Biden to deliver first State of the Union address on March 1
Legislative calendar, omicron wave and Winter Olympics delays State of the Union speech to March
President Joe Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address on March 1, the White House confirmed Friday, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the president a formal invitation to speak to Congress and the American public one year into his term.
It will mark the latest any president has delivered a State of the Union address. The speech is normally timed for January, and occasionally for February. The delay is driven in part by a busy legislative calendar, a winter spike in COVID-19 cases from the more transmissible omicron variant and the upcoming Winter Olympics, which ties up broadcast network time.
The last State of the Union address was delivered by then-President Donald Trump on the eve of his acquittal by the Senate in his first impeachment trial.
Biden first addressed a joint session of Congress in April 2021, about 100 days into his time in the White House, which he used to promote twin infrastructure and domestic spending bills.
Biden signed a slimmed-down and bipartisan version of the infrastructure proposal into law last year in crowning first-year legislative achievements. The larger expansion of the social safety net passed the House, but Biden has struggled to secure enough Democratic support in the Senate for passage.
An address to Congress in the president’s first year is not an official State of the Union address, and Biden’s April speech bore little resemblance to one because of strict COVID-19 protocols. It was marked by limitations on attendance, with no guests allowed, and lawmakers seated on both the floor of the House chamber and the galleries above.
Officials said pandemic precautions for this year’s speech were still being worked out, though they expect it to look more like a traditional State of the Union address than last year’s remarks.
“Thank you for your bold vision and patriotic leadership which have guided America out of crisis and into an era of great progress, as we not only recover from the pandemic but Build Back Better!,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to Biden. “In that spirit, I am writing to invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, March 1, to share your vision of the State of the Union.”
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