March 01, 2022
President Joe Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night as an international crisis unfolds in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year and consumer prices soar to record-highs.
Biden's speech was originally expected to focus heavily on his domestic priorities for his second year in office, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced the president and his aides to switch gears. Parts of the address were rewritten in recent days to incorporate more foreign policy into the remarks, according to the Washington Post.
The address comes as polls show Biden's approval rating among Americans continuing to slip amid the ongoing public health crisis and rising inflation. A FiveThirtyEight aggregate of polls has the president's average approval rating at 41% and disapproval rating at 53%.
Biden's remarks will give him an opportunity to rally Democrats heading into the 2022 midterm elections this fall, when his party will seek to hold onto slim majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
The speech will take place in front of a mask-optional, full-capacity joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol. Only a limited number of lawmakers and guests were permitted to attend the president's congressional address last year due to the pandemic.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver the official Republican response to Biden's address Tuesday night.
The State of the Union will air on most broadcast and cable news networks at 9 p.m. on Tuesday. A livestream of the speech is available below.
Here are five topic areas that Biden is expected to speak about prominently during his first State of the Union address.
Biden's reworked speech is expected to harp significantly upon the threat Russia poses to democracy after its attacks against Ukraine in recent days, according to the New York Times.
The president last week characterized Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "unprovoked and unjustified" and vowed that the U.S. and its allies "will respond in a united and decisive way."
The U.S., NATO and other Western nations have imposed financial sanctions aimed at crippling Russia's economy.
The sanctions have been targeted at several Russian banks, as well as oligarchs and their families who have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Export controls also have been implemented to cut off Russia's military from accessing high-tech equipment.
The fighting has left roughly 1,500 Ukrainians killed and forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to neighboring countries, according to the Washington Post.
A mask-optional, full-capacity crowd at Tuesday night's address will serve as the backdrop to Biden's messaging regarding the next steps of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the public health crisis enters its third year, Biden is expected to speak about what his administration has done and will continue to do to combat the virus as the pandemic moves into a more manageable phase.
Since taking office, Biden has sought to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and make testing more readily-available in the wake of surging infections caused by the omicron variant.
But with new cases and hospitalizations on the decline across most of the country, Biden is expected to address how the U.S. can shift to a more endemic approach to the virus.
The president's remarks are expected to serve as a precursor to an updated federal COVID-19 strategy that is slated to be unveiled in the near future, according to CNN.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its COVID-19 masking recommendations last week, saying that most healthy Americans can now go without one. Many states have relaxed most of their coronavirus restrictions as vaccinations continue to increase and case numbers continue to fall.
Record-high inflation in the U.S. is expected to be a focal point of Biden's address. Prices are climbing at their fastest rate in 40 years, according to the Associated Press. This has lead to higher costs for consumers and potentially undoing strong economic growth in the wake of the pandemic.
Biden is expected to call for lower child care and prescription drug costs as a means to ease fears, according to NBC News.
The president is also expected to tout the country's low unemployment rate, increased GDP growth and job gains since he took office last year.
Similar to most other State of the Union speeches, Biden's address is likely to include a bevy of legislative requests for his second year in office.
The president is expected to call on lawmakers to pass parts of his "Build Back Better" agenda that has stalled out in Congress. Biden is expected to specifically pitch for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, creating a national paid family leave program and enacting clean energy tax credits to create more jobs and help bring down costs.
Biden could also push for legislative action on voting rights, gun control and police reform.
The president is likely to use his State of the Union speech to highlight how the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan passed into law last year will benefit Americans.
Tuesday night's State of the Union address will give Biden his first primetime opportunity to publicly tout his Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, as the confirmation process gets underway.
If confirmed, Jackson would become the Supreme Court's first Black female justice. She would replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he steps down this summer.