of tonight's speech in the days to come.

If you're just joining us (or maybe you've been here, but you're the most hardcore SOTU fan), here's a few helpful links to dig into:

Thanks for joining us!

Trump responds to Biden's address on Truth Social

Posted February 8, 2023 at 12:45 AM EST

On his social media platform, Truth Social, former President Donald Trump reacted to President Biden's State of the Union address with his own video response.

Trump's top points focused on border crossings and security, the crime rate in the U.S. and inflation. He also criticized Biden's Justice Department, which is currently investigating Trump's handling of classified documents.

"Joe Biden's weaponized Justice Department — and I'm a victim of it — is persecuting its political opponents," Trump said. The Justice Department has also opened an investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents after materials with classified markings were found at Biden's home and former office.

Trump is a candidate for the 2024 president election, and his response to the State of the Union included his campaign logo.

"He's the most corrupt president in American history, and it's not even close," Trump said of Biden. "I am running for president to end the destruction of our country."

Trump set up the video in his post with a written comment about Biden.

"Look, he worked hard tonight, it’s not a natural thing for him, it never was, and never will be, but you’ve got to give him credit for trying. I disagree with him on most of his policies, but he put into words what he felt, and he ended up the evening far stronger than he began. Give him credit for that," Trump wrote.

ICYMI

Here's a section of Biden's speech that's likely to make some headlines Wednesday

Posted February 8, 2023 at 12:32 AM EST

In what appeared to be an ad-libbed remark, President Biden said the U.S. would need oil and gas “for at least another decade,” prompting some laughter in the room.

The American Petroleum Institute recently said it believes the world’s demand for oil will grow for the next three decades. Climate advocates are calling for oil demand to decline as quickly as possible. 

“You may have noticed that Big Oil just reported record profits," Biden said in a tone more critical of the industry.

"Last year, they made $200 billion in the midst of a global energy crisis. I think it’s outrageous. Why? They invested too little of that profit to increase domestic production."

Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP recently reported huge earnings. And as Biden noted, oil companies have been under pressure from their investors to return more money to shareholders and put less into production, which is one factor helping to keep energy prices high.

The European Union has imposed a windfall tax on oil companies to claw back some of those extraordinary profits and redirect them to the consumers who have had to cope with sky-high energy prices. But such a tax appears to be a political nonstarter in the United States.

Instead, Biden says he’ll quadruple a new tax on stock buybacks, which are one way companies can return profits to their investors.

As a response to skyrocketing oil profits, that’s extremely indirect. Other companies have gone on stock buyback sprees too, and after the new 1% tax on stock buybacks passed last year, Chevron approved a $75 billion stock buyback plan. Clearly, the tax wasn’t much of a deterrent.

Biden now says he wants to quadruple that tax. But even if he manages to do that, and even if a 4% tax proves to be more onerous, companies could always just return profits to shareholders through dividends.

ICYMI

Here's what it was like inside the chamber during the speech

Posted February 8, 2023 at 12:19 AM EST

NPR's Barbara Sprunt was in the room where it all happened. Here's what she noted as the biggest moments of reaction to President Biden's State of the Union:

  • Bipartisan applause: Notably, it wasn’t Biden’s call to Republicans and Democrats to work together to get things done that got lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to rise and applaud. Instead, the major bipartisan applause came after Biden announced new standards that will require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America. Another line about plans to double down on COVID-19 relief theft also got the most applause.
  • To sit or not to sit: At one point, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., stood up to applaud when Biden said that some members want to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, one of the Biden administration’s signature legislative accomplishments. Upon seeing he was not joined by many other Republican members, he sat back down.
  • A vibe shift: The mood noticeably changed after Biden blasted Republicans for the debt ceiling and claimed that a number of unnamed Republicans want to sunset Medicare and Social Security after five years. “Liar,” at least one GOP member shouted.
  • Calls for order: As Biden talked about China, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., shouted: “China spied on us!” She was hushed. In a similar vein, shouts of "it's your fault" were heard as Biden talked about the influx of fentanyl into the United States.
  • Teary eyes: There was an emotional moment for former House speaker — and current representative — Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. Biden acknowledged the brutal attack that her husband, Paul Pelosi, sustained at their California home. The chamber rose to applaud him. She waved briefly at her husband and then wiped her eyes with a tissue.

Biden's reference to reproductive rights was fairly brief

Posted February 7, 2023 at 11:52 PM EST

As someone who has covered reproductive rights over the last year, I was struck by how brief Biden's reference to abortion was, given that tonight's address was his first State of the Union since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

He reiterated ideas he has raised before — a pledge to veto any Republican efforts to pass national abortion restrictions, as well as a call to enact nationwide abortion-rights protections.

He did not address a looming threat to a major abortion pill that has been part of the gold-standard protocol for medication abortion for more than 20 years.

A lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the drug, mifepristone, is currently before a Trump-appointed federal judge who could force it off the market as soon as a few days from now.

➡️Read more about the key lawsuit.

ICYMI

1 thing you might've missed from Sanders' rebuttal: A transgender dog-whistle

Posted February 7, 2023 at 11:50 PM EST

In delivering tonight's Republican rebuttal, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders invoked the culture wars that have played out in state legislatures across the United States. Early in her speech, she poked at Democrats with the line "a woke mob that can't even tell you what a woman is."

This is an oblique reference to transgender people, of which there are 1.6 million in America over the age of 13, according to the Williams Institute.

Republican-led states have pushed a slew of laws in recent years asserting that "biological sex" or "sex at birth" should govern everything from the bathrooms people can use to the sports teams they can play on.

Sanders recently proposed a bill to prohibit transgender students from using public school restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

The Human Rights Campaign said in a news release Tuesday that more than "315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed in statehouses across the United States last year, largely focused on denying transgender youth the ability to receive gender-affirming care and participate in school athletics programs, with even more expected to be filed in 2023."

The Human Rights Campaign describes these bills as "extreme, rooted in misinformation and lies about gender-affirming care, and are contrary to medical best practices."

Ciscomani zeroes in on rising prices and the American dream

Posted February 7, 2023 at 11:39 PM EST

Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., used his rebuttal to focus on food and gas inflation, high housing prices and fentanyl.

The Arizona freshman tapped into on-the-ground frustrations from voters that, despite a growing economy, basic needs might still be difficult to attain.

However, when it came to finding a solution to the debt limit, Ciscomani reiterated the stance of other members that cutting Social Security and Medicare is not an option.

"Fight inflation and reduce the cost of living by curbing excessive government spending that raises prices of daily consumer products," he said, adding that strengthening border security, investing in infrastructure and technology to prevent illegal drug trafficking and giving parents a voice in education issues are some areas he wants the president to focus on.

The ending of his speech struck an inspirational tone regarding the American dream. The congressman talked about his father, who drove a city bus in Tucson for a living.

"The future of our union is strong because our people are strong. We can overcome any obstacle," Ciscomani said. "Our best days lie ahead."

Analysis

President Biden delivered a speech Democrats can cheer

Posted February 7, 2023 at 11:31 PM EST
(From left to right) US Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Harbi Tlaib (D-MI) cheer as US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
(From left to right) US Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Harbi Tlaib (D-MI) cheer as US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.

President Biden delivered a State of the Union address Democrats will be thrilled with. He struck notes of his traditional unity message, pledging to work with the new Republican House leadership and touting his legislative accomplishments in the past year.

But he also laid out an Average Joe America vision for 2024 chock full of poll-tested issues, as well as a healthy dose of left-wing populism. Populism is in, as a former president might say, “big league.” Both Biden and that former president, Trump, have struck populist notes, the little guy versus the people in power, but from VERY different perspectives and for very different ends.

Biden was also able to deftly bait the right, and they took it. That was best represented by Biden essentially debating House Republicans, in true former senator form, on Social Security. Biden was careful in that section to note that “Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years.”

That was something Rick Scott, R-Fla., the former National Republican Senatorial Committee, opened to door on with his Rescue America Plan. Democrats have run with it, even though newly minted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said cuts to Medicare and Social Security are “off the table.” It enraged House Republicans, who were admonished by McCarthy to be on their best behavior, and the exchange took the lid off on the comity.

Republicans hectored Biden on various occasions from then on with McCarthy visibly shushing them at least three times. It’s exactly the distinction Biden and Democrats wanted to show to what will likely be the largest audience Biden will talk to for the year ahead of Biden’s expected 2024 reelection announcement.

Republicans will dismiss the speech, but Biden has suffered from a lack of intensity with Democrats, many of whom have told pollsters they would rather someone else run. This speech had to make more of them comfortable with Biden being the standard-bearer, despite being 80 years old. He showed he was able to make and prosecute the case ably – not just reelection, but for a Democratic America.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she will reveal new education plan

Posted February 7, 2023 at 11:16 PM EST

During her Republican response to President Biden's State of the Union address, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she will reveal a bold, conservative education plan on Wednesday.

"We will educate, not indoctrinate, our kids, and put students on a path to success," she said.

"It's time for a new generation to lead," Sanders said.

She ended her remarks by describing in great detail a trip she took with former President Donald Trump to Iraq, which, in her telling, represented the grand reverence that Americans should have for their country.

But she said, "The America we love is in danger," echoing her line that now is the time for change and that President Biden and Democrats have failed.

Sanders says the choice in America is 'normal or crazy'

Posted February 7, 2023 at 11:02 PM EST

"The dividing line in America is no longer between right and left — it's between normal or crazy," Sanders said in her rebuttal to President Biden's State of the Union address.

"It's time for a new generation of Republican leadership," she said, touting her record so far as governor of Arkansas: banning critical race theory, repealing COVID-19 orders and preventing state legislation from using terms like "Latinx."

She held up former President Donald Trump's achievements as bringing "stability" to America before saying the Democrats "destroyed" that record. Sanders served as White House press secretary in the Trump administration.

She specifically highlighted Biden's policies on immigration, the national debt and police reform.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivers GOP response to Biden's address

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:56 PM EST
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, governor of Arkansas, waits to deliver the Republican response to President Biden's State of the Union address in Little Rock, Arkansas, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
Al Drago
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, governor of Arkansas, waits to deliver the Republican response to President Biden's State of the Union address in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday.

Arkansas' newly elected governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is delivering the Republican Party's response to President Biden's State of the Union address.

Sanders started her address from the governor's mansion in Little Rock, saying, "Biden and the Democrats have failed you."

"They know it and you know it and it's time for a change," she said.

She also drew contrasts between her and Biden, pointing out that the president is the oldest to serve in American history, while she is one of the youngest governors in the country.

"I'm the first woman to lead my state, and he's the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can't even tell you what a woman is," Sanders said.

Ciscomani delivers Spanish-language rebuttal

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:52 PM EST

Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., was designated by Republican leaders to give the Spanish-language rebuttal to President Biden's State of the Union address.

It is available on Telemundo, Univision and YouTube.

A big sign that progressives approved of the speech

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:48 PM EST

The House is now officially adjourned for the night and Biden has finally made it through the rope line after shaking hands and stopping to snap a few selfies.

NPR's Barbara Sprunt watched the speech unfold from inside the chamber gallery and just caught an interesting bit of dialogue: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) just asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) if Sanders himself wrote Biden's speech.

Feels to us like a sign the progressive wing of the party approved of Biden's message. But the progressives will deliver their own response to tonight's speech later.

'The state of the union is strong,' Biden said, focusing on protecting democracy

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:35 PM EST
US President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
Jacquelyn Martin
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AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Biden gave a nod to Paul Pelosi and said "there is no place for political violence in America."

He called on the American people to defend and stand up for democracy.

"My fellow Americans, we meet tonight at an inflection point," Biden said. "One of those moments that only a few generations ever face, where the decisions we make now will decide the course of this nation and of the world for decades to come."

But ultimately, Biden said he believed the country is prospering.

"So I have come here to fulfil my constitutional duty to report on the state of the union. And here is my report," Biden said in closing. "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."

Just In

Don't go too far: The Republican rebuttal is up next

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:33 PM EST

Since wrapping up his speech, the president has been moving slowly towards the exit but he's taking his time to chat with everyone from Democratic congressmen to retired Supreme Court justices.

Note: The speech might be over, but this blog isn't wrapping up anytime soon — stay tuned for the Republican rebuttal.

Biden shines a spotlight on cancer research

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:29 PM EST

Biden dedicated a large section of the speech to a status report on the four-part Unity Agenda he announced during last year's State of the Union.

His section on cancer research got an especially big applause, especially the story of Maurice and Kandice Barron, two of his special guests. Their daughter Ava survived a rare type of kidney cancer with a 5% survival rate.

"They never gave up hope. Ava never gave up hope. She turns four next month," Biden said.

"For the lives we can save and for the lives we have lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and proves that we can do big things."

NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffins notes Biden has a personal connection to cancer. His son Beau died of brain cancer. First Lady Jill Biden had cancerous lesions on her skin removed just last month.

Then again, most people have a personal connection to cancer. It’s the second leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease. In 2023, 609,820 people in the United States will die from cancer, according to a recent analysis by the American Cancer Society. That analysis also reported some good news: a 33% drop in cancer deaths overall since 1991.

The White House wants to accelerate the pace of that decline – the goal is a reduction by 50% in the next 25 years. Last week, in a status update on what Biden has branded the "cancer moonshot", the White House announced several new initiatives that can be done through federal health agencies – in other words, without new legislation. The White House efforts are focused on care navigation for patients, smoking cessation, cancer screening and advanced research, according to a fact sheet released Tuesday.

Biden touts decreased migration numbers at the southern border

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:24 PM EST

The president briefly touched on immigration including what he described as a "record number of personnel working to secure the border." But he renewed calls for Congress to pass some form of immigration reform.

"If you won’t pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border," Biden said. "And a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers."

Here's more from NPR's immigration correspondent Joel Rose:

Biden also took a moment to tout the administration’s latest border enforcement measures. That plan – which combines more rapid expulsions with a new legal pathway for some migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti – coincided with a sharp decline in the number of migrants apprehended at the southern border in January, according to preliminary data.

As he has before, the president called for bipartisan immigration reform. But after two years of record migrant apprehensions, Republicans who control the House of Representatives are focused on what they call a “crisis” at the border. And the chances of a legislative compromise on immigration seem smaller than ever.

Republican hecklers in the chamber urged Biden to “secure the border,” but he moved on to the next topic without responding.

Biden says he seeks 'competition, not conflict' with China

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:22 PM EST

The president focused on increasing competition against China, striking a confident tone.

Here is more from NPR China affairs correspondent John Ruwitch:

Biden painted the country as a competitor that he is prepared to grapple with, and highlighted that he does not seek conflict. He said he is willing to work with China “where it can advance American interests and benefit the world.” But he added a warning, in the wake of the Chinese surveillance balloon incident.

“[M]ake no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.”

Biden highlighted U.S. investments in innovation and industries that the Chinese government “is intent on dominating."

He noted the U.S. was investing in alliances and working with allies “to protect our advanced technologies so they’re not used against us." That’s a nod to efforts by the administration to get America’s friends, including Japan and the Netherlands, on board with export controls introduced in the fall that aim to curtail China’s ability to acquire or manufacture cutting edge microchips.

"Before I came to office, the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world,” Biden said. “Not anymore."

Ukraine's ambassador gets big applause in the chamber

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:19 PM EST
Attendees, including US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Irsih singer-songwriter Bono, and Brandon Tsay applaud Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova as US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.
Saul Loeb
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AFP via Getty Images
Attendees, including US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Irsih singer-songwriter Bono, and Brandon Tsay applaud Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova as US President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.

"Ambassador, America is united in our support for your country. We will stand with you as long as it takes," Biden told Oksana Markarova, who is a special guest for the second year running.

But Biden's remarks on Ukraine were relatively brief, unlike last year when they were a major focus.

NPR's Greg Myre says the Ukraine war is at a crucial juncture.

As we approach the one-year mark of the Russia's invasion, there’s widespread speculation that both Russia and Ukraine are looking to launch offensives in the near future.

"If Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it," Biden pledges

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:15 PM EST
Demonstrators take part in the annual National Women's March in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2023, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1973 US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Roberto Schmidt
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AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators take part in the annual National Women's March in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2023, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1973 US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Biden reiterated his support for abortion rights, couching his renewed calls to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law in terms of protecting “rights and freedoms.”

“Here in the people’s House, it’s our duty to protect all the people’s rights and freedoms," he said.

Democrats have proposed legislation to formalize federal protections for abortion rights but have failed so far to get any bill through Congress.

"Congress must restore the right the Supreme Court took away last year and codify Roe v. Wade to protect every woman’s constitutional right to choose."

He continued: "The Vice President and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and safeguard patient privacy. But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans."

"Make no mistake; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it," he added.

As abortion rights activists push for national legislation protecting abortion access, abortion rights opponents have been calling for national restrictions on the procedure.

Efforts to pass national legislation on abortion in either direction face extremely difficult odds in a divided Congress.

The White House says Amanda Zurawski, a Texas woman who nearly died of sepsis after being refused an abortion under her state’s abortion law after her water broke prematurely, is among Biden’s guests for the speech, highlighting the risk that abortion bans can pose to pregnant women’s health and life.

Biden once again urges Congress to ban assault weapons

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:12 PM EST
Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the accused gunman in a mass shooting last month in California, is recognized by President Joe Biden as he delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
Patrick Semansky
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AP
Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the accused gunman in a mass shooting last month in California, is recognized by President Joe Biden as he delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

The chamber gave a big applause as Biden singled out Brandon Tsay in the guest box — the man who stopped the shooter during the Monterey Park, Calif., shooting last month.

"He saved lives. It’s time we do the same as well. Ban assault weapons once and for all," Biden said.

This is just the latest instance of Biden has called on Congress to ban assault-style guns after mass shootings. In November, after a shooting in Colorado Springs, Biden said: “The idea we still allow semi automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick,” he said. “Not a single, solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.”

The last Congress – where Democrats had a slim majority in both houses – passed its first piece of gun safety legislation in three decades. That bill included funding for red-flag laws and prevents people who assault their partners from buying guns, among other measures.

There are steep odds against any broader action on guns in the new divided Congress. Still, gun safety activists are pushing for more executive action on the issue.

Honoring Tyre Nichols in call for police reform

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:11 PM EST
(L-R) Rodney Wells and RowVaughn Wells, parents of Tyre Nichols, and Brandon Tsay, hero of the Monterey, California, shooting, wait for the start of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol on February 07, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee
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Getty Images
(L-R) Rodney Wells and RowVaughn Wells, parents of Tyre Nichols, and Brandon Tsay, hero of the Monterey, California, shooting, wait for the start of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol on February 07, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Biden highlighted the parents of Tyre Nichols, who are guests of the president this evening. In January, Nichols was aggressively beaten by police during a traffic stop for reckless driving in Memphis. Three days later, he died in the hospital.

"We know police officers put their lives on the line every day, and we ask them to do too much. To be counselors, social workers, psychologists; responding to drug overdoses, mental health crises, and more," Biden said.

He called for more training, higher standards and resources for law enforcement. And he touted an executive order that bans the use of chokeholds, restricts no-knock warrants, and more for federal officers. He didn't, however, renew the call to specifically pass the Georgie Floyd Act.

"Let’s commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre’s mother come true, something good must come from this," he said.

Biden says COVID's grip on the U.S. has been broken

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:07 PM EST
US President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
Nathan Howard
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

President Biden is turning the page on the pandemic, noting deaths are down nearly 90%. "We’ve saved millions of lives and opened our country back up. And soon we’ll end the public health emergency," he said.

"But we will remember the toll and pain that will never go away for so many. More than 1 million Americans have lost their lives to COVID. Families grieving. Children orphaned. Empty chairs at the dining room table. We remember them, and we remain vigilant. "

The chamber gave Biden a big round of applause for pledging to crack down on COVID relief fraud.

"Now, let’s triple our anti-fraud strike forces going after these criminals, double the statute of limitations on these crimes, and crack down on identity fraud by criminal syndicates stealing billions of dollars from the American people," he said.

NPR's Health Policy Correspondent Selena Simmons-Duffin says that the COVID response and the messaging around it has been a huge challenge for Biden.

The wind-down that is starting could continue to be rocky for the administration. But now he has his former COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients as his White House chief of staff helping to shape the next chapter.

Biden calls for raising teacher wages

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:06 PM EST

The president received a large standing ovation for proposing to give public school teachers higher wages.

He also touted the effort to reduce student debt and increase Pell Grants.

In the December omnibus, Congress agreed to increase the annual maximum Pell Grant award by $500, the largest increase in a decade. The administration says that keeps them on track to double Pell Grant funding by 2029.

However, efforts to erase up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower remain in legal limbo. Late last month, the White House trumpeted the fact that 26 million people had already applied or were automatically qualified for relief, and 16 million had been approved. Whether they get that relief now depends on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Let’s offer every American the path to a good career whether they go to college or not," Biden said.

Biden calls for passage of a bill to stop 'junk fees'

Posted February 7, 2023 at 10:02 PM EST

After a series of high-profile airline debacles this winter, Biden is dedicating quite a bit of airtime to the Junk Fees Prevention Act, a push to limit hidden fees and surcharges in a number of industries.

"For example, we’re making airlines show you the full ticket price up front and refund your money if your flight is cancelled or delayed," he said.

"I know how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it," he said. "Americans are tired of being played for suckers."

Republicans boo when Biden says they want to cut Medicare and Social Security

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:58 PM EST
U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) reacts as U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein
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Reuters
U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) reacts as U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2023.

"Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years," Biden said, to overwhelming boos from Republicans who disagreed with the framing.

Some Republicans have said that cuts to the entitlement programs are needed, and have threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless that happens. But other Republicans say there's enough room to cut discretionary government programs without going after Medicare and Social Security.

"Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans," Biden said tonight.

“Next month when I offer my fiscal plan, I ask my Republican friends to lay down their plan as well.”

NPR's Scott Horsley offers this background:

  • The federal government is close to its $31trillion dollar debt limit. Unless Congress raises the limit, the government will soon exhaust its authority to borrow money and be unable to pay all of its bills.
  • House Republicans are demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, but they have yet to specify which government programs they want cut.
  • It’s not exactly clear when the debt limit crunch will occur, since tax revenues and expenses can vary from month to month. But Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says it could be as early as June.
  • The consequences of missing payments when they come due is uncertain, since it’s never happened before. But it could send shock waves through financial markets, which have long assumed U.S. government debt to be an extremely safe investment. When the government flirted with a default in 2011, its credit rating was downgraded, short-term borrowing costs rose, and the S&P 500 index tumbled more than 16%.

A Biden ask: pass a tax bill

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:55 PM EST

The president asks Congress to pass a billionaire minimum tax "because no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter."

But he was swiftly greeted by hecklers after he called out "Big Oil" for posting record profits.

"We are going to need oil for at least another decade," Biden said, adding that he proposed quadrupling the tax on corporate stock buybacks.

Biden gets big applause for the climate impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:45 PM EST
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, center, during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
Sarah Silbiger
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, center, during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

When President Biden mentioned the historic Inflation Reduction Act, some Members of Congress gave him a standing ovation. As a reminder, the Inflation Reduction Act was, in many respects, climate solutions legislation.

The speech mentioned climate three times and - off script, “global warming” once. That’s just one additional mention compared to last year's address. “Environmental justice” has been a key talking point in the Biden administration’s approach to climate, specifically, that environmental pollution and climate change disproportionately affect communities of color.

This year, the president talked about replacing lead pipes in 10 million homes and 400,000 schools and childcare centers “so every child in America can drink clean water.” In his speech Tuesday, Biden talked about “communities too often left behind” in reference to his approach to the climate crisis. And he again framed the benefits of climate solutions as savings for family budgets.

Biden's getting into the heart of his message now

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:40 PM EST
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.
Jacquelyn Martin
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Pool/AFP via Getty Images
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.

You know we're getting in the heart of it when the president finally says the phrase he's been using as the speech's title. In this case, it's "blue-collar blueprint."

"Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back, because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives," Biden said.


Biden said prescription drugs are too expensive for too many people and called for the price of insulin and other drugs to be capped.

"Every day, millions need insulin to control their diabetes so they can stay alive. Insulin has been around for 100 years. It costs drug companies just $10 a vial to make," he said.

"But, Big Pharma has been unfairly charging people hundreds of dollars – and making record profits. Not anymore. We capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare."

"Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for every American who needs it," he said.

Here's what NPR's pharmacueticals correspondent Sydney Lupkin says about this part of the speech:

Biden was able to pull off a $35 copay cap on insulin for Medicare beneficiaries in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. Now, he says that he wants the cap to extend to people with private insurance.

Note: he said “capped the cost of insulin,” but it’s just a cap on what the patient pays at the pharmacy counter, not the price of the drug, which isn’t going anywhere for now.

Although the president often refers to it as a cost cap, it’s actually a copay cap. That means Medicare is still on the hook for the rest of the drug’s cost.

The administration released a report last month finding that, had the copay cap been in place in 2020, it would have saved seniors an average of $500 a month on their insulin copays. But considering that the total $761 million in hypothetical copay savings likely has to still get back to the drug maker somehow – since it’s not a price cut – it’s not clear exactly who pays. Often high drug prices get passed to beneficiaries in the form of higher premiums.

Biden touts infrastructure investments

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:34 PM EST

Biden said the bipartisan infrastructure law passed by the lawmakers has already funded 20,000 projects, including at major airports from Boston to Atlanta to Portland.

"These projects will put hundreds of thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, bridges, railroads, tunnels, ports and airports, clean water, and high-speed internet across America. Urban. Suburban. Rural. Tribal," Biden said. "And folks, we’re just getting started. I sincerely thank my Republican friends who voted for the law."

Biden also noted that Republicans who voted against the bill need not worry about projects in their districts.

"I promised to be the president for all Americans. We’ll fund your projects," Biden said. "And I’ll see you at the groundbreaking."

The president singled out one of his guests: Saria Gwin-Maye, a union ironworker in the audience from Cincinnati.

And he touted efforts to expand broadband access.

Biden says he'll push for supply chains to begin in America

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:29 PM EST
U.S. President Joe Biden visits the groundbreaking of the new Intel semiconductor plant on September 9, 2022 in Johnstown, Ohio.
Andrew Spear
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Getty Images
U.S. President Joe Biden visits the groundbreaking of the new Intel semiconductor plant on September 9, 2022 in Johnstown, Ohio.

Biden pivoted to touting the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which passed earlier this year, saying it would help boost American manufacturing.

"We’re making sure the supply chain for America begins in America," he said.

"We’ve already created 800,000 manufacturing jobs even without this law. With this new law, we will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country," he says of the CHIPS Act.

"That’s going to come from companies that have announced more than $300 billion in investments in American manufacturing in the last two years," he said.

Here's some background on the law, courtesy of NPR's Scott Horsley:

  • The CHIPS Act, which President Biden signed in August, is designed to promote domestic manufacturing of computer chips.
  • It includes $39 billion in incentives for companies that build or expand chip factories in the U.S., plus another $13 billion for research and development and worker training.
  • Most of the money is aimed at promoting domestic production of advanced chips. Today, nearly all such chips are made in Taiwan.
  • A small fraction of the money would go for the kind of basic chips used in cars and other products, which have been in short supply during the pandemic.

Biden focuses on economic successes

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:23 PM EST

Biden used his speech to tout the historically low unemployment rate, which he said is currently at 3.4%, and the creation of 800,000 manufacturing jobs.

He also blamed Russia's war in Ukraine for inflated energy and food prices.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) shakes Biden's hand on arrival

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:22 PM EST
US President Joe Biden (L) is greeted by US Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tim Burchett (R-TN) while arriving to deliver his State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.
Saul Loeb
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AFP via Getty Images
US President Joe Biden (L) is greeted by US Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tim Burchett (R-TN) while arriving to deliver his State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2023.

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz shook President Biden's hand on his arrival to the House chambers. Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald Trump has been outspoken against the Biden administration. It's an interesting sight amid high partisan tensions.

Biden launches into the meat of his speech by talking about jobs

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:20 PM EST

Biden's first few lines of substance are focused on American unity. He wasted no time getting to the top issue on his agenda: the economy.

"Two years ago, our economy was reeling," he said. "As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs, more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years."

"Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives."

NPR's Scott Horsley isn't surprised this came up so soon.

The unemployment rate in January dipped to 3.4%, its lowest level since May 1969.

Biden opens with traditional congratulations to congressional leaders

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:17 PM EST

The president kicked off his remarks by congratulating all four congressional leaders.

He said he looked forward to working with new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and noted that new House Democratic leader Hakeem Jefferies is the first African American person to hold the post.

President Biden gave Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a shout-out for being the longest-serving leader, and ribbed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for having slightly increased his party's margin in the chamber.

The president also took a moment to specifically recognize former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "I want to give special recognition to someone who I think will be considered the greatest Speaker in the history of this country, Rep. Nancy Pelosi," he said.

Most of Biden's cabinet is here

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:08 PM EST

Members of President Biden's cabinet here for the speech include:

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
  • Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
  • Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland

Absent was Labor Secretary Marty Walsh who is the designated survivor.

President Biden arrives

Posted February 7, 2023 at 9:05 PM EST

President Biden has entered the House Chamber to deliver his 2023 State of the Union Address.

Just In

The first lady has arrived in the chamber

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:59 PM EST
U.S. first lady Jill Biden is applauded by all of her guests in the first lady's box of the House gallery as she arrives for the start of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2023.
Kevin Lamarque
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Reuters
U.S. first lady Jill Biden is applauded by all of her guests in the first lady's box of the House gallery as she arrives for the start of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2023.

First lady Jill Biden arrived in the gallery to applause from the lawmakers.

She's seated not too far away from a smiling Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh named designated survivor

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:59 PM EST

The designated survivor for tonight’s State of the Union is Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, the former mayor of Boston, a White House official told reporters.

The tradition is aimed at ensuring continuity of government in case an attack should befall the president, his cabinet and members of Congress.

5 current, 2 past justices are attending tonight's State of the Union

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:56 PM EST
Justices of the US Supreme Court ahead of a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
Sarah Silbiger
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Justices of the US Supreme Court ahead of a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Five U.S. Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as two retired justices are heading into the chamber now for tonight’s State of the Union address.

The other current justices attending President Biden’s speech are Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, both nominated by President Trump; Elena Kagan, who was nominated by President Obama, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated by Biden. Retired Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer will also attend.

Supreme Court justices typically attend the State of the Union address, though it is rare for all nine justices to appear.

Incomplete records at the Supreme Court curator's office indicate that justices first attended in 1913, but did not attend regularly until the 1950s. In 1937, President Roosevelt expected the court to attend. But as one of Roosevelt's top aides, Harold Ickes, wrote in his diary, someone apparently tipped off the court that Roosevelt's speech would be critical of recent decisions, and none of the justices showed.

Even now, there are often as few as one justice in attendance, as a sort of token representative of the judiciary.

Each justice decides for himself or herself whether to attend. Justice Samuel Alito stopped attending the event after he was caught mouthing “not true” when Obama criticized in 2010 the court’s Citizens United decision and the late Justice Antonin Scalia hadn’t attended in more than a decade before his death in 2016. Some of the justices view the speech as overly political, with Roberts going as far as calling it a “pep rally.”

Roberts, Kavanaugh, Barrett, Kagan and Breyer, who was a still a justice last year, attended the 2022 speech. Only four justices attended Trump’s State of the Union address in 2019.

Just In

And the joint session is underway

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:54 PM EST

With a clang of the gavel, Speaker Kevin McCarthy called a special joint session of Congress to order.

Joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, the two announced the names of the members of Congress on the presidential escort committee — that's who's heading into the chamber now.

Just In

Biden has departed the White House

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:34 PM EST

The President just emerged from the White House and stepped into the "Beast," as his presidential limousine is known.

He'll head down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where he'll eventually make a grand entrance for the speech after other lawmakers and guests and have been seated.

We'll bring you those entrances here shortly. Stay tuned.

¿Estas buscando cobertura bilingüe en ingles y español?

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:32 PM EST

Tenemos todo lo que necesitas. Por primera vez, NPR News está ofreciendo una transmisión bilingüe especial del discurso sobre el Estado de la Unión.

Esta transmisión se centrará específicamente en temas importantes para las personas que se identifican como latinos, además de temas que afectan a América Latina.

🎧Puedes escucharlo aquí a las 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

GOP readies its response ahead of the big speech

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:30 PM EST
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivers remarks on the debt ceiling at the Capitol on Monday.
Saul Loeb
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AFP via Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivers remarks on the debt ceiling at the Capitol on Monday.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy homed in on inflation and the debt limit during a Monday night address ahead of the State of the Union.

While McCarthy gave no specifics on cuts he wants to see made — though he noted that cuts to social security and Medicare are off the table — he vowed to keep negotiating with the president on a solution.

Meanwhile, the Senate GOP put out its own message via a video Tuesday morning focusing on similar economic issues like inflation, immigration, high gas prices and crime.

Analysis

Biden’s address will reflect his relationship with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:16 PM EST
President Biden, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2, 2023. McCarthy will sit behind Biden during the president's State of the Union address Tuesday after Republicans regained control of the House last November and then elected him House speaker in January.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
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AP
President Biden, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 2. McCarthy will sit behind Biden during the president's State of the Union address Tuesday.

President Biden will have Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy at his back during his State of the Union address Tuesday. The two politicians don’t appear to play well together, but they’ll have to learn how if they plan on passing critical legislation over the next two years.

The two only have until June to come to an agreement on the nation’s debt ceiling or risk plunging the country into an all-but-certain recession and economic chaos. Biden told McCarthy it’s the job of lawmakers in both parties to ensure America’s debts are paid, while McCarthy has argued he won’t raise the debt ceiling without budget cuts in writing.

Biden has a significantly better relationship with the top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The two worked together to avert a 2011 debt crisis when Biden was vice president.

Rohit Kumar, a top McConnell staffer at the time, who now co-leads PwC's national tax office, said neither man tried to convert the other during those high-stakes talks.

"Biden would repeatedly say, I won't tell you your politics, you won't tell me mine. If you tell me you can't do something, I take you at your word. If you tell me I can't do something, you take me at my word," Kumar said.

➡️Read more about the relationship between Biden and McCarthy.

The latest on migration policy: Pushing private investment into the northern triangle

Posted February 7, 2023 at 8:04 PM EST
Vice President Harris speaks during a meeting Monday with government leaders and private sector representatives to address the root causes of migration from northern Central America.
Mandel Ngan
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AFP via Getty Images
Vice President Harris speaks during a meeting Monday with government leaders and private sector representatives to address the root causes of migration from northern Central America.

One thing to watch for tonight: Biden's framing on migration at the southern border. His administration's most recent policy briefing came just yesterday from a program headed up by Vice President Harris.

The administration has a public-private development initiative, “Call to Action for Northern Central America,” targeting the nations of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The program seeks to tackle what the administration calls the “root causes” of migration, largely through economic growth via private investment.

In yesterday’s update, dubbed "Central America Forward," Harris announced an additional $956 million in investment and loans expected in the northern triangle countries. It brings the program’s total to more than $4.2 billion since its May 2021 launch.

The bulk of investments come in the form of corporate expansion to the region. Companies like Nestle, which has fought past allegations of complacency in the use of child slave labor, Columbia Sportswear and Target have committed to sourcing products from the countries to spur economic development. A small fraction of the private capital is earmarked for loans to local businesses.

U.S. government-backed anti-corruption, “good governance” and police development initiatives, among others, are planned in conjunction with the funding in hopes of stemming out-migration, gender-based violence and inequity while reinforcing private investment and development.

In a meeting with government and private-sector leaders yesterday, Harris reported a large decrease in migration from the three nations over the past 18 months, although migration from other areas has reached record highs.

Michael Brown Sr., father of Michael Brown, among the invitees

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:50 PM EST
Michael Brown Sr. addresses the crowd in the center of Canfield Street, where Michael Brown Jr. was killed in 2014, during a memorial service marking the first anniversary of his death in Ferguson, Mo.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images
Michael Brown Sr. addresses the crowd in the center of Canfield Street, where Michael Brown Jr. was killed in 2014, during a memorial service marking the first anniversary of his death in Ferguson, Mo.

The father of Michael Brown Jr., who died after being shot in 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., sparking a national civil rights movement around police brutality in the Black community, will attend the State of the Union Address.

Michael Brown Sr. will be the guest of Missouri Rep. Cori Bush.

“Like many on the frontlines of the Ferguson Uprising, my life changed eight years ago. The police killing of Michael Brown in 2014 is what propelled me and many others into lives dedicated to building a world where Mike would still be here with us — a world where his life could not be taken from him,” Bush said in a statement announcing the invitation.

“A world where Tyre Nichols and the thousands of other Black people killed by police could live long, healthy lives full of joy.”

Brown will be joined in attendance by the family of Nichols, who died after being beaten by police in January.

Half Moon Bay's Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga invited to the address

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:42 PM EST
A makeshift memorial for those killed during a shooting is pictured in Half Moon Bay, Calif., last month. A man was accused of killing seven fellow farmworkers and wounding another and could face the death penalty if convicted of multiple murder charges.
Samantha Laurey
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AFP via Getty Images
A makeshift memorial for those killed during a shooting is pictured in Half Moon Bay, Calif., last month. A man was accused of killing seven fellow farmworkers and wounding another and could face the death penalty if convicted of multiple murder charges.

Tsay isn't the only special guest for tonight's speech who was touched by gun violence.

Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California invited Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, founder and executive director of Ayudando Latinos a Soñar, to attend the evening’s events. Hernandez-Arriaga and other members of ALAS have long worked with farmworker families on the ground in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

“As the founder and executive director of the nonprofit ALAS since 2011, she’s a cornerstone of the Half Moon Bay community and has been a leader in helping the families of the victims of the mass shooting,” said Eshoo in a statement. “I look forward to introducing Belinda to my colleagues and have Half Moon Bay represented in the chamber in a unique way.”

After a man shot and killed seven coworkers at two Half Moon Bay farms in January, Hernandez-Arriaga and ALAS were among those immediately around to help workers and families through the trauma.

On a KQED Forum, Hernandez-Arriaga said she and the team had worked directly with many of the victims and their families, and even the shooter, before that day's violence. Staff was even on one of the farms just an hour before the shooting, she said.

“It's really hard to explain all the memories we have of going there and not really seeing this tragedy unfolding,” Hernandez-Arriaga said on the forum. “But yet, seeing the very harsh and inequitable and complicated, and, I am going to say, inhumane, conditions that farmworkers are forced to live in to be the heroes that work day and night to put food on our table.”

The violence at Half Moon Bay resurfaced national attention on the living conditions, low pay and labor violations many farmworkers face.

➡️ Read about the $100 repair bill that prosecutors said prompted the shooting.

Just In

Sanders expected to attack 'left wing culture' in her rebuttal

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:38 PM EST
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas, speaks during the America First Agenda Summit, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer
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North America
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas, speaks during the America First Agenda Summit, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Arkansas Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders is expected to respond to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union by warning that she believes “left wing culture” is harming the country.

“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country,” Sanders said in an excerpt of her speech released by Republican congressional leaders Tuesday evening.

Sanders, who previously worked during the Trump administration as White House Press Secretary, argues that Democrats are pushing extreme values and ideas.

“Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols…all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is—your freedom of speech. That’s not normal. It’s crazy, and it’s wrong,” she said.

Sanders was elected in 2022 and is Arkansas' first female governor.

Monterey Park hero Brandon Tsay was invited by the president

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:30 PM EST
Brandon Tsay at a ceremony Jan. 29 honoring his actions at the Monterey Park dance hall.
Richard Vogel
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AP
Brandon Tsay at a ceremony Jan. 29 honoring his actions at the Monterey Park dance hall.

Here's another key guest that'll be in attendance tonight: President Biden invited Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old who disarmed the shooter in Monterey Park last month, to be his guest of honor.

Tsay’s actions, which included lunging at the attacker and wrestling the gun away, were captured on security cameras and are credited with not only stopping the attack but preventing a second one.

Following the event, Biden called Tsay to thank him. “You have my respect,” Biden said in a video recording of the call. “You are America, pal. You are who we are.”

Tsay is not the only guest from the communities affected by the recent California shootings. Rep. Anna Eshoo of California invited Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, whose organization Ayudando Latinos a Soñar has been on the ground with the families of the Half Moon Bay shooting.

➡️Read more about how Tsay took down a gunman.

Here's how to watch tonight's speech

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:25 PM EST

If you're on this page, you're in luck: We'll embed a livestream of Biden's remarks as we get closer to the action.

Prefer to catch an audio stream? Well hey, you're our kind of person! We've got you covered there too:

The Nichols family will be in attendance

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:16 PM EST
Vice President Harris sits with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells during the funeral service for Wells' son Tyre Nichols on Feb. 1 in Memphis, Tenn.
Andrew Nelles
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Getty Images
Vice President Harris sits with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells during the funeral service for Wells' son Tyre Nichols on Feb. 1 in Memphis, Tenn.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford invited the family of Tyre Nichols to attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Nichols, have accepted the invitation to the event that will take place less than one month after Nichols was hospitalized and died after being beaten by Tennessee police officers.

The violence reignited calls from lawmakers like Horsford to pass some sort of police reform legislation. Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols' family, has also called on Congress to renew negotiations.

But Republican control of the House makes any legislation on policing unlikely to be successful.

➡️Read more about congressional calls for police reform.

Democratic Progressives will also deliver a rebuttal

Posted February 7, 2023 at 7:01 PM EST
Rep. Dellia Ramirez, D-Ill., speaks with reporters in November.
Anna Moneymaker
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Getty Images
Rep. Dellia Ramirez, D-Ill., speaks with reporters in November.

Rep. Delia Ramirez of Illinois is slated to give a response to Biden’s speech on behalf of the Working Families Party on Tuesday night. The speech is expected to cover both the president’s and the GOP’s speeches.

“I will be laying out a vision for how Democrats can win working-class voters of all races and nationalities by fighting for a government that has working people's backs,” Rameriez said in a tweet.

GOP response

Here’s what’s on the list for the GOP rebuttal

Posted February 7, 2023 at 6:53 PM EST
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary, during the America First Policy Institute's America First Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.
Al Drago
/
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary, during the America First Policy Institute's America First Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the GOP response to President Biden's State of the Union address and Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona will be giving a rebuttal on behalf of the GOP in Spanish.

On the docket to be topics of the speeches are inflation, immigration, crime and the American school system, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sanders, 40, was elected as the youngest governor in the country in November. She is the first woman elected to lead the solidly Republican state. But she is not new to politics.

Sanders is a former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump and the daughter of two-term Arkansas Gov.-turned-political commentator Mike Huckabee.

"I am grateful for this opportunity to address the nation and contrast the GOP's optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats," she said, according to McConnell's statement.

"We are ready to begin a new chapter in the story of America — to be written by a new generation of leaders ready to defend our freedom against the radical left and expand access to quality education, jobs, and opportunity for all."

➡️ Read more about why Sanders was selected.

Context

The State of the Union, a tradition dating back more than 230 years

Posted February 7, 2023 at 6:41 PM EST
The House of Representatives chamber at the Capitol in Washington, where President Joe Biden will deliver this year’s State of the Union address Tuesday. This will be Biden's first address to the new Congress, including the now-Republican controlled House.
J. Scott Applewhite
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AP
The House of Representatives chamber at the Capitol in Washington, where President Biden will deliver this year’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

A tradition started by President George Washington more than 230 years ago, the State of the Union is an opportunity for America’s commander-in-chief to address the people, nowadays in a nationally televised event.

The Constitution says the president "shall from time to time give the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient," which Washington decided should be about once a year. It was initially dubbed the president’s “Annual Message” until President Franklin D. Roosevelt began using the “State of the Union” title in the 1930s.

It may come as a surprise to learn that Washington’s first address was delivered in a chamber reserved for the Senate in New York City’s Federal Hall, not in today’s Washington, D.C. It’s where the first Congress met while a city along the Potomac was still just a dream.

Washington’s first speech is the shortest presidential address on record, at less than 1,100 words, delivered in about 10 minutes. On the flip side of that coin is President Jimmy Carter, whose 1981 State of the Union, in written form, totaled more than 33,000 words.

➡️Read more fun facts and history about the State of the Union in Ron Elving's story here.

Just In

Biden plans to reach out to blue-collar Americans in tonight's speech

Posted February 7, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST

President Biden plans to make a pitch to blue-collar America in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, according to excerpts released by the White House – a pledge to build on job growth seen during his first two years in office through what he is calling “a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.”

“My economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten,” Biden said – borrowing a sentiment famously used by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later by former President Donald Trump.

The speech, seen as a soft launch of themes he is expected to campaign on if he makes another run for office – as expected – will describe the country as having put the pandemic and the Jan. 6 political violence in the rear view mirror under his tenure.

Biden plans to say “COVID no longer controls our lives” and will describe the country as “bruised” but “unbowed and unbroken” post-Jan. 6, according to the excerpts.

Biden, who now faces divided government after Republicans took control of the House in the midterm election, will try to reach across the aisle in his speech, according to the excerpts.

“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. The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere,” he plans to say.

“And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America: the middle class, to unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job!” he intends to say.

Analysis
Biden's standings

Ahead of his State of the Union address, here’s where Biden stands, by the numbers

Posted February 7, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST

President Biden goes into Tuesday’s State of the Union at an important — albeit tenuous — time in his presidency.

Two-thirds of Americans, on average, say the country is headed in the wrong direction. That makes it hard to convince people the state of the union is “strong” — as presidents want to do in these speeches — even though inflation has been coming down and unemployment is at 3.4%, the lowest since May of 1969.

A majority of the country continues to disapprove of the job Biden is doing overall and especially when it comes to some key issues. Biden is underwater in nearly every category polled in the past year, from the economy and inflation to guns, crime, immigration and foreign policy.

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Biden was partly elected to be a better steward of the coronavirus pandemic than his predecessor, and his ratings on the pandemic are generally among his best. But even those are down from where he was in the first year of his presidency.

It makes for a precarious position for the president, who turned 80 in November, ahead of his expected run for reelection in 2024. But despite the prevailing sour sentiment among Americans, Democrats did better than expected in the midterms. Partisanship seems to be fueling the negativity, and when compared to former President Donald Trump, the current front-runner for the GOP nomination, Biden is usually even or ahead in head-to-head polls and favorability ratings.

After all, as Biden likes to say, “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”